Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tom Akashi Interview
Narrator: Tom Akashi
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Chizu Omori (secondary)
Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Date: July 3, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-atom-01-0036

<Begin Segment 36>

TI: So you're... let's go back to your father being arrested with the other sixty-nine men.

TA: Yeah.

TI: How long were they being held at Tule Lake before they went to Santa Fe? Were they there just for a few days? I can't remember how long...

TA: Tule Lake?

TI: Yeah, well, they were, they were being held just for, like...

TA: Oh. Just...

TI: Days, or...?

TA: No, the next day. I mean, we assembled, and probably 29th they were assembled and they were bussed to Klamath Falls the same day.

TI: So they got 'em out right away.

TA: Right away, yeah. They were not, there was no stockades, they kept 'em in the (Caucasian elementary school). They stayed there. And then they bussed 'em out, and they drove right by us. By then, we assembled and we all marched, and there were about couple thousand out there supporting 'em and wishing 'em, giving 'em a send-off. And that's when they told us that they were going to Santa Fe, and we "Banzaied."

TI: So you had, like, thousands at the fence right there?

TA: Oh, yeah. Right there by the fence, fence-line. With the bugle corps and everything. And then we gave 'em a send-off, like you send-off a bunch of heroes. And then they disappeared.

TI: Boy, what, what were you feeling? I mean, here your father was being sent off like a hero, and yet your father is leaving the family.

TA: Yeah. You know, that's youth again. I guess it's akin to... you know, the Brown Shirt members of Hitler's regime, I mean, you're young, your father is a leader, everybody's being "banzai" and he's going. Proud... still sad that he's leaving, but kind of proud that he, he's showed that he was a true Japanese like he said. He says, "You be," he says, "you be Japanese in character." He says, "Proud to be a Japanese." He instilled that in us. And when he left I was kind of proud, yeah. He showed that he stuck to his guns. We didn't know what the consequences were, but we know he was going. But like any other families, like my father and mother, she was pretty sad about the situation. Mad in a way, that he was taken away. Mad that he didn't, he didn't get a chance to say goodbye. She held that for a long time. In fact, many years after, she says, "You know, one thing I resent about that is the way took him away. Didn't even say goodbye to us. Didn't even say goodbye to the children. Woke him up and took him away." She, that, she held the government... she resented it, that kind of a handling. She also resented because, you know, with all the children and the head of the family leaving, and we're there going to Japan and where is he going? We don't know where he's going. So...

CO: She had her baby, a young baby.

TA: Yeah, young baby, so as a result, yeah. Very disappointed.

TI: How was it for the family? Because I, again, I've interviewed lots of people, and the camp situation, the nuclear family would really break up. That sense of family, because the kids would eat separately from the parents and...

TA: Yes. Yes.

TI: How was that for your family, especially during these hard times?

TA: Same way. Same way, is that, you get a sense of independence and non-reliance on the parents. "Why should I worry about the parents? We could eat whenever we want to eat, we could do whatever we want, and who's going to keep us from doing it?" You get, you get to a stage where you feel that way. And I guess I also felt that way. But then again, you could see the sadness in your mother. Not the father, but the mother. Mother is, sees the sadness of the family slowly breaking apart. And she wanted to keep us together. So as a result, I know one time she told me, and I would do something and I resented it, and I said, "No," and she took a broom and struck me with it. Didn't hurt, kind of laughed and whatnot, but she, and I felt very bad about that. So I felt that maybe I should spend a little bit more time with the family. And Mits is the same way. He was in a stage of, that age where you wanted to -- [laughs] -- break away. So he, he was that same way. But we all finally got together, especially when my father left. When my father left, we became very, very close, closer together. And we supported each other, particularly my mother.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.