Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kajiko Hashisaki
Narrator: Kajiko Hashisaki
Interviewers: Brian Hashisaki (primary); Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 26, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-hkajiko-01

<Begin Segment 1>

BH: This is an interview with Mary Jane Kinoshita, I'm Brian Hashisaki asking questions, and operating the camera, Tom Ikeda, at the Densho studios. So to begin, Mary Jane, where were you born?

KH: I was born in Seattle.

BH: And what was the name that was given to you at birth?

KH: Kajiko.

BH: Kajiko Kinoshita?

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: And the names of your mother and father were...

KH: My mother's name is Akino Kinoshita, and my father is Suyekichi Kinoshita.

BH: And where were your parents born, your father?

KH: My father was born in Ibusuki, Japan, and my mother was born in Kagoshima City, Kagoshima.

BH: And when did they come to the United States?

KH: That I don't remember, but it was... oh, early 1900s -- no, not early, late... early 1900s.

BH: And do you know why they decided to come to America?

KH: I know my father came over because he knew that he was not going to inherit anything from his family. Japanese had the primogeniture structure, and the eldest brother inherited, like the farm and the homes. And my father was supposed to be the last child, Suyekichi, but he said that several were born after him, and so he said that he knew that there was no chance of inheritance. And he, he must have studied some English when he was in Japan, 'cause he was willing to come over. There must have been a group of Kagoshima fellows that came over together. He landed in Seattle, and they stayed as a group and then eventually found jobs, hotels.

BH: And did your parents meet in Japan, or did they meet in the United States?

KH: After my father worked for several years, he felt that he had saved enough money to get married, so he wrote to Japan and asked someone to look for a wife for him. And the person that he wrote to was a friend of my mother's family, the Toyoda family, and the Toyoda family had at least six or seven girls, and my mother was the eldest. And so the go-between went to my mother's family and said that he has this request from a fellow who was in Seattle, looking for a wife, and would one of the Toyoda girls be willing to marry my father. And my mother said she would. My mother was the eldest, and my mother said that she would be willing to marry him. So my father, the go-between wrote back and said, "I found a woman that's willing to marry you," and so my father said, well, he wanted the information about her and then when arrangements were made, my father went to Japan and married my mother, and then he brought her back to the States.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

BH: And you had a number of siblings, so do you think we could get the names of your brothers and sisters?

KH: My eldest sister was Hiroko, and my elder brother was Tsukasa, then I came in between. And then below me is Ishiko and Maiko, then Chikara. There were six children in the family.

BH: And you were all born in Seattle?

KH: In Seattle, uh-huh.

BH: You had mentioned that your first home was located in the "red light" district of Seattle.

KH: We were half a block from the red light district. We would look out the window and we could see cars stop or taxicabs dropping men off, and then every once in a while, we would see police cars. We didn't know what was going on, but pretty soon, all these women would be loaded into the police cars and taken away, and then they'll come back. Well, it turned out that they were being tested, given physical. And when we started recognizing what was going on, then my parents decided that they better move us out of the neighborhood.

BH: Do you recall that there were a blend of cultures in that red light district?

KH: There were what?

BH: A blend of cultures, more than just Japanese?

KH: There were some Japanese in the apartment unit that, there was one long building with several apartments, and we were upstairs, and there were other Japanese living in the apartment unit.

BH: What about African American...

KH: Not that I remember.

BH: Not that you remember?

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: And in that time, did you ever feel that you experienced any form of racism or prejudice towards the Japanese?

KH: No, I didn't notice anything. Nippon Kan Hall was close to us, it was just about kitty corner from the apartment.

BH: And can you tell me where that is?

KH: My mother used to go over there and take classes. I know she learned how to draft patterns for dresses and things like that. They had social activities for the women.

BH: So it was sort of a school.

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: And your family decided to move because it wasn't very safe. Did anything...

KH: Well, not only that, I think, because there really was no playground for us. We were upstairs, and we had no place to run around. So we moved to 421 Tenth Avenue, which is Jefferson and, Jefferson and near Broadway. And we had a yard, a street that we can play on, we used to play "Kick the Can" at night, do things with the neighbors across the street. There were quite a few Japanese in the neighborhood. I remember the Tada girls, and the Hirais, the Yokoyamas. The Yokoyamas were, they had two older daughters, one of 'em played the violin, and I eventually started taking violin lessons from the older one.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

BH: So could you tell me a little bit about your mother? You said that she was a very strong woman. You've mentioned that she, you would always call your mom --

KH: Well, my father was working at nighttime, mostly, so that we had to be quiet so he can sleep during the daytime. So my mother had to make decisions as to what... and I don't know who decided that we would go to Maryknoll.

BH: And what was that?

KH: It's a missionary school, and it was up on Sixteenth and Jefferson, and they would come around with a bus and pick us up for school. But the, Hiroko and myself, Ishi and May and Chuck, we all went to Maryknoll. But I don't know why, but Bako was sent to Pacific grade school, which was only a block from where we lived.

BH: And was that a private school as well?

KH: No, Pacific was a public school. I don't know whether it was preferential, you know, the first son.

BH: You had mentioned that your mother was the president of the Mother's Club at your private school?

KH: Uh-huh, Haha no Kai.

BH: Can you tell me anything about that?

KH: Well, we used to have bazaars, and my mother would organize the ladies. And at each house, one house would make barazushi, another house would make makizushi, and then another house would make ohagi to sell at the bazaar. And the barazushi was made at my mother's house, and I remember that. She had a little wood stove, and she had a gas stove, and both were cooking rice.

BH: And can you tell me about your father? You mentioned that he worked nights, what did he do?

KH: By that, by the time we were growing up, my father was working as a bellhop at the Rainier Club on Fourth Avenue.

BH: So your parents, they must have both had to work very hard to support the family.

KH: No, my mother didn't work.

BH: She didn't?

KH: She was a housewife. In fact, I remember all the diapers she had to wash, 'cause we came so fast, one after the other. [Laughs]

BH: So she was always busy around the home?

KH: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

BH: Your parents must have had to have you guys help a little bit, didn't they? How you helped to contribute to keep the family moving smoothly?

KH: We never went out to work as such, until we were older. I remember by the time we were thirteen, fourteen is when we went out to pick berries. And at that time, you stayed in a, at the farm and picked berries for the, you know, berry season, which was maybe about two or three weeks.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

BH: And you grew up during the Depression, so how did your family handle the financial situation?

KH: I wasn't aware of the family having difficulties during the Depression. Because back in 1933, my mother took six of us to Japan from March to June, and we visited the grandparents in Kagoshima, and then we also, six children was I think a bit too much for Grandma and Grandpa, so my mother decided that she better find a place to stay. And so a farmer and his wife took us in in Ibusuki, and that's where we went sunamoshi, which is like a hot spring, but then it's, the beach sands are very hot. And we would just go down there and play in the water, and then come in and there would be an old man with a shovel, and we'd just go up to him and say we want to get in the sand. And he would dig a little trench, and we just crawled in the trench, and he covered us up to our neck. And that's how we, how we played when we were in Ibusuki. And then the farmer would take a day off from his work, and he would take us hiking. And I, when I think back on it now, I think we were really bad. [Laughs] We were so tired on that hike, we weren't used to something like that. We just complained the whole way through, and the farmer would cut little staves and said, "Use this, and this will help you walk." I remember that. Then another thing I remember about the farmer is the Japanese used, used to fertilize their vegetables with the increments from the latrines. And he would do that once a month, and while we were eating our dinner, we would smell that awful waft, there he is again. [Laughs]

BH: So you must have been there for some time.

KH: Well, we were there, well, in Japan three months.

BH: For three months?

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: And you were ten years old?

KH: Uh-huh. I do remember we made side trips. We did go to Nara, and the, the couple who was the go-between for my mother and father, they took us out to dinner at this Nara hotel, and it was very fancy. We were dressed in our best clothes, and I remember looking at Bako. We had, I think, a waiter for each two person, and they came around with this tureen of something real fluffy and white. And I thought it was mashed potatoes and took a, had a big scoop served, and I noticed Bako did the same thing. The first bite, it was creamed turnips; it was not mashed potatoes. So we left that on our plates.

BH: And you had mentioned that, I believe it was at customs, your mother had lemons and cantaloupes, cigars.

KH: Oh, this is when we arrived in Japan. It's not a... it was going through customs, and I remember they first checked us out for the fruits that we were, that my mother was bringing into the country. She had a crate of cantaloupes and a crate of melons, and I know she had some lemons. And when the customs fellow came through, she said, "Help yourself," and he took about five lemons out of the box, opened the box and took five lemons. He didn't take any of the cantaloupes or melons, but something happened to the cantaloupes, they never reached Kagoshima. It was shipped from, we landed in Kobe, it was supposed to have been shipped, but it was lost en route.

BH: And you'd also mentioned something about a box of cigars that your mother had.

KH: Oh, my mother had a box of Havana cigars, and they didn't want, customs didn't want to let that go into the country. And my mother said, "Well, it's for myself." She was told to come into a lounge upstairs, and she said, "It's for me," and she took a cigar and she just sat there and clipped it and smoked it, I think, and then she said took puffs out of it saying, "I can smoke cigar." So they said, "Okay, you can bring it into the country."

BH: Originally, though, she hadn't planned on smoking them herself?

KH: No, oh, no.

BH: They were a gift, then?

