Mas Inoshita’s experiences in a World War II relocation camp could help unlock the mystery of an old cane.
Television viewers will have the opportunity to hear his story and the possible connection to the cane on the television series, “History Detectives,” which airs July 26 on KAET-TV, Channel 8. The 86-year-old Glendale resident taped the segment several months ago.
“I had a great time and they treated me so well,” said Inoshita. “It’ll be fun to see how everything turned out on the show.”
Tukufu Zuberi, one of the “History Detectives” hosts, interviewed Inoshita for the segment.
“History Detectives” is a documentary series that features a group of researchers who help people find the answers to a number of historical questions, usually centering around a family heirloom, an old house, object or structure.
In the upcoming episode, a California man hopes the Japanese characters on a hand-carved cane unlock the mysteries of his family’s past. The cane belonged to his grandparents, who were sent to an Arizona relocation camp after Pearl Harbor. He can’t read the words carved into the cane, and his grandparents have passed away. So he enlisted the help of Zuberi to solve the mystery.
Zuberi interviews Inoshita, who might provide insight on the cane.
At 22, Inoshita was farming with his father in California when FBI agents knocked on the door and handcuffed his father, taking him to an internment camp. Pearl Harbor had been bombed, and the U.S. government feared Japanese-Americans would collaborate with the enemy.
Inoshita, his parents, and eight siblings spent four years at the Gila River Relocation Camp south of Phoenix.
But instead of being bitter, Inoshita has spent his adult life as a historian and civil rights advocate, teaching about the need for diversity of races and religions in the workplace, schools and society.
When Zuberi showed him the cane, the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame member said he remembered seeing similar canes that were made at a nearby relocation camp.
“I never used one because I was young, but the elderly and people with children used them to help guide themselves over ditches and barbed wire,” Inoshita said.
In addition, he said there weren’t many cane carvers at his particular camp.
“These carvers used whatever material was available to them in the surrounding communities to make these canes,” he said.
Inoshita said he’s excited to see the episode and hoped he helped with unlocking a piece of history from the cane.
“It’s a great show that really helps people understand their history,” he said.