Tsurukiho Abe

Tsuruhiko Abe was born in 1892 in Chayamachi, Okayama, Japan. He immigrated to the United States in 1910. Prior to WWII, he was a Nash car salesman, ran the ABC Garage, and owned the Pacific Hotel in Little Tokyo. He was active at the Daishi Kyokai (Koyasan Buddhist Temple) and in the Okayama kenjinkai.

Since he was considered a leader and prominent businessman in the Japanese-American community, the FBI came and took him on the night of December 7th, 1941. According to my grandfather, Lewis Abe, his father was taken to Terminal Island, then onto Tuna Canyon Detention Center and eventually to Missoula, Montana. Lewis, and his older brother Victor, were students at U.C. Berkeley at the time. Upon finishing their finals they came back to help their mother and younger siblings. Eventually, after President Roosevelt signed E.O. 9066, the family packed their belongings, and was sent to the Santa Anita Assembly Center. Tsuruhiko Abe was later released from Missoula Montana, and joined the family at Santa Anita. The Abe Family was interned at Heart Mountain, WY. After the war, they returned to Los Angeles to rebuild their lives, having lost their businesses during the war. In 1947, Tsuruhiko Abe started Abe Nursery in Gardena. Seventy years later, Abe Nursery remains in operation in Carpinteria, CA.



About the Contributor

Derek Yee is the great-grandson of Tsuruhiko Abe, who was detained at Tuna Canyon Detention Center. As a graduate of U.C. Berkeley with a degree in History, he has been interested in learning more about his family’s internment during WWII. Currently, he works part-time at Abe Nursery and he is pursuing a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.