Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tomiye Terasaki Interview
Narrator: Tomiye Terasaki
Interviewers: Ken Silverman (primary), Alice Ito (secondary)
Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Date: July 3, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-ttomiye-01

[Translated from Japanese]

<Begin Segment 1>

KS: Okay, so we'll begin. I got to say the introduction?

AI: Go right ahead.

KS: Alright. So it's July 3rd, 2000. And we're here with Tomiye Terasaki. I'm your host Ken Silverman. To my left is Alice Ito. On the camera is Steve Hamada. And, assistance, Judy Hill. So, Mrs. Terasaki, we'll have you tell us your story from the very beginning. You were born in San Francisco in 1910, right?

Tomiye Terasaki: Yes.

KS: And why did your parents move to San Francisco? Why were they living in San Francisco?

TT: What year?

KS: Why?

TT: When I was nineteen, I found out that people born in the U.S. could return to the U.S. --

KS: Uh-huh.

TT: -- and so I came back.

KS: But, why were your father and mother living in San Francisco?

TT: Well, back then there weren't stable jobs.

KS: Uh-huh.

TT: They had to change jobs very often. I think they once ran a pool store [pool hall].

KS: Really?

TT: And they also had a ranch, a hay ranch in the countryside. Back then, the hay you feed to cows --

KS: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

TT: They ran a hay ranch together with my uncle.

KS: Really?

TT: Yes.

KS: Where did your mother and father meet?

TT: In Fukuoka.

KS: So they met in Fukuoka, and then came to the U.S?

TT: Yes, yes.

KS: And how many siblings do you have?

TT: Me? Right now, I have five in the U.S, siblings that is.

KS: That's --

TT: Two boys and still three girls.

KS: And what number are you?

TT: I'm the oldest daughter.

KS: Oh, the first-born daughter?

TT: That's right.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

KS: So then, when you were three years old, you were able to return to Japan?

TT: I was taken back. Back then, all of the kids were sent back to Japan. Either because they wanted their kids to have a Japanese education, or because if the kids were around, they would be in the way, and the parents couldn't work. I think those were the two reasons.

KS: Oh, is that so?

TT: Yes.

KS: So, when you went to Japan, whom did you stay with?

TT: I wonder who I went with? It was probably my mother who went with me. I don't really remember.

KS: So you went to Fukuoka, and in Fukuoka, you attended an elementary school and a middle school --

TT: Yes, I stayed at my grandfather's house.

KS: Uh-huh.

AI: [To Ken] What did her parents do there?

KS: [To Alice] In Fukuoka? [To Tomiye] Before your parents came to the U.S, what kind of work did they do in Japan?

TT: Well, they were farmers. Back then in Japan, everyone was a farmer.

KS: Uh-huh.

TT: But, the first-born son succeeds the family, as you know. So the second and third sons have to find their own work, otherwise they can't live with the family. That's probably why they came to the U.S.

KS: So you were in Fukuoka, and then when did you move to Tokyo?

TT: That was after we had been living in the U.S. for a number of years, and in the 12th year of Taisho [1923], there was a big earthquake in Tokyo. After that, my father returned to the U.S. My mother had returned long before.

KS: So, when you moved to Tokyo, where did you live?

TT: In Kichijoji. And we started a cafe. It was called "Higurashi." It is a name of a cicada, but it also could mean "a hand-to-mouth existence," and so everyone laughed at the name. As a result, our business was not very good. We lost all of our money. We had never run a business before, and young people who came to Tokyo to study would visit our cafe. My parents had just returned from living in the U.S, so you could tell they were different from other Japanese people back then. So those students would come to the cafe to just chat with my parents. My parents would feed them, and they would leave without paying. They were so naive.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

KS: When you were living in Japan, did you know that you were actually an American citizen?

TT: No, I didn't know. I knew I was born in the U.S, but I had no idea that I was an American citizen.

KS: So, you believed that you were actually a Japanese citizen?

TT: Well, yes, yes, I did.

