Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Masamizu Kitajima Interview
Narrator: Masamizu Kitajima
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: June 12, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-kmasamizu-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Saturday June 12, 2010, and we're in Honolulu at the Ala Moana Hotel. On the camera is Dana Hoshide and on, I'm interviewing, Tom Ikeda -- I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda. And so today we have Masa Kitajima, but, so the first question is can you just tell me where and when you were born?

MK: I was born in Hawaii, August 1, 1933 in Ookala, Hawaii.

TI: And do you know if you were born at a medical facility, or at home, or like a midwife?

MK: I was -- well, my dad had gone to look for a midwife at home, for my mother, and he got lost someplace and somehow the midwife come over to see Mom, but by the time she came over I was already born. So she just took care of the, taking care of after the birth.

TI: So your mother had to do it by herself?

MK: She did it by herself, yes. She always said that Dad was always unreliable for those things because he would purposely disappear. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, that's -- but everything was fine?

MK: Yeah, everything was fine. In fact, I had five, four other brothers and sisters after that, so I guess my birth was okay.

TI: Good. So August 1, 1933, so that means you're about, what, seventy-seven years old?

MK: I am now seventy-seven, yes.

TI: Seventy-seven, okay. And when you were born, what was the name given to you at birth?

MK: Masamizu Kitajima. I had no middle name.

TI: You talked about your father a little bit as getting lost, so tell me a little bit about your father. What was his name?

MK: My father's name was Shoyu Kitajima. His, it's written like Masao, same as Masao, but when he was ordained as a minister his name was converted to Shoyu Kitajima.

TI: And where was your father from in Japan?

MK: My father and mother both came from Saga, Japan. Saga city.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: And tell me first about your father's family. What kind of work, or what did they do?

MK: My father's side, my father's parents were priests at the Buddhist church. They had their own church, and my father, after graduating from high school, was attending college to become a medical doctor, but somehow, I can't remember what unfortunate things happened, but my father had to drop out of college because of financial situation and my grandfather lost the church that they had owned in the family for many centuries. So my dad left whatever medical school he was in, and he went to, I think, Taisho University. Taisho University was the school that preliminary ministry students went to. Reason that he went to that school is because my grandfather had some influence in getting him there, and he could get education there. Also, my uncle who was ten years older than my father had already become a minister and was already in Hawaii. So the prospect was that, upon his graduation, there would be a church that he could probably go to, which was to come to Hawaii. That was somehow the planning when he had to drop out of medical school.

TI: But you said, so something happened so that your grandfather, that he lost his church?

MK: Yes.

TI: And you said this had been with the family, or the family had been with this church for centuries?

MK: Yes.

TI: So you have a long history.

MK: Have a long, yeah, they had a long tradition of having a Christian... because the church in Japan belongs to the families, not to congregation, but it belongs to the family, because these churches were granted to the families by the original shogun, especially in the Joudo mission -- I'm in Joudo mission, Joudo shuu -- so Joudo shuu churches were granted properties by the first shogun, so this is why they had all these churches, and it was like a possession that you never gave up.

TI: So do you know why your grandfather lost the church?

MK: There's some... he had incurred some debt to some loan sharks or something to that extent. And he extended beyond his capacity, and he had to give up and he had to sell the church to pay off his debt, but there was not enough there.

TI: And so what did your grandfather do after he lost the church?

MK: I have no... I think he went to work for some other church.

TI: Okay. And even after that experience, he wanted your father to join the ministry, to become --

MK: Well, it wasn't his choice, but it was my uncle's choice to have my... being the oldest son, my uncle looked after my dad and said, "I guess the only place you really have is to come to Hawaii, and I can get you appointment into Hawaii."

TI: Okay, good. So your father drops out of medical school, transfers to...

MK: Ministry.

TI: Ministry. Finishes that and then is called over by his brother.

MK: Yes, before he graduated he was called over there. He had gotten an appointment for him.

TI: And about what year would this be?

MK: This all happened, I think, in 1932. Early part of 1932, I think June of '32, somewhere there about when he graduated from the ministry.

TI: This is interesting to me, because this is one of the very few cases of someone going from Japan to Hawaii after 1924, because 1924 was the Immigration Act, which essentially ended all immigration from Japan to the United States. So your father was able to come in 1932, can you tell me why he was able to do that?

MK: I think the United States and Japan had made some kind of agreement that they needed religious support, and people, most of the people who had churches were not willing to give up churches to come to Hawaii. Like if it's family owned, they need to keep their heirs to be... continuation, to continue the church, so the firstborns were never a candidate. Second born were usually intermarried to other churches that had no heirs and stuff like this. So then the number of ministers that was willing to come to Hawaii was maybe fourth or fifth, and by that time they never really wanted to become a minister, so this created a shortage of ministers in Hawaii. It was a problem where they had many churches built from the earlier people, early immigration people, but the churches were empty, emptying out in the thirties, so then the possibility of him becoming a minister and coming to Hawaii was available.

TI: Oh, so that makes sense. And that's why your brother knew this, and that's why he encouraged your father to enter the...

MK: Especially the Betsuin, who, which is located here at Makiki right now, the headquarters, were looking for ministers and we're still looking for ministers to this day to replace our... it's a never-ending process.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: And so where was your father based? I mean, where did they send him in Hawaii?

MK: When he first came, he... this is kinda... my uncle was in Ookala, and in May or April or May, somewhere thereabouts, after being in Ookala for about ten years, he was appointed to the Kohala Church in Kohala, Hawaii. So this created a vacancy as a Sunday school -- no, not a Sunday school, but a Japanese language school -- and church combination at the Ookala plantation, so they, then he was offered that job until such time that the Betsuin could find him a suitable church. So that's why he was able to come to Hawaii in 1932, to replace my uncle's position.

TI: Okay, and this is where you were born.

MK: Yes.

TI: So he got there in 1932, late, and then you were born in 1933.

MK: '33, yeah.

TI: So did he come over with your mother?

MK: Yes.

TI: And do you know how the two of them met?

MK: Yes, after he got, after he graduated, after he was ordained... my mom tells me that he, she had met my dad through family associations sometime when they were in high school, and when, she had not known him as Shoyu Masao, and just that he was one of the sons of the Kitajima family. Then, my mother being the firstborn in the family, Tashiro family, had no, really had no interest in anybody other than the fact that she knew that she was obligated to marry somebody to take over the Tashiro line, the Tashiro line. Three girls, no boys in the family, so then they had to intermarry with another minister someplace and to continue the line of the Tashiro family.

TI: So the Tashiro family was also --

MK: A minister, yes. They still exist today, and my uncle, my aunt and my cousin still run the church over there in Saga. Anyway, they, when my dad graduated from college and he had been given word that he may be able to go to Hawaii, he had, he felt that he had to have somebody with him in order to come to Hawaii and create the atmosphere where he could comingle with all the people there, so he started looking for a wife. Then, I guess somebody within the Kitajima family knew the Tashiro family, and they said there was an eligible lady in the Tashiro family that may be a good candidate. So they met, and Mom tells me that she liked my dad, so she said would accept that if her sister would take the family line and marry somebody else. Because she knew that once she married my dad my dad was going to come to Hawaii, so then there was nobody left in Hawaii, in Japan to continue the line. So she asked her sister Toshiko if she would be willing to accept the responsibility to continue the family line.

TI: Interesting. So it was a little complicated.

MK: It is, yes.

TI: So your mother was expected to marry someone to become a Tashiro, to carry the line.

MK: Yeah, expected to marry a minister and then have the, whoever the husband was, to be adopted by the Tashiro family and change his name to Tashiro and continue that line, which my aunt did, late, after that.

TI: Okay, but did your father ever consider maybe staying in...

MK: No.

TI: So he was pretty clear on --

MK: By the time he had met her, the appointment to Hawaii was already set, so that was not a consideration at that time any longerl.

TI: Okay, so the Tashiro family had to make some concessions. They had to, with their oldest daughter.

MK: That's right.

TI: And what was your mother's first name?

MK: My mother's first, Kamechiyo.

TI: Kamechiyo.

MK: Kamechiyo Kitajima. She was born 1910, I think. My dad was 1908.

TI: So they both came to Hawaii as, pretty young. Your, your mom was about twenty-two and your father was about twenty-four.

MK: Twenty-four, yes.

TI: So a young couple.

MK: They had... well, Mom tells me that they got married, they had a week together there on the train, and within a week of that they were on the boat, sailing across the Pacific.

TI: And then all of a sudden in Hawaii setting up their own little congregation.

MK: Yeah. Well, there was a congregation there, but they had get adjusted to the church, to the people there, they're all plantation workers. They said they were very well treated, and to this day we have very close family friends that still come from Ookala.

TI: I'm thinking about your mother, and then within a year she had you, so all of a sudden she has a family, she's in a different country, she's married...

MK: Yes. [Laughs]

TI: And she's only twenty-two years old. Wow.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Do you have any childhood memories of, of Hawaii, the Big Island?

MK: Of the Big Island, yes, I do. Some -- well, not too great, but I know that the, in those days I always felt that place was so wet and I wondered how come the houses were so high off the ground. Didn't realize that because of the amount of rain that we had, the houses had to be high off the ground. I know it created some nice storage area and nice place to play, play at when we had inclement weathers.

TI: So you'd just play under the house?

MK: Under the house, yeah. The house, under the house must be about six, eight feet high off the ground. And there were a lot of steps going up to the veranda.

TI: So it's kind of like a, maybe like a basement, so it was used for storage and play area a little bit?

MK: Well, not that elaborate, was just plain dirt and the house was built on stilts, and it was... figuring that my uncle had lived there for ten years, and who knows who many other people lived there before him, but it was dry, dusty. Every place else was wet. And then there was a long hall right in front, in front of the church that created as a meeting hall or the language school, and also a church.

TI: So this was on a plantation?

MK: On the plantation property, yes.

TI: Okay, and so, so it wasn't necessarily a church. It was more, you say, a meeting place.

MK: Meeting place that people... well, the people had accepted as part of the, and the plantation made a provision that they could use it as their church.

TI: And so your father had double duty. He had, he was not only the minister, but he also ran the Japanese language school.

MK: That's correct.

TI: Do you know how large a group he had to...

MK: I have no idea. He handled everything. The closest church that Japanese -- well, the Joudo Shuu mission -- the next church was at Laupahoehoe, which is about, about ten miles, fifteen miles away, and then the other side was Honokaa, so he was in between two big churches and this was a small country... in those days all you had was the bus that you could rely on, so the people couldn't go to the either, either church. It's too far away, so then this was, Ookala was formed.

TI: But then eventually the, they appointed him his own church?

MK: Yes, eventually, in 1938.

TI: And so he left Ookala. Did they replace him with someone?

MK: No. By that, by that time, I believe 1938, most of the plantation workers, especially the Japanese, left the plantations. By that time we'd started to move, the Japanese were starting to move out of... by the time my dad came they were starting to move out of plantation. They were going to their own farming, or going to become merchants.

TI: So it's probably always was viewed as a temporary situation.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: When he left Ookala, where did he go next?

MK: He went to Kapaa.

TI: And where's --

MK: Kapaa, Kauai, 1938.

TI: 1938 -- so you're about, what, five, six years old?

MK: Me?

TI: Yeah. About that?

MK: About that, yes.

TI: So tell me about Kauai. What was Kapaa like?

MK: Kapaa was a city compared to, Kapaa was a city compared to Ookala because Ookala was just a plantation town, or plantation camp, plantation mill. But then when I came to Kapaa, Kapaa was really, like a suburban community. And to this day, Kapaa looks almost the same, except with, tourists have invaded, but the town itself has remained quite a bit...

TI: And when your father went there in 1938, how large was the Japanese community?

MK: Well Kapaa had two Japanese churches, and I guess the church must have been built in maybe eighteen, late eighteen hundreds or something there. The reason that my dad was appointed there was because the church had been so old, had become so old, dilapidated, it needed to be replaced. And his mission was to go to Kapaa, build a church, build a new church, and then he can stay there if he want or return back to Japan. That was his obligation to the Betsuin here at the Joudo mission.

TI: And when you say build a new church, so that's not really physically building it, but like raising the money...

MK: Raising the money.

TI: ...and organizing it and planning...

MK: Organizing, basically just get the money. [Laughs]

TI: So, again, your father still was, he's still in his twenties --

MK: That's right.

TI: And that's a pretty big job for him to --

MK: About twenty-eight or twenty-nine.

TI: So tell me a little bit about your father's sort of standing as the Buddhist minister in a community like Kapaa. What was his role?

