A few days before his 90th birthday, Henry "Shig" Sakamoto went for his regular checkup. His hearing is bad, and his back is, too. But, the doctor told Sakamoto, surviving nine decades is a feat.
"When you turn 90," the doctor said, "you are invincible."
Later that afternoon, he looked the word up in the dictionary.
"Unconquerable," he read. "Incapable of being captured."
He chuckled. Of course, 75 years ago, the federal government had tried.
Sakamoto was a sophomore at Lincoln High School when they came for him.
He was 15, a boy with an impish grin and a three-inch pompadour. He and two older brothers lived in the hotel their parents ran at Southwest Main and First Avenue.
Their parents legally immigrated from Japan in the early 1900s, but Sakamoto and his brothers were born in Portland, making them U.S. citizens. He spent his days at Lincoln, studying math, agriculture and Spanish. At night, he learned Japanese at a language school down the street. He spent the rest of his time playing basketball with his brother Tom.
Portland was home to a thriving Japanese community then. More than half of the 1,680 residents of Japanese descent were born here. They owned 100 hotels and apartment complexes, 64 grocery stores and 39 laundry services. Others ran restaurants and barber shops. Nearly a dozen worked as doctors and dentists.
Then, on Dec. 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.