KS: I see.

AI: [To Ken] When did she find out that she was?

KS: [To Tomiye] And then, when did you find out about your American citizenship?

TT: 1929, I think. As to where I found out, I asked my mother, and she said, "Why would you ask such a thing now?" She probably didn't know. It was either in the newspaper or people from the ships. Sailors used to come to hang around at my place... maybe I found out from the consulate, I'm guessing now. I'm not sure exactly why or where I found out.

KS: And when you first found out that you were an American, how did you feel?

TT: Hmm, it is difficult to describe how I felt.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

KS: Then in the 12th year of Taisho [1923], there was the Great Tokyo Earthquake, right?

TT: Yes.

KS: After the earthquake, you decided to come to the U.S, didn't you?

TT: Yes.

KS: What do you remember about that time? About coming to America, about the trip on the boat, any memories you might have.

TT: Well, it was almost like I was in a dream-like state. I couldn't think anything... I felt overwhelmed.

AI: ...what she said earlier about when she was single.

KS: So, at the time, you were nineteen years old?

TT: That's right.

KS: Was it quite rare for a nineteen-year-old girl to come to the U.S. alone?

TT: I guess so.

KS: How did your friends or others react --

TT: But on the boat to America, with three people, we shared a room, me and two other girls. The other two were from Hiroshima. One of them has been a friend since, and lived close by in Los Angeles.

KS: Okay, going back to your story about Tokyo --

TT: Okay.

KS: When you were living in Kichijoji in Tokyo, how did you get your job at the Kabuki-za?

TT: The man who lived next door was working at a job at a sumo wrestler's place. He told me that there was a job with a Kabuki theatre, so, "You come work there," he said.

KS: Did you meet anyone famous while you were working at the Kabuki-za?

TT: Um, it took one hour on the Chuoi-Line to get from Kichijoji to Sakuragi-cho. Every day I went to work at the Kabuki place, until about six or seven o'clock, and then, I'd get back on the Chuo-sen and go home to Kichijoji by train. It was late at night by the time I got home.

KS: So then, when you found out that you were going to the U.S, how did you feel about it?

TT: Well, I didn't know much about America, so, how can I say, there was no way to describe it. I was going somewhere I knew nothing about.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KS: And then when you arrived in San Francisco in 1929, do you remember what it was like?

TT: Uh, well I had my citizenship and birth certificate, but I was still sent to Angel Island, and I was given a cup of black coffee and two crackers, and I spent one night there.

KS: After that, what happened? You were supposed to be picked up by your uncle --

TT: He came to pick me up, but I couldn't meet him right away. I was kept for just one night at Angel Island, and the next day I was released to my uncle's place.

KS: Hmm.

AI: [To Ken] While she was at Angel Island, does she remember any Chinese graffiti on the walls?

KS: When you were at Angel Island, do you remember any Chinese graffiti?

TT: Well, there were so many Chinese people crying there. Boo-hoo. They would let the Japanese out after one or two nights, but they kept the Chinese there much longer. And since I'm a woman, they let me go after one day, but my brother was kept there for a whole week.

KS: When did your brother arrive?

TT: My brother came one year earlier than I did.

KS: [To Alice] Her brother came the year before and he had to stay for a week, but she only had to stay for one day at Angel Island. [To Tomiye] So, then, you met your uncle, and where did you go next?

TT: I went to my uncle's house in the countryside near Sacramento, and worked in the tomato canneries, growing tomatoes. I had never done farming before, so I would have a hoe -- a hoe is a kua, by the way -- I would have it and plow the soil, you know, but I couldn't do it. I wasn't used to farming. So then, I went to Sacramento to learn sewing. I went to a sewing school, while baby-sitting. I was a school girl, as they called it in Japan at the time. So, while I worked as a baby-sitter, I went to a school to learn sewing.

KS: When you first arrived in Sacramento, what kind of impressions did you have?