MK: In Kapaa he became, he was the primary minister. He had, now he had a church, a supplement small church to a full-fledged church, so for him it was a, like a promotion. He felt like a promotion for himself. And he became the primary minister. There was a, a lady. She was a young lady, maybe about college graduate, somewhere thereabout, who lived with us. She was a Japanese schoolteacher who helped my father and my mother conduct a lesson, conduct the Japanese school. That was her [inaudible]. Also she was the housekeeper, same time. So my, my father ran the church, and my mother did the womanly things in the house for the church.

TI: But your father did not only the church, but the language school, too, so both.

MK: Right. And he was very closely associated with the Japanese embassy. He became an ambassador to any visiting dignitaries to Kauai.

TI: And so whenever a Japanese ship would come or, or... he'd take care of --

MK: He'd spend his whole day, or every day that the ship was there from the moment they landed to the day they departed, he would be with them, accompany them all along. This used to come every year. He spent a lot of his time, I remember that he used to spend much of his time with the ship that used to come in.

TI: And do you recall what kind of visitors that he would have, like dignitaries, the type of people that might come?

MK: Yeah, we used to have... any, any form of Japanese dignitary that used to come from Japan, for any purpose, to Kauai would come to my house, could come to the church. And they would talk there. The ambassador would come to Hawaii. In later years, I can't remember when, but one of -- this was after the war -- but one of the emperor's nephew or somebody did come to our house and he still remember that he told my mom that he remembers his uncle talking about coming to Kauai church, and he said, "I finally saw the church." So these are the type of people who used to come to Hawaii. So he, I guess, in the society he was quite important in that fact.

TI: 'Cause he would, he would represent Kauai in some ways.

MK: In some ways, yes. There was, there was, of course, there was somebody who was really the president of the chamber of commerce who'd represent the Japanese society, but he was right in that group of three or four people that always was there as dignitaries, always in the front line for, in greeting them.

TI: Now, did your father travel much to either the other islands or back to Japan before the war?

MK: Before the war, in 1940, we did go back to Japan.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Okay, so we're, I'm gonna get to that later. Let's stay on Kauai, 'cause I want to get a sense of you growing up in Kauai. What was it like growing up in Kapaa?

MK: I don't think there was really anything really exceptional about having lived in Kapaa before the war. Everything, I was so small, really I felt more relaxed there, because the ocean was maybe two hundred feet from the church. I just crossed the highway and I was on the beach. I lived, if I wasn't going to school I was on the beach. That was about my life before the war started. Until, I can't remember, 1939, late 1939, I think, I was sent to Japan ahead of my mom. Because they wanted me to become a minister just like them, so I was sent to my grandfather's place.

TI: Okay, being in Kapaa, so not -- well, let me just ask you first about your regular school, English school. What was, like, I'm trying to get a sense of how large the community was in Kapaa and how that worked, so do you know, like...

MK: Kapaa, Kapaa was one of the big towns in Kauai. It was the second largest town in Kauai. Lihue was first. There was, I think, a competition between whether Hanapepe was bigger or Kapaa was bigger. I would imagine maybe about two hundred thousand people.

TI: Two hundred thousand people?

MK: No, I'm not sure on the numbers, but it was a lot of immigrants there. Because all, this was all plantation at one time. Then all plantations closed by then and became a big town, and you had all regular community living there.

TI: And, like for your father's church, do you have a sense of when he did a service, about how many people would attend?

MK: Couple hundred, at least, every service. And in those days two to three hundred, they would overflow the church. Like the Sundays -- well, Japanese, the Buddhists don't have regular Sunday services, but when they had those Higan or any special services for the season, then the church was always overflowing. Especially when you had funerals, the place would be full. Three, four thousand people would come showing up.

TI: Other than doing services and the language school, did your father do other things? Like did he meet with people, like in the city, things like that?

MK: In the community, as far as community relations, yes. When they had anything to do with, anything that affected the community, he would be always included into it, especially being the church, because the church had so much influence on the people. And we had, being that we had two Japanese churches, they represented the Japanese congregation, and then you had so many other religious churches, religions in Kapaa.

TI: Okay, so you had two Japanese Buddhist churches --

MK: Yeah, we had the Hongwanji and the Joudo Shuu.

TI: Right, and then you had several maybe Christian.

MK: We had, we had a Catholic, Catholic religion, we had Episcopal, we had all the other religions, and they were all, as I could, as I recall, some of these churches were old. When I was growing up, when, in the '30s, I used to remember these churches as being old, so these churches must've been built in the eighteenth century, seventeenth century, then, so the community was old community.

TI: How about, like, a large festival like Obon? Was that, do you recall the Obon festival in Kapaa?

MK: Yes.

TI: So describe that. What would happen on... because it's Buddhist. It's religious to start off with, but it becomes also this --

MK: The Obon festival, in our, we had a fairly big yard, big lawn for the church, like they always do have something for that. And they had accommodation for that, and we used to have the Obon dance within our church ground every year. The congregation used to come out and... I used to always sit there and see if I could sneak food out. [Laughs] And it used to be always the same ladies coming out to help. I learned, learned to associate with them and always trying to get favors from them.

TI: And that meant food and things like that?

MK: Oh, yes. And the goodies that go with the food.

TI: And would this be during the day, or the evening when they would do the dancing?

MK: Always at night, always in the evening.

TI: So would they have lanterns out?

MK: Oh, chouchin, yeah. Chouchin and they had drums and, of course we had a large Okinawa society, so then they always had the shamisen out there. And, I guess our church, my dad's church was a little bit different in the fact that, being the Joudo Shuu, we had a lot of Okinawa congregation, very heavy and just... and he was very liked by them, my dad was, because he never segregated anything, said all members are members, so we had... our church, in those days, grew bigger when he came there, after he had gotten there.

TI: So your father was really accepting of the Okinawans. Did they have, the Okinawans, have difficulties in maybe other parts of the Japanese community, to not be accepted?

MK: Yeah.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: How was it for you, being the eldest son of a very prominent person in the community but also the minister? Was that hard for you?

MK: No, it was not. It... especially in those days because I was still so young, under eight years old. I never really understood. I just, "Oh, Dad's having another meeting today. Well, we're gonna eat late tonight again. After okyakusan go I can eat the asparagus, and I can eat all these other leftover goodies." That was about my take in those, in those years.

TI: Do you think you got, like, special treatment? Like when you were out in the community that, because you were the minister's son, maybe people gave you more treats?

MK: Well, I never left, we never really left the house, our property. Usually just to the beach and back. Never really went out. We didn't have any reason to go out that I can remember, except with my folks.

TI: How about things like Japanese school? Your father ran the Japanese school. I'm assuming that you had to go to Japanese school also?

MK: Truthfully, no, I don't remember going to Japanese school, up to third grade. I remember afterwards, but up to third grade I don't remember ever really -- I must have gone because I did learn Japanese before I went to Japan, for the short period I went.

TI: Well, maybe it's just through conversation. Like at the home, speaking with your mother and father, was it in Japanese or English?

MK: Oh, they couldn't understand a word of English, so it was all in Japanese. I... this is why I kinda confuse the... I learned Japanese, the writing of Japanese in school, or did I learn it at home with my mom? 'Cause my mom was always meticulous about things and she kept things very orderly. Everything had to be just so to meet her expectations, so it wasn't like I could just slack off.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So tell me a little bit about your mother. What was she like? I mean, like personality wise, how would you describe your mother?

MK: She was very liked by everybody else. She was, I think, a perfect lady for a minister's wife to run a congregation. She was firm in her ways, but she was always liked by the ladies who came to her, and they always came to listen to her. When she talked about anything they listened to what she had to say, and she was very influential with the women community in those days. That I remember, because when anybody had any problem they, as young as my mother was, the older lady would come to see my mom and talk about it, and she was, she was there.

TI: That's interesting. So an older woman would come to your mother. Do you know what kind of, maybe, topics they might talk about?

MK: Family problems. Husband problems. [Laughs]

TI: So she was giving advice about those things to older women?

MK: Yeah, you know, you... it was kinda upside down. You would think older woman, but then they wouldn't, when they would have any -- I guess they looking for some kind of comfort, so they would go and see Mom and then Mom talk to them. Maybe she did give advice, maybe she didn't, but she was a comfort to them.

TI: And how about your father? What kind of personality did he have?

MK: Kind of flamboyant, kind of politically inclined, I would kind of think. He wasn't really a politician, but then he could influence people to do different things he wanted to. He could, he knew how to play games and twist people.

TI: So he's really good with people, it sounds like.

MK: Uh-huh, he was very good with people.

TI: Was he a good speaker also?

MK: Yes, he was very good. He loved to speak. He loved to make speeches. He'd stay up there and talk for hours. If he, if you told him to speak he could continue to speak, never stop, and he loved it. He loved that attention; he loved being in the foreground.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So you mentioned earlier that your father wanted to go back to Japan in 1940, but that you were sent earlier for training.

MK: Earlier, yes. Just a few months. As it turned out, it was just a few months earlier, to Japan.

TI: A few months earlier. So explain why you were sent earlier.

MK: Well, we had... we were coming out of, we're coming out of summer school, elementary school, and then it was something like if I didn't make the -- I can't remember whether it was February, February or March -- if I didn't get on that ship then, I wouldn't be able to go 'til July or... July, I believe. And my grandfather had some kind of schedule that I had to attend, he wanted me to attend, in my preliminary, to join, become a minister. There's some... I'm not sure, but this is the reason why I was sent ahead of the family to go to Japan. I was sent alone to Japan, and my grandfather met me at Yokohama and they took me back, but I was supposed to go there to learn to become a minister.

TI: This is, what, about 1940?

MK: 1940. 1939, 1940, yes

TI: So you're only, like, seven?

MK: Seven, eight years old, somewhere thereabout, but minister families, when they become -- the day you're born, if you're gonna be a minister you're gonna study religion, so it's a very strict procedure that you follow through. It's a lifetime career.

TI: So you were being groomed to be a minister.

MK: I was being, yes.

TI: And at that point did you think that you were gonna become a minister?

MK: Yes, I had no doubt at that time. I was receptive, and I had no remorse about having to become a minister. I had no choice or anything to that fact. No, there was no... I expected to become a minister. Whether I would be a minister in Hawaii or Japan never occurred to me at that time.

TI: So what were some of your impressions of, your first impressions of Japan? So Yokohama, you get off the ship, your uncle's there, so what, what does it look like?

MK: Crowded place. [Laughs] The most crowded place I had ever seen. And I said, but I felt that the train ran so well. I'd never ridden a train at that time, rode the train to Osaka. It was a full day's trip, but the train ran so well and seemed to run on time, but was, every train we went on was very crowded, overflowing. And I remember my grandfather telling me, "This is the first class, so you enjoy it." And I couldn't believe it, I says, "This is first class? It's so crowded." He said, "No, it's first class, so enjoy it." Until we got to Saga, Beppu, and we rode the regular, common, and we got pushed into the corners, and I said, now I know what the difference between first class and coach was.

TI: Earlier I said you were picked up by your uncle, but, yeah, you were picked up by your grandfather. Now, was your grandfather wearing anything that would --

MK: Identify him as a minister? No, not really. I never thought it was, maybe it was, but he always wore a robe, and he wore a, not the ceremonial robe, but just a regular robe that looks like a regular kimono. But he never had a pattern on it, I remember. It was always solid brown or solid black. And then he always wore a black over, over robe on top of that.

TI: And how was this for you? So this is your first time meeting your grandfather, what was that like? What was, how was he with you?

MK: I don't know. I can't remember. He was my grandfather. [Laughs]

TI: So when I think back when, with my grandfather... I mean, there are some things, like was he gentle or...

MK: He was a big man. He was a very big man to me. He was about, I think he was about... my grandfather's big. He was 5'11", six feet tall. And I remember him -- in fact, when I approached him I was kind of afraid of him, really, because he was such a big man. Then on top of that he had big geta on. I thought to myself, "Why he wearing geta? Why is a man wearing geta on the dock?" And then he came up to me, and he, he saw my tag or something, he identified, and he said, "Ojiisan." And I said, oh, yeah, and I held his hand, and I'm like this to him [raises arm over head]. I guess this...

TI: So as you were coming off the ship you recognize, or you didn't recognize, but you notice this man.

MK: He, I knew who he -- well, I didn't know that was my grandfather.

TI: But yet you kind of...

MK: He came down to me after I came off the dock.

TI: But you noticed him, though.

MK: Yes, I did, because he was a big man.

TI: And then it turned out to be your grandfather.

MK: Yeah. But I found him to be very gentle. He was very, very like... I think he treated me very preciously like. Because he was my mother's father, not my father's father, but this was my mother's father.

TI: So this is the Tashima?

MK: Tashiro.

TI: Tashiro, Tashiro side. Tashiro side. Okay.