KH: They were going to confiscate it, I guess.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

BH: So going back to your time in the United States, your time in school, can you tell me about the Catholic school that you went to?

KH: We had religion in the morning, and then when we were in kindergarten and first grade, we didn't have any Japanese, but Japanese was part of the schedule, and I remember it used to be about one o'clock in the afternoon, we would have an hour of Japanese. And there was Nakagawa Sensei, and I guess there were two Nakagawa Senseis. One was Nakagawa Sensei from the Japanese language school in Seattle. And we, rather than go home at three o'clock, because we had the extra hour of Japanese, we went home at four o'clock, the buses took us back.

BH: So your school was a blend of Japanese, Caucasian...

KH: It was all Japanese.

BH: All Japanese?

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: You mentioned after school activities.

KH: There was no after school activity as such at Maryknoll, but then they, I was acquainted to the program at Broadway High School after I entered Broadway, and that's when we found out that we could work for what they called the "little B," you turned out for after school activities and get a little B emblem. And then after you were in the program at least a year and a half, you can start working for what they called the "big B." And I remember Ish and I used to turn out for after school sports, and we, both of us got the big B.

BH: So this was during high school?

KH: In high school.

BH: Okay. And high school, you went to Broadway.

KH: Yes, I did.

BH: Public school?

KH: Huh?

BH: Public school?

KH: I didn't get you.

BH: Oh, was Broadway a public school?

KH: Yes, it is.

BH: So that would be a blend of Japanese and Caucasian?

KH: Yes. It was a mixture.

BH: And did you ever experience any form of racism?

KH: No, not in high school.

BH: Okay. I recall you mentioning a story that you ran against a white girl for an appointed position.

KH: Well, what it was is they have what is known as the Rena B. Raymond award, and this is given to a graduating senior girl who is an inspiration in sports. And all the people who turn out for after school sports may vote for who they thought should be the inspiration person. And I did run against Mary Davis, and this is after the war was declared, and my name was put up for that.

BH: So this was after Pearl Harbor?

KH: This is after Pearl Harbor, and I was nominated to be the recipient of the Rena B. Raymond award.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

BH: Let's go back, then, to Pearl Harbor. And can you tell me about any memories of that day?

KH: We lived downstairs of the apartment house on Terry Avenue, and a fellow, one of the tenants upstairs, he came down and said that war was declared, and he says, "Turn your radio on." And we turned the radio on, and it was kind of a shock for us to know that Pearl Harbor was bombed, and to see it actually happen, because we knew something was going to happen. My mother was visited by one of the Japanese bank managers, and he came to say goodbye. He says, "I have been called back to Japan," and he said, "there might be possibility of a war." This is back in, must have been around September, October. And so we didn't know what was going to happen, but there was feeling of war then.

KH: So when Pearl Harbor, when you did find out that the United States had been attacked by Japan, what did you think about that?

KH: It was kind of hard to believe, a small country like Japan. You, it seemed like, "How did they expect to conquer the United States?" [Laughs] But we, we took it in stride, and then I know that when they asked for volunteers to do things like for the American Red Cross, I know that's where I learned how to knit. I knitted sweaters, and then my mother, she made bathrobes for the veterans who were in the hospitals. I remember she made, sending, sewing and send these, maybe a stack of six of them. Mrs. Nakamura would come by and pick 'em up. And let me see, what else? Then we started hearing rumors, and we had curfew, and I remember going out on dates and having to come back before the curfew started so that the fellows can get home in time, too. It's just a feeling of unrest, because we had to get ready to go to camp, too, and still run the apartment.

BH: So you were informed that you would be...

KH: Evacuated.

BH: Evacuated.

KH: Uh-huh. But we were fortunate, because my sister Hiroko was working for the Japanese American Post, which was run by Jimmy Sakamoto and his wife. And apparently, they had an army soldier just in the office, and we were told that we were allowed only two suitcases apiece, for each person, and to go out and buy two suitcases for each person, and then they said that, "You're going to have a community mess hall, and you have to have, bring your own dishes, utensils, to eat out of." And I remember my mother buying aluminum plates for us. And you know, after we got to camp, to hold those aluminum plates after they're stacked with hot food, it's too hot and you can't manage it. But when we got to camp, the situation was different; we did have army mess dishes.

BH: So...

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Brian, can I ask a follow-up? You said that Hiroko worked at the, with Jimmy Sakamoto, and that there was an army --

KH: No, no.

BH: -- soldier there?

KH: Yes, he --

TI: So it was a U.S. army soldier that would just help inform Jimmy, or why was he in the office?

KH: I really don't know why he was there, but he told my sister that they said two suitcase apiece. But he says, "If you need something more than that, go ahead and take it." So my mother took the legs off her sewing machine and she brought her sewing machine.

TI: So but, I just wanted to -- the soldier was just there visiting and just informed them, or was he always in the office?

KH: That I don't remember. But then he's the one that told my sister.

TI: And what did Hiroko do at...

KH: She was the stenographer.

TI: Did she ever talk about working with Jimmy Sakamoto, what that was like?

KH: You know, I don't remember. But you know, that age group that we were in, we just obeyed the law, and there was really no leader as such in the Japanese community among the Nisei that would say, "This is the way to go." And the only thing that I remember Jimmy Sakamoto was saying, that, "You obey the law." When they said we had to evacuate, "You obey the law and go." He was getting ready to close his shop, so you knew that... and Jimmy Sakamoto was blind, did you know that?

TI: Yeah, Jimmy Sakamoto was a pretty prominent Nisei who helped start the JACL. So when she mentioned that, I just wanted to see if there was any other information because it's, it was so long ago, not too many people remember Jimmy Sakamoto or have personal relationships. That's why I was curious.

BH: Yeah, that's interesting.

KH: Well, Jimmy Sakamoto and his wife were also members of Maryknoll, so I think that's how my sister got the job.

BH: I was gonna ask about your parents and how they responded to all of this, to being informed that they were being put away in camp. How did they respond to that?

KH: You know, I think we were fortunate, because lot of the male Japanese leaders in the community, when the war broke out, just within days, they were picked up and sent to internment camp. And my father was not in that group. My father was active in the Kagoshima Club, and my mother and father also belonged to a singing group.

BH: Now, can I ask you, what was the Kagoshima Club?

KH: Kagoshima Club is all the people who came from Kagoshima Prefecture.

BH: So, from Japan?

KH: From Japan, they belonged. And so they would, right after Pearl Harbor occurred, the military took away the prominent Issei? The so-called leaders of the Japanese community, or if they thought that they were doing anything subversive, they picked them up.

BH: And they were sent to Puyallup, then?

KH: No, they were sent to Missoula, Montana. At the same time, I think it happened in Hawaii. Lot of the influential Japanese, they were sent to Missoula. It's kind of funny to know that, because after we moved to Missoula, we did go by and see the camp where the Japanese were interned.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

BH: So it was in May of 1942 that you were moved to the concentration camps.

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: You were moved to the Puyallup Fairground?

KH: Yes.

BH: You were a senior in high school, and you were scheduled to graduate in June.

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: So can you tell me about that experience? Can you tell me about the move, for starters?

KH: Well, we were all, I don't know how we got to the International District, but then there were buses waiting to take us to the Puyallup Fairgrounds. And everything was loaded, and there were military soldiers standing around, I remember that. And there were some Caucasians who were there to see their friends off. We didn't, I didn't have anybody come to see us off at that time. But then once we got into camp, and then I got to know some of the other people who went to Franklin High School, Garfield High School, then I didn't know them. Because being in the Maryknoll community, our activities were up at Maryknoll and not in the International District. In the International District, maybe they had Bukkyokai or they had other church, church groups. I think the Baptist church had a very active Japanese group. They even had a Boy Scout group. Maryknoll had a Boy Scout group, but then they stayed within themselves.

BH: And you were put on buses to go to the camps. Can you tell me about the bus ride over to Puyallup?

KH: It's not a long ride. I think for us it's an adventure because most of us didn't ride, ride a big bus like that. It was army buses, the army color.

BH: So at the time, though, did you have an understanding of what might be happening to you?

KH: No, we didn't know what was happening.

BH: And what about your parents?

KH: They went along with it. We were just given one little room, one section of a barrack, there was eight of us, so we had beds just crammed tight. There was no room to walk in between, we'd have to sort of walk over the beds to get to your bed. I remember that. Then we had one little area that we, my mother and father, so that we can sit and talk, visit. And you can hear what's going on next door. We had, one of the Beppu boys, he and his wife, Teru Beppu, lived next door to us, and Teru is well-known in the Seattle community.

BH: And so these accommodations, you weren't at all accustomed to anything like this?

KH: Oh, no, this is the whole family in one little room.

BH: So did it come as a shock to you when you arrived at the Puyallup Fairgrounds?

KH: That was, you know, clothing, changing clothes, and if you had to go to the bathroom we had to go to a central area to go to the bathroom. Wash clothes and brush your teeth and face, then we went to the central mess hall. But Ish and I, I remember, got jobs working as waitresses in the mess halls. We'd walk around with milk or water. It was just wooden tables and wooden benches.

BH: So do you have any fond or positive memories from the Puyallup Assembly Center?

KH: From being put into a situation like that? Gosh, it is an experience, but then, you know, you take it in stride as it happens. And you do hear rumors, and I, I remember one time when my mother had to take all her scissors and her knives, kitchen knives, and put, line them up outside on the ground by the bunk, and a soldier came by and checked them out. Says, "What's that for?" [Laughs]

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

BH: So regarding your schooling, you were put away before you had a chance to graduate?

