Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mutsu Homma Interview
Narrator: Mutsu Homma
Interviewers: Dee Goto (primary), Becky Fukuda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: August 27, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-hmutsu-01

<Begin Segment 1>

DG: Today is August 27, 1997, and we're at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Hasegawa and this is Mrs. Homma, Mutsu Wada Homma, and we're going to be interviewing her for the Densho Project. This is Becky Fukuda and I'm Dee Goto, and we'll be interviewing you, Mrs. Homma.


DG: Mrs. Homma, we're so glad that you agreed to talk with us today. So could you please tell us a little bit about yourself, and you're living here with your daughter, right?

MH: Yes.

DG: How long have you lived here?

MH: [Laughs] After, I was living alone at Beacon Hill, and then I had twice cancer operation on stomach so my daughter told me to live with them.

DG: So that would be?

MH: Nearly five years, I think.

DG: I see.

MH: Maybe more, I don't know.

DG: Okay, so you have a daughter and how many children?

MH: Two boys. Two boys and one girl.

DG: And how many grandchildren?

MH: Let me see. Here is three, Los Angeles is four.

DG: And then you have two or three great grandchildren.

MH: Yes, three great grandchildren. Two in Los Angeles and here is one.

DG: Yesterday you were saying that you fixed breakfast and lunch for your son and daughter before they left, and so that's what you do every day.

MH: Yes, also supper, too. Three meals.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

DG: Well, it's wonderful that you're how old?

MH: Eighty-six.

DG: Eighty-six? So you were born in...

MH: Japan.

DG: In 19...

MH: '11.

DG: '11? Okay. Tell me when you came to the United States.

MH: 1929. I came to -- Father was here. He came 1928 so I came to join the father.

DG: And you came to go to, just by yourself?

MH: Yes, by myself.

DG: And so you said that you went to USC. Is that right?

MH: Yes.

DG: Did you go right away?

MH: No. Yes, ano piano is yes right away, but class is six months later. I went to the -- I can't speak. I can write and read, but Japan high school didn't teach us for speaking. So I went to the Garden Grove grade school, fifth grade, because one of our Baptist member was teaching.

DG: English.

MH: No, fifth grade. So she told me to visit her class so I went there. And then I went there every day, and then test comes, I can make the spelling is 100 and I cannot speak. All the children wondered what's happening. The other things I get 100 so all the children came around me to copy my test answers. So teacher was so surprised and then that was about six months because I was only class with other children over there.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

DG: Where were you living?

MH: With the father.

DG: And he was living...

MH: Garden Grove. And then he had a church, Garden Grove Pomona, two places, Japanese people. After that, six months later, I went to USC.

DG: I wanted to kind of paint the picture of when you came and why you came and what you saw and so I want to stay a little bit with that part. If you could tell me some more about why you came.

MH: Well, my father's idea, whole family live in America while he wanted help on Japanese in America. So, and then Baptist mission wanted my father so came.

DG: But he was here already. How much...

MH: One year before.


DG: Okay, we were talking briefly about when you came to the United States, and so think about when you came and what did you see, what did you think of the United States? Was it...

MH: So different. First I couldn't speak so I didn't know what to do, and then American people saw me and, "This girl is different." That's what they said because most of the Japanese came from that time, servant, work for the farm and work for the orchard and everything, working. Laborers.

DG: Well, how do you think you were different?

MH: I don't know. Because first I went to the American house from front door, and then they are surprised and look at me and then I didn't know why. Later said that all the Japanese people come from kitchen door.

DG: Oh.

MH: None came from front door. And then I thought I'm a guest so I didn't take, after the drink of coffee, take the cup to kitchen. I left there. Everything so different.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

DG: Probably had to do with your upbringing and your family situation. So let's go back. You were born where?

MH: Tono, Iwate-ken.

DG: Okay. That's in what part of Japan?

MH: Iwate-ken is northern part of Japan. Father become Christian after the graduate law school and then he became sick. He thought he was a TB, tuberculosis, and then doctor think so, too. And then he became a Christian so family disowned him because Christian.

DG: Okay. And you said that his family was a samurai family?

MH: Yes, Karo. I didn't know that one Sendai minister came, and then I'm talking to Reverend Wada this way, but if this is a hundred years ago and I can't talk to him. It's quite a different class. That's what he said and then they said the Karo's son and I'm a rice inspector's son. That's what he said. My father was on that platform with closed eyes and didn't say anything. [Laughs] Later he said to him, "Please don't tell like that front of people because some people hurt."

DG: Okay. So tell me a little bit about your father and mother were married, right, and then they, and he became converted to Christianity before that, and then he got married, did he, and became a minister?

MH: My mother is a Morioka and then the father (Sendai). All the samurai family, of course, and then mother's side is doctor, Nanbu-han datta tonosama no doctor and then he went to Nagasaki and studied.

DG: That's a long way away.

MH: Yes.

DG: And why did he go all the way to Nagasaki to study?

MH: Any other medical school, most recent modern technology was in Portuguese or England people. They brought that.

DG: Okay. Now this is your mother's family, okay, that you're taking about.

MH: Yes.

DG: Okay, and your mother's father was a doctor. And that's --

MH: Mother's father was more like a soldier.

DG: Soldier. But the family was a doctor's family.

MH: Yes.

DG: Okay. And so was your father's family pleased that they got married? You said they disowned him.

MH: Because of Christian. My mother was also became Christian because she went to first high school in Morioka, women's high school is Catholic. No high school, so a Catholic nun came from Paris and then started the high school.

DG: Because it's really important that about that time, Christianity was not favored, right, in Japan and so it was very special to embrace Christianity.

MH: Yes. So she went to a Catholic high school graduate. Also three sisters graduate.

DG: So this was probably early 1900, around 1900?

MH: 1900... I think just became 1900, I think.

DG: So previous to that, like maybe twenty-five years before that, thirty years before that, the samurai was kind of the rulers or the high officials of the country, right? And there was a revolution and so the samurai families, did they, they still held prestige?

MH: Yes, that time. Early Meiji. Meiji changed, but I remember when I was a very little, still have some men that's one that cut off the hair, and they have old-fashioned hair. I heard that in America. I came America and then people ask me first, "They still pistol on the head?" Men. I said, "I never seen a pistol on the head." But, you know, hairdo. Look like it was tied in.

DG: With a pistol.

MH: That's what American people said.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

DG: So then at the time that you were born in Tono city, then your father was...

MH: Minister of Tono.

DG: Okay. And he built the church, you said.

MH: Yes. So many people comes to the church that time, morning and night. So Father wants to build that Christian church and then bought the place. And then also, American lady started a nursery school, kindergarten, nursery school, same place.

DG: And he had a hard time building the church because he was boycotted?

MH: Yes, because my father's idea church is Western-style, and the Morioka, big town, started the Marunouchi church that build the Western-style. So he wanted the Western-style church and then the whole town boycotts him, and then they don't want to sell anything to him.

DG: Supplies.

MH: Uh-huh. And then father got a carpenter from Morioka city who built the Morioka church. So a carpenter came, but nothing they could buy. So one day he was -- because the carpenter wanted to go back, ten days they stayed at Tono, they couldn't help. So he was praying that one of a, old man came and said, "I heard that you're going to build a church, so I came to see here." and then my father tells about all the trouble. He said that, "You know, nowadays we use cement," called cement to bottom, not a wood.

DG: The foundation.

MH: So those material isn't, what they call uranai?

DG: Uh-huh.

MH: No one bother so they don't know that material. So you can buy it so you do it. So my father bought the material and then told him how to make it and then build a foundation with cement.

DG: So this was kind of like the first Western influence in Japan.

MH: Yes, because no one knows. And then he couldn't buy the wood material so again a carpenter wanted to go back to Morioka so he was praying at the place. And then a young man came. The man came over and said, "Not church yet?" My father told us all that trouble, and then he said about a mile and a half away there is a Buddhist temple building, a new one, and then all the material all throw outside of gate and then those are more than a hundred years old, and beautiful material. It doesn't shrink or anything. And then no -- what they call, knots? Anything. You can't buy those things anymore. So my father went there and then, "I want those." And then temple people so happy about it. "Oh, please take it." My father -- according list of, church list, my father gave them 75 cents and then took all the material. And then make the build and so when Japan is half build, wood build, and then they celebrate.


DG: So this was before you were born or after you were born? That he built the...

MH: Just after the, about the same time.

DG: So you grew up in Tono city.

MH: No, just a baby. See, everybody laugh at church, look at the church, because of all the black wood, not the new one. So they laugh, but that's the way happen. But I was, besides, my mother played -- my mother graduate of high school, Catholic high school, and then went to Sendai Shokei Jogakko, that mission school. And then those time they didn't have graduate student class so she is one of their student and then took Bible lesson, piano lesson, and then English. Three things majored. So she played the piano, organ, the church. I was sitting beside her, that's what I heard.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

BF: So was it hard at all growing up as a Christian in Japan and in a Christian family? Did other children, were they mean to you or at all...

MH: That time, my time is different. See, but her time, father's time, is very hard. My father was disowned by the family and father's funeral, he couldn't attend. And then he said two blocks away. He was watching that parade. And then his mother is the only one notice him and then bow him from jinrikisha. That's what I heard.

BF: And your mother also had it difficult from her family, too?

MH: I don't know. She never tell me about that.

BF: But it wasn't so bad for you and your brothers. It was when you were growing up in Japan being a Christian it was a little easier?

MH: No. I went to the high school Hiroshima. Hiroshima-ken is known for the Buddhist. So class, I was quite a bit talked about Christianity by the teacher.