TT: Well, I thought in America people lived in beautiful houses, but back then it was barracks, houses not even with any paint. Then, the table was a simple one made at home by assembling several pieces of lumber together, and the only benches were simply made from wood. And there was only one light in the whole house. It was the same as Japan back then.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

KS: Then, after that you met Mr. Tadao Sakita, didn't you? How did you meet him?

TT: Because both of our parents were friends. And our parents decided, it seemed. I didn't know anything about that, because our parents had decided. I couldn't say, "No." Even if I said, "No," they wouldn't hear of it.

KS: But how did you feel?

TT: Huh?

KS: About marrying Mr. Sakita. How did you feel about that?

TT: What could I do? If I didn't, it was either staying a school girl, or going back to Japan, which I couldn't because I couldn't afford it. It was shikata ga nai. Shikata ga nai.

AI: [To Ken] What kind of man did he seem to be or what kind of an impression did she have of him?

KS: [To Tomiye] When you first met Mr. Sakita, what were your first impressions?

TT: I didn't like him, but I didn't hate him, either.

AI: [To Ken] So where did they live after they were married?

KS: So, then you were married, and where did you live then?

TT: We were married in Sacramento, since both of our parents were there. But then my husband got a job at a vegetable stand in Los Angeles.

KS: So how did you feel when you heard you were going to move to Los Angeles?

TT: That was also shikata ga nai.

KS: Did you look forward to moving there? Did you have some expectations?

TT: No, I didn't really think too much about it. I went because I had to go.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

KS: So, you moved to L.A., and what did you think when you first saw it? What were your first impressions?

TT: Hmm, well, back then, there weren't that many Japanese. I had a few friends who worked at the vegetable stand. I could meet Japanese at the vegetable stand, but other than that, there weren't many Japanese, so I felt lonesome.

KS: Do you remember Little Tokyo back then?

TT: I didn't really have a chance to go to Little Tokyo.

AI: Did she talk about haiseki, discrimination, haiseki?

KS: In L.A., did you encounter any discrimination, or anything like that, against the Japanese? Any discrimination, or any experiences --

TT: A few years after we arrived, for some reason, the vegetable stand was moved around a lot, here and there. And then, we moved to Boyle Heights. And there, there were many Japanese.

KS: How did you feel about moving to a place with many Japanese?

TT: Well, what can I say, I had a child already and was busy taking care of the child.

KS: And then Eiko was born in 1931, right?

TT: Yes.

KS: And were you planning to teach Japanese to Eiko at all?

TT: Yes.

KS: Did you send her to a Japanese school?

TT: Well, she was still a little too young for Japanese school. She had a few years before she could go.

KS: But at home, didn't you mostly speak in Japanese?

TT: Yes, that's right.

KS: And then in 1933, your second daughter, Adeline was born --

TT: Right.

KS: -- and after that, was it Keiji?

TT: Kei.

KS: Could you tell us about what it was like when your children were born? About your feelings, anything you might remember about raising three kids in Los Angeles.

TT: Back then, we were poor, so we couldn't worry about celebrating a birthday or anything like that. We didn't have things like that.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KS: Okay, jumping ahead a little to 1941, do you remember where you were when you heard about Pearl Harbor?

TT: We had opened a cafe on fifth street. And in the beginning, there were very few customers. Gradually it got better to the point where the owner who sold us the store would ask, "How did you guys improve your business so much?" because so many more customers were coming in. Just when we were enjoying our business success, the war began.

KS: And when you heard about Pearl Harbor --

TT: Uh-huh.

KS: -- how did you feel?

TT: The cafe was closed immediately on that day. We couldn't do business anymore.

KS: And your husband, Mr. Sakita, how did he feel... about Pearl Harbor?

TT: Well, it was like, we had just started our business and it was doing well, and so it was quite shocking.

AI: Had either of them had any --

TT: No one would buy our store. And once the war started, and we closed the store, we couldn't sell any of the things inside. Nobody would buy.

KS: What happened to the cafe after that?