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: So were you ever worried that your schooling will be jeopardized, that you might not graduate from high school?

KH: No. I just took it in stride, just wait to see what happened. And then later we were told that all the teachers were told to give us credit for the classes that we had taken. And we did have graduation. We missed graduation in Seattle, but the principals of each high school came to camp and we went to Area D. We were escorted with a guide, the ones who were graduating, and the parents were, accompanied us, and we walked over to Area D, and then it was a big assembly area. And all the schools, I think it was Franklin, Garfield, Lincoln and Broadway. I'm not sure whether, I'm, there must have been the Cleveland grads. Anyway, we, the principals in, our principal was Mr. Bennett, and he came with our class advisor, Margaret Walthew, and they also brought several of our graduating seniors. I remember Aristedis Phoutrides, and some of the girls. I don't remember the girls who came with them, but they came to our graduation and they were in the audience when we got our diplomas.

BH: So they still had support for you? They still had...

KH: Yes.

BH: I guess, then, there is the question, after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and you were in school with Japanese but also with white, did you notice any change?

KH: No, I did not, although when President Roosevelt made the announcement that we're gonna go to war with Japan, there was a lot of students, Caucasian students, who went to a different room to listen to the broadcast during the school hours. I don't think none of the Japanese students went. We stayed in, I stayed in study hall.

BH: But in spite of all that, they still maintained respect for you, they still maintained friendship, and they even came to the camps when it was time for graduation?

KH: Uh-huh. And then I heard later that at graduation that they had in Seattle, that the band left a space for each of the Japanese students who were in the band when they marched in. And then when they were -- well, the seniors don't play in the graduation, graduating band, but there were other Japanese in the lower classes. The, the seats were there for them in the band, empty seats.

TI: Can I ask a question? So when you had your graduation ceremony in camp, how many other graduating students were there?

KH: I don't remember. I don't remember from my area, Sono Matsuo Nakauchi, she was one of my grads, and Lenora Kadoguchi.

TI: Do you recall any of the speeches? Did they mention anything in regards of that you were in camp? Was there any sort of comments about that by any of the speakers?

KH: Gee, I don't remember that.

TI: Or how about your, like the other graduating seniors that weren't in camp, the Caucasians, any conversations that you had in --

KH: Well, we, they have a dance afterwards, and we danced with them. I remember dancing with Aristides, 'cause he was quite tall and here little short me. [Laughs]

TI: And during that, did they say anything in terms of why you were there?

KH: No, no. And you know, Aristides Phoutrides really made a name for himself during the war.

TI: How so? How did he make a name for himself?

KH: He was quartermaster on a navy ship, and it came out recently in the "Broadway Whims," the alumni news. You want a copy of that?

TI: No, it's just, this is the first time I've heard, so the Seattle School District had this special ceremony for all the graduating seniors. This is the first time I've heard about this.

KH: Oh, really?

TI: Yeah, so this is interesting.

KH: Yeah, we were marched over, and Sono Matsuo was in my area, so I remember going over with her.

TI: And anybody from the school district, like the superintendent or anything like that? Who was the most prominent person? Were the principals the most prominent?

KH: Well, to me, I remember Mr. Bennett, L.P. Bennett.

BH: He was the principal for Broadway school?

KH: He was principal for Broadway High School.

BH: So I take it the principals for Franklin, Cleveland, the other schools, they were --

KH: They were all there, uh-huh.

TI: That's pretty extraordinary. I didn't --

KH: To give us our diplomas?

TI: Yeah, for that type of recognition. A lot of cities it wasn't like that.

KH: Uh-huh. And you know, they even gave me the Rena B. Raymond award at that ceremony.

BH: And that was the one that you had run for.

KH: Uh-huh.

TI: And again, this was something that the students voted for?

KH: Yes. So to me, there was no prejudice as such, 'cause if they were going to, there would be prejudice, they would have voted for Mary Davis.

TI: Well, not only that, but then the acknowledgement in terms of, when they had their own ceremony, they left the seats kind of empty.

KH: For the band, yes.

TI: So it was almost like in protest, do you think, or what do you think? Why did they do that?

KH: Because you weren't there. They knew that it was not your fault that you weren't there. You were in camp, interned. They said that the schools were just devastated. I remember a friend from Franklin High School, she said the next day the schools were just empty, you know, schools that had lots of Japanese.

TI: So did, were there a lot of tearful sort of goodbyes at Broadway when the Japanese left, do you remember that?

KH: Well, we just went quietly, dropped out of school.

BH: Was it... it basically all happened to all the people at once, or was it you guys gradually trickled out of the school?

KH: No, it just happened at once. Everybody, most of us all were evacuated within, within a week or less.

BH: So the difference in the school must have been really outstanding.

KH: That had nothing to do with it.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

BH: So back to in the camps, you had mentioned an experience with one of your teachers, she came and she gave you a jar of honey. Can you tell me about her and that experience?

KH: It was Ms. Springer from the physical education department. She came by to see me, and she had to get permission to visit with me first, and then they called me and said that, "You have a visitor." So I went to the gate, and then there was Ms. Springer, and we visited, and then she wanted to hand me a little tub of honey butter. And she couldn't just give it to me, she had to walk over to the sentry that was walking around the area and show it to him, and then after that, it was given to me. And I thought, "Oh, my gosh." [Laughs]

BH: Now, was that sort of embarrassing for you, the whole situation? You're on one side of the gate, she's on the other.

KH: Yes, I think it was embarrassing for her, too.

BH: What about for the guard, how did he take that?

KH: That I don't know.

BH: Because I recall that you had mentioned that...

KH: The guard that inspected the knives and the scissors that Grandma had, I think he was more embarrassed than anything. I thought, "Gee, he must be just fresh doing service as a army private."

BH: So you were in the Puyallup Assembly Center from about May until September. You were there for the Fourth of July, then?

KH: I don't remember celebrating Fourth of July as such. Of course, nobody had fireworks anyway.

BH: And did you, did anybody note, like, I guess, the irony that this is Independence Day, and here you are, American citizens, put into internment camps?

KH: Well, I had some comments, heard some comments from, a girlfriend, but other than that... but you know, I look back on it now, and I think anybody who had an elder brother or elder sister, their outlook was a little bit different from mine. My sister wasn't as vocal on what was going on, she just said practical things like you can take more than one or two suitcases apiece. Not that, the reason why we should go, we just accepted it and went.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

BH: So in September of 1942, you were transferred to Camp Minidoka.

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: So can you tell me about the process that you guys underwent to get from Puyallup to Minidoka?

KH: We were all put into trains, and the trains all had their shades down. We could not look out and see the scenery all the way. And we were separated from my mother, my mother got sick. And I guess her condition was serious enough that she had to go under the care of a doctor on the train, and when we got to camp, she was able to join us. But we found out later that she had to have surgery.

BH: She had to have surgery on...

KH: She had a hysterectomy.

BH: So this was prior to her arrival at Camp Minidoka?

KH: No. She had to have, the hysterectomy was done in camp, down in Minidoka.

BH: So the train ride over, was that a difficult experience for you?

KH: It was hot; it was very hot and very uncomfortable for a lot of us, I think.

BH: And tell me about how your family, how you felt, because you've moved once, you've been taken from your homes and moved to Puyallup.

KH: Yeah. And to be moved someplace so far away, many of us hadn't gone out of the Seattle area to live. This was a new experience for us: "where are we going?"

BH: So was it, in a way, frightening?

KH: Yes. And then when we got to Minidoka, it was quite dismal. Barracks and no insulation, it was, it was going into fall and it was getting cold in the mornings, frost. And then we had a central mess hall, a central washrooms and bathroom facilities, laundry, we had, it was, there was no running water in the units, we all had potbelly stoves that was heated with coal.

BH: Let's go back to your mother for a moment. You said that you were separated from her on the journey in the train. So how did that make you feel? Were you scared that maybe you wouldn't see her?

KH: We were wondering where she was, they didn't tell us that she was gonna be taken in a, you know, separate -- maybe they told my father, but us kids didn't know about it.

BH: And so that, did that frighten you?

KH: So it kind of worried us that she wasn't with us. And then later on, when we were in camp, she did catch up with us.

BH: So that was a really good time for you, then, a really nice surprise?

KH: Well, I can't remember if she was bedridden at that time. She stayed in the room, we were given two, two rooms once we got to Minidoka, and they were opposite to each other, but we had to go through a door to go into each other's unit.

BH: So typically, families at Minidoka were only given one room. How come, was your family just so large that they had to give you --

KH: Oh, it was so large.

BH: They had to give you two?

KH: Yes. The four girls were put in one, one room, and my father, mother and the two boys were in, in the other room.

BH: So you had given a little bit about your mother's medical treatment. She was treated in camp. Was the treatment there adequate? Did they have the proper setup, the proper supplies to do everything they could?

KH: I guess it had to be because she had a hysterectomy operation, and it was done by a Japanese doctor from California who was interned, and he did the surgery for my mother. And she had a large tumor, and they put the tumor into a glass bell jar, and they said it was three-fourths full, is what I remember.

BH: Wow. In regards to the medical procedure, did they have to get any special permission to perform it?

KH: That I don't know. And the, and the worst part is, like, we had the doctors in there working, our salaries in camp, I think we, working as waitresses, got only nine dollars a month. I'm not too sure, but I think the doctors got twenty-seven dollars a month.