MK: And he looked... I don't know, like he was a jolly green giant. [Laughs] You know, he was a gentle man. I don't know how else to describe it. He was a very... and he never, he never raised his voice or anything. In any, all the time that I was there, the only time that I remember was every morning when I was at this church, we'd sit there and he'd, we'd go through the prayer, five o'clock in the morning, go through prayer, I'd be in the altar with him and I'm like this, and eight, eight years old, nine years old at five o'clock in the morning I'm going like this [bobs head]. He reached over and -- you know that gong stick? He hit me in the back of the head. Boy, that hurt. That was the only time that I fell asleep. But he never said anything, and then he kept going.

TI: So you were chanting?

MK: Yeah, he did his chant, but he never raised his voice or anything. Never scolded me.

TI: That's a good story.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So tell me about the training, so you're here a little bit earlier, describe some the training that you received.

MK: Well, all the... the first thing in the morning would be go wash up and then go into the altar and do our chant, would take us an hour. After that I would have to go out in the yard and rake the lawn, make sure that all the gravel were lined with the rake marks straight. And if it wasn't straight I'd have to redo it again. And my grandfather says it's got to be straight, sometimes be out there 'til ten, almost noon just to get it straight. He said, "It wasn't so good this time, but tomorrow you'll do better." And after that it was like, you have to keep the church clean, so that was on your hands and knees and mop the... and he said this was all part of the, it wasn't supposed to be education, but it was religious training to become a minister. It was traditional. Then, afternoon, after I get some relaxation, then I would be out in the niwa, in the, where they had all the veranda going around the -- and I'd be over there he'd have newspaper all lined up for me, and he'd get the sumi and the fude, and he start teaching me how to write calligraphy. And that, about... and then learn the chants. To this day I still... I never learned the chants outside, but with him I learned the chants, and to this day I remember those chants. And so I go, even though I'm not a minister, I do remember a lot of them.

TI: So it sounds like he spent a lot of time with you, this kind of special time between you and your grandfather.

MK: Yes. My grandfather, yes, so I liked him very much, because he was so gentle to me. My father was opposite. My father was terroristic, but my grandfather was very gentle, to extremes.

TI: Earlier you talked about how the church would belong to the family, so this is on your mother's side, the Tashiro. Can you describe the church, and was this a big church, a small church? Was land associated with it?

MK: Yes.

TI: What was it like?

MK: The Tashiro... I don't know anything about the Kitajima church, but that, that demolished. The only thing -- I'll go over the Kitajima side first because it's easier. The Kitajima side, the only thing that was left was my grandfather's grave. And at that time, because he was a minister, the church, people donated enough money that he had a big gravestone. I remember that, at that church that he was at, they had a large grave, grave for him. The monument gravestone. And I asked my dad, I said, "How come" -- later on, I asked my dad -- "How come Ojiichan has a big grave marker and he lost all the money?" He said, "Well, the marker is there because his ancestors are still there, and being the last, they have to have something there for him, in memory of the Kitajima." That's all I remember. I never even saw that church. I don't know where the church was or anything like that. But my grandfather on the Tashiro side, their church was big, very big. I would, I don't know, I don't know how big the land holding was, but... there were farmers renting land from the church, from Tashiro land, and they used to farm on the land, raise rice. And I remember in October all these farmers used, brought the rice over to the church as payment for the land that they used, the church's. And the rice merchant came and gathered all their rice and took it to town, and when he brought some paperwork, my grandfather, my grandfather showed it to me, says, "This is the money that's gonna keep the church going for the whole next year." So he had, that gives some kind of idea how much property they had.

TI: Wow, so the rice harvest sustained the church.

MK: The church, yes.

TI: And that's how, I guess, the people...

MK: That's how the churches used to survive. That's how my, Kitajima side was also, because that's the way that the shogun had established it. That's why they gave the Joudo Shuu church all this land so that they could subsist on their own. And to this day... they've lost all the farmland, but they still have the proper, the land proper for the church itself. And to this day they have quite a bit of holding in the church, and they don't have to worry about losing it in inheritance like other people, because the fact that it's a church granted to them before, different from the royalties who keep losing it in inheritance. But in a sense it's good, but then they don't have the income, so, like my cousin, they have to go to work. He's a schoolteacher. Teaches school, teaches school.

TI: During this, when you were a young boy with your grandfather, did he ever talk about that one day you would come back and maybe be the minister at that church? Did he ever talk about --

MK: No, we never talked about where I would go or where we'd live. He, my grandmother asked me, my grandmother asked me, "Would you like to come back to Japan to live?" And I told her, "No, I don't like to come back to Japan to live," and she said, "Why?" I said, "Because it's getting too cold." And this was in October, I believe, and was right after typhoon had come across. I says, "I don't like this kind of weather." The kawara fall off the roof and all this, then we got to worry about the house breaking down, so, "I don't like this. I want to go back to Hawaii." I remember saying that to her.

TI: But I can imagine that they saw you and they probably wanted you to stay.

MK: [Laughs] Yes.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So eventually your father and mother, they join you?

MK: They came up in... June? July? July, I think, they came up, with the intention of going back in three weeks. End of July, first part of August. And I was supposed to stay 'til December, at least, stay with my grandfather. So they came up as a, like a vacation and a homecoming, they came over. And hakamairi for my grandfather and my... and visit my other grandmother. My other grandmother, of course, had been in Manchuria, and she came back and secured in Japan at that time, so there was opportunity for my father to meet with her. So this was one of the reasons that they went to Japan in 1940. But as it turned out, in August when they were planning to go home, United States wouldn't allow ships to sail from Japan, because of the impending war.

TI: It's almost like there was an embargo...

MK: Embargo on the United States, on Japan by the United States. So then we, he couldn't leave in August, so then they decided that if, if we can ever go back, if they can go back, I was gonna go back with them. So in October of '41, there were three ships sailing, and I don't know how, but Dad got on, we were listed on the first ship that was leaving October, so we came back in October of '41. And I came back with them. The whole family came back together. By this time we had, all my brothers and sister were with them, so five of us siblings went, came home together.

TI: So tell me all your siblings. You were the oldest, and then, tell me...

MK: My sister, my sister is two years... let's see, three, three years younger than I am, so she's...

TI: Maybe 1936?

MK: '36 -- '35, 1935.

TI: And what was her name?

MK: Fumiko.

TI: Okay, and after Fumiko...

MK: Fumiko, and... my little brother, next one is Noritaka, N-O-R-I-T-A-K-A. He was born 1936. Then Kunihiko, K-U-N-I-H-I-K-O, 1938, and Yoshikata, Y-O-S-H-I-K-A-T-A.

TI: About, what, 1940?

MK: '40.

TI: Okay, good. So the, your parents and the five kids return on this last, on this ship in early October.

MK: Yeah, Asusa-maru.

TI: And then you return back to...

MK: To Hawaii. Kauai.

TI: Kauai. Kapaa. So this is October --

MK: Of '41.

TI: And two months later -- October, November -- two months later the war starts.

MK: We had the war.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So let's move to that, so... December 7, 1941, did you know what was happening in Pearl Harbor?

MK: I had no idea. All we heard was the radio. The Japanese were bombing Hawaii and this and that. I didn't, we didn't know anything. All we, all we... all I remember was that the military was running along the road and I said, "How come all these military vehicles are running and we can't, we can't go out to the beach any longer?" and all this. It was Sunday morning, and Sunday morning's supposed to be after church we were gonna go fishing. And we couldn't go.

TI: Because the street in front of the, it was just like, military's going back and forth.

MK: Military back, back and forth. We didn't have that many, but then the National Guard was all activated, and they're all on the street, and most of the people that was there are all National Guards.

TI: Now when you heard that, that the United States was at war with Japan, did that surprise you? You had just been in Japan just weeks before.

MK: No, didn't really surprise me, and, I guess... I really didn't know what it really meant, I don't think. All that, all I said is, "Oh, I wish I could see those airplanes fighting." That's about all I could see, you know. Think about. It never dawned on me that we were really at war, what the war meant or anything to that effect, no.

TI: On December 7th, that Sunday, did your father say anything to you?

MK: No. He says, he didn't say anything to me that I remember. Just that... I know he mentioned something about, "We're gonna have a lot of trouble because the war has finally come about, and this is the reason why we couldn't come home from Japan."

TI: Do you recall anything happening on December 7th with your father? Did he, like, meet with anyone, or was he out and about?

MK: Yes, he, he disappeared. I don't know where he went, but that afternoon, he, he left the church. He gathered some stuff and just left. He didn't come home 'til late afternoon, late in the evening. I didn't know what it was. I later found out what it was.

TI: So where was he?

MK: He had taken the, all the -- he was, he had been gathering money, funds to create the church. All this money that he had, he had to get rid of it. Took it to one of the church, the treasurer's house, and they in turn went someplace else. Hid it. They, I guess he felt that there was some implication of hiding money and stuff like this, so he just got rid of the money. He said, I guess he suspected he may be one of those that's gonna get targeted for questioning and all this.

TI: And this was the money, because originally he was sent there to build a new church.

MK: To build a church.

TI: So for a couple years he had been raising money...

MK: Raising money.

TI: Collecting it, and so...

MK: He had to hide it or he'd lose it.

TI: So he brought it to someone, another church member, you thought the treasurer, and then they took it and they hid it, and so that's where the money was. Okay, because the next day, tell me what happened the next day.

MK: I don't know. I went to school. About noon I got called. I was... third grade. I was called home. Somebody, somebody came up to the school and said I had to go home, so I went home, and when I went home I saw Mom crying and I said, "What's happened?" She says, "Dad got taken. The FBI came and picked him up." "What's gonna happen?" She don't know yet. "Where they gonna take him?" They don't know yet. Nothing, no, just that they came in a black car, grabbed Dad tight and put him in the car and they left, without any word. And it was almost a week before we found out that he was right in the county jail.

TI: Was that in Kapaa, just nearby?

MK: Yeah, right... well, it's only about three miles from our house. There was a county jail there, and they were confined in the county jail.

TI: That's Wailua?

MK: Wailua. That's across the current golf course.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So when they picked up your father, were you aware of others being picked up also?

MK: No, I didn't know, until we went to the, after we found out where he was and then we went to the county jail to visit him. That's when we found out that others had been gathered also. And there were, I think there were four cells, three or four cells, but there were about four people to each cell, so I think there were maybe twelve, under twenty people.

TI: Twelve or sixteen, yeah. So describe how the jail was set up to hold these people. So they had three or four cells...

MK: Cots, yeah, they had doubled up the cots making double bunks, stuff like that. And they weren't, I'm sure they weren't mistreated or anything. They seemed to be very... not happy, but they were comfortable living there.

TI: And they were allowed visitors, obviously. You went --

MK: Once a, once a week, yeah. Every, every weekend, I think it was Sundays, we would go to visit them, so Mom would make something and somebody would drive us to the... and I can't even remember how we even got there, how we got to the...

TI: So describe to me as much as you can, so, like on the weekend when you go visit him, so were you able to, to right up to him, or was it behind the fence, or... can you explain how --

MK: No, this was... in Wailua it was very lenient. We get to the, we'd get to the guard gate and Mom would make lunch and juubako and all that, so that we could all eat together, we picnic together in the lawn. So we would go over there, and we, as soon as we entered, Dad would see us. He'd come out of... their cells were never locked. The doors all open, gates were all open, and they used to walk in and out. I remember Dad saying that they were bored because they don't have anything to do, which is the biggest thing with them. And so he would come out and we'd go out to the corner of the -- of course, it's a county jail, so it's barbed wired, but nobody bothered us, and the guards are all local who knew each other, so they never bothered anybody. We were at liberty to associate just like family. We had a family picnic every Sunday. I think we had three weeks or four weeks, something to that effect. I can't remember really how long, how many outings we had. And we'd stay there about, maybe 'til two or three o'clock, and then we'd leave. Time... they had certain hours that we could visit them. We'd visit to that full extent and then we'd leave.

TI: And while you were visiting were other families visiting?

MK: Yes. All the families there were visiting. There's couple, couple men who had no families, so they were, they... we always invited them to join us. I would say maybe about twelve, fair number that was in the jailhouse.

TI: And do you remember any of your feelings when, when you went to go visit? I mean, did it feel like fun, or was it more quiet, or... do you have just a sense of what it was like?

MK: I really wasn't old enough to even realize what was happening, you know? Until then it was just, it was an outing. It was a picnic day with Dad. That's about how I felt, I guess. We were seeing Dad again for this week again, until, until he was gone. Once he was gone, then we, all of a sudden, it came to me, hey, this is something serious. Until then I didn't really know.

TI: And so the last time you visited he knew he was leaving, so he explained that he was, he was...

