Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kara Kondo Interview
Narrator: Kara Kondo
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Gail Nomura (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 7 & 8, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-kkara-01-0049

<Begin Segment 49>

AI: [To GN] Well, that, did you have other questions in this arena before we move on? [To KK] Well, that does bring us up now in the, in the '70s, also, that many things happened. There were some early redress efforts in the 1970s. More locally, in the Yakima valley, I think you had a reunion?

KK: Yes. In 1973. Yes.

AI: How did that happen, and who came?

KK: You know, the Heart Mountain people had reunions throughout... oh, from early on. And they had them in different parts of the West Coast. And in conjunction with these Heart Mountain reunions, we, those who lived, lived in the Yakima valley who were evacuated and had relocated elsewhere, and now living elsewhere, said, "Can't we have a Yakima valley reunion?" And we did have these little one-day or one evening reunion following the Heart Mountain reunion that occurred every five years, or whatever. And they said, "Oh, we'd like to come back to the valley." And so they said, "Can't you have a reunion in the valley?" And so we had a reunion in 1973, and when the people came back to the valley. And, but it was a time when, really a very nice time. And they keep saying, why don't you have it? We were getting so old. And it's tedious to organize a reunion of any kind, as you, as you probably know. But '73 did bring us together, and as an outgrowth of... had serendipity movements. We felt... I think Gail knows Tei Tomita, who grew, her first residence in America, was in the valley. And she's a well-known Japanese poet, poetess, poet, and had written a great deal about being in the valley in her early... when she first came to the United States.

Anyway, when the Centennial Millennium project for the Washington State was given award for Yakima, and they decided to have a, a Millennium Project Plaza. And among them they had, the central theme was to have ordinary citizens and talented artisans who wished to have an expression about the formation of the valley and what they remembered as a focal point in little displays, permanent displays. And the artist who was our consultant, who conceptualized this monument, centennial monument, was a Chinese artist, Wen Tisen from Boston and, who worked with, in the valley for about a year and a half, almost two years and brought artists and ideas, to shorten the story. And for the Japanese -- they took various ethnic groups. And for the Japanese, they wanted something about the evacuation from the Japanese as a focal point. And so I (...) took a rough carving of the, of the camp, Heart Mountain camp, that my father-in-law had done and was a replica of that. And then the poem from Teiko Tomita about, some haiku on, on camp living. And so that's on permanent display. And so these are the kind of things that occur from, years following our camp experience. And can't remember --

GN: Well, you're known as the sort of Japanese American historian of the Yakima community.

KK: I'm getting old enough to be. [Laughs]

GN: And out of, out of that 1973 reunion, you actually wrote that history, right?

KK: Oh, yeah. Well, in a way. It was because we had some money left over, and they wanted some memento. And Isao Fujimoto had, probably had something more lofty in mind, but the only thing I could think of was to have a little booklet and a little history and some of the pictures and, and a, a listing of, of the valley people and where they were located at the current time. And it was not too far -- you know, the Japanese Association used to have sort of a census of the Japanese families and the date of birth and all that. And taking from one of their publications, we tried to locate everybody who were there in 1935, or (whenever) it was, and tried to locate them in 1973 and we got quite a comprehensive list and I had, did a little history of it. And so... and, and we had several hundred printed, and I think I have about two left. And, curious enough, it was a lot of the college libraries that wanted them. And we sent them for a dollar, I remember, just for the postage. And, and I think we later charged a dollar, or something like that. So, anyway, a lot of things have happened since '73, though. So... life moves on.

<End Segment 49> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.