BH: So you were paid for...

KH: Yes, somebody else might verify that.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

BH: And can we go over the living conditions of the camps at Minidoka? I recall you had mentioned that the barracks had cots, but you had to stuff them with straw?

KH: Yeah. When we first got there, everybody had to put straw in there, in these tickings, what they called tickings, for sleeping.

BH: And was Minidoka better living conditions than Puyallup?

KH: Well, we had more room, and I think by that time, like the mess halls, they were more well-organized, they knew who was the cook. The food was getting a little bit better. We did have good cooks, though, I have to say that. They were able to cook for the crowds.

BH: And this was, they were Japanese?

KH: And then they were Japanese, uh-huh.

BH: So it was entirely run by the Japanese community?

KH: Uh-huh. And we had rice, which you had to have.

BH: You had sentries, guards, at Camp Minidoka.

KH: They were outside. They were on the four corners, and then at the entryway.

BH: Was there ever any interaction between the Japanese and the sentries? Did you ever have any interaction?

KH: We didn't have any bad interaction, but I know that people used to visit with them.

BH: So they didn't hold any prejudices?

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: Do you recall any of their feelings? Did you ever meet with any of the guards?

KH: No, I never met the guards, but I did work up at the administration dining hall as a waitress, and Kazie Sasaki was my boss. And I noticed that most of the teachers that were coming in to the mess hall to eat, they're Caucasian. They were Quakers who came to teach us. And my sister worked for Mr. Essene in the administration building, so we had, before we left camp, all the things that we could not bring, you know, all our furniture and the washing machine and extra blankets and things like that, we had stored in the basement of the apartment house that my parents had been running. And then we got word that people were going into our things and stealing. And so my sister told Mr. Essene that, and he said, "Well, we'll have to do something about that," and he arranged for the army to go in and bring everything that was in that, that we had stored in the basement. So we were one of the few who had a washing machine in camp. Everybody else was scrubbing clothes by hand at the washtubs, and we had a Westinghouse washing machine that had a spinning dryer, it would take the water out of the wet clothes and spin it out. People would come by and ask, "Would you run this through just to get the water out?" after they had washed all their clothes, so they could take it back to their room, their little room, and hang it to dry. Imagine trying to wring out dozens of diapers, for instance. I remember Mary Jo Sakamoto, every time we happened to be in there, we would wash with her. She would bring some of her things over.

BH: So you were very willing to share and help out.

KH: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

TI: So this is interesting, too. So this was in the community washroom.

KH: Yes.

TI: You installed your washing machine.

KH: But no, people were not supposed to use it, but some people did, I think. They said they used to see somebody using our washing machine.

TI: And the way this all happened was because your sister worked for the administration and knew someone...

KH: Yes, and then when people were stealing our things, Mr., I remember Mr. Essene 'cause I ran into him later on at Fort Snelling.

BH: Now, Mr. Essene, he wasn't Japanese?

KH: No, he's a Caucasian administrator.

BH: Out of the camp.

KH: He was not the chief administrator, but he made arrangements and then we got our things. And my mother had a garbage can, you know, fifty-gallon can, almost full of sugar during the war. So you know how that went over. [Laughs]

TI: So what was it that caused this administrator to be so nice to your family? Because he couldn't do this with everyone, because it'd be too hard.

KH: Well, this was just a problem that came up for us. And being that he knew the ins and outs, he just made arrangements.

BH: But other, other families were, you know, undergoing similar situations, weren't they? Other families were being, their houses might have been broken into as well.

KH: Well, they didn't know the contacts. So I think we were lucky. Gee, to be able to wash clothes with a washing machine? Ask your mother about that.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

BH: So you had also talked about some dances that you had in Minidoka. Can you tell me a little bit about the dances?

KH: They had dances every weekend, and it was kind of fun. It was piped-in music, but sometimes we would have the vocalists among our group, even from the camp in Puyallup, we had Barney Yasuda, and he used to get up and sing. He had a nice voice.

BH: So that was a fun sort of memory.

KH: Yes.


BH: So this is the second tape with Mary Jane Kinoshita, Brian Hashisaki is interviewer, and Tom Ikeda on camera. Right now in the interview we're talking about Minidoka and recreation in the camps. So we talked a little bit about dances, but if you would go into a little bit more detail maybe. Any specific --

KH: The dances were held in certain areas, I don't remember any dance held in Area 16 where I was. I remember going over to Area 26 and somebody would borrow a truck with seats along the side, and we would all...

BH: Camp Minidoka housed about ten thousand or so people, if I'm correct.

KH: Yeah, it was stretched out.

BH: So these dances, would they just be for certain areas?

KH: And then we would all, the fellows would find out and ask us, and we would say, "Okay," and we would go, either walk to the area, or we would catch a bus like in Area 26, it was quite far from where we were, so they would get an army truck and take us. I remember one time, Bill Yanagimachi was driving, and he must have hit a big pothole, but I went way up in the air and came down hard on the wooden seat. Even after dancing all night, the next day, I could not walk at all. I had hit something sensitive, and I thought, "Gee, I lost all sense in my legs," and I was in bed, but it went away. But the dances were fun. It was dancing to "Tuxedo Junction," all those popular songs at that time.

BH: Did you have any --

KH: "String of Pearls."

BH: -- camp crush or anything like that?

KH: Not as such. In, in Minidoka, I used to go quite a bit with Yoshi Kato. Yosh is one of the fellows who was working with Uncle Bako in the coal, delivering coals to each area, and Bako was, I think, heading that group. But when the time came to volunteer for the army, the coal group all volunteered to go into combat, and I think Uncle Bako for that reason wanted to go with that group rather than, than military intelligence. Bako was pretty fluent in Japanese, and he would have done very well in military intelligence, but he wanted to stay with his friends.

BH: Let's go back to the camp, and can you tell me, you mentioned there were sports as well.

KH: Oh, we played baseball, and I wasn't good in baseball, I could play volleyball. But there wasn't that much sports, not -- because it was over the winter months that I was there in camp.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

BH: So your experience might have been a little bit different because you had mentioned also that in early March of 1943, you were allowed to leave the camp because you'd been accepted to college?

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: So can you tell me a little bit about that?

KH: Yes, I left camp with Hiroko, and Ish was accepted into a cadet nursing program. So we all left, three of us left camp together, and they went to Chicago and I went to St. Paul, Minnesota.

BH: And what school did you go to?

KH: The College of St. Catherine, which was a very nice thing that they did. The dean of the school said that the girls that are interned -- this is a private girl's college -- she said that they cannot go to school on the West Coast, but then she said, "We are allowed to accept students in St. Paul." So she let the Catholic community know that they will accept six students. And if, if need be, that they would give scholarships for those who need the scholarship. And I didn't know that, but Father Tibesar, who was the priest at Maryknoll in Seattle, followed us, had went to camp, and they gave him a room to do, say mass every day, and he was also able to stay in camp. And he applied to the College of St. Catherine for that scholarship. Then I got a letter from St. Catherine offering me a working scholarship, and I took it and left camp.

BH: So did you have to do any application process yourself, or was it all you receiving news?

KH: You know, I really didn't do any application.

BH: So this Father...

KH: Father Tibesar.

BH: He was, he was white?

KH: He, yes.

BH: He had volunteered to come to the camp.

KH: He sent my name in, and they offered me the scholarship.

BH: So you sort of have him to thank for...

KH: Then my records followed after that.

BH: So you left, you left the camp, and you left most of your family.

KH: Yes, I did.

BH: So how did you feel about that?

KH: [Laughs] Oh, I was very homesick.

BH: Really?

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: Nervous?

KH: Yes. 'Cause St. Catherine's is a pretty elite girls' school. But once I got settled, it was fine. Being so close to Fort Snelling, there were quite a few fellows from Broadway High School stationed at Fort Snelling.

BH: So you had a community that you could interact with?

KH: Well, I went on dates with the fellows.

BH: And when you got to St. Mary's...

KH: St. Catherine's.

BH: Or St. Catherine's, I apologize, can you tell me about going to school there and your perception? I mean, how did people receive the Japanese?

KH: We were a novelty to them, I think, but then, they were very nice. I think religion probably has a lot to do with it, too, "Love thy neighbor." And the nuns were great. I, I worked for the registrar of the college, and she was very good.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

BH: And so you took a full course load, did you communicate with your family while they were in camp?

KH: With my family? The only way we could communicate was by writing letters.

BH: So you wrote, did you write frequently?

KH: Not... Auntie May used to write quite often, and then she would tell me what's going on in camp. Then we were starting to have lot of, the rumble about volunteering. I think... well, Uncle Bako did volunteer, and he went through a physical, and he was declared 4-F. And...

BH: And 4-F is unfit to serve?

KH: Yeah, he had kidney problems and they wouldn't take him in the service. So he would come home, he'd be home, and just wishing that he could go with his friends. And so my, my mother made this real bitter, she called it nigagori. It's a bitter medication that will clear up your kidneys, and so Bako took that and then he went back in for another physical and he passed, so he was accepted into the army. And I think after Bako died in the, in the war, and they got the notification, my dad said it was because of my mother that Bako got killed, because she made the medication and cured him when he was 4-F.

BH: So it was in July of 1944 that you received notification of Bako's death.

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: So can you describe that experience? You said that you had been working at a hotel in Chicago during the summers.