TT: We just closed it. Even though we had a lease, no one would buy it. It was just going to be abandoned anyway, right? That's why no one wanted to buy it.

AI: [To Ken] Before Pearl Harbor, did either of them have any idea there might be a war between the countries?

KS: [To Tomiye] Before Pearl Harbor, did you ever think there would be a war between Japan and America?

TT: I didn't think so. I didn't think such a thing could happen.

KS: So, when you heard about Pearl Harbor, were you very surprised?

TT: That's why I was so surprised. I thought, "What shall we do?"

KS: What else do you remember about that time, when you heard about Pearl Harbor?

TT: I was not in a mental state to think about anything. I was just in total shock. I just didn't know what to do.

KS: And then, when did you hear about being taken away to the internment camps?

TT: We were all in the same boat. It wasn't just us, so what could we do? It was all Japanese.

KS: When did you hear that you would be taken away to these camps?

TT: Hmm, well, no matter what I thought -- well, I can't remember, but I just didn't know what to do. If the government tells us to do so, you just have to go along with it. If you resisted, you had nowhere else to go.

KS: But, weren't there also many people who were resisting?

TT: Who would want to go? But you just had to go.

KS: So what happened to your house or to your belongings?

TT: You couldn't bring that many things with you. Just a futon and some change of clothes only.

KS: And what happened to the rest of your belongings?

TT: I wonder what happened. Well, some friends, some of my relatives had already gone to this Sacramento bridge. There is this bridge, a bridge that crosses a river between the countryside and the town. They said the bridge would be closed soon. But that was just a rumor. Even though they knew it could not be true, if you heard the rumor, you might believe it. Anyone would. And so by then, my cousins had already left for town. Only my husband said "No, that's not true." We needed to take our futon, so we packed and brought them with us later.

KS: And what happened to your home?

TT: Well, even if you call it a home, it was just a rental. They wouldn't sell us houses back then. It was just a rental house.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

KS: And after that, you went to Sacramento?

TT: After that we went to an assembly center, called Walerga, for a day or two. Until Tule Lake opened, we were at the assembly center.

KS: What were your feelings at the time?

TT: Well, I was very worried. I didn't know what was going to happen.

KS: How did your husband feel at the time?

TT: I wonder how he felt.

KS: And then --

AI: How did she manage with the kids, the little kids at the assembly center?

KS: And then, when you arrived at the Walerga Assembly Center, how did you manage with the children? Was it difficult, being with the kids?

TT: Well, the children had nothing to do, and were living day by day. The parents didn't know what to do. There was nothing to do. Our meals were not big enough. Since we brought bucks [buckwheat] dry noodles, we just boiled and ate them. That was about all we could do.

KS: What were the other Japanese there like? What was the atmosphere?

TT: Everyone was the same. Everyone had the same feeling, unsure of what to do. Until we got out of the assembly center, we had nothing to do. You couldn't do anything. We were in a place with nothing. We were just really full of fears, and just didn't know what to do.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

KS: Could you tell us about when you were taken to Tule Lake? What kinds of things do you remember about being taken to Tule Lake?

TT: No matter what I thought, I couldn't do anything, so I just left decided to accept whatever happened.

KS: Do you remember riding the train to Tule Lake?

TT: We didn't go by train. We went on an army truck. They pulled all the blinds down, so you couldn't see outside.

KS: Did you have any idea where you were going?

TT: No, I didn't know where they were taking us.

KS: Where did you think you were going then?

TT: I wasn't thinking anything.

KS: Did you think you were going to be returned to Japan?

TT: No, I didn't think that.

AI: [To Ken] Ask her was it about summer time or about, what was the weather like in Tule Lake when she got there?

KS: [To Tomiye] Do you remember what the weather was like when you arrived in Tule Lake? What kind of weather? Was it hot?

TT: What kind of place, well, it was a place I'd never seen before.

AI: [To Ken] When she first arrived, was it hot?

KS: [To Tomiye] When you first got there, what were your impressions?

TT: Wow, this is some place!

