Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Edward K. Honda Interview
Narrator: Edward K. Honda
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: June 2, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-hedward-01

<Begin Segment 2>

MA: So what did your father do when he came back to Hawaii from Japan, his occupation?

EH: Actually, he wanted to be an artist. But I think when he got picked up December 7th, he was a Japanese school principal, I guess with the church, yeah? At that time, a lot of the churches had Japanese language schools. So that's about the extent of what I know, what I know about my birth father, not much.

MA: So, but your, so your birth father was Hiroshi Honda?

EH: Correct.

MA: Okay. And he was... so it sounds like he was, you said he was the principal of the language school?

EH: Right.

MA: And then what happens to him after Pearl Harbor?

EH: Well, all I could, all my mother would tell me is he went out that morning, he came back, his shirt being all bloody, and military came and took him away. This was in Hilo. They didn't see him again probably for about another month when she found out he was at Sand Island. Flew to Honolulu and went to see him at Sand Island. Sand Island in those days was not accessible by car, you had to boat over. I don't know if you know where Sand Island is, down by the airport. And I just found out or discovered maybe three weeks ago that he was actually interned at Honouliuli also, because his name shows up on a list of Honouliuli internees.

MA: Did your mother talk to you about that visit or anything?

EH: Not at all. She did not want to talk anything about the war. To the day she died, she was very bitter about the American government for what had happened. I don't know if I told you this, but she was not really one of those that were supposed to be interned. The only reason she... she, I guess, what they called self interned herself so she could be with her husband. When they boarded the ship to be shipped to the mainland, apparently just before the ship was to sail, they took my father off again and said they were gonna hold him back for further questioning. She proceeded to pack up all the things to get off with him, they said, "No, you go." So she ended up in Jerome, Arkansas.

MA: And this was, then, alone? She was separate from your father?

EH: Yeah, not with my father at all.

MA: What other, do you know what other family members were with her? Was she alone?

EH: No. Her sister also self interned herself. She was an RN, a nurse, and because my grandfather got interned also, my mother's father.

MA: In Sand Island?

EH: Well, actually, he did end up in Jerome, Arkansas, too, which, I guess... I don't know the whole story about how that happened or what happened or whatever, but apparently they were in Jerome together. My birth dad, I don't know, there's a big gap. And some of the things that I kind of learned about him is only because when he did his paintings, many of 'em he dated, and many of them he indicated location, yeah. As I had indicated earlier, there's a whole bunch that's identified as Camp McCoy. The only Camp McCoy I know in Wisconsin -- and he does say Camp McCoy, Wisconsin -- was the initial language school for the MIS, Military Intelligence people before they went down to Mississippi, or whatever. And the only thing I can guess is they probably sent him there to be an instructor because he had a background in language education. But that's just guessing, too, because I really don't have any idea. And my mom would never, my mom never told me. In fact, I don't know if my mom even knew what he was doing in McCoy. 'Cause once I did ask her about Camp McCoy, she doesn't know anything.

MA: That's interesting, though, that your father, so he went on to be a famous artist and he was --

EH: No.

MA: No?

EH: He became famous only recently. [Laughs]

MA: Oh, only recently. So after --

EH: Only because I found a lot of his paintings when my mom passed away in the house. And rather than just dump it, I took it to the Academy because I had some people who knew, George Ellis at the Academy at that time. They expressed an interest in keeping it. So I just donated to them because... fifty-something pieces, not too many people have that much wall space, for one thing. And think about framing fifty-something pieces of artwork, that can cost you a small fortune.

MA: So he was painting, then, throughout his life.

EH: Yeah, pretty much, and I guess he did more in camp. Nothing else to do.

MA: And then, you... so that's interesting, though, that you kind of pieced together his wartime experience from those paintings.

EH: Because my mom would never talk about it. And some of the stuff I learned was through a good friend of hers who also did pass away, who was in camp with her.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.