MK: Yeah, he was, they were gonna get shipped out. He didn't know where. We asked whether he'd go mainland or where, he said, "They don't tell me." They just, prepare your family, said to let them know that they were gonna get shipped out.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: And so on that last one when you found out, did you get a sense... was he talking to you or just the whole family?

MK: No, he was talking to my mom, really. Mom, Mom came home and told us after we had seen Dad. The only time was... the last outing we had at Wailua, Mom, Mom said, "Say goodbye to Dad because you don't see him a long time again." So I remember my daughter -- my, not my daughter, my sister -- crying, saying something about cannot, "Where you gonna be?" and this and that. "You got to come home." But says, "Cannot, so you got to gaman," and that's about all I heard him say. And Mom wasn't crying so it didn't really, never affected me until I went home, and then once we got home then Mom explained to me that Dad was gonna leave, he didn't know when. But then that night I heard her crying, so I knew something was really different now. Things had changed all of a sudden.

TI: So how did you feel about that, because, even though you're young, you're the oldest son? Did you feel any, you know, added responsibility?

MK: Yes, I felt that. Like my Dad said to me, says, "Masamizu, you're the oldest. Otousan wa inai kara. Kore kara Otousan nate kure."

TI: So explain to me what...

MK: He said that he is not gonna be here, he's... so we have no father, so I have to take the role of father of the family. And here, eight years old, I don't know what eight years old being the father of the family meant, you know. But I knew something had changed, so I took that to heart, and when I heard Mom crying at night, I kind of... I think that changed my life. I kinda felt my carefree life, living as a child, no longer existed. To this day I feel bad about that, that... I feel like I lost something.

TI: Yeah, it's such a difficult situation, and then to be so young, and in some ways so helpless, but then given so much responsibility.

MK: Can't do anything. And I think it hurt more because I had been in Japan just recently before that. I had, I had missed them so much, that I wasn't with them, and here I came home with them. And right when I came home, then I lost them again.

TI: Yeah, that's hard. Because not only were you probably worried about your mother, but you had your younger siblings, too, your, you mentioned your sister crying.

MK: I wasn't, I guess I was more worried about my mother and never really thought about my brothers and sisters as such, because they were all younger than I was and we all played together. We had nobody else to play with, so we always played together. So I never realized what this would do to us.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So how did your mother change? So now that, when you found out that your father's gonna leave and not knowing where, did your mother change?

MK: Yes. Number one, the first thing that happened, the whole congregation, all the Japanese congregation avoided the family, avoided the house, avoided the family, never came to the house, never came to the church. We had no money, because we, my dad or mom didn't have money per se , saved or anything, because everything was, as he conduct the service the donation would come in. That was his salary. Okay, my dad is gone. We have no income. So I don't know where Mom went; she'd go someplace and come back with some kind of food so we could live. People would never come to the house. Sometimes some small grocery would be delivered to our house. I think people was afraid to come to the house because they would get implicated because of association, so they avoided us. Every week, the FBI would come to our house. They would tear our house upside down. And it was just like my dad had suspected: they were looking for the money. And they dug, you wouldn't believe this, but they went under -- our house is off the, three feet off the ground -- they sent people to go under the house with shovels and dig under the house looking for that stuff. I never knew they were looking for that money, but they tore the house apart. Every week they would come, pull drawers out and just flip it upside down and throw it. Just like you'd see in the movie. Same way. And it'd be the same agents who'd come walking -- I would see 'em, recognize 'em...

TI: And this happened more than once, you said? This happened every week?

MK: Four, five times, easily.

TI: And they'd do the same thing?

MK: Do the same thing over and over, in different ways. It was just harassment. And my mother would just sit there, just... I said, "Mom, why take it?" "What for? They will come tear it apart again next week." Two weeks, she'd leave it like that, then the next week they'd come and dig under the house. Then leave it like that and next they'd go into the... even to the point they'd go to the furoba and tear the furoba, look inside the shelves and all that. Then they... question always came up. "What else you hiding? What else are you hiding?" So come to a point where she just, just gave up, but never do anything but kept the family together. And she kept on me. "Don't do anything. You might get taken away, too." I said, "I wanna hit the guys." She said, "Don't. If you hit them you might get taken away," then what's she gonna do?

TI: So it was very, almost humiliating for you and the family to just be subjected to this, this harassment every week.

MK: Constant.

TI: I'm wondering, so, this is a little unusual. I mean, most people that were picked up, they might have been searched once, but you were searched multiple times, and you mentioned the money. So the community had given your father lots of money and your father gave it to someone else to hide, but of course he didn't tell anyone else. He couldn't, because then the FBI would know. Do you think the community suspected something and they were telling the FBI, you know, "They have money hidden," or what do you think?

MK: I suspected somebody in the community knew that my dad had been collecting a lot of money, and he being associated so much with the Japanese society, might have thought that he had shipped the money back, but they really didn't know, and if he didn't ship it then he must have it someplace. Because he did collect a lot of money.

TI: Or perhaps because he went to Japan right before, he might have even...

MK: The timing was there, right? If anything, it's very suspicious.

TI: And so when you talked about how the community stayed away from the family after they picked up your dad, so there, there might have been different reasons?

MK: No, I think most of that, being away from the family, the community staying away from us, was primarily because, I think, basically because they were afraid to be implicated. Several ladies came, especially Nisei girls, Nisei ladies who were good friends with my mom, would come. They would come late at night, or they would sneak in from the back side, come to the house, not where they could be seen. Sometimes you'd, the back door, somebody'd knock on the door and it'd be the Japanese lady coming, and so... quickly open the door, come inside the house and come to help my mom. But it was, to me, anyway, I felt it was, they was afraid to be implicated because she came over to talk to my mom. There was... I know five, five ladies that used to come regularly at night. Late at night, early in the morning, come and, come see my mom, but never during the day.

TI: But you said they were Nisei?

MK: Niseis.

TI: So not, not Issei?

MK: Niseis and Sanseis, no Isseis.

TI: Why do you think that? I, if you had, if you had asked me I would have guessed Isseis would have visited your mom because of the Japanese connection, but you're saying Niseis and Sanseis.

MK: Nisei, because they... these Niseis, the mothers were very close to the church, and then these Niseis are almost my mother's age. My mother's Issei, true, but she's twenty, under thirty, and these, the Niseis and Sanseis in her era were all her age. We're -- like you said, the immigration stopped in nineteen-twenty-something, so we're about two or three generations behind. That's why, to this day, every time, everybody asks me, "You Sansei?" I say, "No, I'm Nisei." "How come you Nisei?" [Laughs] They didn't --

TI: Okay, that makes sense. So a lot of it was they were more friendly to your mother.

MK: Yeah, they're friendlier to my mom, and then they felt that, because they're American citizen, not knowing what had happened to United, in the United States, but in Hawaii, figuring that they were American citizens, they wouldn't get implicated.

TI: Okay, that makes sense.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Now how about you when, when, after they took your dad away, when you would go to school? Did people treat you any differently?

MK: No. They... this is what was funny, because when I went to school after my dad, everybody said, "Oh, too bad your dad got taken away." Everybody knew that. "Where's your dad?" That's about it. But my fourth grade teacher, she found out that my dad had been... and then came to a point and says, "How you folks taking this?" "Oh, we doing," I said, "we're managing okay." So one day she came to the house, and she came to talk to my mother. She was a Hawaiian lady. She was a Hawaiian teacher. She came to the house, and she looked at the house and she said, "What you eating?" "We can manage." She said, "No, you don't have anything in the house. You don't have anything." So she gathered all of us, took us to her house, and she had made dinner for us, and after that, every week she would bring, by herself, she would drive in. I said, "What about, like, the rest of the people?" She said, "Hey, I'm Hawaiian. What they gonna do to a Hawaiian?" That's what she said. And she helped us so much, and I think that was how my mom survived. So everybody in my class knew that we were facing hard times, because she would tell that to the kids. But this also created a situation when, that... in 1942, in May when the Relocation Authority came to our house and told my mom, "You have two days to prepare to go to..." Crystal City, I think.

TI: So go to the mainland, to Crystal City.

MK: Yeah, Crystal City. And Mom says, "Two days? We cannot do it. We cannot pack up and go." So she refused to go, but they told her, "Well, we'll let you go this time, but next time you're gonna have to go." But really we really didn't have to go, if we could subside, survive somehow, but Mom felt that we couldn't survive, that we were gonna -- we couldn't expect Ms. Hardy to support us through all this time. So it was like we didn't have to go, and yet what choice did we have? So when, in October then, when they came back and said, "You have two weeks to get prepared," Mom says, "Okay, we'll go." That was when it was decided we would go to the mainland, so to this day they went voluntarily. True, went voluntarily, but... the only thing we could do. We couldn't live. We couldn't, we had no money to live with. We had no means of support. We had, the Red Cross was helping us, brought us, you should've seen, brought us a cheese like this, American cheese about this big, all gray. Never saw cheese before, and says, "Here's some food for you." [Laughs] Mom looked at it and said, "What is that?" And she threw it away. And somebody said, "That's cheese." A Nihonjin who never saw cheese before, we look at it, kabidara cheese. [Laughs]

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Okay, so Masa, we're gonna pick it up again. October 1942, and now it's the second time that your family has been asked to, whether or not they want to go, and you said this was kind of voluntary, but really not, because you didn't have much choice.

MK: No.

TI: Because you're barely surviving, your mother with five young children. And so the second time she agrees to go, so tell me about that. What happens next?

MK: Well, one of the things that was promised to us was that, if we go... way back, when was that? May, when they first came to us. One of the reasons that they wanted, we should go was the fact that once we go over there, when we get to camp we'll be together with my dad. This was one of the things that tried to make us go. Of course, that was, we couldn't, we couldn't even consider that trip, because it was too close, but it was a very major deciding factor whether we would go or not. 'Cause by this time my dad was, Dad was in Louisiana. Camp Livingston. So, being that he was in Louisiana, Mom felt that, well, it wouldn't be too far for him to come over so he could join us in Arkansas, knowing that we were going to Arkansas. So then that was what made her think, "Yeah, we will go."

TI: But it wasn't explained to her that in Arkansas, Jerome, Arkansas, he wouldn't be there.

MK: No, he wouldn't be there. He's didn't come, either.

TI: Because the first one they mentioned Crystal City, which was a family camp, internment camp, where, where...

MK: Right. The families were put in internment camp, not relocation camps. So those people eventually came into relocation camps as families, but that's after the fact.

TI: But at this point, so we're October, your mom is thinking that --

MK: We were gonna join together in Jerome. Once we got to Jerome that my dad would join us just like they did in Crystal City. So, so then she consented to go. Then October, November, it was early, just before, just before Thanksgiving, we shipped out of Kauai. Then we came to a immigration center right over here, right outside of state... well, the immigration center right now.

TI: Ala Moana Immigration.

MK: Yeah, and we stayed there 'til December 26th.

TI: So about, a little more than a month.

MK: A month, yeah.

TI: And what was that like, staying in this immigration place?

MK: I think it was kind of relaxing, that we didn't have any of the outside pressures anymore. We were kinda confined, and we were left alone and nobody bothered us. Everybody, every... we were being fed every day and could do what we wanted in that place, even though it was kind of confining. And all the families there were alike, from all the different islands. I think it was pretty nice. [Laughs]

TI: And maybe especially for your mother. She didn't have to worry so much.

MK: Yeah. No more worries, then we didn't have to worry about each other or anything like that. You know, it was relaxing.

TI: So you're there about a month and a half, any memories from...

MK: No, not really. We, the only thing we were wondering was okay, we're gonna ship, when we're gonna ship? How come we aren't shipping out yet? And that was when we found out that the people from Maui had not been shipped over, and as soon as they came over, they said, "Okay, the Lurline is ready to sail with you folks and you're gonna go to the mainland." But also, I guess, the Lurline was a troop ship, so shipping back and forth, they had to make space for us. There was only about, I can't remember the number. Three hundred or... something to that number. I know it was a three. Now, three hundred or three thousand, I'm not sure. I'm not, I'm quite sure it wasn't three thousand.

TI: It was probably three hundred.

MK: Three hundred.

TI: Closer to three hundred.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So any memories from the journey from Honolulu to the mainland?

MK: No. The only thing I remember -- well, I was, I get seasick on ships. It was six, seven days going to, six days going to San Francisco. I remember somebody telling me, "Hey, we're going under the Golden Gate." I got up, got out of bed and go watch the Golden Gate. I said, "Wow, that's not gold. It's red." [Laughs] And then we went to Oakland someplace and we docked in, but I remember as we docked in, some people were on the docks, when we were coming down the gangplank, some people were calling us "Japs," stuff like that, making remarks, and some of the guys said the fruits were being thrown at 'em, but I don't remember seeing, getting hit or anything like that.