KH: Yes. I left St. Catherine's just for the summer and went down to Chicago and stayed with Hiroko. And she got me a job at Stevens Hotel, where she was working at the time, I got the job. And then I worked at Stevens Hotel and they were, they got this telegram, and they couldn't find my sister. She had just changed jobs to go over and work at Maryknoll. And the telegram caught up with me, and what I was doing was trying to find which rooms were vacant in the building, in the hotel, and I was working with an older lady, and she's the one who brought the telegram in. She says, "You know, Mary Jane," she says, "this doesn't look very good." There's, you could tell by the number of stars on the outside of the telegram whether somebody was killed in action or whether it was missing in action. And I don't remember how many stars, but she says, "This has so many stars," and she says, "it's not good news." So I opened it, and sure enough, it was a telegram from camp saying that Bako had been killed in action. And I think they told us to come back to camp, my mother and father. So I had to track down my sister, I found her at Maryknoll, went over to Maryknoll by streetcar and told her that Bako had been killed in action. And when I went to Maryknoll in Chicago, I remember distinctly Brother Charles, who was in, a brother, and drove the buses in Maryknoll in Seattle, he was in Chicago. So it was a close family relation that we got, we, my sister and I both cried and Brother Charles sympathized with us. I don't think Father Tibesar was there. No, he was there, he was out of camp then, when Bako died. I'm not very sure on the dates.

BH: So you took it pretty, pretty hard.

KH: Uh-huh. 'Cause I had been corresponding with Uncle Bako. I think I just had a letter from him. That's, that what was so sad, because he had an R&R and he was walking the streets in Italy, according to the letter. And then you find that here he had been in action shortly after, and killed in action.

BH: So you wrote with Bako a lot? You, I remember you said that when you were in college...

KH: Yeah, Ish, Ish wrote, too. Between the two of us, I guess he said he didn't know who wrote more letters.

BH: You said that you had wrote him about, say, your struggle in college, and he would send you helping advice.

KH: Yeah, he could write and I couldn't. Compositions? We had term papers, and he says, "Just write." But I had a block. [Laughs]

BH: So what was the reaction of... your father, you said he was, almost blamed your mother for Bako's death. Did that create a sort of rift in the family?

KH: No, you have to accept the fact that no matter what happened, the way Bako was so despondent that he could not go in, you can see why my mother wanted to help him, you have to accept that.

BH: So they came to terms with his... but I take it your parents both were very upset.

KH: They're what?

BH: Very upset.

KH: Oh, yes. Well, anybody would be upset, upset when a son dies. That's why it bothers me to see what's going on right now.

BH: In Iraq.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

BH: And did you, did you and your sisters go back to camp?

KH: Yes, we went back to camp, and when I think back on it, I think Hiroko did a very admirable job because she had to borrow money from her roommates for train fare for three of us to go back. And when we returned, Ish went back to nursing school, and she had to go back to her job, I went back to school.

BH: So you were only there for a few months? Or were you there for just a short period of time?

KH: I finished out the summer in camp, and then went back to school.

BH: And was it different from the time before? Because before you left for camp, Bako had been there. Then you came back to camp, Bako wasn't there. So did that difference really sink in, given that he had just died?

KH: Well, we just went back into the camp routine, going in for mess hall. It was different because we used to play cards almost every evening in our unit, and the fellows would come and play with us, and they were gone.

TI: When you went back, did they have any kind of memorial service?

KH: Yes, they did.

TI: Describe that. What was that like?

KH: It was in the church, so it was like a funeral mass. It was, I don't remember whether it was open to the public. It must have been. Father Tibesar was there then, and he did the services.

TI: Something that I've also seen pictures of, that families that lost a son would have a gold star or something like that. Did your family do anything like that?

KH: Yeah, they had a gold star, but then I remember more the gold star that was put outside the window on the house on Eighteenth Avenue, rather than in camp. You know, in camp, the way the notice was delivered to... did your mother ever talk about it? You know Lily Morinaga Hori, Lily Hori? She was working up at the administration building in camp, and I think... was it your mother? Anyway, the camp, in camp when they got the notice of some, a death in family, it was hand delivered by one of those girls that worked up at administration building, and Lily is the one who brought that notice after work. See, they had to walk home from administration building to our area, and that's quite a distance. But Lily is the one who delivered that letter to Mom and Dad.

TI: Boy, what a difficult thing to have to do.

KH: Yeah, you would think somebody from, would have servicepeople -- you know, now, they have two or three soldiers deliver that message, don't they? They don't deliver by mail.

TI: Yeah, that's why I'm a little surprised that they --

KH: Yeah, I think that was very admirable of Lily.

BH: I think even in World War II, they delivered notes with soldiers, I think even during World War II they had soldiers typically deliver.

KH: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

BH: So let's talk about Bako. How old was he when he was killed?

KH: When he was killed? He was twenty-one years old.

BH: So he joined the service when he was twenty?

KH: Yes.

BH: And can you tell me about, can you tell me about him, as you knew him?

KH: He was a very good-looking boy, and smart, he was good in athletics, but especially he liked to play basketball. He belonged to the Maryknoll basketball team. I used to go to some of the games. Let's see, who did he play with? Augie Aratani, I think George Kosaka, Sam Sakai. There's some of the fellows that were on the same basketball team.

BH: And do you have any defining experiences of Bako? You had mentioned that he was running coal in the camp, so it sounds like he was kind of a leader. Can you tell me about that?

KH: All I remember is that he used to come back real dirty. [Laughs] They would have to go to the bathrooms and take a bath before they can come back into the units, they were so...

BH: And you'd also mentioned that he was a Boy Scout, he was a patrol leader in the Boy Scouts?

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: So do you have any stories?

KH: I don't remember much about him trying to work for the different badges, not like when you were a Boy Scout. I don't know, I think my mother sewed the badges for him.

BH: Also, you had mentioned that he had a girlfriend, Beth Suguro.

KH: Yes. I think he used to go -- he was very quiet about that, but maybe it developed more after I left camp, before he went into the service. I think Auntie May probably knew more about it than I did.

BH: Can you tell us what you knew, though?

KH: I knew her, we went to Maryknoll together, so... and Beth had an older sister, Carol, and she had an older brother Callio. And then her oldest sister, her older sister was caught in Japan, and the first ship that came back from Japan, her older sister was in that group.

BH: Did you ever, were you ever around when Bako and Beth were together? Were you ever...

KH: No, not that I remember.

BH: So you had mentioned that Bako wanted to fight and that he was proficient in Japanese, and that he would have been a great candidate for the MIS.

KH: Uh-huh, uh-huh. 'Cause he had as much Japanese as I did, because we were in the same class. But he wanted to go into combat, because most of that coal company that he was working, they all went into combat. I don't remember any of them going to military intelligence.

BH: So they all wanted to fight for the country. Do you know, did you ever ask Bako why he wanted to fight so badly?

KH: Well, he did mention one time that he went into combat because he didn't want to go to the South Pacific battle zone, that he thought he may run into a cousin that he had met back in 1933, Chizumi Arima. He was the son of a doctor. But we didn't know what was going on with the relatives in Japan, but he just didn't want to run into him.

BH: But did he ever say why he wanted to join the service? Was it because his friends were joining at the same time?

KH: Well, all his buddies were going into combat. Somebody like Yosh Kato, he was fluent in Japanese, he could read and write, but he also went into combat.

BH: So when he died, we talked about your receiving the news, but what about his friends? Did they come and talk to you when they got back from the war? When they returned home, did they talk to you?

KH: They came back and visited with the folks. I remember Augie coming. It was awfully hard for them to come. Some of them postponed coming for a while, and my mother would say, "Why doesn't Augie come? He's back, he hasn't come yet." He eventually came. It was hard for them to be alive, and then my mother would just cry all over them, you know. And it was a situation that a young, young man couldn't face. And I remember Sam Sakai came, too, that was a tough time.

BH: So can you tell me about those experiences when they came to the house?

KH: Well, I wasn't, I was there just when Augie came, and that was rough on my mother. I remember my mother just crying. I'm glad it's over.

BH: Did he ever say anything to you when he came over?

KH: No.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: When you think of Bako, he was the oldest son. And when you talk about he was good-looking, smart, a good student, showed leadership capabilities, I'm guessing that it was a huge loss to the family. I mean, can you talk about what, what it meant to, say, like his younger brother, Chuck, and people like that? What did the loss of Bako mean to each of you?

BH: Well, I think there was favoritism in my family. The primogeniture structure, you know, is the Japanese culture, and I felt like there was a lot of future built into Bako rather than Chuck, because Bako had the leadership potential, and he was bright, he did well in school. So I think my parents probably weighed a lot on him. And in little ways, he was treated a little bit different, you know, something good, he would maybe have the first choice. And good food, it would be made for Bako, something he liked. But my, my mother, I think, showed it more than my father. I guess mothers have a tendency to do that, too, though.

TI: And how did your mother show it? I mean, what, you mentioned crying when Bako's buddies would come back and talk with her, but was there anything else that you noticed that changed with him?

KH: Oh, let me see. He did get into trouble sometime, and I think the punishment wasn't as severe, maybe.

TI: No, I meant after he died. Did you see a change in either of your parents in terms of just...

