Shigee Homma at Heart Mountain, July 1944
Shigee Homma, Yorozu’s wife, was a well regarded flower arranging teacher in Los Angeles before the war. She restarted her classes at the Pomona, California, detention camp, the preliminary holding center before the permanent camps were constructed inland. She continued teaching in Wyoming, enrolling 500 students the first year. In her final year at Heart Mountain, she taught 100 children aged eight to 12, who learned to fashion artificial flowers and arrangements out of wire and paper. This photograph shows Shigee standing before a display of paper floral arrangements made by her students at Heart Mountain, in 1944.
Kyushiro and Yorozu Homma, undated
Kyushiro Homma, Yorozu’s younger brother, followed Yorozu to Los Angeles in tk. Kyushiro graduated from Hollywood High in 1924 and from USC dental school in 1929. He established a dental practice in Westwood and attracted Hollywood stars such as Shirley Temple as his patients.
Before removal from Los Angeles, Kyushiro drained his garden koi pond in Sawtelle. He lit a bonfire in it, burning his personal papers and the belongings that he couldn’t take with him. Two years later, he died at the Amache, Colorado, camp of a stroke and heart attack.
Box made by Yorozu Homma, January, 1944, Photo: courtesy of Mitch Homma.
This box was made by Yorozu at Heart Mountain. It was used as a “koden” incense money collection box at Kyushiro’s funeral at the Amache, Colorado, prison camp. Yorozu started to make the box at Heart Mountain in early 1944 when his brother fell ill. Family members believe that the tree carved in relief on the lid recalls the cherry tree that the family in Japan planted when Kyushiro departed for the U.S. The trunk of the tree appears to be severed or its growth stunted. Credit: Mitch Homma.
Mitch Homma with his ???’s chair, JANM, Los Angeles, 2017