Japanese American Incarceration Era Collection Biography: Yosh Kuromiya

Yosh Kuromiya was sent to Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming after he was forced to abandon his artistic pursuits at Pasadena Junior College. At Heart Mountain, Yosh continued sketching and drawing. Creating landscapes, still life drawings, and portraits along with posters for wartime drives, dances, and fire safety consumed his time in the camp. By working on these projects, Yosh coped with the hardships of incarceration.

Throughout their incarceration Japanese Americans were confronted with a spectrum of difficult situations. One particular dilemma occurred in December 1943 when second-generation Japanese Americans, also known as Nisei, were reclassified for draft eligibility. Since voluntary recruitment drives did not produce the desired enlistment quota, a draft ensued. Not all men saw this as an opportunity to stake their claim to citizenship. Many saw the draft as violating personal and civil liberties. Although dissent was felt in other camps, Heart Mountain and Poston Relocation Centers had populations that were the most organized and united in their opposition to the draft. Yosh was one of the 315 total men who resisted. Most of these individuals were convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to three years in federal prison. In 1947, President Truman pardoned the convicted men.

After Japanese Americans regained their rights and left the incarceration camps they began the arduous task of returning to their pre-war lives. As for Yosh, he sought work as a gardener in California. In 1957 he went back to college and received his state license as a landscape architect from Polytechnic College. Yosh went on to have a career designing private gardens.