TI: Now was this your first time having kind of these racist, or, you know, name calling at you?

MK: No, not really, because, going back to Kauai, after my, after the war had been established, within about a half year, the military soldiers meeting quarters came to our church and occupied the social hall, and they used that as their barrack quarters, and they lived there all that time. So it got to the point where we got close to some of the GIs, and yet, of course, some GIs, they called us "Jap kid," "gooks," and stuff like this. I had been exposed to some of that racism before that during the war, in Hawaii. So it wasn't strange to me.

TI: So it wasn't, like, totally unexpected when you came down.

MK: No. I expected that, but I know, it kinda surprised me that as we're getting off the ship and we're all women, mostly women and children, and here we're being treated the same way coming off the ship. And I guess what I remember the most is that coming off the ship it was so cold because we didn't have any clothes. We had no warm clothes.

TI: 'Cause this is winter. This is --

MK: January 1st, in San Francisco. In San Francisco Bay. And I thought, oh, we got a -- the ship was warm, nice and warm. So not thinking after you get off the ship, once we got off the ship, then we're sent to the rail yard and put into the railcars. And they had MPs posted on the railcars, all the railcars, and we're told we couldn't use the bathrooms, lavatories, because they were in the siding and you couldn't use the bathroom in the siding. But now, because of the fact that we had no clothes, we had no warm clothes, no nothing, everybody started getting sick. All the young kids started getting diarrhea. Now they want to use the bathroom, you can't use the bathroom. So the ladies got together and says, let some of the kids, 'cause really the kids are not our age. I was one of the older ones, and then the younger ones just couldn't hold on, so they used a corner of the car and used the bathroom there. And that was from, I don't know what time we got off the ship. I know the ship came in right after dawn. January in, dawn in January, it must be seven o'clock, eight o'clock, and right after that we got into the... and it was dusk, was dark before we got steam into the cars. The locomotive had to hook up, to give steam to the cars, and that was the only warmth we had all day. And all the kids are sick. Everybody was sick in there, mothers and all. And couldn't use the bathroom I think that was the worst part that I remember of that trip.

TI: And so were these cars just, like, bare cars? Just --

MK: No, they were passenger, with car, passenger seats and all this, that could swivel back and forth. So, though they were sick, the mothers used to lay down and, just flop the seat over and lay down together and hold the kids.

TI: But people generally didn't have any clothes, or warm clothes?

MK: They have no clothes. No, because we all come from Hawaii. We're like this, and we're in San Francisco like this. We did not know... we didn't, we didn't have money to buy clothes or anything, so we had to go the way we were.

TI: How, how about food? Did they feed you?

MK: No, not that day.

TI: So women and children --

MK: Were just abandoned, and MPIs were right, MPs were stationed at each car.

TI: So the MPs, at least they could see that you were uncomfortable, you had no food, you were cold.

MK: Well, what do they care? They don't care.

TI: They could've reported this. You know, they could've told someone. Nothing.

MK: "They're just bunch of Japs."

TI: So this was all day, from early dusk to, dawn to dusk.

MK: Early dawn to dusk.

TI: And then finally...

MK: When the steam came on everyone was so relieved that the steam came on, and as soon as the car started moving, then you knew you could use the bathroom, so used the bathroom, but it was just... by this time the cab, the cabins were warm, so then the ladies started cleaning the room up, the cab up with what they could. I remember them getting containers and washing the, from the, getting water from the drinking fountain and washing the cabin out. This became our home for five days or seven days or whatever long, however length of time it took us to get to our... Jerome.

TI: And how often did they let you leave the car, to go outside to stretch your legs or anything like that?

MK: No. This is, this is wartime, so the train would travel so long, get to a siding, and they would shift, move over the side, let the main line go through, go through the next, travel to the next siding, and we stopped at one place which was in the desert. Someplace in the desert. Just about third or the fourth day they told us, finally, "You can get off. You can go out and stretch your leg. You can, if you want you can walk around. You have two hours," or something like that, 'cause train was gonna move in two hours. And everybody looked outside and they said, "What are we gonna do out in the sun, in the desert?" So everybody decided to stay in the railcars. Some guys went out there. Some people walked outside a little bit and that was it. They were, before long they were all inside the car again. Couldn't stay in the sun anyway.

TI: Well, I guess it might be cold, too. It's wintertime.

MK: Yeah.

TI: And so the air and thin and probably cold, too.

MK: That was the only one time that we could stop, we could get out of the cars.

TI: Now, you mentioned the MPs, were they, were they armed? Did they have guns?

MK: Yes. There were guns. They had guns. Some of 'em were nice, but, some were nice, some were... and we being young kids, we could get away with things that adults couldn't, and we used to go over there, and we knew certain ones that would give us candy and we'd go over there. I remember that. I'd send my sister, "Go get candy." [Laughs] Give us chewing gum, yeah, get chewing gum.

TI: This is from the guards? Now, the adults, you said, were mostly women. Were there any men?

MK: Not in our cars, no. In the immigration, at the immigration station we had no men. All women. Women and children. And on the ship were no men.

TI: And did the same MPs go all the way across the country?

MK: No, they changed. They would change after so many days.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: And so you mentioned this was, what, five to seven days. This was a long time that you were in these...

MK: Yeah. I have... I just lost track. I couldn't keep track. The only thing I remember, the best thing I remember, the most heartening thing I remember is we got into Arkansas, Jerome, probably about, I would say ten o'clock, or probably closer to nine o'clock at night. And as we approached they said, "Oh, you're getting closer to Jerome." I don't know how they knew. Somebody said we were getting closer to Jerome, and as we got to Jerome I saw a big bonfire. Big, big fire. The guy, the people in Jerome were burning, had a bonfire from old crates and lumber and stuff like that, just to greet us. So the train pulled in, and as we got out the people helped us get off the train, and we all stood around the fire and held hands. After... these people, all the people from California who was, who was sent to Jerome earlier and who had, who knew that we were coming in from Hawaii, so they came out to greet us and help us out. And I guess they knew we're cold. They had blankets, lots of blankets with them. I don't know where they got the blankets from, 'cause I know they were... after we got in we couldn't get blankets, but I don't know whether they snuck these blankets in for us. So we had blankets, and we could warm up, stay warm. They put us on trucks and shipped us to the, our assigned barracks, and they came and helped us, until we got settled down. Lit the fire in the pot-bellied stove for us and stuff like that, helped us, "This is how you do things." Taught us how to do it.

TI: But having this group here, it made it a lot easier for you that you came, they had the fire for warmth, they were there. So these were Japanese and Japanese Americans from --

MK: California.

TI: -- California and other parts, and they had blankets for you. And you mentioned holding hands, who were you holding hands with?

MK: With each other, just because we got there together. And with them, some of the people said, "Hold hands, we're gonna be..." Said, "Hold hands together, so we'll be strong."

TI: That's a really powerful, powerful moment.

MK: And it seemed such a insignificant thing, to be there and say, "Hold hands," but under those conditions, we were... we had nothing, and here friends greet you. Meant so much.

TI: That's good. And then eventually they led you to your...

MK: Took us into the barracks. We had no idea how to live in, on the United, in... on the mainland. And Arkansas was a swamp, right? There was a, middle of a swamp that they dredged. And we didn't know how to make a fire, how to burn wood in a pot-bellied stove. So the guys went out and got wood for us, brought it into the room and says, "This oil can help you. This is how you do it." Started the fire for us. Said, "You have to go get your wood from now on." They helped. So much help.

TI: So it's almost like they... so they kind of knew that the Hawaiians would have a hard time, and so they would take the time to show.

MK: And they knew that there was no men, so all women and children.

TI: Just a little, I forgot to ask, so, the group that you went over with on the train, from the immigration center and then on the train, so was your family kind of typical, in terms of, you know, a mother and children?

MK: Yes.

TI: And were they all about the same size?

MK: About same age, same size.

TI: Same age, same size. Okay.

MK: 'Cause these are mostly all ministers' kids, ministers... there were some merchant who was bookstore seller, bookstore... you know, I guess there was some men, because Mr. Nakamura came, came with us then. I get, I get mixed up because some people came from Crystal City after we got to Jerome, and they had fathers with them. But mostly it was men, mostly it was women and children.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: So tell me, so the next morning... so you came in at night, you had this experience, you got to your barracks. Tell me, the next the day, the morning, what was it like for you to wake up to Jerome?

MK: Cold. Very cold, and we could see what it was like outside. And I remember stepping out, and as soon as I step out, there was a drainage canal from the barracks. It had a center walkway, and there was another barrack with the drainage canal in between, so you'd face each other. You'd walk out, you step out, and the other person would be stepping out. And the first reason that we walked out was because it was breakfast, and they were clanking the bell, something. Bell was clanging on, so we got out and started... then it's breakfast time, so we walked down, crossing that... there was a board, two boards going across, and that thing was icy from being wet and then freezing over. Slipped on that thing first and found out what it was like to walk on ice. [Laughs]

TI: And if you slipped off the boards, you'd fall into the ditch?

MK: Into the ditch, yes. That was ice, too, so... but going to the, we went to the mess hall, and it was cold getting to the mess hall, but once you got to the mess hall it was nice and warm. And then they had, first time I had home fried potatoes. And those guys, the cooks are all Japanese Americans from California, they were cooking for us and all that, and oh, man, I remember that bugger being hot from pepper. A lot of pepper. But it was, in a sense, was enjoyable, you know, that you were in a community where everybody was alike. And it was like finally we're off, off the ship, off the trains and traveling, and we're now home per se.

TI: And what did you do for clothes? Because you said initially you didn't have warm clothes, so eventually you had to get warm clothes. How did, how'd you get clothes?

MK: I think somebody brought clothes to the mess hall and said whatever fits, take, something to that effect. And I suspected this came from all the people from California who had excess clothes that they could give us. 'Cause I heard that a sheep lined jacket... I saw it and I thought, "I want that jacket," and I grabbed it.

TI: So you think all the other prisoners just donated whatever they could and then...

MK: Yeah, from relocation camp, what they had brought from the, from California and everything. Knowing that we didn't have any clothes, somebody thought about these things, I don't know who, but they thought about these things and improving things for us because they knew that we didn't have clothes. Which kind of surprising, 'cause they didn't... they didn't know that people were coming from Hawaii because there's only so few of us that came from Hawaii.

TI: Now in your block, in your area, was it... did they keep the Hawaiians together?

MK: Yes.

TI: So your block was all from Hawaii.

MK: Yeah, we had two blocks. Block 30 -- one and a half block -- 38, Block 38 was our block. It was all Hawaii block. And Block 39 had, half the block was Hawaii people. The Hawaii, the Block 39 was the ship that came in after us. We're the first ship to come to Jerome, and there was another ship that came after us, later in the spring. And they went to Block 39.

TI: Did you --

MK: Block 18. I'm sorry, Block 18, 17 and 18.

TI: Seventeen, 18, okay. So at what point did you start exploring the other parts of the camp?

MK: Oh, wasn't a month, I don't think, because as soon as we found out what the place was like, the first thing we tried to do was cross, cross the barbed wire, try to get outside. Then one of the security guards stopped us and he says, "You folks think you're smart. We'll let you get through the barbed wire, but you know that there's snakes out there in the swamp? And there's nothing out there for you to go to." But we still explored.

TI: 'Cause you were curious. You wanted to see.

MK: Yeah, and then after a while, in Jerome especially, it wasn't too long before the guards disappeared. There was no more guards. Of course, by this time it was, what, mid '43 and the guy, the 442 guys all from Camp Shelby started --

TI: Yeah, so I want to ask you about that, but before we go there, you mentioned snakes. I mean, in Hawaii there are no snakes.

MK: No snakes.

TI: So what, what did you think about snakes when you saw a snake?

MK: Well, first time I saw a snake was a rattler, inside a cage. When we used to walk from our block, we used to walk down toward the early cell blocks, they all had snakes as a hobby. Men had nothing to do, so they would go out, make cages, go trap snakes and raise snakes. They would raise chicken. They would raise anything they could. After a while they used to have farms, small farms. And, in fact, from what I had heard earlier, the people started going to the open land and start farming and started irrigating their own land so that they could do something just to do something. That's how they started the farming in the community, within the camps.

TI: But going back to the snakes, so when you saw a snake the first time, or maybe even the first time you saw a snake in the wild, what did you think?

MK: I don't know, snakes... I guess I'm thinking that I had seen snakes in Japan, so it was different. I had seen the shell from the snake sitting in a kaki tree, overnight and, at night, and go to see there's no shell, the next morning the shell is sitting there. And I had learned about snakes when I was in Japan, so it didn't bother me, so I really can't answer what you're asking. Never, never affected me that much. Maybe some others it did.