KS: So, it was in the middle of nowhere?

TT: Yes.

KS: And then, how did you feel about living there?

TT: Well, it really wasn't that much fun. There was nothing, no chairs or furniture or anything. We had to make our own closets, and make our own tables, chairs, make our own benches. The men, husbands, would go to get, well, not really -- steal the lumber.

KS: And what did they make?

TT: They made all kinds of things.

KS: What were the children like?

TT: Hmm, well, at first, the kids had no toys, so they would just wander around. That's all. And then, a little later, the Japanese school opened, so then they were able to do all kinds of things. In the beginning, there was nothing, so they would just pass the time.

KS: What did they do to pass the time?

TT: Hmm, well, I wonder what they did. I don't really remember.

AI: [To Ken] Did she worry about the kids or did the kids ever ask any questions?

KS: [To Tomiye] Um, did the children ever ask questions? Like, why they had been brought to the internment camp?

TT: Well, they were still too young, so they didn't ask such things.

KS: What was the feeling of the other Japanese there?

TT: Hmm.

KS: What kind of atmosphere was there, when you first arrived?

TT: Well, it was kind of shikata ga nai. Because it was a war that Japan had started.

KS: Was there anyone who thought that was wrong?

TT: Hmm, right or wrong, well, unlike people nowadays, ordinary people didn't think whether it was right or wrong. I think most people back then just accepted what happened to them. Because there weren't many people who knew English. Most Issei knew very little English.

KS: So, when you were taken to the internment camps, was there anyone who put the blame on Japan? Was there anyone who thought, since Japan had started the war, the evacuation could be Japan's fault?

TT: Hmm, I don't think they ever thought about it so seriously. I never really heard anything about it.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KS: Okay, moving along to 1943, do you remember the loyalty question?

TT: Yes --

KS: What kinds of things do you remember?

TT: -- I remember. I was called to the office, and asked what I thought. I told them I didn't want America to win or Japan to win. I just wanted the war to be over soon. That's what I told them.

KS: And do you remember how you answered the so-called, "loyalty questions," number 27 and 28, yes or no?

TT: I was never asked that individually, so I don't know.

AI: [To Ken] More about if other people were asked about loyalty?

KS: [To Tomiye] Do you remember how your husband answered the so-called, "loyalty questions?"

TT: I wonder if he was in the hospital then. I don't really remember exactly. I think he was probably in the hospital.

KS: And how did the people around you answer the "loyalty questionnaire"?

TT: Hmm, I never asked them.

KS: Well, okay. Do you remember the Hoshi Dan?

TT: Huh?

KS: The Hoshi Dan from the camps. You know, "wasshoi wasshoi," --

TT: Oh yeah, "wasshoi, wasshoi."

KS: -- and "Yamato damashii" --

TT: Yes.

KS: -- the group that advocated those things. Do you remember them?

TT: Yes, I remember.

KS: What were they like, the Hoshi Dan?

TT: I, well, never really thought they were bad. They just believed that Japan had won. They were like that. If the parents said Japan had won, the kids would believe it, and would sing, "wasshoi, wasshoi," They thought they had won, and they thought they were going to Japan. That's probably why they were doing those things.

KS: Which country did your husband think was winning?

TT: My husband understood some English, so he listened to the radio. He knew Japan wasn't winning but was losing.

KS: And then how --

TT: But, if you said that, they would say, "That person's an inu."

KS: Who was an inu?

TT: Those who believed in Japan's victory would call you so.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

KS: And what was your eldest daughter, Eiko's life like?

TT: She went to the Japanese school and also learned Japanese dance.

KS: Was your family all living together?

TT: Huh?

KS: Your family, Eiko, the children and your husband and you, did you all live together?

TT: Yes, yes, yes.

KS: Do you have any interesting stories to tell?

TT: Well, the kids were still young, ten, eight, maybe about ten years old, so they didn't really talk much to us.

AI: [To Ken] Did she have any idea what was going to happen to them as time passed on, the war continued on?