DG: That you should not participate in Christianity by the -- what did the teacher say?

MH: The teacher said, "Who is a Christian? Raise the hand and stand up." That's the way. And then two other Christian girl come to the church was in the class, but no one stand up. I'm the only one and then he said that Christ was born a maiden, that kind of things shouldn't happen. See, all kind talked about it. None of us thinks I shouldn't be scarred by that things, but I was. [Laughs] But high school graduation paper said I'm a samurai family was on it, Shizoku Miyagi-ken Wada Mutsu. So that time Shizoku is a very high.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

DG: So was your father getting ready to come to America by then, your high school time?

MH: Probably so. He wanted to see the Christian country because that time Japan isn't favor for the Christianity. So missionary, quite a few missionary was there, but...


DG: Let's then talk about, your father came by himself.

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: A year before you did.

MH: Yes.

DG: And then so what did the rest of your family -- you have two brothers.

MH: We were at Chofu city, near the Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi-ken.

DG: Okay. That's all in southern Japan.

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: So you were born in northern Japan.

MH: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MH: After they built that church, my father resigned from the church and then went to Korea by the Mantetsu, Mantetsu company. Mantetsu is a railroad company. And then we went to Korea and saw -- they called saw, but that time [Inaudible] all the Mantetsu group was together.

DG: And then after Korea, then you came back to southern Japan then because Hiroshima and Yamaguchi are in southern.

MH: No, came back to Morioka again.

DG: Oh, in northern Japan.

MH: The ojiisan, obaasan, because Father wanted help YMCA and then he went to Russia.

DG: So he traveled quite a bit.

MH: Yeah. He went to Russia so I went to Mother and children went to Grandmother's place, Morioka.

DG: Okay, so when he came to America so see what the Christian world was like and he came to Los Angeles? Is that where?

MH: Garden Grove first. After that, Morioka, we went to the Tokyo grade school, finished grade school. And then Tokyo earthquake in 1923, one month before my father have to go to Kure, that's what he said, and then...

DG: That's in Hiroshima?

MH: Yes.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MH: And then my mother became sick in hospital. My brother was born there and then the nurse was same sickness became. Three people in the hospital. My father had to go to Kure and then took the nurse and then my mother and the baby just born, took to Kure. But she, they have to get off the sometime.

DG: What was in Kure?

MH: Church.

DG: The church?

MH: He wanted to go to a particular church, then one month later the Tokyo earthquake and where we lived, all gone. It's a funny thing to happen.

DG: So he was basically inspired to go and leave Tokyo, you're saying.

BF: To save the family.

DG: Right.

MH: That's why we follow the father decision and the sickness people...

DG: Do you know what kind of sickness it was?

MH: Sekiri, what they call?

DG: I guess I don't know what that is.

MH: In the stomach.

DG: Stomach problem.

MH: Diarrhea.

DG: So then you graduated from Kure. And did you graduate from the public school there or the...

MH: Yes, kenritsu. Kenritsu. That time Prince Takamatsu is in Kure no, I mean, naval school. So all the top naval people came to Kure and then Etajima, that school. And then my mother's uncle was also naval school's president.

DG: So that school there sounds like it was kind of like a prestigious school.

MH: You mean -- yeah.

DG: In Japan. In the whole of Japan?

MH: Well, that time because...

DG: Part of the government, of the new government, after the Meiji Revolution came from that southern part, right? And so it gained a reputation probably that way.

MH: Gradually changing that Japan was, but not suddenly.

DG: So America was the place to go. Is that why your father... what did you think?

MH: I don't think anything, just follow him.

DG: You just followed your father.

MH: Because that happened, you know, the Tokyo earthquake, and so forth, everything comes that way, that Tono city he left.

DG: Okay.

MH: When he was a minister that couldn't hold one time the people, so morning and night and he separated and then had a meeting. Well, after that, became smaller. And then went to Korea, Korea he started, too.

BF: So he was planting churches where he went and sounds like he was a very powerful minister.

MH: Yes, quite a bit.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

BF: So you just decided to, to follow him.

MH: Yes.

DG: How much later did the rest of your family join?

MH: To go where?

DG: To Los Angeles.

MH: After, let me see. Three, two years. Three years, I think. My brother graduated high school and then my sister graduated grade school. My brother finished the third year of the grade school and then they came, 1930.

BF: And your mother stayed with them in Japan.

MH: Yes.

BF: So you were traveling by yourself to America around eighteen?

MH: Yes, I did. People really surprised that a woman, girl, came alone from Japan, but...

BF: What was that trip like?

MH: I don't think anything about it, yes, because my uncle was very top of NYK Line, that ship company. So suddenly I wanted to go to America and then I have to be there before, let me see, before June 15th. So ship people all decided who is going to, but two people drop then and put me because he was quite a top so could do that.

BF: So you probably were able to travel fairly comfortable because of your uncle's position.

MH: Yes. That's thankful. I never thought it was hard. [Laughs]

DG: So when you came over, were you planning to go back to Japan?

MH: No, I don't think such things. That time, not airplane, boat. Takes two weeks so no one think that sea two weeks. It's a long time.

DG: What I meant was is that, did you come with the intent of staying in America, or were you planning to go back to Japan eventually after?

MH: I didn't... I just follow the father.

DG: Okay.

MH: That's I think Japanese woman, parents comes first.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

DG: Well, tell us a little bit about going to school now, and you took...

MH: You mean USC?


MH: Oh, first I took a examination. I took piano lesson from now Michiko, Empress Michiko. Her teacher was my teacher, too.


MH: No, not the USC, in Japan. When, time is different. My time he just came back from Germany so very strict, short temper, and then my fingers all purple. That's the way he taught me.

BF: From practicing? Oh, so they were bruised. Oh, my goodness.

DG: This was like around 1925, then, that you were doing this? Because was Western music popular then?

MH: No, not the popular, but we had a church so have a piano. So I took a lesson from little tot, and then I took examination at the USC, they said, "We didn't know that Japan had such a good teacher, piano teacher. So we will take you." That's the answer.

BF: As a music major then.

MH: Uh-huh, music major.

DG: Now, back to this Empress Michiko's teacher, was this -- where did you take the lessons? In Tokyo?

MH: Tokyo.

DG: Okay.

MH: After graduate high school.

DG: And had you taken piano before that?

MH: Yes. One graduate from -- he came from Hiroshima and taught us. Of course, he had several top people, navy officers.

DG: Well, not very many people played in those years, then. Your mother was unusual, right?

MH: That's true. Uh-huh. That's true.

DG: I wonder where she had, her parents had the influence to start training her in piano. You said she took lessons when she was little.

MH: I wanted, that's why. I wanted to play the piano, that's why Father send me a teacher.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

DG: Okay. So you are now at USC and you're in music. And you went through the regular Bachelor of Arts program.

MH: It was hard because, see, I know I couldn't read the English. I can't talk, but, "Would you please read the textbook two thousand pages tonight?" Tomorrow is class. I couldn't sleep, though. Very, very hard for me because I have to see the dictionary, and then lecture, too. When kids singing, that professor said, "Kids is God's baby, not children." the dictionary says. So I said, "I never heard God singing." They lectured and think about those things, lecture finish. Oh, I had a hard time with those language. Such a language doesn't use the Seattle that time, but Los Angeles, USC teachers spoke such a language. Oh, lot of things stuck by those language trouble.

DG: Did you get discouraged at all?

MH: No. I wanted to do it, so...

DG: You were determined.

BF: Did you, were there many Japanese, other students at USC?

MH: Yes. At that time, one, two, three, three Japanese was there, Niseis.

DG: So they spoke English.

MH: Yeah. That's right. But I -- and then someone who helped me is a Korean girl. Korean girl helped me lot. Japanese people, I can't talk English, so don't bother me.

BF: But they couldn't speak Japanese.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

DG: Let's stay with the years that you were in school, but let's talk a little bit more about the community that your father helped build or whatever. Tell us a little bit about his church and the community that you lived in, and you were talking about teaching dancing and...

MH: At Pomona and Garden Grove people were farmers. First time I see the farmers. And then went to one of the farmers' house for the teaching piano for the children, at the entrance have a chicken house. And then I said, "Hello," and then the chicken, "kwa, kwa" and all run away to own house because if I go there, always their family kill the chicken and cooked the chicken, teriyaki chicken, for me to serve supper.

BF: So the chickens knew? [Laughs]

MH: Yeah. Soon as they hear my voice, "kwa, kwa," all the chickens run away. [Laughs]

DG: So this was close by where you lived or far away?

MH: No. Garden Grove so that's a little bit far away.

DG: And you went by car, your father took you?

MH: Maybe came after me.

BF: So it sounds like you were, your family and your upbringing was a little different 'cause you said this was the first time you'd seen farming families. So you were a little bit more city folk, a little bit more educated, coming from samurai background and things like that. Is that true?

MH: I didn't see much of farmers' work.

DG: As you were growing up.

MH: Uh-huh. So quite a different. And then I didn't know that the, some of the olive. Those things, I never seen them before. So they said that, "This is a good, this is a good, you better eat it, we love it." But I -- [laughs] -- very difficult to eat olive. Something like that happen.

DG: Were you cooking for yourself at that time?

MH: I didn't know how to cook so some of Japanese lady help me to teach me how to do it. Now I think about it and, my goodness, those people really helped me.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

DG: So you were living then with your father and your mother and your brothers. They had come by that time.

MH: After 1930.

DG: And you were all living in Garden Grove.