KH: Well, the difference was given to Chuck. I think Chuck was the boy of the family, and he, he was treated more than I think your mother, who was home. She worked, your mother really worked, worked for the Bishop, and she worked hard to clean the apartments. And Bako, he had to help, too, though, because my mother did all the plumbing work when there was a stoppage or something, and Bako would be the one who had to go up and work with her to... somebody had dropped like a jar of cleansing cream into the toilet, and plugged up the toilet, and Bako had to help her get that out. I don't know how they did it, but I remember he had studies to do, but he wasn't studying.

BH: Can you tell me about Bako's interaction with Chuck? That'd be older brother, little brother?

KH: Gee, I don't remember too much of that. There was an age difference between Chuck and Bako.

BH: Were they, were they close, though?

KH: I think Chuck was closer to May, because they were closer in age, and they went to school and did things together. We, Ish, May and Bako and myself, we were closer in a way, because we went to Japanese school after high, during high school, and we would have to walk home from Fourteenth Avenue to Terry Avenue and Pine. And that's, that's when we used to talk and walk home, until we got rides from the Imamuras. They lived on Broadway, way down past our high school, and we would get rides from them.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

BH: So after Bako passed, I recall you mentioned that your family was actually released from the camps earlier than...

KH: Early and then right after everybody was able to go back, we were, they were among the first to leave camp.

BH: And the reason was because they had gotten in contact with the, a bishop?

KH: The bishop of Seattle gave them a job.

BH: So can you tell me a little bit about that?

KH: Auntie May went with my mother and father and Chuck. And Chuck, I think he had an apartment or a room down in the basement of the bishop's house. And Chuck, every morning, had to go upstairs and attend mass, the bishop had to say mass, but he could not say it by himself. Somebody had to be there attending the mass, and so Chuck would be the altar boy. And I don't know, sometimes Chuck overslept and the bishop would ring the bell and get him to come up, and, "Hurry up." [Laughs] Attend mass. This was every morning. And I remember Auntie May going over and cleaning the bishop's house.

BH: And what did your parents do for the bishop?

KH: What did they...

BH: Your parents. Did they work for the bishop?

KH: They worked, my mother was a cook, my father was supposed to be the gardener, but my father really wasn't into gardening, I don't think. 'Cause he didn't know what to do. Our bishop commonly went, used to walk around the neighborhood, and he came back one day, and he says, "Fred," he says, "all the neighbors have their daffodils up and tulips up. Didn't you put any bulbs in the ground?" And my dad said, "Yes." "Well, how come ours isn't up?" And so they went and dug up the ground, my dad had put the bulbs in upside down. So it took a while for them to, you know, go up like this. They came up eventually, but they were awfully late. And my dad, I don't know, it was too strenuous for him. He was mowing the land by hand, you know, a hand mower, so not very good.

TI: So why did they choose your family to be the family to come back? I believe, I looked at some of the old newspaper clippings, it was like the Kinoshita family was the first Japanese family back --

KH: Well, my mother was active, you know, at Maryknoll, and maybe that, I don't know. They thought, "Here's somebody can cook for the bishop."

TI: But it seemed like it was almost like a PR thing because the papers covered the journey from Minidoka --

KH: Oh, they did?

TI: -- all the way to Seattle. There's all these photographs of Father Tibesar sort of farewell to Minidoka, and then arriving in Seattle.

KH: Oh, maybe Father Tibesar had something to do with it. Here's a family that can speak some English, you know. Dad could speak English quite well.

TI: Well, and I think also in the paper, they mentioned that they were gold star parents also, because I think that was, again, I think, I'm guessing that they were used to help ease the way for Japanese to come back to Seattle, so they wanted to highlight one family that came back.

KH: They had, they had a job, but then you say ease, ease the community to accept the Japanese coming back? I guess some of them had trouble when they came back. So my parents were protected. They had a job and then they had acceptance.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

BH: So let's go back to your situation. You were at school.

KH: And she was at cadet nursing.

BH: And then you were, you said that you were only in school from 1943 to 1945. So you didn't graduate from...

KH: No.

BH: And you got married instead. So you were married to Joe Hashisaki, so let's, let's start talking about him.

KH: Okay.

BH: You met Joe in 1945, in May, and you married him in August of the same year.

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: So that was a short time to know somebody, so tell me about that.

KH: He was really persistent. He would call me, see, I was working how many hours? I think I was working twenty hour a week on my scholarship, and so I'd be working and then my study time was very limited. But there were no telephone calls accepted in the, in the dorms until nine o'clock at, at night. And on the dot at nine o'clock, he would call, and he wouldn't let me get off the telephone. I had girlfriends, two or three standing in line wanting to make telephone calls, and he wouldn't let me get off the telephone. I should have just hung up on him. [Laughs] But he would take a lot of my study time, on weekends he would come and visit with me and we would go out on a date. And then we would go out to dinners, or we would go to the Akamatsus'.

BH: So how did you two meet?

KH: We were invited to dinner at the Akamatsus', who's a couple from St. Paul itself, they had a gift shop. And Mrs. Akamatsu is a former Seattleite, so friendships, she knew some of the people that I knew, and she would have us over and we would visit. And Dorothy Kanegaye is from, was from California. She was in a camp in Arkansas, and she and I would both go over to the Akamatsus' and have Japanese dinners. Anyway, Joe and a fellow named Lieutenant Nakaki went to the gift shop looking for those plastic playing cards, and the Akamatsus did not have any, but they visited with Joe and Lieutenant Nakaki and says, "Why don't you come over to the house for dinner sometime? We'll try and get two girls from St. Catherine's over." And so that's how, how I met Joe. Lieutenant Nakaki and Joe decided before they walked in the door at Akamatsus' that Joe would speak with the short girl and Lieutenant Nakaki talk, talk with the taller girl. Well, Dorothy was taller than I was, so she was matched with Lieutenant Nakaki and I was matched with Joe. And so we, we visited and had dinner and then the fellows called the taxi and brought us back to campus, which is quite a distance. Anyway, when we got out of the taxi and Dorothy and I said goodbye, she was going to her Whitby Hall dorm and I was going to mine, Derham, and she said, "You know, Mary Jane," she says, "I think Joe is smitten with you," right then. [Laughs] And sure enough, he started calling on me and going, we started going out on dates.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

BH: Now, we don't know too much about Joe's history, but I guess we should just go with what we've got. He grew up in Montana.

KH: That's right.

BH: And he was one of how many siblings?

KH: Seven. There were seven children in the family, and I guess being that they were the only Japanese family in the area, they weren't known as Hashisaki, they were known as the "Hashy-sacks." And they would all talk about going down to the "Hashy-sacks'" and Joe's father used to raise vegetables, and somebody would come by and say, "I'm going down Hashy-sacks'" to get some vegetables from Joe's father. His father's name was Suyeji, and his mother was Motomu Narita. They were both from Sendai in Japan, and that's, because of that, they got together. Joe's father had gone as a field worker down to Hawaii and worked in the plantation fields, and he saw more opportunity by going to the States working on the railroad. So he landed in the, working as a railroad worker in Montana, and when they finished work on the railroad, they would all gamble and drink. Joe's father was quite old when he realized that, "This is not the kind of life for me to be having." He says, "I should look for a wife." And so he tried to save some money, he ended up in Seattle, and he went to Fujin Home, and that's where all the Japanese ladies were, single ones were living. And Joe's mother happened to be there at the time, and Joe's father walked in and introduced himself, and he said, "Is there any women from Sendai here?" And Joe's mother said, "I'm from Sendai." And so he talked to her and he made a proposition. He says, "Would you marry me and move to Montana with me?" And she said, "Yes," and so that's how they moved to Montana together.

BH: So in one day they decided to go?

KH: Oh, I don't know how long the courtship lasted, this is the story that I got from Aunt Toshi, Joe's sister. Then I found out that he had all these siblings, and the oldest one was Kazuo, name Kazuo, and he went to school and then the teachers didn't know how to spell Kazuo, never heard of Kazuo. So they said, "His parents must mean Cassio," and so they called him Cassio, and his school record says "Cassio Hashisaki" all the way. Then the second brother was Hede, and when he went to school he was named Hideo. Well, the teachers never heard of Hideo, they said, "His mother must mean Hede." So his record is H-E-D-E. Then they had Takeo, who was older than Hede, but, "Takeo, never heard of Takeo, T-A-K-E-O, his mother must mean Tokyo," and they put down "Tokyo Hashisaki." His diploma is "Tokyo Hashisaki." And when Toshi came by, it was T-O-S-I instead of T-O-S-H-I, Toshi. Then when Joe came along, his mother said, "With all this confusion in the school system," she says, "I'm gonna name him Joe." J-O-E. And so he was named Joe, and then the next, next two that was born was Marie and Mary, and Joe's mother didn't know that Marie and Mary are essentially the same, Mary and Marie, but that's how they were named and sent to school. And then Joe became Joseph when went into the army. He says, "Joe Hashisaki," and the lieutenant, I think it was a sergeant, he says, "It's Joseph from now on. You're in the army." So it's Joseph Hashisaki. And I think the Hashisaki name should have been Hashizaki, Z-A-K-I, and the parents changed it to S-A-K-I to be acceptable to the American community. So it's Hashisaki instead of Hashizaki.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

KH: Now I have to tell you an incident that Joe ran into when he reported to Fort Snelling, the military language school. He reported to Major Aiso, and he says, "Lieutenant Hashy-sack reporting, Sir." And Major Aiso looked at him and said, "It's Lieutenant Hashisaki." So that's how he found out it's not Hashy-sack.