TI: Okay, yeah, because I know there's no snakes on Hawaii, so I was just curious how the Hawaiians dealt with snakes, but you had other experience.

MK: I had experience in Japan already, previously, so it didn't, never affected me. Never thought anything about it.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Now, for the, even though the basics were taken care of, you still, the family would still need extra things like toiletries or maybe extra blankets, which would take money. How would you get money while you were in Jerome?

MK: Okay, my mom... well everybody could get a job if they wanted to. The salary was sixteen dollars a month for subsistence. With that you had to buy your clothes. If it was anything else, like blankets, blankets provided by the WRA, War Relocation Authority, toilet papers and stuff like that, they were all public bathrooms, within the compound, which had eighteen barracks, I think. And all that was taken care of. Now, my mom, because she had five kids, she felt that during the day she had to be with the children, take care of the children. She would work at night, when the kids were sleeping, or she could work someplace, sometime when she, when the, she didn't need to watch the kids. So she took the job as a janitor to clean the latrines, both the women, men and women's latrines and the showers.

TI: Oh, so within your block, so she stayed within the block.

MK: Within our block, yes. So everybody had different jobs to do, like the cooks. They had so many cooks on our block, and the block manager, they had yard cleaner... different, different jobs so that they had some kind of thing to do, but those that were bored with it, they couldn't... like a guy who was a cop and they had no job to do. No work. Or a farmer. They worked night and day all in the normal life and now they got to sit on their butt not doing anything. And I remember that that was the worst thing that ever happened to them, that they died of boredom. They just bored, so bored.

TI: But in the case of your mother, she had to not only raise, still take care of five kids --

MK: Five kids, yeah.

TI: -- but then whenever she could at night she would do the janitor...

MK: She would do janitorial work. Sometimes midday she'd go out and do a short job and come back home.

TI: Were there... did your family ever get help, like maybe other people to help watch the younger children or anything like that?

MK: Yeah, we would help each other, neighbors to neighbors would help each other. And of course the families got closer as far as the neighborhood gets closer, but then you also knew that you were always intransient. You didn't know what was gonna happen tomorrow. Until... my dad was supposed to come visit us sometime in '43, but Mom said, "Don't come back. If you come, it's gonna be so hard when you leave. The kids are very... they've adjusted to not having you around, so it may be cruel and you want to come back, but don't come back," because we see the others, other people who, other guys, men who had come and who had to go back, how it affected the family. So Mom told him, "Don't come." Said, "When you come, you have to be permanent." Said, "Don't come for a week or two weeks and then have to leave again," so my dad never came home from Louisiana.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. So your mother would sort of watch other families go through that process, and so when the father visited for a short time, the family would come together. Then he would have to leave.

MK: Break again.

TI: And that was very, very hard on the families. So hard that your mother said, "Don't come."

MK: So then she said, "Don't come." That's the type she was.

TI: So she would sacrifice not seeing your father just because she knew how hard it would be on the children to do that.

MK: I always felt that that was kind of unique in a sense, that she can, she'd think, think of those things ahead of time.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: Talk about the family structure. I've interviewed other people about places like Jerome, and because of the mess hall, sometimes the families would get --

MK: Break apart.

TI: Yeah, a little separated, that the kids would eat with their friends.

MK: That's right.

TI: So there wasn't the closeness of the family. How did it work for your family?

MK: My family, no. Because I became the tyrant. I became the father. And when my sister wanted -- my sister was most troublesome to me. My brothers listened to me. Whenever I said we're gonna do this, then they were agreeable. My sister was very defiant. She was so much like my father. She would do her things the way she wanted. First thing she wanted to do was, her girlfriends are eating with their girlfriends, so she wants to go. She's gonna go eat. I said, "No you're not. We're a family. We're gonna eat as a family, because I want you to live and eat with the family." And one time she did break off. She went. I grabbed, I went over there and grabbed her. She didn't want to come back; I just dragged her home, dragged her to... "You will eat here." She said, "Who are you?" I say, "I'm Otousan." I took my job, I took my responsibility very serious. Maybe too serious, but I felt I had no other choice. If I let things go the way the others were doing, then there'd be the same problem in our family, because I knew families was always saying the family's falling apart. And my dad said, "Take care of the family," and I felt that that was my primary job. I had to do that.

TI: And was this prompted by your mother? You said Okaasan wanted people to be together, so your mother said, you know, "We need to eat together as a family," and then it was left to you to, to...

MK: To hold it, right, yeah. The thing was that we always felt... well, number one, we come from a church, and a church has to be together. So Mom said, "We are not like other families. We are from the church. We have to be together, and we have to support each other. It's the only way we can live. And if you make families, friends over here, you break your family up and you make friends over here, tomorrow you leave who you're gonna go with. You're gonna stay with them or you're gonna come with the family. You're gonna have to come with the family. You have no choice." So that she emphasized especially to us. We are still family, no matter what. We will eat together.

TI: And it was left to you to make sure that it happened, with the other, with your siblings, your younger brothers and sisters.

MK: And it was easy to explain it to my brothers, but not my sister.

TI: Were there other examples of you taking that responsibility with the family that you can recall, that you had to do because you were the, the older brother, that you had to do this?

MK: Not physically, but in other, other ways of thinking or doing things, yes. It wasn't to their liking. I think it did create a barrier between myself and my brothers and sisters. Not the younger ones, like Noritaka and Fumiko. They both, they're only one year apart and they're close together, but they would gang up, two of 'em would gang up against me, so it created a barrier between them two and myself. But the other two didn't care, they were so young. They hardly remembered anything.

TI: And this kind of goes back to that moment you described earlier when your father was leaving in Kauai for the last time, and you just feeling this change that happened over you that you had to take responsibility. And by doing so, in some ways, that caused this separation from your other brothers and sisters. That all of a sudden you had to think differently.

MK: I had authority that they didn't like me having the authority of, and... which to this day still exists to some extent. As old as we are, still that feeling still comes about. Sometimes when they're in trouble they call niisan, they call me up and I say, "What now?" Just like I'm the father. And that comes up, sporadically. And yet when they talk, they want to say something nasty about me. "Oh, he was always like that, that way." [Laughs]

TI: So it's a very unique experience for you, unique relationship you have with your siblings.

MK: It is.

TI: All caused by what happened during the war, when they took your father.

MK: Yeah, the separation, separation of my dad and the responsibility I had to take as my dad.

TI: And yet you were a boy. You were, what, nine, ten years old?

MK: Nine.

TI: So as a boy, were you able to make friends your age and play and do different things?

MK: Yeah. In camp, yes.

TI: What are some memories of that? Do you have any, any...

MK: Well, I'm not very good at sports, especially baseball, and that's... basketball, I never knew what, what basketball was about. Primarily because I never associated outside when in my young time because I was a church kid and I couldn't associate with the other people in a sense because our family background, so I never played baseball. So when I went to camp I learned how to play baseball. I enjoyed baseball, but I was never good at it because I didn't have enough practice. I never learned the fundamentals, but I learned how the game was played and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed it to the point I wanted to play. And yet, even though as bad as I was, they still allowed me to play. And that was, I think, the late, last time I ever played was in camp, because there was, they had to have teams to play. Even though we were always the losing team I was happy if I could play baseball.

TI: So that's a fond memory, playing baseball for you.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: Earlier you had mentioned the 442, the men who were training at Camp Shelby. Describe that. I mean, I know that the men oftentimes came to Jerome and Rohwer to visit, and you were there, so describe how that worked.

MK: Well, there was a lot of boys from Kapaa, Kauai, who were church members, in Shelby, so when, once they found out that we're in -- no, only one person find out that -- Reverend Kitajima's family's in Jerome, they would use their three day passes and come over from Shelby. While they were in basic training, they would come, Shelby to Jerome, and we would... and the block, our block being all Hawaii, would make special accommodations so they would have good food and all that. We would have, we used to ration our rice, just so that we would have enough rice for the boys to come and stuff like that.

TI: So how would you ration rice? I mean...

MK: The mess hall would ration our rice. The mess hall would have, and they said, "Oh, tomorrow no rice. We will have, all having potatoes because we're gonna save the rice for this weekend when the boys come over." Or we're gonna have to cut down the meat for this week. The next week we have extra meat. Every week the boys would, some guys would come over. We didn't know how many were coming, but they're all Hawaii boys who were coming. They want to come to see Hawaii, Hawaii people, so every week until they shipped out they came. And they would always bring presents for the kids and for us kids and stuff like that. Never to you specifically, but for the, for all block, they would bring. And then the block manager would call the kids over and say, "Here, for you, for you." Distribute it.

TI: And when you, when these boys came from Camp Shelby, what did you think about that? Because you're, you're, what, maybe eight, nine years younger than they are, so how was that for you to see these young men come to camp?

MK: As far as being in the military?

TI: Or just, you know, looking up to them, or --

MK: Well, I looked up to them, yes. And I felt, oh, they're so lucky they can go in the, they can go in the army and train as... but I also felt kind of sad for them in this fact that they weren't near their home, near their families. So I'm happy they could come to our family and enjoy it with us. And then I also knew some of 'em from Kauai, and so I would remember them by their first names. It was almost like being at home to see them again.

TI: And when the boys came to Jerome, were they always happy, or what were, what were they like?

MK: Oh, yeah. Very happy, and actually it was like celebration. Like the girls would decorate the mess hall, clean all the... we used to go and help mop the floor so that they could have dance, the canteen night at night and stuff like... the crepe paper, decorate the mess hall and they have music and dances. And after that, to go, earlier in the evening before that they would have things for the kids and they'd have singing and stuff. Like a celebration every Friday night or Saturday night, just for the guys.

TI: And would the Kauai boys bring their friends, too?

MK: Yeah. They would bring, too. Well, anybody who was, who was on pass that week, practically all of 'em come to Jerome.

TI: And about how, do you, like a dance, about how many soldiers would be there?

MK: About thirty, forty guys. A truckload, couple truckloads.

TI: And where would they sleep?

MK: I don't know. [Laughs]

TI: Someplace on, on...

MK: There was some accommodation, I'm sure.

TI: But then for food, you guys had to sacrifice.

MK: Well we had to do some sacrificing because the, each block was rationed so much. But, like, all year round, the guys used to go out and they'd go fishing on their own and bring, bring fish back for the barrack, for the mess hall, and stuff like that. And they, it used to be, used to be not unusual to have livestock from what the people have plant, raised themselves in the camp, to be used in the mess hall. The Japanese are, would do all kind of things just to, just to keep themselves busy, and they have so much byproducts.

TI: And this was a good way to use, or a good occasion to use, maybe, the extra fish or the livestock.

MK: But remember when you went to Little Rock, where the sharecroppers said they were envious of us because we use, we're eating military pork and ham, which they didn't realize that was all camp-raised from our garbage. And they accused us of using GI food, whereas we're supplying all the truck crops to all the federal institutions in Arkansas during the war, from Rohwer and Jerome. I didn't really realize that until I went to...

TI: You didn't realize that the sharecroppers were envious of...

MK: Yeah, I didn't know that. And then they, the sharecroppers told us that in Arkansas, it's the last visit.

TI: But they didn't know that you had raised all, most of that food.

MK: Yeah, we raised all of it because we didn't know what to do with the garbage.

TI: Okay, good. So the... yeah, so I just wanted to talk about the 442, so they would come on weekends, and you said almost every weekend they would, they would come.

MK: Yeah, after they were, after they finished their basic and they were doing the, their combat training, specializing for the European campaign, they would come every week. Every time they had a break they would come out.

TI: And when the men from the 442 went to Europe, I'm guessing some of them probably still wrote back and forth?

MK: I don't know.

TI: Okay, but when they were in Europe and people start hearing about the casualties of the 442, is that difficult for the people at Jerome? Because they had entertained so many of the boys and some of them...

MK: You know, when they, when they went to combat I really don't know, because by this time we had been shipped to Tule Lake. Now, the Tule Lake we were in internment camps. We didn't even know what had happened to the 442 after that.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: So let's, let's talk about... because eventually your father did rejoin the family.

MK: Yes, he came back 1940, '43, late '43 or early '44, someplace thereabouts, I guess.

TI: So he comes from an internment camp.

MK: Livingston.

TI: Camp Livingston.

MK: Yeah, from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

TI: Okay, Santa Fe, New Mexico. So he was at Livingston, then went to Santa Fe and then is transferred to Jerome --

MK: Jerome.

TI: -- so the family gets together late '43. So tell me about that. What was it like to see your father after almost, almost, what, a year and a half, almost two years? Yeah, because it was December '41 when he was picked up.