MH: No, that time at Gardena. We moved to Gardena.

DG: And then your father was minister of the Gardena Baptist Church?

MH: Yes. See, Gardena valley is a most town people at the church. So farmers all go to the Buddhist church and then most, and then town people, those people, came to our church. So quite a different.

DG: How did your father start and move to the Gardena Baptist Church?

MH: Baptist Church want him so badly, Gardena Baptist Church lost a minister. And when first we went there, nobody there. And then father told that we going to move to Gardena, no church members. So, oh, father really surprised and then Garden Grove people took us and then sensei some of... kaerimasho, Garden Grove-e kaerimasho, konna church, tsumetai church. Mitakumonai.

DG: Yeah, so he said, "Let's go back to Garden Grove because this church is so empty," right, "and cold."

MH: Right.

DG: Nobody there.

MH: So my father called up Gardena Baptist church member, they are so shock and then, "We didn't know that you people coming today. Minister before didn't tell us." So everybody came so Garden Grove members satisfied and went home. Otherwise, we won't go home. I will take the Reverend Wada to Garden Grove.

DG: So this was a older, smaller church at that time?

MH: Garden Grove?

DG: The Gardena.

MH: Gardena? Yes. Building is a large building, but people is just a few people was first Sunday, only five people. And then ten years later, over 400 Sunday school people.

DG: So your father had a lot to do with the growth of the church.

MH: Yeah.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

DG: Did you participate in the music of the church at that time?

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: What did you do?

MH: Played the piano and direct the choir.

DG: And did your mother also?

MH: No. Mother is a minister's wife, most like.

DG: Okay. And then you taught Japanese dance to children?

MH: Yes, to groups. I went to -- well, first Terminal Island have a Japanese school. Reverend Shiraishi and wife were teaching big school. And they have some kind of a field game or something, undokai, field something. And then gakugeikai, that mean show inside the school, open house. Those time, wanted some of program, so they ask me to teach children. So I taught the children.

DG: And this was close to Terminal Island then.

MH: In the Terminal.

DG: So did you continue to do that?

MH: Yes. Terminal Island and then Gardena people wanted Gardena and then Los Angeles people wanted, so I went to Los Angeles and then some Japanese schools.

BF: So you taught a lot of different places.

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: And so you gathered...

MH: Lots of people. I think all together about 150 people.

DG: Did you also teach piano lessons at this time?

MH: Yes, not too many, but I did. Watanabe-san's wife.

DG: Sachi?

MH: Sachi and Aki and those people.

DG: Were your students.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

DG: So then you finished school and you graduated 19...

MH: '33?

DG: '33. So...

MH: And then that year, November, I married.

DG: Tell us a little bit about meeting your husband.

MH: I had came from Japan and I had teeth trouble, cavity, and so forth and then Terminal Island goes to Dr. Ohira, that's a very good dentist. So I went there and then my husband was there helping after graduate USC. So Dr. Ohira is the one, "If you marry, this girl is the right person." And then the doctor told me that, "If you marry, this man is very good." I don't think about it. Just came from Japan and went through the school and then...

BF: So what changed your mind or got you interested?

MH: We are going around with him four years.

BF: That's a long time.

MH: From beginning of, I came from Japan.

BF: Is he also first-generation?

MH: Yes. But he came, he's through the high school and then came to America and went to Hollywood High School, graduate. Three years and graduate and then went to USC dental.

DG: What ken was he from?

MH: Shizuoka-ken. Hamamatsu.

DG: So did you have baishakunin, formal?

MH: Yes, have to ask.

DG: Right. Because in those days, it was more proper to, for the father to choose, wasn't it, kind of?

MH: Yeah, but mine is not...

DG: Right. So yours was different.

MH: He came to church every Sunday and then not that, several men came, USC graduate.

BF: Who were interested in dating you?

MH: I think so. I don't know. You know, Japanese people doesn't date.

DG: But that's why I'm wondering what you did.

MH: See, some church, Hollywood Church, that my husband belongs to the church and then also my nakodo, too, their church having a some kind of program wants me to teach them my Japanese dancing. So I had to go there and then my husband said, "I will take you."

DG: So did you go out on actual dates after that? Did you go to movies or what they...

MH: Until marry, I think movie or something, but just a few times, maybe two, three times.

DG: So what made you decide to get married?

MH: I found he's a very nice person, but quite an age difference, too, eleven years different. So just like I'm close to the father.

DG: Right. But it's not so unusual for that time. Seems like most of, like my parents were ten years apart.


BF: When you were saying that, you said that it was unusual for Japanese to date, so they were set up and they just got married right away, no dating to get to know each other?

MH: No, but date or not, he came to me for the, take me to his church and he take me home. That's, his church is Hollywood and my home was Gardena so maybe that's that date.

BF: That's the way in groups and meeting the family and nothing like just you two going to a movie like nowadays.

MH: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

DG: So then you had a go-between and you arranged for the marriage and you got married where?

MH: Gardena Baptist Church.

DG: Did your father do part of the ceremony?

MH: No, bishop did. It's Dr. Fox. And then it's, wedding funny was after platform and now, "She is your wife. Will you please kiss her?" And then he said, "Oh, no, Japanese doesn't." And then Dr. Fox said, "No, you have to. This is America. America people kiss wife." "No."

BF: And this was going on during the ceremony?

MH: Yes, in ceremony, arguing. And finally Dr. said, "Well, then never complain later." He said, "Yeah, I know." And then okay. We didn't kiss. [Laughs]

BF: That's a funny story.

MH: That's I think Japanese, first one he said that the first Japanese doesn't kiss and never before or after.

DG: Did you wear a kimono at all during part of the ceremony?

MH: Ceremony, I wear it quite a bit because in Seattle, too, I said eighty-three places I went. One time I wear kimono and show the Japanese dance. So played the piano and then one black lady is a singer so I accompany.

DG: This was later?

MH: Uh-huh. In Seattle.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

DG: So now you're married and your husband, did he have a practice?

MH: Yes. It was in Los Angeles, a dentist.

DG: On Sawtelle?

MH: Yes. And Sawtelle people is USC group. All the store men and shop, they have a shop and those people all graduated USC and then doctors, too. So when we went to the camp, first time such a good recommendation, whole town is Dr. Homma. That's what they said.

DG: So was it a mostly white community along Sawtelle?

MH: Some Japanese, yes. Those people are most Japanese gardener.

DG: Okay. And where did you live?

MH: Sawtelle.

DG: Next to the office?

MH: No, this office is a town, Santa Monica Boulevard. My right side lady is college, let me see... Spanish teacher at the college, and then my next door is a Japanese, Japanese school, language school teacher. And then the next door is a psychology professor at the college, and then they had bulldog, cute dog. Morning he ate the breakfast, comes to our yard, and play with the children because my children, three children, and then across the street and then back door, the children all comes to play in our yard.

BF: So it was a mixed neighborhood, a lot of, racially mixed neighborhood.

MH: Yes.

BF: And sounds like everyone was very friendly if the dog...

MH: But the war start, somebody killed the dog. A few days dog isn't coming so I went there and asked what happened to the bulldog and somebody kill, gave it poison. Oh, she was mad.

BF: And she thought it was because the dog would visit the Japanese families?

MH: That's what I... otherwise don't have to kill. And then we found out across the street person is FBI. And then one patient came to six month, man was also FBI checking my husband.

DG: In your husband's office? Right, one of the patients.

MH: So my husband was out of state.

DG: Right. So he didn't have to go early like a lot of the professional people.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

DG: So tell us when the war started, then, what happened that day. Can you remember?

MH: You know, we have to sell all kind of things because they can't take anything. And then how long we have to be in the camp, we can't tell. So everybody sold everything, but American people at that time, I don't know where they came from, but quite rude, not really wanted to buy piano like that. Came with little children and about six or seven years old girl, "I like this piano." And then her father said, "Okay." And then, "Sell me," so I said, "No. I want to take to, with my husband's equipment. Piano is store at the Bekins." And then a hour later he came with a moving truck, mover brought, and took the piano and then left the 25 dollar.

BF: He just stole it then, really.

DG: And he just walked into your house.

MH: No, that's the way did everything. My next door Japanese school teacher's place is grandmother became stroke and lying down and then daughter became stroke, too. She's only twelve.

BF: Her daughter had a stroke at age twelve?

MH: And then was in bed. So they need washing. So she bought a big washing machine, new one, and then it's only three weeks old. They took five dollar and they took the washing machine. How much they say that we can't sell.

DG: Well, these people just walked into your house.

MH: Yes.

DG: And took what they...

MH: Anything they wanted. Neighbors, not the neighbors, neighbor people knew us so they don't do such things, but I don't know where they came from. Most take the things like that.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

BF: Do you remember how your children felt during this time?

MH: Children doesn't make any difference. They are happy, people coming. So one day we closed the door and they eat lunch because so many people just walk in. One day, bell rings so badly, not, many times. So, okay, Kumi jump up -- and then she was about four or five -- jump up and went to open the door. Then we are eating lunch and they all came, family came in, and then see that our table and then lunch so I made hamburger. Japanese hamburger is korokke [Inaudible]. We made it and then men take, ate it right away and, "Oh, this is taste good."

BF: So they just started eating your lunch?

MH: Yes. And then you eat, come on family, eat it.

DG: Oh, my goodness.

BF: You must have been so shocked because it doesn't sound like...

MH: We are shocked.

BF: What can you say?