BH: That's how Joe found out?

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: Through somebody else?

KH: Yeah.

BH: Wow.

KH: He, he wrote his name out as "Hashisaki," and everybody said "Hashy-sack," but it's not, it's Hashisaki. And you know, that reverberated through the whole, bachelor officers' quarter, that this fellow came reporting, and reported as "Hashy-sack." So you know, you catch up with somebody like Steve Momii, whose father was in, at Fort Snelling at the time, his father was a captain, Captain Momii, and he says, "This lieutenant came up and says, 'Lieutenant Hashy-sack." He heard that it was Hashisaki. That's kind of interesting, you know, when you catch up with somebody like that from past history, because Steve Momii knows about it. His father told him the story.

TI: So where did Joe learn Japanese? I mean, how, because to get in the MIS, you were supposed to know Japanese, so where did he learn Japanese?

KH: Well, his Japanese is what he learned from his father and mother, and it was very colloquial, Sendai dialect. But apparently his mother, his mother was educated, she was a teacher back in Japan. And his oldest brother, I'm surprised, he speaks better Japanese than Joe. Tosi, Aunt Tosi's Japanese is terrible. It's got a lot of colloquial Japanese in it.

TI: Well, it's interesting to me that she uses Tosi instead of Toshi...

KH: Toshi is more Sendai dialect.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

BH: So let's go back to his childhood. When he was young, his family was very poor.

KH: Yes, they were.

BH: And they lived by the river in a shack at one point, right?

KH: Uh-huh, it was a one-room shack by the river. Then Aunt Tosi got scarlet fever, so they moved inland, away from the river. And when I met Joe and went to his family, they had three, four room house.

BH: And at one point, you said that Joe's father, he had a farm and he was planning to, with the money from the crop, move the family back to Japan.

KH: He was leasing a farm, and he had raised a real good crop of green beans, and they were going to have harvesters come in the next day to harvest the green beans. And during the night, they had a big hailstorm, and the hailstorm, the hail was so big, he said, that it just ruined the crop. And the family really had a hard time because they had borrowed money to raise that crop, and they had to repay that.

BH: And so that sort of thwarted his plan to bring the family back to Japan.

KH: Yeah, he was gonna bring the family back to Japan, and Joe says he's very happy that the crop was ruined.

BH: So after that, what did his father do for work, do you know?

KH: He used to clean out ditches and do odds and end jobs. I remember when I went there that he was cleaning out irrigation ditches.

BH: Now, Joe, when he went to school, let's jump ahead to his graduation.

KH: He was sixteen years old when he was, would have graduated, but his birthday was at the end of June. He did skip a grade, and I guess he was pretty bright, because he would get his homework done and he'd still be in study hall. So what he would do is pick up the encyclopedia, and he started with A and read the entire encyclopedia.

BH: And all that work showed, he graduated second in his class?

KH: Yes, he was the salutatorian. But it was a small class; I don't think there were, not more than eight in the graduation class.

BH: Okay.

KH: But I have to tell a story about him on that, because he, he was not there at his graduation. He met a Italian family named Nick Esposito, and Nick had stopped into Joliet, and Nick was a hobo. And he told Joe that he was taking off that day of the graduation as a hobo again, and he asked Joe if he wanted to go with him. And Joe thought about it, he says, "Well," he says, "I'm graduating. What am I gonna do after I graduate? And if I stay home, it's one more mouth for the family to have to feed." So he said, "Okay," and he took off with Nick Esposito as a hobo and rode rails. And he said the one experience that he remembers is being picked up by a sheriff and told by the sheriff that they were going to be rounding up all the hobos in the Salt Lake area, and he says that, "You don't belong in that group." And the sheriff took him and put him in jail and gave him a, a cot. He wasn't marked down as a vagrant or anything like that, but it was for his protection. When they had that round up, Joe was not in that bunch. And then from there, I don't know where he went, but he did go up as far as Oregon.

BH: So he was, he was a hobo, he was hopping trains, then?

KH: Yes.

BH: And moving around from the freight train. And that was between 1933 and 1934?

KH: Let's see, he graduated in 1934.

BH: Oh, so '34 and '35.

KH: Uh-huh. But according to some of the records that I have checked, he did go to a school in Billings for about three months before he went to CCC. So I don't know how long he really was a hobo.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

BH: So you had mentioned little bits of his experience, the Salt Lake experience, it was too dangerous for him, so it was for his own safety, he was put away. You also mentioned, like, the groups of hobos gathering together and making coffee?

KH: Oh, yeah, he told me some of the coffee that he had was really not coffee, it was just water with a little light brown color to it, because he said they would re-boil the coffee grounds over and over in a coffee can. And I did, one Easter Sunday, we were having -- this is during his graduate school days -- we were having a couple of the graduate students in for dinner. He says, "I remember one Easter Sunday," he says, "I was hitchhiking on the Columbia River Highway, and nobody would pick us up, pick me up." And I looked at him, and I said, "Did you have a sailor cap?" He says, "Yeah." He says, "That morning, somebody wanted my rolled up felt hat, and I swapped it with a sailor cap." I says, "You know, I saw you then." It just happened that I was on a Miyashita Sensei orchestra trip, and some of the people in Portland took us on the Columbia River Highway to see the Multnomah Falls. And I know Collette Kawaguchi was sitting beside me in the car, and we both looked at each other and says, "Did you see that? That looked like a Japanese." I says, "Yeah, but you don't think that these Japanese fellows would hitchhike and hobo?" I guess it did, because that was Joe.

BH: So that's your true first encounter.

KH: Yes. And I was what, ten or eleven years old at the time.

BH: Some coincidence.

KH: 'Cause he was, yeah, he was seventeen.

BH: So how did he feel about being homeless?

BH: How did I feel about what?

BH: How did Joe, how did he feel about being homeless?

KH: I think he just took it as an experience. See, he, when he was home, he would be hunting. And he and Dick Grill would kill pheasants and bring 'em home, and says, "Well, it's your turn to take it home. My mom doesn't want to clean any more pheasants." "No, it's your turn to take it home," whatever they shot. Their families must have been getting tired, too, of game.

BH: So he was comfortable with the decision. I remember you mentioned that he never wrote to his family.

KH: No, not, not when he was hoboing. I remember Tosi saying that his mother worried and she would cry wondering what Joe was doing.

BH: And he never thought to inform them? Did he not want to?

KH: Well, it would cost him money to buy a stamp and a postcard. He didn't have that. [Laughs]

BH: So it was out of desire to...

KH: It what?

BH: It wasn't out of desire to distance himself from the family?

KH: No, no. Uh-uh. Because I would say that he was a very good son once, once he got married. I don't know, he and his brother, after Joe hoboed for a while there, he and his brother both joined the CCCs, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the corps sent five dollars of part of their salary to each family. So that, even that little bit helped the Hashisaki family. But he didn't stay in the Civilian Conservation Corps very long because he decided to go to school. He had a principal, Professor Johnson, I think Professor Johnson had a PhD, but he was a principal at Joliet High School, and he was influential in telling Joe to go on to college. So Joe ended up going to University of Montana in Missoula.

BH: And it was because, when he was in the CCC, you mentioned he had been working on a bison range in Montana?

KH: Uh-huh.

BH: And so that's where he met the people to go to college with.

KH: He, he met some people who were forestry majors, so he thought, "Gee, I think I would like to be a forestry major." So he went to, when he went to Montana, he declared himself as a forestry major. But he was taking math classes, and he liked the math, and Dr. Lennes, the chairman of the department at that time, called him in when he was a junior and says, "Joe," he says, "how come you're a forestry major?" He says, "You've got all these credits in math." He says, "You're gonna graduate in math." Dr. Lennes is very strong-minded and opinionated, and so Joe graduated in math.

BH: So he was trying to be forestry, but he had more credits in math?

KH: Yes. So he graduated as a math major.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

BH: All right, so this is the third tape with Mary Jane Kinoshita, Brian Hashisaki on the interview, Tom Ikeda on camera at the Densho. And we were talking about Joe Hashisaki. So you only dated for a very short time...

KH: Yes.

BH: ...before you decided to marry.

KH: You mean the hoboing?

BH: Oh, no, when you and Joe dated.

KH: Oh, yeah.

BH: And so...

KH: But as far as my parents were concerned, the president of the college visited Seattle, so she stopped by to meet my mother and father. And my mother took her over and introduced her to the bishop, Bishop Shaughnessy, and then when Mother Antonius, the president of the college, came back to campus, she said, "I met your mother," and she says, "she wanted to know about your, about Joe." [Laughs] Before I married him, whether he was an okay guy. And she had, all the nuns were interested, they would all take turns coming down to meet Joe. And when Joe came to visit, they would come into the parlor and meet, meet him. They all were impressed.

BH: I apologize, I'm going to have to backtrack a little bit. I missed a question. So Joe was, he graduated from the University of Missoula?

KH: [Sneezes] Excuse me. Yes.

BH: And when did he, he graduated before he met you?

KH: Oh, heavens, he was, he graduated in 1941, I think.

BH: Okay. So long before he met you.

KH: Yeah, way before that, because after that, he went, he couldn't find a job after he graduated, then they talk about war started coming around, so he went and taught in the ground school for pilot training.

BH: And what was he doing in Minnesota when you met him?