MK: Three and a half, three years, three and a half years, something like that about. Three, forty --

TI: Well, '41, so '42 then '43, so that's two years that you hadn't really seen him.

MK: Two years. Yeah, two, two years. Little over two years.

TI: So how had he changed in those two years?

MK: I felt that he was really quiet. He wasn't himself when he came in. He was, he showed a lot of bitterness. And he, I think he was angry, I would say. I know he wasn't the guy, the person I had known before. [Pauses] Can't really, I can't really give that one.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: Because soon after, you, we mentioned Tule Lake, and so you go from Jerome, the family goes from Jerome to Tule Lake. And some of the reasons people went to Tule Lake was either how they answered the "loyalty questionnaire" or their desire to be sent back to Japan. So in your case, why did, why did the family go to Tule Lake?

MK: He was a "no-no," and he wanted to go back to Japan. Both. He was so bitter that he said no matter what, he's going back to Japan. Said he's not gonna stay in a country that imprisoned him for nothing. Said he's not going to stay in a place where his friend gets shot down. I don't know where. A prisoner got shot someplace. You know, in the internment camps.

TI: Well at Fort Sill, Oklahoma --

MK: Fort someplace.

TI: -- there was, there was a...

MK: The guy that...

TI: Was climbing the fence.

MK: Yeah, the climbing fence.

TI: So that was Mr. Oshima.

MK: And the bitter method, he said the way that they allowed, they let him go until they finally shot him without a -- they let him go through so much space and it was deliberately getting to a point where he had, they could shoot him. So he says, "If that the kind of country that we are living, I don't want to live in this country."

TI: And so does your father tell you that, or did he share that, or you heard him talking about that?

MK: He talked about that several times, but he never would distinct where he was talking about, and I really didn't want to hear it. That was another thing. I didn't want to hear this, with the atrocities that happened at his camps. Like he talked about being in Livingston and in the swamp and pushing logs around for the sake of pushing logs around. And the military would make him move things around in the swamp.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: So he was quieter, bitter, decided to, he wanted to go back to Japan, he put "no-no" on the "loyalty questionnaire," and so the family moves from Jerome...

MK: Jerome to Tule Lake.

TI: Tule Lake. So talk about Tule Lake. What was Tule Lake like?

MK: Tule Lake was entirely different from Jerome. Jerome was liberal, all happy families and all this. The first time, I remember the first time when I went to Tule Lake, the first incident was they had a carnival of some kind. Within the first month we were there, they were having a carnival of some kind and somebody was really getting beaten up because there were two factions of Japanese there. Those that wanted to go back to Japan and those that didn't, didn't want to go back to Japan. And my dad was, of course being a schoolteacher, he was determined that he was going back to Japan. He wanted to teach Japanese school. He, and he went to teach Japanese school and every day I would... the first time, the first week I remember the guys, all the high school students that, they all enrolled in Japanese school. Every morning was exercise, Japanese-style. They would run the blocks and they would... there was all this propaganda thing, all for Japan. And they carried the Japanese flag and I said, "What the hell are they doing here? What, what kind of, what kind of community are we living in?"

TI: And your father, as he was teaching Japanese, so teaching Japanese, did he also then --

MK: Influenced them.

TI: -- help do the exercise with them and tell them about Japan and all those different things? Because he was a young man still.

MK: Yeah.

TI: He was probably --

MK: Still in the late, middle thirties.

TI: Yeah, mid-thirties. So probably the younger men responded well to him, because he was --

MK: Being a teacher, being a minister. And they all looked up to him. Now he's talking the same language they are.

TI: Did you see a change in your father then, at Tule Lake? Did he get more energetic?

MK: Yes, he did. After he came back and went to Tule Lake he was much more energetic. But there was some that was more militant than him. I know he was one of the militants, but he wasn't quite as bad as some of the others. We used to have a guy that used to come in and make sure that our heads was always shaved, always bald. We followed Japanese traditions. And we used to always hide from him because we were so afraid of him.

TI: And this was for you, too, because you were, what, like, ten years old?

MK: Ten years old. I was sixth grade.

TI: So you had to also do those things, too.

MK: And we had to go to Japanese school, had to go to -- once, once we got to Tule Lake and got acclimated to it then we had to enroll in Japanese school. We had to learn... and we were getting ready to get shipped back to Japan, so we had to learn.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: So describe some of the activities you had to do as a ten-year-old. You mentioned shaving your head. What else in Japanese school? What else did you have to do?

MK: Sing all the military song, parade, march, do all the military exercises, and learn, go to propaganda schools, to a point where... when, you know when the kamikaze started and everybody kept saying, "If you were in Japan, how many of you would be willing to ride a kamikaze?" [Raises hand]

TI: So everyone raised their hand.

MK: Yeah. "Tennouheika no tame." First in line, I wanna be first in line. Got to that point. It's amazing. You know, when I think about it, it's amazing what people can do to you if you get in the right environment. And I can, I see these propaganda movies, how people change, and I thought yeah, I went through that. I know what it's like, how you can get so influenced.

TI: Well especially if you're ten years old, too.

MK: Ten years old, yes. You're so gullible to anything that happens. I was raised to go back to Japan. I was willing to go back to Japan. I was willing to die.

TI: And during that time, what was your thinking about the people who didn't want to go back to Japan? So you, you mentioned two factions. There was the group that wanted to go back to Japan and those who were gonna stay.

MK: Those that was staying was really, they wanted to stay because they had obligations here or they had families still here, and they really didn't want to go to Japan, but they answered that "no-no" or "no-yes," so they were in Tule Lake. So they really had no desire to go back to Japan. So these were the ones that said, "No, I'm not going Japan," so the ones that, there was a bigger bunch that said, "Yes, we are going Japan."

TI: So how was it in your thinking?

MK: Me?

TI: Yeah, you were part of the larger group that was gonna go back to Japan.

MK: Yes, with my father.

TI: Did, did, were... what was told to you, or how did you think about the other group?

MK: Well, like I said, what propaganda does to you... I was willing to go back to Japan. He told me, "Go back to Japan." "Yes." Ten years old, I was ready to go back. Until the war ended. Until that point, yes, I was ready to go back to Japan. I was willing to sacrifice my life if necessary. Maybe this had something to do, maybe nothing, but I had been in Japan, been living there for a little while. I saw what Japan was like, and I like what I saw over there. So now when it came time, "You want to go back to Japan or you want to stay in United States?" I been mistreated since, I been treated like, been put in that train, left to fend for myself, and the way we were treated, there's nothing for me to be in the United States for. Being ten years old, "Yeah, I'm willing to go back to Japan." If I got to, ride a ship, a plane and go into, sacrifice myself, "Sure, I'll go."

TI: You talked about how there were some people in Tule Lake that were even more, more militant than your father. How would you know that people were even more militant? What, what would... how would you know?

MK: The way they treated you. Everything... there's some, there's some leniency, you know, you do things. They don't push it to the point where it has to be a exact certain way. With others it has to be exact or it's no good. You had to redo it over and over and over. In a sense, my grandfather was like that. The line had to be straight. It had to be exact straight. If it's not exactly straight, it's not good. He's, he was that way in his sense, which is really a tradition of Japanese. That's why Japan is the way Japan is, right?

TI: So there were some men who, who really tried to get that across, that the lines had to be, or everything had to be done just right.

MK: Exact. Right.

TI: And if it weren't, what, what happened?

MK: Redo it.

TI: And to many who had not been to Japan, it was hard for them, probably, to understand.

MK: Yes, it's hard to understand this.

TI: So was it hard for them? I mean, did they, were they... what's the right word? I guess, disciplined if they didn't do it just right?

MK: It is, yeah, it is a discipline that you learn in life, I guess, when you're young. And this is what, I think, in our society, United States, where we don't have that, in that we'll say... leniency. We'll look at leniency, and you accept something less than perfect, whereas in Japanese tradition a lot of cases, especially in the bushidou methods, unless it's perfect, it's not right. Not good enough.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

TI: Any other thoughts or memories about Tule Lake? I know, I know it was a difficult time, lots of fights, friction. Anything that you saw that you want to share or anything like that?

MK: There, I know there were a couple riots. One of 'em was when that farmer got killed by the GI, got shot. But most of it was all preparation for Japan. Until the war ended, then everything changed. Was hundred, one-hundred-eighty degrees of different from where we were.

TI: Yeah, so talk about that. So all of a sudden now the war ends, your father and the family are thinking, "We'll go back to Japan," but then the thinking changes. So talk about that. Why, why did it, why do you think it changed?

MK: Let's see. We were scheduled to ship back to Japan on October ship. My buddy Nakamura got shipped in a June shipment. I never heard from him again. In the July shipment, a friend, Hamaji, he left. I told him goodbye and he left, and I didn't know what had happened to him until 1964 when I met him in Honolulu over here. I said, "Oh, you went to Japan the July shipment." Just like that. He says, "Yeah, we made it. But you think Tule Lake was tough, Japan was tougher." [Laughs]

TI: 'Cause they went to a war-torn country.

MK: Yeah, and then the war ended right after. They had nothing, and there were gaijin, right? He said Japan was tougher than it was in Tule Lake.

TI: But they were going back even before the war had ended.

MK: Before it ended, yes. The June shipment, the guy in it, the ship sank. It was all Japanese ships, so it got torpedoed someplace along the way. And July shipment made it. We were scheduled to go out on a October shipment. The war ended in August, so at that time my father was still determined to go. But as soon as the war was over, we had to decide whether we were gonna back, go back to Japan or stay, go back to Hawaii. Two choices: Hawaii or Japan. Dad said Japan, Mom says she doesn't know, until about September, late September, she says, "Dad, why you want to go back to Japan?" Because she hates the United States, how the dissension, how he hated the dissension for the United States was, but then Mom said, "Look, your children, your five children are all American citizens. Japan is a torn, war-torn country. No matter how bad, how bad you think the United States is, Japan is gonna be worse. And we go over to Japan, where are we gonna go?" And she talked more, "What your five children gonna do when you go to Japan? How you gonna support 'em?" All these other things that goes with family. She worked on him and finally he decided, "I guess she's right." She's gonna go to Japan, not go to Japan. So he put in papers to return back.

TI: I'm really impressed with your mother's thinking. How she was able to think so... these steps ahead.

MK: Logically, yeah. She always was ahead, always thought ahead.

TI: It reminds me of that story you told me about not wanting your father to come to visit, because it would be hard on the family. She was very much thinking of you and your...

MK: Always the kids.

TI: ...brothers and sisters in terms of what it would mean to them. All these big decisions. So she convinced your father --

MK: My father to come back to Japan, come back to Hawaii.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

TI: And do you know how difficult for the family to all of a sudden change their decision? Because here he's scheduled to go in October to Japan, once he changed his mind was it, was it hard?

MK: No, not really, because us kids all wanted to go back to Hawaii. Of course, it's logical, right? We wanted to go back to Hawaii, and we're glad that Mom decided, was able to change Dad's mind to come, go back. In fact, one of the militant guys -- as soon as the war ended we quit getting haircut. We're going back to Hawaii. That's the, our thinking, as kids. No matter what we thought two weeks ago, now the war is over, we're going back Hawaii. We never went to get our haircut or anything. Make our hairs grow long. And we used to hide when the, we used to go take a bath, community bath, take a bath. When this guy used to come we'd just run out because one of the guys got nailed by him, and the guy grabbed his head against the wall, against the furo, and he said, "You will cut your hair. You Nihonjin." [Laughs]

TI: So he really was trying to pressure people.

MK: Yeah, he pressed that.

TI: And probably wanted you to go to Japan, stay, and change that.

MK: Yeah, but we now changed our mind. We don't want to be that anymore.

TI: Just a quick side note. You mentioned a community bath, was that common in other blocks, or was that something that more in Hawaii, in your block?

MK: I don't know, because in Jerome we never had a community bath. We all had individual showers, but by the time we went to Tule Lake we weren't all Japan, we weren't all Hawaii people. And somebody decided that we were gonna make a big furo in the -- instead of showers, gonna

make a big furo. They wanted a community furo, so then they made a furo and that became the community bath.

TI: So in your, so instead of the showers you had a bath.

MK: Bath, yeah.

TI: Okay, so going back, so some people, when they decided to maybe not go to Japan now, there was some pressure.

MK: There is. There was... now the dissension became the people that going to, going home, and those that's still gonna go back to Japan. There was a separation. But then there was no fighting in that, that as they were fighting the people who were going to, going back to where they came from was leaving as fast as they could go. And we didn't get our papers to move back to Hawaii until October.

TI: October '45.

MK: October '45, yeah.