MH: We couldn't say, no one eat, even the children. Like this because we didn't eat, pick up by hands, chopsticks. Everything dishes are chopstick on it. So pick the hands, by hands. So they can't get it anymore. So children just, watching ate all the things.

DG: Oh, my goodness. And you were home by yourself with your children, then, all these days.

MH: Husband, too. He comes back for lunch because nighttime he comes home late and the children all sleep, so he came home lunchtime.

DG: How did he react? Must have been hard for him.

MH: Couldn't say anything. We couldn't say anything, Japanese things, or anything.

BF: But he must have been frustrated.

MH: More surprise, first. Shock. Those things happen.

DG: Were you trying not to upset the children? Is that why, partially why you didn't say anything? No, you didn't.

MH: See, children once in a while look at me. That's all.

DG: And so this was the months, then, following Pearl Harbor.

MH: Yes.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

DG: And when did you have to leave?

MH: I think March, end of March.

DG: Okay. And so you had three preschool children and then you all...

MH: One, only one goes to the kindergarten, Kumi is. And then went to school, UCLA's training school. West Los Angeles school is a training school so one child and three teachers, more teachers. So that particular school is very, very -- what they called -- something different because teachers all come in and then principal inspect all the teachers. "Your hair is not clean," or, "Your button is off," or something like that. So children, everybody clean clothes and then went to...

BF: And this is where Kumi was going?

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: For half a day?

MH: Yeah. But school teaching is a different, too. They didn't teach ABC. Once a week they take to all over mountain and then write "tree" picture. Most let them draw the picture and then "tree," Words, teaching words. Take to the ocean in Santa Monica and then "boat."

BF: So they were trying -- this was like training for the teachers. They were trying to, trying out different methods of teaching, it sounds like.

MH: Probably so because after we went to the Santa Anita school, they teach ABC first grade. My daughter don't know anything about ABC, but the birds, boat, ocean. She writes, but ABC -- "You're wrong. This is the C." "What is a C?"

BF: This was in the assembly center in Santa Anita?

MH: Santa Anita.

BF: So what a change of environment for her from this kind of special training school with three teachers for her, to a racetrack.

MH: Oh, really had trouble.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

DG: So you went to Santa Anita, and did you go with your husband the same time?

MH: Yes. He is the only one. Government assign him as dentist. So, but no chair, no instrument, no medicine.

DG: Right.

MH: So, "Will you please buy it? Would you please get it?" So my husband and other people made a chair. And then medicine, my husband bought it, and took them. And instrument. See, dental instrument big so portable dental instrument he bought. That's why now some are using [Inaudible]. Some, "We don't know how to use it. What is it?" And then some, they say that, "So good so I want this one," and then supply come and, "I never seen this one."

BF: So he had to make all these arrangements to get the equipment and to get the medicine all on his own with his own money, and the government was saying, "You're the official dentist for Santa Anita," for everyone at the racetrack?

MH: Sure.

DG: Your bank account was frozen you said. So how did he get the money to...

MH: See, money is only $16 paid from government to, and then outside the camp was my husband, still have American people patient until close. See, that FBI man, those people, some came from Beverly Hill. We had a nice patient.

DG: To his office on Sawtelle, you're still talking about.

MH: Yes. Those we had.

DG: But when you went to Santa Anita and he was ordered to set up the dental office there and bring the equipment, how did he buy the equipment to bring?

MH: Own money.

DG: So the bank let... because the bank froze your account, you said.

MH: Right.

DG: But somehow they released it for that.

MH: I don't know. That part, I don't know. But he bought quite a bit.

BF: I'm sorry. Why was the bank account frozen? I didn't...

DG: All the Japanese accounts were frozen.

BF: For the Issei?

DG: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

DG: And so at Santa Anita, then you, tell us a little bit about your housing and bringing your children.

MH: Santa Anita is a horse place, isn't it?

DG: Right.

MH: Ano barrack, uma to -- uma raku, ano tanoshii [Inaudible] uma-no tanoshii place.

DG: So place for a horse.

MH: Barrack. See, because still manure in bottom and then put all the grass on the top of it, so shoes go into the heel.

BF: Sink in.

MH: [Nods] So smells so bad and then people...

DG: Did they get sick from that?

MH: Oh, yes. They have a, still an army bed was there and no mattress. Mattress is a bag with hay in it. You have to go and get the hay and then put it in the... so hurt.

BF: The mattress was uncomfortable.

MH: Mattress. And it smelled. That's the Santa Anita.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

BF: And your children were how old at this time?

MH: Young, still kindergarten so Kumi was five, four and... five, four, five, three, and just was born, Kumi was.

BF: Toddlers.

DG: So were you, did you have formula for the baby?

MH: They didn't have milk, nothing.

DG: So how did you feed?

MH: I took some can of what they call canned milk, powered milk.

DG: And you had baby bottles?

MH: We took everything.

DG: You took the bottles? And how did you clean them?

MH: Just wash it.

DG: Uh-huh. And so did your family get sick from...

MH: My husband, big man, so over two hundred pound, but the first two weeks, thirty pounds he lost.

BF: Oh, my goodness. He lost thirty pounds in two weeks?

DG: Because he was sick or because the food was not good, or...

MH: Food? It isn't called food because come over to eat so goes there. Today is curry rice or something. Onion is big as, like that and then carrots, one. That's all. And then salt little bit and then curry. Couldn't eat.

DG: Did they put it on rice?

MH: Half boiled, the rice, because boil the rice, throw the old water because of -- what they call? Something in it -- so after warm up so can't eat, no taste, and then all Nihonjin no hone ga aru.

DG: Oh, right, a core in the rice. It wasn't cooked through. Were you aware of the -- was there a riot or uprising because of that at Santa Anita?

MH: What they call? [Laughs]

DG: They refused to...

MH: But anyway we doctors, nurses, separate. And then so we could take hot plate. So we can do something.

DG: You did, you cooked yourself some.

MH: Some.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

BF: So they had separate living area for the doctors and the dentists and medical people?

MH: Yeah.

BF: Oh. I didn't know that.

MH: Yeah. Those are people, they said that build new apartment, that's what apartment and then about five rooms. Nagayatte. And then my husband, "Oh, is this the storage room for the bags and the suitcase? Where is where we live?" And then people felt so badly. "Doctor, you have to live here." [Laughs] But the floor have a big hole, knots, and then we can see the five apartment, all the way through. You can see through the knots. So put the finger in, "Hello so-and-so. I'd like to talk to you." [Laughs]

BF: And you had one room, essentially, then, for the whole family?

MH: Yeah.

DG: And then the army cots and then the ticking with the hay that you slept on. So did you bring blankets or did they provide?

MH: We took some and then they provided some. Army blanket, so itchy.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

BF: Do you remember certain things that you left behind that you weren't able to bring with you that you, that you lost or were you able to store?

MH: Lot of things. Lots of things.

BF: What sort of things do you regret losing the most?

MH: My next door Spanish professor, they said, "Oh, we store for you. We store for you this is or that one." Japanese girl's doll, and then may have a voice, beautiful set, they care. And then also so many side table and those things they store it for you. After the war, I went there and they said, "I thought you don't come back so I sold the whole thing." That's what they said.

BF: And this was your neighbor.

MH: [Nods] And then at the church, we stored some good books. All gone. Junk there.

BF: Was there anything that you brought with you, or did you, that was special, or did you have to bring just all practical things, things for the kids?

MH: Just, I brought just the children's toy only, small children. So children could carry their own toys.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

DG: And then you're, so living there in Santa Anita then, tell us a little bit more about your husband's situation.

MH: My husband started dental, three thousand people line up, only one doctor and one nurse. And then 104 degrees outside and then little children and old ladies all fell.

DG: From the heat.

MH: Sunstroke.

DG: Sunstroke, right, as they were standing in line. Santa Anita was one of the biggest assembly centers. I think at one time they said there were like eighteen thousand people there.

MH: Yes.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

MH: And then Mary Pickford and then those actors room there upstair as buildings. And then they didn't lock the door so anybody could go and see it. But one thing, Japanese never steal things.

BF: This was at Santa Anita?

MH: Santa Anita.

BF: The actresses were there?

DG: They had must have had special...

BF: Oh, the booth to watch the racing.

MH: No. Booth, no. Room have. They have, those are well-known actress, actor have a room.

DG: They have their own room.

MH: And then all time, they come so often so all kinds things there.

BF: What an odd contrast to have these famous Hollywood people living there...

MH: Not living.

BF: Well, just visiting in these luxury rooms and then...

MH: Luxury, yes. To have tea and wine or all kinds.

BF: And the Japanese in the stables.

DG: Right.

MH: They can't live there, Japanese. All the, see, horse race, horse place.

DG: Is where they lived? Right.

MH: And then the professional people that barrack. So, but could go in there and then...

BF: And visit. Or kind of peek in and look around.

MH: Yeah. Lots of Mary Pickford's dresses hanging down or something. See, they come and then warm and change clothes and take shower and something like that.

DG: Did they visit at all during the time that you were there?

MH: No, they didn't come at all, the Japanese are there, but clothes and then those things missing, so later lock the door. But I thought, suspect that's the American people. The officers at Santa Anita is no-job people hired from... six months, two years, some three years, no job.

DG: Oh.

MH: Those people want some kind of W...


MH: Something that... the people.

DG: Because of the Depression. Oh, and they were able to come in and out?

MH: They are the officers for us.

DG: Oh, okay.

MH: So they are going all over the place. And then once in a while they check us and then looked at electric cooker. "You can't have this one," and take home.

BF: For themselves.

MH: Uh-huh. Scissors, "You can't point this. This is dangerous," they take it. Everything.