KS: [To Tomiye] And, as time passed, what did you think was going to happen to the children?

TT: Hmm. Well, there really wasn't anything special to speak of.

KS: Okay, well, jumping ahead to when you left the camp --

TT: Okay.

KS: You left Tule Lake on December 17th or 18th, 1945?

TT: Yes.

KS: Do you recall that night, the night you left?

TT: Yes.

AI: [To Ken] Oops, I forgot that, did you get that?

KS: [To Tomiye] Oh, sorry, we have to backtrack a little. Mitsuru...

TT: Mm, yes.

KS: I understand Mitsuru was born at Tule Lake.

TT: Yes.

KS: Do you remember that experience?

TT: Yes, I remember.

AI: [To Ken] Any troubles?

KS: [To Tomiye] Did you have any problems during your pregnancy?

TT: No, I didn't have any.

KS: Where was Mitsuru born?

TT: There was a hospital in the camp.

KS: And he was born healthy?

TT: Yes, he was born without any problem.

KS: Did you have any worries?

TT: No, not particularly.

KS: -- about giving birth to a child in the camp?

TT: In the camp, only those who believed in Japan's victory would make such a loud fuss, and everyone else lived pretty quietly. We didn't have any problems. We had plenty to eat, and we were provided with lots of rice and eggs, more than we could eat. Being in the camp, there was less to worry about and life was easier.

KS: Did you have any worries when the U.S. soldiers came into Tule Lake?

TT: No, not really.

KS: Do you remember it?

TT: I didn't worry at all. I had heard that one person was killed. I'm not exactly sure of the reason, though. Maybe there was a fight, or something like that.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

KS: Okay, well, going back to the night you left the camp --

TT: Okay.

KS: What happened then, December 17th or 18th, 1945, when you left Tule Lake?

TT: Around one a.m., they came in a jeep to pick up me and the children only, and took us to Klamath Falls in a jeep. And then, from there, there was a railroad train going through there, and it took one day to get to Los Angeles station. And when we got there, an army car came to pick us up. I thought America was a great country.

KS: Why is that?

TT: Because I never requested anything, but they came to pick us up and took us all the way to the barrack.

KS: Did you have any hostility toward the U.S. government?

TT: No, I didn't.

KS: And then, after that, you returned to Los Angeles, right?

TT: I was in a trailer camp in Burbank for three years. That place was going to close, so I had to look for another home. But the children were small so no one would rent us a house. And a person without a husband... they found out I had no income, so they wouldn't rent to us.

KS: And where was your husband during that time?

TT: He was still in the hospital in Tule Lake. They told me that once I settled down in Los Angeles, he would be sent to us. He couldn't return home because the children might catch his tuberculosis.

KS: When did your husband become ill?

TT: Right after the war started.

KS: Okay, what do you remember about the time you arrived in Burbank?

TT: To where?

KS: Burbank --

TT: Burbank?

KS: Yeah.

TT: In Burbank, the women who had husbands could properly have their husbands work with the electric cords. They could make sure the electricity would come on, the people who had husbands. But, I didn't have anyone to help me, so I was helpless.

KS: Afterward, he went to Long Beach --

TT: My husband went to Long Beach -- before that, there was a tuberculosis center in Hill Crest, and he was there for about two years. But it was a private one. And after about two years, it was going to be closed, so he was sent again to Long Beach.

KS: Then, after that, you met a Quaker named Nicholson, didn't you?

TT: Huh?

KS: Nichol -- Nicholson, the Quaker.

TT: Yes.

KS: Could you tell us about him?

TT: Um, Minister Nicholson was a Quaker. Minister Nicholson wrote a book. For the Japanese, he was very... during the war, he was the person who sent goats to Japan. Since so much milk comes from goats, he wanted to feed milk to the children of Japan. So he sent many sheep to Japan. He worked very hard to help Japanese people.

KS: What kind of things did he do for your family?

