Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yae Aihara Interview
Narrator: Yae Aihara
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: July 4, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ayae-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

MA: So, your father, you mentioned that he again wanted to try to --

YA: Repatriate.

MA: -- go back to Japan? And what, what happened there? So that was about 1943, you'd been in Minidoka for about a year?

YA: Uh-huh.

MA: So when did you hear from your father about that and what did he say?

YA: Well, the letters we got, they were all censored, but I think the repatriation... I don't exactly remember how, but the camp told us that we were to leave. And we had big wooden crates made to put our belongings in, I think we had three big crates made. And of course we had to say goodbye to all our friends. And this time there was more than just our family, so we knew we were actually going to leave. So we went, we left and went to New York.

MA: Back in Minidoka, did people treat you differently at all after they found out you, your family was going back to Japan?

YA: No.

MA: You didn't notice any change?

YA: No, no change. But, I remember having fun in Minidoka because my father wasn't there, for one thing. So I could go out with boys and, and have fun. I never went to a dance before, when my father -- he wouldn't let us. And every weekend there was a dance -- [clears throat] excuse me -- in the mess hall. And it was fun.

MA: And your sister, you mentioned, had a, a boyfriend.

YA: Boyfriend, yes. And so she was going to marry him, so she was not going to Japan with us. And she was only nineteen at that time.

MA: So she decided to stay in Minidoka with this man?

YA: Uh-huh.

MA: So when you were leaving Idaho, you were going to New York, was that to meet your father in New York?

YA: Uh-huh. And the train ride took four days, I think. We couldn't see anything, 'cause all the shades were drawn.

MA: Were you traveling with all these families that were going?

YA: Families, yes. There were quite a few. I can't remember how many, but there were quite a few.

MA: Do you remember anything, is there anything memorable about that trip?

YA: Nothing, except that it was hot. You know, there was no air conditioning in those days and September, going through the Midwest, it was very hot.

MA: Were there guards on this train?

YA: Oh yes, oh yes. Guards and we couldn't see anything. I don't know how we spent the four days on the train, but we did. In wartime like that, you made a lot of sacrifices. You know, have you heard the words shigata ga nai? Yeah. My mother... that's, we heard that so often, shigata ga nai. We just grit our teeth and bore it. That was the way of life, shigata ga nai. Gaman. [Laughs] That's another word that we grew up with, gaman.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.