DG: And there was an uprising after that investigation because everybody...

MH: They don't investigate anything. That's why Santa Anita riot came.

DG: Riot, right. That's what I mean.

MH: Japanese people are really disappointed and angry.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

BF: Do you remember that riot?

MH: Yeah.

BF: Did you see parts of it?

MH: Yeah.

DG: What did they do?

MH: We ask that all little children front. Three years, four years old children front. We are, adult is all back, and the children were not scared, all walk. And they can't have a gun like this, but can't do any, use, can't use with babies and children.

DG: And so you walked?

BF: Like a protest march.

MH: Yeah.

BF: And they were marching because of the food and the conditions and...

MH: It belongs to army, so food comes, very much meat comes to Santa Anita. How many pounds we send. Note comes to Santa Anita. Half are gone before comes Santa Anita. And then the Santa Anita came and then those hakujin people take it. Good part.

BF: So officials were taking food that was meant for the residents --

MH: Yes.

BF: -- of Santa Anita for themselves, and you could tell from the shipping.

MH: That's, they answer. That's why stew have no meat, big onion.

BF: No wonder why your husband lost so much weight, no protein.

MH: Everybody.

BF: Do you remember being scared at all during that march or...

MH: No. All the dentists and the doctors together so I'm not scared, but...

DG: So the professional people started the riot, kind of thing?

MH: No, no. Not that we...

DG: But you were together with them. The whole camp --

MH: Yeah, whole camp.

DG: -- was protesting?

MH: Niseis. Some of leaders in Los Angeles people is tough Nisei that time. So those leaders did.

BF: Did anything come of... did conditions improve after that?

MH: I don't know much.

BF: Well, do you think -- did you notice the food got any better or anything like that for yourself?

MH: When inspector comes, we, tell us all kinds of leaders like the letter and so forth. Inspector comes, they have meat like that in the stew.

BF: But only when the inspector...

MH: And stew, onion cut in fours and something like that. Little bit different.

BF: So it was a little better, but only when the inspector was around, otherwise same old, same old.

MH: Yeah.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

BF: How did your husband treat those three thousand who were lined up? That seems like an impossible task.

MH: He was in tears. Quite a... couldn't do anything. And Niseis dentist, seven dentists there because they are supposed to be go to Gila or Arkansas or somewhere else, but they don't want to go such a place. So he followed the wife, wife's name, and he came not a dentist.

BF: So they didn't identify themselves as dentists, so...

MH: Not identify the dentist, just ordinary people. But after finished, my husband, they comes in and then take the own patient, take the money. Los Angeles people.

BF: So they didn't really help your husband.

MH: Uh-uh.

BF: With the rest or the camp people. Your husband must have been working around the clock.

MH: [Nods]

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

DG: There were some Justice Department women at Santa Anita also, and I'm surprised that maybe your mother didn't go to Santa Anita but they didn't, right? Your mother and father were taken early.

MH: Yes.

DG: And they went to...

MH: All over. [Laughs] Roseburg and all kinds. And Crystal City just ending, husband and wife together.

DG: But did they go together?

MH: No.

DG: They were separate.

MH: They all separate camps. And then last, sent to family camp at Crystal City. Also, Buddhist church bishop at that time, he was, too.

DG: So your mother was never brought to Santa Anita, though.

MH: No Santa Anita.

DG: There were some other women that were there similar situation to your mother, I understand. You don't know about them. Tell us a little bit... then we're backing up again. Your father was taken early because he was a minister?

MH: Together.

DG: Oh, he went the same time you did?

MH: No, no. Early.

DG: Right after the war started, he was taken by the FBI.

MH: See, all Mitsubishi people -- what they call that suitcase and everything -- came to my brothers. All upstairs, their things.

DG: This is at your father and mother's house, and your brother worked for Mitsubishi and so he had a lot of things stored at their house. And so you think that that's the reason why they suspected them and took them early?

MH: [Nods] That's father. Mother's case is looking for the Japanese school, Pomona school, name is Pomona, but the school is ten miles away, Upland. So they couldn't find the Pomona school in Pomona so my mother teaching Japanese to Sunday school children. So they took her.

DG: So they took, so they took all the people who were Japanese language school teachers.

MH: Yes, most.

DG: And your mother's name showed up, although she, she wasn't really a teacher, right.

MH: No, not what they call, Japanese school. Not the...

DG: Right. It wasn't a Japanese school, but she just happened to teach them Japanese.

MH: That's right.

DG: The Sunday school children in Pomona, and this isn't, this is way far away from where your parents had their ministry in Gardena, right? Pomona is about, you said ten miles or so away or more probably.

MH: More.

DG: More than ten. I think maybe twenty. And then, and she just -- so she was taken at the same time your father was taken?

MH: That's what I don't remember anymore.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

MH: But really, suitcase and those things because of my brother, Michihiko Wada. See, M. Wada. And then my father is Masahiko Wada, both M. Wada.

DG: Oh.

MH: And then my father said to FBI, "This belongs to my son so you don't want to take my son." And then young FBI said that, "Well, you wore that ribbon. You can take it, but he is too young to stay such a place long time." So both M. Wada. So, "You better go and then not him."

DG: How old was your brother at that time?

MH: New York College... I don't know. Twenty-five, twenty-six.

DG: This was...

MH: Twenty-seven? I don't know.

BF: So your father took his place.

MH: Uh-huh.

BF: And he was, your brother was targeted originally just because he worked for a Japanese company.

MH: My brother was, gathered all the church people and then went to evacuate the same place.

DG: Okay.

BF: So he ended up going to the same, same camp that your father did.

MH: No, no. The church people.

BF: Oh, he went with them.

DG: With you to Santa Anita?

MH: No, not to Santa Anita. First went to Pomona and then Heart Mountain.

BF: So everyone was, your family was split.

MH: Five places. Family divided five places. Father and mother, then brother went to Heart Mountain. And then another youngest brother was college at California, Redland (College) and then war broke. So I wanted to take the brother with me, and then president said that, "I will keep him."

BF: Of the college?

MH: Uh-huh. "And then if he have to move from here, I will send him to east to some college so don't worry. I will take care of him."

DG: So did he go, then, east?

MH: No. He was a Japanese citizen so he couldn't go.

BF: So what happened?

MH: So he had to go, he, one person to Arizona. Gila or somewhere around, send it.

BF: So he had to go to camp by himself.

DG: So your mother went one camp and your father went another camp and your brother went with the church people to a third camp and then your...

MH: And then so he went.

DG: Right. And you went.

MH: Five camps.

DG: My goodness. Did you communicate with each other at all? Did you know what was happening?

MH: See, write a letter, all holes, and I couldn't understand what they are writing about.

BF: It was censored.

MH: Censored. And then my mother was weak so I send vitamin. Never been there. I sent it quite a few times because my husband was a dentist so could get vitamin.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

DG: Okay, Mrs. Homma. We took a break and let's review a little bit about Los Angeles and Gardena. And you wanted to tell me a little about the story about...

MH: Gardena.


DG: So okay, let's start again and review a little bit. You came to the United States in 1929.

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: And went to USC?

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: And you wanted to tell me a story about the Pledge of Allegiance.

MH: Yeah, about Gardena.

DG: Okay.

MH: Gardena Baptist Church have a big young people. That time story.

DG: Okay, go ahead and tell me.

MH: See, this boy told me that, when he told me was he was student of USC, that's after the war, so... and then I asked what your father think about the war, and then he said he's a Japanese. "I'm a Nisei." And when I was a small and then, "I owe allegiance to the flag of United States of America." I was memorizing. When he came and said listen, "Can you understand what that mean?" And I said, "I don't know. Memorizing," and he said, "Think. Really think. And then if you are a Nisei, that means American citizen. If you memorize this one, you have to obey. Learn what it mean. So don't forget, America is your country." That's what he said. So he, after the camp -- father was in camp, mother was in camp -- and he was a volunteer to the war. He told me that story. I remember the father's words. So, "I'm an American citizen so I will volunteer." He already married and had one child that time from camp, Colorado camp, to volunteer. That's the story of...

DG: So this is how you felt as you were in the camp, that...

MH: Camp was so much different people. See, some people like that, I'm a citizen so have to be, have to work for the, fight for the America.

DG: Even if their parents are incarcerated in the camp.

MH: Yes. Some we don't have eighteen years boy went to war, volunteered, and went to the war, then killed. Not just came back. Really hard for her. Rest of children all small and then she became a widow, so...

DG: This boy that...

MH: About eighteen, her sons. But husband, I don't know. Killed in action or before that he passed away. Anyway, I saw her as widow.

DG: And you're talking about Amache?

MH: Amache.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

DG: And so after Santa Anita, you went to Amache. Why? Most of the people went to like Manzanar or someplace.

MH: Manzanar is California people, West Los Angeles people. Los Angeles people came to Santa Anita.

DG: Oh, okay.

MH: Different, you know.

DG: As I think about it now, there is not too much difference between West Los Angeles and Los Angeles.

MH: Yes, but it was. And then my husband's classmate was also army dental department head, and then he came to, happen to be at West Los Angeles and saw my husband. He was so happy to see him and then he felt so sorry for, he have to go to camp. And then he said that, "I don't know this war is long or short. I don't want you to go too far away. Go to Santa Anita." He's the one worked to go to Santa Anita.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

DG: Is there anything else about Santa Anita that you want to tell us before we talk about Amache?

MH: Just a lot of things. Those things happen at the eating, very much. And then even I had diapers for my son. Now after he could train, diaper have to pass to other people.