TT: He always visited the hospital and comforted the sick people. If there was anything needed, Minister Nicholson would buy it for them. He worked very hard for the sick people.

KS: When you left Tule Lake, what kind of things were your children saying? How did they feel?

TT: They were still quite young, so they just did what their parents told them.

KS: Um, in Los Angeles --

TT: There really wasn't any question.

KS: Were the kids happy to be returning to Los Angeles?

TT: Well, since they were still young, they probably didn't think about that. On the train ride home, they said nothing. For the whole day they ate nothing. They just sat quietly, passing the time.

KS: And then, when you returned to Los Angeles, what were your impressions?

TT: Well, the government gave us aid until Johnny started to go to school. That was very painful for me. So when Johnny started school, I refused the government aid, and I worked very hard doing piece work at a sewing factory.

KS: Were you glad to have returned to Los Angeles?

TT: Well, glad or not, we just returned to where we were supposed to return.

KS: And then I heard that your brother moved from Hawaii to Los Angeles.

TT: Yes.

KS: Could you tell us a little about that?

TT: Now my brother is in a retirement home on Boyle Avenue. He's two years younger than I, by the way. His wife passed away. And men can't cook, right? That's why he's living in the retirement home now.

KS: And when you were in Los Angeles, were you living in your brother's friend's house?

TT: Yes. We visited him, and he said the house next door was vacant, so we moved in.

KS: And then you started attending church, yes?

TT: I started going to church when I was in [inaudible]. A neighbor was going to the Hollywood Independent Church, so they said, "Why don't you come along." Since I was invited, I started going.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KS: So, why did you decide to become a Christian?

TT: Well when I was living in [inaudible], every day I would say to myself, "How can I heal this painful feeling, how can I, how can I, how can I?" So for about two years I was depressed because I wasn't happy. I couldn't work. My husband was ill. There was nowhere to go. No way out. There was only one place I could turn to. I realized I could only turn to God. Someone from the Hollywood Independent Church took me to the Godo Church, in Japantown. That's where Christianity started in Los Angeles. We had a centennial celebration. During the celebration, there was a three-day long missionary assembly. I was taken there by someone from the Hollywood Church, and then a priest named Reverend Kawamoto was chosen and came there from New York. And then he showed me an image of Jesus. And then I went home, and at that time, I didn't know what to pray for. All I knew was that I wanted to escape from my pain. So I did some prayer I didn't understand. It was about one in the morning. I wondered what time it was, and I looked, and it was about 1 a.m. And I saw an image of Jesus and words, "Holy Spirit." When I got up early in the morning, I looked around and saw a bright light which I had never seen before. And then, the green color was such a beautiful green. What I saw was different from what I'd seen. And from then on, I became very cheerful. I'm sure I had such an unhappy face until then. But from then on, I've become so cheerful and happy.

KS: That's wonderful. What was your religion before you became a Christian?

TT: I didn't really have a religion.

KS: So you weren't really religious --

TT: I wasn't really religious... it's just my parents. They were Buddhists. My aunt would go to a temple and chant a sutra in front of a Buddhist statue. And back then, we would go and sit behind her and listen to the chant. But at the time, I knew nothing about Christianity.

KS: What did your family think when you converted to Christianity? Did your siblings or parents --

TT: Because my husband was still sick, the minister from Hollywood would take me to visit my husband. We were very grateful.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

KS: After you left the camp, you came back to L.A. And from then on, did you always live in Los Angeles?

TT: Yes, that's right.

KS: Where did you live in Los Angeles?

TT: In Boyle Heights... back then, Japanese could only live in Boyle Heights or the Southwest part -- Southwest is west and south. We weren't allowed to go anywhere else. But now, we can buy a house in the heights of Beverly Hills, or anywhere. Back then, there was no way we could even go there. The discrimination was very strong.

KS: Really? Do you think Los Angeles of today has really changed?

TT: Yes, it's changed. Back then, there weren't that many people. Now there's so many.

KS: And what kind of work are you doing now?

TT: Huh?