KH: This is the tail end of his army career, when he went to Minnesota. He, somehow or another, he was never sent overseas, and he was given jobs like escorting troops back and forth across the States, I think he went about three times back and forth. And then while he was doing that, one of the commanding officers said that Joe was material for Officers Candidate School, and he tried, he talked Joe into applying to Officers Candidate School, and he applied to the Signal Corps. And Joe could fall asleep in an instant, so all, all these lectures that they had in the service, in the signal corps, he was falling asleep. So all his fellow candidates for officer school said that he's gonna flunk out. And one of the tests that they had to do was carry a, I don't know, ten pounds or something in their hand, and climb up the telephone pole and take that ten pound weight and cross over to the other hand and then come down. Joe was able to do it. I don't know, I think it was more than ten pounds, 'cause it was, it was quite a feat. Some flunked out from Officers Candidate School because they couldn't do that, but Joe, Joe did it. And you know, he's small in stature. And he graduated... then after he graduated Signal Corps, they didn't know what to do with him, so they sent him for Chinese language in San Francisco. He got to San Francisco, and he found out he's not supposed to be there because he's of Japanese ancestry. So he asked for a transfer, and they transferred him inland someplace. And then from there he eventually ended up at Fort Snelling to learn Japanese. And his Japanese was terrible. The other people in his classroom, very elementary, but they knew that his Japanese was very Anglicized, and they would tease him. He did make it, though.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

BH: Now, now going back to you two together, what made you decide to marry him, to drop out of school?

KH: I was ready to transfer back to Seattle, and I was dropping out of St. Catherine's. Then when he said it looked like he was going overseas and he wanted to get married before he went overseas.

BH: And how did you feel about stopping school?

KH: Well, I certainly wasn't studying because he was trying, taking all my time. I think I was ready to flunk out of school. [Laughs]

BH: Okay, so were you not doing so well in school?

KH: I was a chemistry major, and I decided that isn't what I wanted to pursue. I didn't know what I was going to do.

BH: So you married Joe in 1945, moved up to Seattle, is that right?

KH: I moved home because he was sent overseas. And by that time, my folks knew that they could not have me move in with them in the apartment over the bishop's garage, so they, Auntie May was very instrumental in finding the house for them, and they found and bought the house on Eighteenth Avenue.

BH: And then when did you meet back up with Joe? You were in Seattle with your family, Joe was overseas.

KH: I was, and I was pregnant with Gerrie, and I had Gerrie in Seattle, and when Gerrie was ten months old, I was able to join Joe in Japan. And I was in Japan for sixteen months.

BH: Now, when you were pregnant with Gerrie, you knew that Joe wouldn't be there. How did you feel about his absence?

KH: Well, it was kind of funny, because you move into a new house, and then my sister Imelda, Hiroko, got married to Henry, and she got pregnant. And so both of us were staying at Grandma's house, pregnant, and I had Gerrie first. And I remember when Hiroko had Drew, because Henry was overseas in Japan, and I, we had to walk to the hospital. And we would walk so many steps and Hiroko would get a contraction, and we would stop walking, then we would walk some more. I finally got her into the hospital to deliver her baby.

BH: So you had to actually, like, you didn't have any transportation, nothing? You had to walk...

KH: Yeah, well, the hospital is just... but if you were normal, you could walk to the hospital in no less than ten minutes.

BH: Okay.

KH: But then when you're having contractions along the way, it took quite a while.

BH: Slows you down a little bit?

KH: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

BH: So in 1946, that's when you had Gerrie, and you moved to Japan ten months later, you said. So tell me about that. How was, how was that move for you?

KH: Well, it was a trip by boat, and we weren't being flied at all. I think it took about ten days.

BH: Were you nervous about going to Japan, the war just having ended?

KH: No. No, I wasn't, but then I was shocked when I got there to see the devastation, you know. Everything was flattened, and then after we got our housing, didn't have, we moved in with Pete and Joy Yamazaki for a while until we got permanent housing at Washington Heights. But the Japanese were really struggling. Fellows who were working in the grounds, they would go through our garbage, and I remember one fellow picking up an old olive and that was food.

BH: So did you, in your time in Japan with Joe, ever go back to visit the places that you had been before? Did you see any places that you had been in previous visits?

KH: Oh, I saw Kamakura.

BH: Did you note any differences? Were there any significant changes?

KH: No, at the time, because it's a seashore. But the villages, you could tell that they were all having a hard time. The devastation from the bombing was something.

BH: Did you reunite with any family members in Japan during your stay?

KH: Yeah, I ran into my aunt, the one that lived in Tokyo, Aritomi Michiko, and her daughter Mariko. And you know, we had maids, they assigned two maids to each unit, and I had two maids do the housework, and they would come in in the morning and go home in the afternoon. They were having a hard time, too.

BH: How was it seeing your family, your cousins?

KH: Well...

BH: How did the war affect them?

KH: The first thing my aunt said to me was, "Your mother must have been awfully fat." 'Cause you know, the Japanese were all, they're not overweight like we are. And she said she took my mother's clothes and took it apart and was able to make a complete outfit for herself with what material she got out of my mother's dresses.

BH: So they were really having trouble.

KH: Yeah, and I remember helping them a little bit, bars of soap and cooking oil and sugar sometimes. Then later on, before I left Japan, I went to work for Antitrust & Cartels, and I was supposed to be a typist. But they would run short of interrogators, when the people from the different companies came in, so since I spoke Japanese, they asked me to interrogate some of them, and I did. And I remember going in to interrogate one time, and one fellow was from a sugar company, and sugar was very hard to get. And he thought it was, you know how the Japanese want to give you something as sort of a thank you? So he gave me this package of sugar, white sugar, and I tried to refuse it. But he insisted I take it so I took it, but this sugar that I could buy, go to the commissary and buy with no problem.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

BH: So how long were you in Japan for?

KH: I was in Japan sixteen months.

BH: And while you were there, you mentioned that Grandpa Joe was given the offer to buy, buy into a home, is that right?

KH: Well, he had a choice of moving the family into Washington Heights...

BH: Which is in Japan?

KH: Yes, it's a military housing area, it's outside of Meguro, or move into a Japanese home. And he thought about that, because he had a friend who wanted him to move into the Japanese home so they could run, like, a casino out of the home, and I was not for that. I said no. I didn't want to live out in the Japanese community because I felt that there would be prejudice. The reason why I say that is because I remember back in 1933 when my mother took us to Japan, we visited a Japanese school, and my brother Bako got up and gave a talk in English, and he, he talked about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree and being honest about. And he, he gave it in English to the Japanese assembly of students, and after we finished visiting the Japanese school -- this is back in 1933 -- we left the school grounds when school let out, and we had to walk back to this farmhouse that we were, my mother was staying, in Ibusuki. All of a sudden, a group of students came and pelted us with dried cow dung. It was cultural prejudice, and I, and I remembered that when Joe was trying to make the decision about taking a Japanese home verus living on the military housing, and I decided on military housing.

TI: So, that's interesting. So when you say cultural, sort of, discrimination, I mean, they didn't like you because you were Americans?

KH: American Japanese.

TI: And did they think you were, they looked down at you because you were Americans and not pure Japanese?

KH: Well, this is 1933. You know, the Japanese are very prejudicial, and I found that out more afterwards when we visited Japan the second time and ran into Jin-san, he was a Korean potter, very well-known. But he said that he lived in a Korean community during the war, and they were very prejudiced by the Japanese. And I found out more because I met a Korean girl, she lives in Bellingham. Her husband is, was consul general, he was in Korea, Japan, Venezuela, Austria, all over, London. And she's telling me these stories of the prejudice that she ran into as a Korean.

TI: So he was the consul general for Korea?

KH: For U.S.

TI: For the U.S.?

KH: Yes. And she was his wife.

TI: Well, how about during this postwar? So during the occupation, the Japanese for the most part were pretty devastated.

KH: Yes, but...

TI: As a Japanese American, you were much better off.

KH: Yes, and we're driving this American jeep and American car.

TI: Did you still feel the Japanese looked down at you during this period?

BH: Or resented your being there?

KH: I think the fact that we were more materialistic than they were. You know, they didn't have the things. And Joe has a cousin who was consul general in Taiwan, Formosa, and we would go visit his home. The mother and the father and a daughter and a, the eldest son, they were very nice to us. They had another son who would never come out when we came to visit. He didn't like us.

BH: So just prejudice towards Japanese Americans?

KH: Japanese American.

BH: And then while you were in Japan, what was Joe's experience? What was he doing in Japan?

KH: He was there as a lieutenant, and he was in CIA, he had to investigate all these Japanese politicians and board people. He didn't like that, so he got out of the army and worked for the historical section doing monographs.

BH: And so when he got out of the army, that's when you moved back to the United States.

KH: Uh-huh. That's where he worked for... SRS? And then we stayed there until we thought we had enough money for him to go back to school.

BH: And so you came back to the United States, and why did you, why did you decide to come back? You were, oh, you talked about prejudice, and you wanted to raise your kids in a healthier environment.

KH: Yeah, and then he was accepted at University of Chicago for a doctorate in mathematics. So we went to Chicago and when he went to Chicago, he found out that his background in mathematics at the University of Montana was very weak. He didn't have some of the courses that was prerequisite to be a math doctoral candidate at University of Chicago. So he was taking couple of math courses at University of Chicago as a, with the undergraduates, and then found out how long it would take him to get a PhD at University of Chicago. So we stayed the year to get his Illinois residency, and then he transferred to University of Illinois, down in Urbana.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.