DG: Oh.

MH: They couldn't buy the diapers.

DG: How did you wash the diapers?

MH: By hand. Washing with cold water.

DG: Did you have to go to another place to do the washing, or were you able to do it in your own room?

MH: Not the own room. Little wash place, but so many people so all over they are washing.

DG: Uh-huh. Were there a lot of other children, too?

MH: Yes.

DG: Little ones?

MH: Uh-huh. Quite a few.

DG: And then you said they started school there.

MH: Uh-huh. There is a school because the Japanese people have lots of teachers. See, that time woman goes to the school. What you want to learn? They said all schoolteacher that time. So a lot of schoolteachers. School comes first.

DG: So did they also have Japanese school?

MH: Uh-uh.

DG: Not at that time.

MH: That, I guess for government, they don't like to have a Japanese.

DG: Right. I would imagine not.

MH: Because we are talking Japanese. They can't understand what that mean so they ask us not to talk Japanese.

DG: Who asked you that?

MH: Those workers.

DG: So how long did you stay at Santa Anita?

MH: I forgot. Six months, seven month, not too long.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

DG: And then you went to Amache.

MH: Amache, yes.

DG: By...

MH: Train. Amache, Amache camp guarded by very young soldiers. One time soldier stop me and, "Hey you." "You want to talk to me?" He said, "Yeah. Are you a human being?" I said, "Yes. Don't you think so?" "Yeah, you look like a human being, but when I came from South Carolina, they said that Jap is not a human being. They are like a gorilla so if you want to, kill them. That's what I learn when I came. And then I looked from top every day and you people look like a human being and you people all wearing beautiful clothes." Because old clothes, we throw that away and then selected one case of, suitcase, good clothes only, so...

DG: He was surprised.

MH: Uh-huh. That's the way it happened.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

MH: And then... no toys, so, boys collecting the snake, and play with it. It's a hebi, those...

DG: Live one?

MH: Yeah. They are in a box. One dentist's wife killed a big, six feet long, big hebi snakes. And then later, cut the snake and scraped the inside, and then dried, and take to the, San Francisco. And she said she made a purse, shoes and belt. So big, huge snake.


MH: The husband didn't like the snake, so one day he came back home and the huge box in front of the house. So he opens and snake was in it. I heard he almost fainted. Those all kind of people there and then out of snake, take the some of, they said that medicine and then some capsule they mean. And then gave me and said that, "You are going to be stronger," because I was sick. Take care of my husband was sick and then I was quite weak. So they make the medicine. That's what they said, but I take only one pill. Oh, became so sick.

DG: So you took care of your husband.

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: Was he sick from the time you went to Amache?

MH: No. One day, Amache sometime changed temperature right away. The morning -- he is anyway from Los Angeles so we don't have any winter clothes. And then one morning, 75 degree. So he wore that white pants, white shirt, and then walked to the hospital. Take about half an hour to walk to the hospital and it changed temperature right away. And then when he went there at hospital was 4 degrees below zero, I heard.

DG: By the time he came back?

MH: No, went to hospital. Reach the hospital and then he became so sick. Almost dead that time. After that, he wasn't good at all.

DG: So he went to the hospital because he was still working as a dentist?

MH: Yes, at hospital, dental.

DG: So did he go, was he going every day?

MH: Yes. Usually he goes other dentist together, but that particular day he was alone walking. So I don't know what happened.

DG: And then, so did he come home that night?

MH: Uh-huh. He came home, but a few days later, he hospitalized. So ever since, sick.

DG: And so how long was he sick?

MH: I don't remember, but that same time, my father broken wrist bone, and was in the hospital. And then my husband went to the hospital.

DG: So your father was in Amache with you at that time?

MH: That time came back to Amache.

DG: Okay.

MH: Finally they thought my mother will die. So weak. So they don't want people die at internment camp.

DG: Oh, at Crystal City.

MH: So return.

DG: Okay.

MH: But she was getting better.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

DG: Okay, so you went from Santa Anita in probably --

MH: To Amache.

DG: -- September, October of 1942 to Amache.

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: And then you were there. So this was 1943, maybe? Somewhere around that time that you were there for a while and then your husband got sick and at that same time your parents joined you?

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: Did you live together?

MH: They have their quarter because we have children and then only one room at camp.

DG: And were these -- and you were living in the barracks?

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: Okay. So...

MH: When we went to Amache camp, cement was still wet. I didn't know that cement wet become dark gray color. And then, wow, this cement is different because dark gray and then walk, going down so... but we bought carpet.

DG: Oh. So you had some cement floors in these barracks, and were they like the other ones where -- describe the barracks.

MH: But all barracks were cement.

DG: The same.

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: And several families lived together?

MH: Yeah, one family.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

DG: Tell me some more about taking care of your husband.

MH: Well, hospital, Japanese doctors who is taking care of the patients. Nurses some of the missionary volunteered and came to see the Japanese, but doctor order the medicine. My husband quite ill and she didn't give us. And then I complained to the doctor and then doctor asked the nurse. Nurse said we're sticking money. He going to die anyway. That's the attitude. So really everything hard.

DG: So then what happened to your husband?

MH: Gradually weak and then died. Can't help it.

DG: That was a difficult time for you.

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: So tell me a little bit, you mentioned that you had your children to take care of.

MH: But still I had parents. That helped me a lot. Especially my father is a minister, but I really wanted to die that time... myself. I thought parents could taking care of my children, but...

DG: What did you do?

MH: Is it all right to tell?

DG: Uh-huh.

MH: That my husband said, "Please, if I, I'm glad to go myself, not you. I'm the one going earlier than you are." So I said, "No. I'm going to die with you. I don't want to stay by myself." And then he said, "Please take care of the children," and I said, "No." I'm quite a yancha, and a young, too, thirty-two. So I, "No." And then he passed away and the children nighttime start crying and why, all three children got up. What's happen? "There is a man, somebody, standing at the wall." That's happen weeks, so, and then cry, "Who is it?" Nobody there. But the children say, "Yes. Someone is standing." I'm scared to death. Especially Kumi. So I thought, "Husband, I will take care of the children. Don't worry." And then that's all that happened, but the children don't remember at all.

DG: And so the spirit...

MH: Spirit. That's why have a spirit. And then another girl, Japanese girl, mother passed away. And then a young father want to marry again so going around with one girl and -- married? Might be married. And then mother and daughter can't get along and then daughter wants to suicide so went to pond. Camp had a pond.

DG: Pond?

MH: Uh-huh. A big one. More like a small lake. And then she wanted to die, but she said, "Mother comes out and then open hand and said, 'Don't go this way. Don't come this way.' So I couldn't die. I went to lake or pond or three, four days and I couldn't die." So that's what she came to me and crying. I wonder what happened to her.

DG: This was then at that time that you were mourning also.

MH: Uh-huh. That's why I believe that there is a spirit. If they wanted to...

DG: So when did your husband die?

MH: '44. 1944, August 26. August. And then '44 -- he was I thought imagination, but he said, "I'm second son, but my name is Shiro, Kyushiro." Four is, you know, Japanese say death. So this is four past then I will live. That's what he was saying, but 1944. See, August is -- anyway, four months, four days and he died. Forty-four years, four months, and four days.

DG: So now what you look back now to that time, how do you feel that you were able to overcome?

MH: Now I'm quite different. I live and then I raise the children and then I did. I'm not a perfect mother probably, but my husband -- to meet my husband, I said that, "Please, if I'm not a good mother, then please forgive me." But I did best I can do.

DG: And you went on.

MH: [Nods]

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

DG: Then you finished your one year.

MH: Service, finished and everybody going home. So my father was assigned to (Seattle) Baptist church. Inside the camp, he was retired once, but so many people, church wanted him so badly and so also he thinks for my children's sake he better work. So he came to Seattle Baptist Church.

DG: So he was asked to come to Seattle instead of going back to Gardena?

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: Did he ask to do that or he was just assigned?

MH: Assigned because in camp, went to -- which camp was it? He went to Idaho camp.

DG: Minidoka.

MH: Minidoka camp for this Baptist church members where... and then they had a service. He went several times. That's why they wanted my father so badly. And then head of quarter there used to be missionary in Japan knew my father very well. Those people are top, and then assigned my father to Seattle.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

DG: So you came to Seattle when?

MH: I came September. September. There, camp was 90 degree daytime.

DG: In Colorado.

MH: Uh-huh. So came here. I thought Seattle is a beautiful from Oregon suddenly changed to green, lots of trees. And I thought beautiful place, but get off the Seattle airport -- not the airport, the station, so dark and so cold and rainy. And Los Angeles not much rain so, so felt miserable. And then I came to bokushikan and that parsonage. There is a big room is all taken by church members and a small room, too, was open. If you... my three children, I put them in bed. Couldn't move. That room was open and then this one room for father and mother. Rest were all taken by church members.

DG: How long did you live like that?

MH: Few years, I think. Until... let me see. I retired. I bought the house, Beacon Hill. Father wanted retire so I bought the house at Beacon Hill and they all moved. Let me see. How many...

DG: But this was later.

MH: Ten years maybe, Father was a minister at Baptist church.

DG: So you lived in the parsonage the whole time, but gradually the rest of the families moved.

MH: Moved away. Yeah, takes about several month. And then funny things. I said to the church people, "My, Seattle is so cold." And then they scold me. I'm live Los Angeles so long and then the camp was 90 degree daytime and then here so cold, 40 something degree. Particular year so cold, and August and October had snow that particular year. So I was so cold and then scold by church member. [Laughs]

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

DG: You told me the story before about your food situation.