KS: What kind of work, or hobby or activity are you doing?

TT: You mean now?

KS: Yeah.

TT: I, well, sixteen years. Umm... my husband was in the hospital for eight years before he passed away. After that, for eight years, I worked very hard, raising my children. Then, one of my Christian friends and a minister from Godo Church introduced me to Mr. Terasaki. It had been one year since his wife had died of cancer. But he was very handy and good at making just about anything. He was also very smart. It would be a waste to leave him single. "How about if you do him a favor and marry him?" they said. That's how we were introduced. Besides, he was from a nearby town in Japan. I'm from Kokura in Kyushu. He was from Kurume. It's close to my home town. So we felt close to each other, and eventually got married.

KS: And how did your children feel about that?

TT: My children had all grown by then. They were living on their own.

AI: [To Ken] Ask her, has she ever returned to Japan to visit?

KS: [To Tomiye] Have you ever been back to Japan since then?

TT: I went back to Japan many times.

KS: What was it like when you first went back?

TT: The first time, hmm, how can I say it...

AI: [To Ken] Does she have any impressions after she'd been away for so long?

KS: [To Tomiye] Do you have any strong memories, or any first impressions from the time when you went back the first time?

TT: The first time I went back to Japan, it had been more than twenty years. I was very happy.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

KS: When did you first start coming to the Tule Lake pilgrimages?

TT: What?

KS: This Tule Lake pilgrimage, when did you start coming to the pilgrimage? You said this was your third time?

TT: Yes, this is my third time.

KS: Why did you decide to come the first time?

TT: Well, I guess, this was where I was during the war, so I probably wanted to come and see what it was like.

KS: How did you feel when you first came back?

TT: Hmm. "So this is where I was," I thought. When I was here during the war, I couldn't see... I didn't even know there were mountains here. I didn't even know where I was. They pulled the blinds down, so I couldn't see.

KS: Well, are you glad that now you've come back to visit?

TT: Yes. I'm glad it was such a beautiful place. Even though there's no barracks now. It's such a wide-open place, and it's amazing how they sent so many tens of thousands of people here. America is such an incredible country.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

KS: If you have any other stories or anything else you'd like to say about being at the Tule Lake internment camp?

TT: No, not really. It was just, we didn't have to work, but we could eat. It was a very easy life.

KS: So it was easier than when you were living in Los Angeles?

TT: Yes, that's right. Well, you didn't have to work, but you could always eat. You didn't have anything to worry about. It's just you couldn't go outside, and you didn't have any freedom. But other than that, you didn't have any worries. You always had food to eat, and you didn't have to pay the rent.

AI: [To Ken] Does she have any advice for young people?

KS: [To Tomiye] Do you have anything you'd like to say to the young people on this pilgrimage?

TT: Well, for young people... back then the Issei had a horrible life. One of my distant relatives was a farmer in El Monte. They would get up very early, and pick green onions. For one bunch, they couldn't even sell it for one cent, so they'd have to throw it away. How much are green onions nowadays? One bunch is twenty dollars -- it costs about twenty. They had such a hard life. They would break their backs and pick the green onions. And how many are in one bunch? They couldn't even sell it for one cent. They couldn't sell it for one cent, so they'd throw it away. Do people nowadays even know about that? I don't think anybody even knows that. That's why I think young people should learn a little more about the past and appreciate their lifestyle nowadays, and make the best of it.

KS: You are right. Well, I think that's it, so thank you very much.

TT: You're welcome. I don't think there are very many people who know about that, right? They haven't even met someone from the countryside.

KS: True.

TT: That's how it was back then. The Issei had a hard life. They would get up so early, even though it was so cold. They put onions, carrots in one bunch, but they couldn't sell it for even one cent, so they'd throw it away.

KS: And your relatives did that also?

TT: Yes. My distant relative was a farmer in El Monte. And sometimes I visited them, and I felt very sorry for them.

KS: I understand. Thank you so much.

AI: Thank you so much.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.