Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Akio Hoshino Interview
Narrator: Akio Hoshino
Interviewer: Stephen Fugita
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 11, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-hakio-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

SF: How was the quality of life -- if you wanna call it that -- at Minidoka compared to Puyallup?

AH: Oh, Minidoka was much more organized. Puyallup we ate in one mess hall. I think we had several staggering times to go. But in Puyallup -- in Minidoka the set-up was much different. We had blocks, forty-two blocks in Minidoka. Each block contained twelve barracks of, I think it was six units per barrack. It had a combination of small units for couples to about a room for five or six cots for the large groups. And then we had our own dining room and own washing facilities. And so things were a little bit better. Of course, there was quite a competition between the different kitchens. The different cooks getting the same material would come out with something that was better. And run over to another camp, another block to eat. [Laughs] So, you know, that's kinda... there was hardship but we all had to undergo the same hardship. It was 10,000 of us, about, in camp, and we were living under the same conditions. So we didn't feel that we were suffering. At least I didn't. And it was a great big community. My parents were playing baseball, and I thought they were outta their mind at that age, playing baseball. I never seen my father play, actually. But they were were a little... they were in their late forties. And thinking back... why not play baseball? It was the first time I think they had a real vacation. They had a roof over their shoulder and they had something to eat every day. So, there's room to complain and yet there wasn't that much. Of course, behind barbed wires, not being able to go out, but we had a little city of our own.

LH: Was every adult given a job?

AH: Anybody who wanted to work, I think, were given a job. And I think the minimum wages were fifteen dollars a month. And the maximum was, I think, $19. All professionals got nineteen dollars a month. Even doctors were working for that price. But you had room and board. [Laughs]

SF: Could you ship things in from Seattle that were stored or... just as long as you could get it into the camp?

AH: Yes, you could have 'em shipped in. You had to pay for everything, or friends who came out picked up things and brought it in for us. Reverend Andrews, of the Baptist Church, was a predominately Japanese church, very close to the Japanese community, and he made number of trips back and forth, bringing things that the people had requested. And there were a number of other Caucasians that befriended us.

SF: With everyone crowded into such a small space, did family relationships get worse, better, or just different?

AH: I think it got more deteriorated, control, children's control. Eating in a mess hall, where we used to all eat as a family group -- the fathers would go with their cronies to eat, the kids would go to their friends' to eat, and I think it was very hard for the mother to try to keep any control. And it sort of broke up the close family relationship. And in a way, for the older group, it opened up a much wider world for them because many of them went to continue their education back East, which they probably would have never done if they were in Seattle. And so they went out and dispersed the Japanese a lot more. So there's pluses and minus.

SF: How did people feel about those people who left, especially in the early years when...

AH: I don't think they had any reason to not like what they did. Or, I think if they had the opportunity, good for them.

LH: Under what conditions were they allowed to leave? Did they have to have a job...

AH: Uh, yes, from camps they had to have a place to go to. Somebody that would sponsor them, and schools that would accept them. There were a number of schools who'd refused to accept Japanese. There were states from where, I think governor down. They refused to accept Japanese. So they went where they were accepted and most of the leading colleges, I think, accepted Japanese back to their schools.

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