MH: You mean where?

DG: When you came back to the parsonage.

MH: Three family have to cook. Always we are the behind, last one. So how much my children hungry. We couldn't cook. Stove was only one, wooden stove. No more burn wood. We don't know how to do it. See, from Los Angeles we didn't know how to do it. I was very troubled and then after the church, people comes to eat. Of course, my mother is a good cook, but everything ate it and then even my mother make tsukemono, they take those too. And then so many guests, every day guests, for lunch. We never eat lunch with father because father and guests have to eat. So...

DG: So you bought your own food and had to share it with everybody.

MH: Yeah. There is three, two other, two family. They buy their own food and they cook themself and their family eat. But Sunday is so many student comes. And then after the church they can't go home. Seattle Pacific already finished lunch so my mother invite them to eat our place, that's the Nisei. Issei people finished earlier and they all comes to the parsonage have a tea and then eat, single people. Lot of single people. Everything. So we go home. We didn't have rice or anything. We remember the bread.

DG: So it was almost more difficult than it was in camp.

MH: I don't know. And then I went to the Bailey Gatzert school and then a lot of Japanese came back. PTA, no one asked the Japanese to become officers, and then they said, "We hated Japanese because of the principal." So likes the Japanese. Only Japanese favored. Favor the Japanese. That's why those people I don't like. "You came from California. You don't know anything about Seattle so we are asking you to become secretary." PTA. I said that I don't know anybody or anything, even I can't walk myself, but, "That's why we choose you for the secretary." So I was Bailey Gatzert school PTA secretary. [Laughs] Isn't that funny?

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

DG: Then let's see... you stayed at the parsonage with your father, and did you start to work?

MH: Let me see. No, after we moved to Beacon Hill, I bought the house.

DG: Okay.

MH: Beacon Hill. And then moved to Beacon Hill and then I worked first, I worked -- they start a nursery school church. Necessary to have a -- first a Baptist church women's club sponsored in back of Ms. McCollough and then missionary. And then Ms. McCollough and then those people started the nursery school. So ask me to help so I did.

DG: So were your sons in the nursery school?

MH: Uh-huh, teaching. So at first I said that I could teach music. See, English song and Japanese song, all music I will teach so I started. And then May Katayama came back from Los Angeles and then I helped more teach. The May Katayama is May Hart or something, maiden name. And then she married to the Japanese Katayama. So that time the marriage isn't familiar in Seattle so they eloped to Los Angeles. And then that time we are Los Angeles. And then that's Reverend Andrews, I believe, wrote a letter to my father, "Would you please look at Mrs. Katayama. Where is she? How is she?" So we looked for her and then found her at Christian, Japanese Christian Church, Reverend Unaora's church, and working as a kindergarten teacher. So we knew from Los Angeles. So Mrs. Katayama came to Seattle, then the nursery school. I helped.

DG: Was the school started already when she came back?

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: So this was right away after you came back from camp.

MH: Oh, maybe took about a year or so. I don't know. They try.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

DG: Okay. So let's go back a little bit. Your father was assigned to the Japanese Baptist Church as nichigo minister.

MH: No, to whole church's minister. (Narr. note: Senior minister)

DG: Okay, so where was Reverend Andrews at this time?

MH: Associate.

DG: Okay. But he was there before the war also.

MH: Yes.

DG: So he stayed around?

MH: Yes. He worked very hard.

DG: And he, did you know him before you came at all?

MH: No. He came once Gardena Baptist Church when my mother came from Japan. And then he remembered my mother because just came from Japan and then spoke English. Aisatsu ne, came from Japan so she talked to them, ministers, in English. So just came from Japan and she spoke English, that's what Reverend Andrews often said.

DG: So was Reverend Andrews there from the start with your father as associate, then, when you came back?

MH: Yes. He was always Baptist church.

DG: Right, but I don't know what he did during the war years.

MH: Assigned by board was my father was real minister, and then he was associate just young people English. So still at that time young people was younger.

DG: Okay.

MH: Next one is Reverend Hori -- no. Yeah. Became minister. From next minister, he is the top minister.

DG: Oh.

MH: Reverend Andrews. See, Japanese minister became associate, but my father's time is different.

DG: Because the majority of the congregation was still Issei and so he conducted the service in Japanese and English both?

MH: No. English Reverend Andrews.

DG: Oh, yeah, Reverend Andrews was there. Just Japanese then. Did he have the first service?

MH: Japanese had first service, I think.

DG: Okay. So then you started, help start the preschool or the nursery school.

MH: Uh-huh. And at that time I'm organist, pianist for the Nisei. Issei people have Mrs. Amano still. So I was Nisei pianist.

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

DG: So you lived in this situation for about ten years you said and then you moved. So by this time your children were -- Kumi was a teenager pretty soon, right?

MH: Yeah. Went to -- when she was (fourth grade) came back from Amache and then went to Bailey Gatzert school.

DG: And then your boys were still preschool.

MH: Uh-huh.

DG: Okay. And then, so then you could move to Beacon Hill without any problems by then.

MH: No problem.

DG: Several Japanese were...

MH: No. I was the third one, Beacon Hill. Yeah.

DG: So did you have any problems with -- besides at the school, you mentioned at the PTA they were mentioning about hating the Japanese.

MH: Probably. I didn't know those things so nothing. And then Field Days or something and Japanese dance. I taught them to sing. Principal likes that so I did.

DG: Do you remember who the principal was?

MH: Harasina.

DG: I've heard the name.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

DG: Okay. And then you told me about the board arranging for you to make a tour with you and Nora, the black lady. (Narr. note: Nora Hatter)

MH: Yeah, yeah. Japanese Women's Society, American Women's Society, all the women's society, the Baptist, had lady's, you know. And Violet Rudd is head of women's society. She was also minister once at the Baptist Church, but she is a woman, so very difficult so she quit the ministry and then because of the Baptist Women's Society head. And then she organized the interracial group. That mean the Chinese school teacher, the black Mount Zion Church's secretary, and I am, and then Ms. Violet Rudd and then we went to eighty-three, eighty-six... I forgot. More than eighty times in three years, all churches. I talked about evacuation problem.

DG: What you did you say about the evacuation?

MH: I don't really remember any more. Not only evacuation. You know, my husband passed away, those things, and the children's problem and show time have to tell. The people likes to hear that so I told it. And then also black lady, very good for the vocals, so I accompanied the piano solo. And then the Chinese lady talked about the Chinese problem, and then black lady talked about the black community problem to the church ladies.

DG: Do you remember something about what they said, and how did you feel as far as being Japanese?

MH: Some of the ladies came to me and said, "You said about camp, but my relative working in camp that time. And then he said that they did so much for Japanese," and then, "You don't know it." And angry at me, but I didn't see that American people in the camp, Amache. There are district, Caucasian district. And then they eat very good and then Japanese people is servant for them. Not they came to Japanese to help. I said, "I don't know." And then they are some of them mad at me. But I don't know. They went back to tell those people probably.

DG: Did you tell about the, your things being taken and...

MH: For the community people?

DG: Uh-huh.

MH: Yes. A little bit, but not too much about that. Most they want to hear the camp.

DG: So did you get some -- where did you go? Like eighty-six churches all around Washington?

MH: Yes. Not only Washington, I went to San Francisco, too.

DG: Oh, okay. Idaho? Oregon?

MH: Yes.

DG: How did you go?

MH: I don't know. Those things by Ms. Rudd decided or goes to all the churches so...

DG: And so this was during the time that you still lived at the parsonage, and did you leave your children with your mother? Is that...

MH: Yeah. Parsonage and also went to Beacon Hill, too.

DG: Oh, and you were still traveling around.

MH: And then most of the time, Reverend Andrews would to drive. Reverend Andrews had a black, blue car or something. Older car.

DG: Called the blue bus?

MH: Blue bus, that one.

DG: Were people -- some people were angry, but were a lot of people surprised about what happened?

MH: Yes, surprised. And then, you know, from Japanese communities none of those spy or something against America came out. We told them none. And then they are really surprised and then some of them felt so bad about it. Some of them. [Laughs]

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 47>

DG: Let's go ahead then and explain. Would you tell me a little bit more about some of the resettlement and your jobs that you had?

MH: First I worked the nursery school.

DG: Right.


MH: That means three boys throwing a rock at each other on playground. And there is two, three years old also playing, and then I said, I went to hospital and I saw that one blind boy, somebody throw the rock came to hit -- where? I don't know, but hit the boy and then became blind. And the doctor couldn't do anything so, "Please don't throw the rock." I told that boys and then later, somebody say they are throwing rock at each other once again. So I called the boys again and then told that and then boys said, "I'm sorry," and then went back. And then third time, I said that boys, "What can I do? If you -- how can you remember each time you forget? And then somebody became blind or hurt, what are you going to do? What can I do?" And then the three boys said, "Please spank me." I said, "I never spank the people." "It's all right. My father spank me so spank me." Three boys said so. So I said okay. And then all look back and bend and so I spank. And then the boys said, "Thank you very much. Wasn't hurt." I said, "Why?" "I didn't tell you, but when my father spank me, he spank with a belt. Your spanking didn't hurt. Thank you." And then the three boys, they all said thank you and then went yard.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 48>

MH: And then after that the Japanese newspaper told me to come and work, and then Japanese bank also wants me to come and work so I went to the North American Post. And then later, University of Washington library people came and three times came. And the third time, head of library came, East Asia Library and then took me to lunch. And then she said, "Please come and see the library." So a week later I went there, library. And she says, "I take where the office is," so I went there. And then she said, "We going to test you." I was wondering what are you doing. I'm visitors. And then she said, "This is a civil service test," and then I didn't know what is the civil service. Nani mo shiranai.

