Keiko Shinmoto Interview Segment 10

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Husband's experiences during World War II

0:05:18 — Segment 10 of 16

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July 25, 2011

Naoko Wake Collection of Oral Histories of US Survivors of the Atomic Bombs


Courtesy of Naoko Wake, Densho


Keiko Shinmoto

Keiko Shinmoto Interview

1:38:22 — 16 segments


Stockton, California

Keiko Shinmoto's father migrated from Hiroshima to Portland, Oregon, where his brother was an owner of a grocery store. After returning to Hiroshima to see his ailing father, Keiko's father found it impossible to return to America as his mother hid his passport to keep him in Japan. Shortly, Keiko's mother joined him in Hiroshima, also her hometown. Unlike her eight older siblings, then, Keiko was born in Japan, in 1936. She recalls the challenge of being sent to the countryside at the age of eight as part of shudan sokai, a wartime program for children aiming to protect the youth from fire bombings in cities. The food shortage and black market called yamiichi that flourished after the war, too, left Keiko a strong impression. She is a nyushi survivor, as she was exposed to radiation by walking through the city of Hiroshima three days after the bombing. She lost one of her older sisters to the bomb. She came to the United States in 1960 with a help of her US-born brother, by then living in Los Angeles. She relearned English from her father who was also back in the United States and in the area at that time. Keiko attended a technical college to study design while working as a "schoolgirl" and worked briefly in Beverly Hills as a dressmaker before she married Nisei from Stockton. A former prisoner of the Gila River War Relocation Center, he worked as a mechanic at Chevrolet after the war and became an owner of a car repair shop. Keiko helped the shop's book keeping, while she also raised two children and worked at a grocery store in order to pay for her health insurance. At the time of the interview, Keiko had just joined a biannual medical checkup conducted by Hiroshima physicians in San Francisco for the first time because of the encouragement by another US survivor. After her husband passed away in 1998, she has been enjoying talking with her children, going to a Buddhist church in Stockton, and keeping in touch with her Nisei friends.

Naoko Wake, interviewer


Courtesy of Naoko Wake, Densho