DG: You didn't know anything, right.

MH: So I says -- I went in and then another lady was wanted to be a secretary of civil service test, too got a test. And then I just couldn't understand what is it for, and then I heard that the secretary was a 90 percent right so she was a hired. And then I don't know even what I wrote, but, "You pass." I said, "Oh, I see." "You better go back to East Asia Library. They want you to work there." I said, "I never heard about it." So anyway go back. So I went there. [Laughs] And then officers say that probably she's going to test to you and I don't know, but I went back library. And then she said, "Please work from any time." I said, "I didn't say anything about the newspaper so I will go back and tell the newspaper." And then, "Officer said that you going to test me." Said, "I already done. That's why I took you to the lunch." So I went back to the newspaper, "I'm going to work at the University of Washington." People were surprised. [Laughs]

DG: This was in 1950...

MH: '6 maybe, '55, '56. After my father passed away or mother passed away. Right after, so...

DG: Was Kumi still in high school?

MH: No, Kumi graduate.

DG: Had graduated.

MH: Kumi, children are laughing. Kumi, I mean, all children graduate the college. Poor momma, still nursery school. [Laughs]

<End Segment 48> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 49>

DG: So, then you graduated to the University of Washington. And you worked there until you retired, right, a few years ago. (Narr. note: Narrator graduated from USC and worked at UW.)

MH: Yeah. Not a few years ago, fifteen years ago. I retired seventy years old.

DG: Oh.

MH: I retired seventy years old because if you wait one year late you were born, you could work as much as you want. See? That day ano year, seventy years old, have to retire, professor and everybody. But from past, next year, you can work as many years you want.

DG: Can you tell me a little bit about your job and what you did and how you -- at the East Asia Library.

MH: Everything, nowadays have a few people Japanese section working, but when I went in -- was Mr. Carter there? Mary? Two people Japanese section working. But I could read sosho. Do you know that?

DG: Uh-huh.

MH: Sosho. And then old Japanese I could read.

DG: Okay.

MH: Because during the high school, who graduated the Waseda University, he had two degrees and then he was Mitsui Ginkou's worker, but he became ill and then came back to Shimonoseki. He taught me Japanese.

DG: Oh, the old fashioned Japanese, right.

MH: Correct.

DG: Right. The people that know how to read the modern kanji don't know how to read that old kanji.

MH: Yeah.

DG: And so you studied, in high school you studied this. You were in Tokyo?

MH: No. I was at Chofu at that time. But I really...

DG: So you were very valuable to the East Asia Library.

MH: I don't know that. I don't know, but I really --

DG: What kind of things did you have to read?

MH: I did the Japanese section, and then Japanese one, and also Korean and Chinese.

DG: Because you could...

MH: Yeah. I said to head of library, "I can do Japanese, but Korean is really different." And the Chinese I could figure out. I can't read, but I can figure out kanji.

DG: So what was your job? I mean, why did you have to read these?

MH: See, not very many -- lots of Korean people there. Then Korean librarian and then Korean people can arrange everything. Finished Korean part, but my time not so many people. That's why I say that when I retired, "What are you going to do?" And head of library said, "If you retire, I will hire three people."

DG: Oh, my goodness.

MH: So that's what... so I said, "Oh, that's fine then." See, Korean, Chinese. They have to Korean professor, I get Korean alphabet and everything learn. Chinese professor. So when I was there I could, not, can't speak, but I could understand enough to work.

DG: Uh-huh.

MH: I could title, I can...

<End Segment 49> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 50>

DG: Let's kind of go back and fill in some of the things that we talked about when you did the survey. For instance, one of the questions is if the worst years of your life was number one and the best years of the life were number seven, where would you put the camp years?

MH: Camp was?

DG: Uh-huh.

MH: You mean...

DG: Do you remember the survey and the numbers about how if the worst years of your life were number one...

MH: Of course, my husband passed away so really hard.

DG: Times.

MH: Uh-huh. For me and then I was too young and not much experience so... but I had a lot of things and new things. One minister's wife ask me to do it, one service. So I could sing soprano and she said she will sing alto. And then that night she passed away. And then Sunday morning I went there. "She died last night so you have to sing a solo." That particular music I didn't know very well. And then I was kind of, didn't know what to do. And I could hear that somebody singing, beautiful voice, so I followed somebody singing. I think a angel. That kind of experience I have. Funny things. And then what number was, I don't remember.

DG: And this is in Amache.

MH: Amache.

DG: In the camp, right. And so what are the most negative and positive parts of the camp that you -- well, you already said the negative parts, but what would you say are the positive parts of camp that you can remember?

MH: What kind you want to hear? [Laughs]

DG: Well, is there any parts of it that you think were helpful to you in any way or... for instance, some people say that the friendships...

MH: Yes. A lot of people very kind. Some of the people very against it, but I think most people same boat.

DG: Right.

MH: So...

<End Segment 50> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 51>

DG: Well, one of the questions in the survey asks us to ask you that most people have not become bitter because of the things that happen in the camp even if it was so difficult. Why do you think that people are not bitter, or do you agree? First of all, do you agree with that?

MH: Yes. Some people, yes. Some people, even camp food we had a terrible time for the food, not taste good, but some people real nice and use farmers people.

DG: Right.

MH: See, they are not, they don't have to cook anymore and then they said, "Taste good," they say. Those things I thought were quite a different, but they are enjoying. And they even a small fish they are eating. "I could eat fish." Some of them came from mountain. "Today I eat fish, I'm so glad." So quite a different people.

DG: Uh-huh.


DG: So you're talking about camp now, and you didn't have a stove before you went to camp so these were the unusual things.

MH: We don't know how to make the stove. Have to ask someone to make, how to make the fire stove and when put the coal in. And then sometime daytime 80, 90 degree and then nighttime 40 degree. And then have to have a coal stove for nighttime, but we don't know what to do so daytime burning. Ninety degree, coal stove burning and we stayed outside. It was funny things.

DG: You also told me about how people had their fur coats in 90 degree.

MH: Yeah. [Laughs]

<End Segment 51> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 52>

DG: Another question is that some people think that being orderly and controlled and comfortable is more important. Other people think that the Japanese should have protested more. And looking at it now, what do you think? Which way is better?

MH: I don't pay any attention those.

DG: To the...

MH: The individual, so...

DG: But yourself, do you think we should have protested more?

MH: It is funny, but all kind of propaganda comes in. Honto. We don't know, but all kind of news comes in so if you think about it, those things, you're going to be sick.

DG: Right. So you handled it by...

MH: My idea.

DG: And what is your idea?

MH: And then my husband and I talked about it and then follow him.

<End Segment 52> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 53>

DG: In general, what, how do you think the whole evacuation affected your life?

MH: Was very hard with that evacuation, but without evacuation, those people who came to buy the things, doesn't know anything about war or other country people. Scared to live there. So evacuation is a good, I think, because nighttime bring something in our yard. Scare us.

DG: So it was more comfortable to be away from that?

MH: I think so, especially West Los Angeles near the Santa Monica. And then this is Santa Monica, Japanese ship came. I saw those people talking about it real liar. I don't know. Then people...

DG: Oh, that's what you mean by the stories that you heard.

MH: Uh-huh. All kind of rumors are going around that time.

DG: How were you able to be so strong and come through all of this?

MH: I wasn't strong.

DG: But you're such a capable person and...

MH: I'm not. I'm not.

<End Segment 53> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 54>

DG: What would you want to tell your grandchildren about how to overcome?

MH: See, just one thing. I want my children to become good American citizen.

DG: Okay.

MH: So I told about Hashimoto's story. Did I tell you?

DG: Uh-huh. Go ahead and tell us again.

MH: That when he was grade school, memorizing, "I allegiance to the flag of the United States of America." And father came and, "Do you know the real meaning?"

DG: Right. You did tell us.

MH: Those things I also think my children. So I told, repeat it to children, too. And then I became American citizen. Then I also wanted to be loyal to America.

DG: When did you become a citizen?

MH: After I came back from camp. I don't remember. Only three times I went to school, and then notice came so I went to take a examination. And then I heard that particular examination person was very difficult person at...

DG: Immigration?

MH: Immigration. And then he laughed. That's why other people so shocked, and, "What's happen? What's happen?" I came out and then said that. But he knew I'm long time in America and went to USA and then checking everything. And then, "Oh, you are four feet and twelve inches tall." I said, "Well, I didn't know that twelve inches. I thought that five feet," and he laugh. And then immigration people, "First time he laugh. We heard first time. What did you say?" [Laughs] That's all. I passed. It's a funny thing.

<End Segment 54> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 55>

DG: Is there anything else that we haven't talked about that can, you want to add as far as...

MH: No. I'm very happy now, so... just one thing. When I married, husband told me that, "Make you happy woman," and then he died early so oh, you usotsuki. [Laughs]

DG: "You're wrong."

MH: Then I'm not happy at all. That's what I tell that cemetery, and then nowadays I'm really peaceful.

DG: And why is that?

MH: I've done what I want to do, I think, and then I'm peaceful. So I said other day, I said, "Thank you. You promised me make me happy. Now I'm happy now. So any time when you want me, please call."

DG: Thank you very much. That's wonderful.

<End Segment 55> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 56>

[Piano playing demonstration]

<End Segment 56> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.