TI: Okay, 'cause I'm wondering, was this hard for your father? I'm thinking that all along he was thinking he was going to Japan, he probably told people he was going to Japan, and now he's changed, and do you know if that was difficult for your father?

MK: I don't know. I can imagine where he was probably called turncoat and everything else in the camp, 'cause he's militant, he's one of the militants that was pushing to go back to Japan and everything, and now all of a sudden changed that he's going back to Hawaii. And he must have faced some undue pressure that I don't know about.

TI: It must have been hard for him, because in some ways it would have been easier for him to go to Japan, but then when (your) mother convinced him for the family to go back to Hawaii, and he understood that --

MK: I have to give him credit that he did consider us. Not only to his, but he considered us, which made me kind of feel obligated to him in a sense, that he went through and he wanted to go back to Japan any time. I told him, "Don't go over there to live, but I'll get you to Japan anytime you want to go to Japan," and he did. I owed him that.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

TI: So you said you finally got, I guess, orders, or you got the --

MK: We got the permission to, yeah. And then we got the transportation orders from the Department of War that we would be, we were allowed to sail back to, back to Hawaii. And we were trained down to San Francisco, and we boarded a ship. And we boarded the same ship with the 442.

TI: Oh, so tell me about that. That's interesting. So, so...

MK: The 442 had gone to a parade in New York City. They had the grand parade for them in New York City, Fifth Avenue parade. And they'd all come across country. They had some, they had some time off and they were supposed to get back to San Francisco, so then they... and we boarded the ship and here's the same guys we had come to camp, Jerome, on the same ship with us. And they asked, I remember one said, "Where you guys been? What you doing on this ship?" He says, "I thought you guys were in Jerome." Says, "No, we went to Tule Lake." Said, "What you guys doing in Tule Lake? If you're in Tule Lake, what you doing here?" And we explained to him that we finally got, we were able to come home, so we're going home, and we stayed on the same ship until we got to Honolulu.

TI: And was there any... oh, what's the right word? What was the feeling from the 442 guys when they, when they knew that you went from Jerome to Tule Lake? No bad feelings? No...

MK: No bad feelings. As far as they were, as far as they were concerned they weren't involved with the politics. They didn't know the background of why we were in Tule Lake. All they knew was that we'd been in Jerome and all of a sudden we come from Tule Lake, and figuring that, I guess they figured that those... fate of war that they were moved around. Just like we were in Jerome to begin with. [Laughs]

TI: Now tell me about the mood of the men on the 442. Were they, did they ever talk about their experiences in Europe with you, or did you hear them talking about it?

MK: No. I have a brother-in-law who was a 442. He was a, one of the color guards and that was exhibited at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. He was the second one from the left, I think. But he, he didn't say very much until way latter part about the war, what it was like in the war.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

TI: So you take this ship and you land in Honolulu?

MK: Uh-huh..

TI: And then, so you come and I don't think your parents have much money or anything --

MK: [Laughs] Exactly.

TI: -- so what do you do in, what do you do in Honolulu?

MK: We came back, we came back to Honolulu, and I know somebody from the church came and picked us up. And my dad said we got to go find money, so we stayed in Honolulu, I think two weeks, until he saw some friend and got some money and bought us... think about it... I think the first time I flew in airplane. We flew from Honolulu to Kauai on Hawaiian Airline, on a seaplane.

TI: Wow, that was a extra surprise, or extra...

MK: Extra... yeah, I imagine that cost a lot of, a lot more money than was on the ship. And went home. So he must've owed that money to somebody.

TI: Do you know why he chose to go by plane rather than a ship?

MK: I have no idea. I, it just came to my mind right now that we did fly home. The first time I ever rode an airplane.

TI: That's interesting. And so you fly into Kauai.

MK: Yeah. Into Hanapepe, I think. Port Allen. I think that's where we flew into.

TI: And you returned back to the church and your original home?

MK: Yes.

TI: And so what was it like when you returned?

MK: Well, the church, the church was... after we had left, one of the church member's family who had been renting someplace else elected to go to the church and live there because was offered to them to be caretakers of the church. They take care of the church and the cottage and the facility, because it's really the members' church. So they took care of the church, and knowing that we were coming back, cleaned it up, and the place was all open for us to move in. Of course we had no furniture or anything by that time, so people donated furniture and we went back to normal, civilized living.

TI: And during the war, did they have services at the church?

MK: No.

TI: So it would, they just, it had stopped. Everything had stopped.

MK: Everything stopped.

TI: And what was the welcome back from the church members? Now their, their minister is now coming back, what was, how would you describe the welcome back?

MK: Most of 'em came, I remember them coming individually by families to see my mom and dad. They used to come, they'd come in by... right after, one after the other practically, to welcome in my, and bringing gifts over for them coming home. And we were really welcomed home.

TI: And so things just start up again, just like before?

MK: Yeah, just like, just like before.

TI: And for you, you're, what? About...

MK: Seventh grade.

TI: Yeah, so you're about twelve years old, eleven, twelve.

MK: Twelve. Twelve, yeah.

TI: And so you're starting seventh grade, and so I'm curious, in terms of the schooling you received, what, four years you're gone... I mean, so how was it?

MK: Horrible. Disastrous. [Laughs] I, before I went to... well, in the third grade, fourth grade I was not top class. I came back and I was in seventh grade and I went to a low, low class. The lowest class you could go. The D-minus, F-plus class. I'd never learned English and basic language and skills, nothing. I didn't know how to write. The only thing I knew was mathematics. I knew mathematics, and to this day I use the same mathematics I learned then, which I find out now is Kumon.

TI: And where'd you learn this? In the, in Tule Lake? Or...

MK: In Tule Lake.

TI: Oh, so you learned kind of the Japanese style.

MK: Math -- yeah, the Japanese style mathematics. Kind of interesting. I didn't even know this until my granddaughter took Kumon. I said, "What..." I had a look, I said, "That's what I learned when I was a kid."

TI: Interesting.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

TI: Now, other than you and your siblings, were there any other kids that returned from the mainland, they were in camps, to Kapaa?

MK: No.

TI: So you were the only family.

MK: The only one. Only family in Kapaa. There was one in Waheiwa, or Waimea High School, but that's, that's all I know of.

TI: Okay, so they really didn't understand that you didn't get good schooling, and so when you came back they just put you in the lowest, lowest class, which was probably very difficult for you.

MK: It was, and yet it wasn't. When I came back I faced racial... well, I faced a lot of problem beside from the camp experience from the local people. Not the local people, but my peers. That, people felt that -- well, my peers, they... I come back in the middle school era where you have gangs, you have, what they call that, bullying. I was an outcast. I came, I came as a concentration kid, concentration camp kid who hadn't been here, so I became an outcast. And I would go to school, I would not make half a day. I'd get bullied, get beat up for any reason at all, any possibility. I get my clothes torn off of me; I'd go home naked. And these are all by Japanese kids, not by gaijin kids, but Japanese kids.

TI: And so you were an outcast, was it because you, you were in the camps?

MK: Yes, because I was, I went to camp.

TI: And what, why, why so? I mean, what were they, what were they thinking?

MK: I was a shame to the Japanese.

TI: Oh, so to your classmates, these certain people in your class, they thought that because you were put in a camp something was wrong, that you --

MK: With me.

TI: Yeah, wrong with you and your family, and that you were a shame to the whole Japanese community, and they would bully you.

MK: I faced that for about three months. I just took it for a while. It got to a point I couldn't take it anymore.

TI: But when you, but they said they would sometimes tear your clothes off, so when you would come home without clothes... I mean, what would people say? I mean, people knew, adults would know this was going on.

MK: No. No, this is going on in class.

TI: But a teacher would, would say, "Where did you go?"

MK: "Where did Masa go?" "Oh, he went home."

TI: And sometimes you would come with maybe a cut or a bruise?

MK: No, I wouldn't get physically, they wouldn't bruise me. They'd kick me in my stomach. They tie, they'd take my pants off, tie my pants up, knots and knots, tie it together. Sometimes tear it off, sometimes cut layer, sometimes no clothes.

TI: 'Cause then your parents must have known something was going on, because you would run out of clothes.

MK: Yes, but I wouldn't tell 'em. Because I didn't want them to... I felt like what must've... it was like, in those days, if you got scolded by a teacher you must have been wrong. That's why you got scolded. Didn't matter. That's the way I was taught. So I wouldn't tell them. If I thought that, if I told them I'd probably get punished again because I did something wrong, so I never said anything. Just keep, kept it to myself.

TI: But in this case it wasn't necessarily a teacher or an adult, it was sort of other kids doing this to you.

MK: Kids.

TI: And so you, even then you didn't want to, to...

MK: I didn't want to let anybody know. I was kinda, in a sense, I guess I was ashamed to be getting treated this way. Until I decided I was gonna rebel against somehow. Took a Sunday to decide that, so I picked on one of 'em when he was alone, when there was no five, seven people against me. Hit him with a baseball bat 'cause I was waiting for him. Then I told him, said, "You and I are one on one now. Take me out." Before he could do anything I hit him with a bat. He, "Next time you see me you better not be with the rest of the guys." Nobody came after me after that. But then there was repercussion to that. Nobody wanted to be my friend. Nobody wanted to associate with me. Became isolated. Now I'm one man by myself.

TI: And this lasted all the way through...

MK: Most of my high school years.

TI: Junior high school and high school.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

MK: But I had some friends. My, the close friends I had, they, when they found out this had happened, they were all close to me. We grew friends, but I think it took me until my tenth grade year to wake up. I was a, seven, from the seventh grade I was a F-minus kid. Tenth grade I was still the F-minus kid. I didn't care. I forged my father, my report cards, never showed it to my parents. My parents didn't know any better because they never knew the American style system of report cards or anything. I forged my father's signature on it, turned it in every month, every, every report card. Until a classmate of mine told me one day, says, "Let me see your report card." I said, "Why?" "I wanna see your report card." Showed him the report card. He said, "You not ashamed?" I said, "Why? Nobody cares about..." He said, "What you mean nobody cares about you?" This is my classmate. I said, "I come back, nobody cares about me, nobody associates with me," feeling sorry for myself. Said, "What difference does it make what I do with myself?" So he took me aside, started talking to me about what I got to do eventually when I grow up and this and that, and one day I think, "Well, I guess maybe he might have something that would help me," so the next day I went to the school and I talked to my, not my social studies teacher, my, I don't know what she taught. I think she taught chemistry or biology or something. Anyway, I went to her and I says, "You know what Ms. Yamamura, I want to go to college." She said, looked at me, says, "Masamizu, are you really serious?" I said, "Yeah, I think I goofed off enough. I think I played around long enough, and I better think about going, maybe going to college." She said, "Are you serious?" I say, "Yeah, I am serious. I want to go to college." So then she said, "I'll have a girl help you, tutor you," and the girl, she sent three girls. Every day I studied with them and was able to pass, graduate high school, extra.

TI: So you had to work extra hard to catch up.

MK: Yeah, catch up. Never learned English. I never learned the English, how to write English, but I learned how to do all my chemistry, the physics, the trig, all that other fundamental thing in order to pass.

TI: But this is something that you had to decide for yourself.

MK: I, yeah, I felt, quit being sorry for myself, right? That's all I was, being sorry for myself. Three years wasting my time away.

TI: Did any of your siblings have similar difficulties?

MK: No. I asked them. I asked them and they said no. It was just that I was in the wrong period of time where I'm just in the seventh grade years.

TI: It's interesting, it's almost like, to me, ironic because as you were leaving Tule Lake you were worried about the people who thought you weren't Japanese enough and kind of like, perhaps bullied a little bit, and then when you return to Kauai, you were bullied because you weren't American enough --

MK: American enough. [Laughs]

TI: It was like you were, you, you're...

MK: In between.

TI: In between.

MK: All my life, themes. But I think it made me a stronger person in my future.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

TI: Okay, so let's, before we go on that, I just wanted to follow up something we talked about earlier. Your father, right when Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was able to get the money to someone who hid it. Whatever happened to that money after the war?

MK: After the war? In 1945 he came back. He left the money there with that person, making sure that he still had it. Then 1946 found out that the property was on lease and had to be bought from the plantation owners, so he, they negotiated that and they bought the land for the church. Once they bought the land for the church, almost half of the money that he had collected since 1945 was depleted, so then he had to start raising money again. And by 1950 -- 1951, yeah, 1951 when I graduated high school and I was leaving for New York -- they had broken ground to build the church with that money. With the money they collected plus the money that he had hidden.

TI: So he finished his...

MK: He finished the church. The church, yeah.

TI: So he did what he set out to do way back in the, in the '30s.

MK: Thirties. '38.

TI: Interesting. And so people were very honest. I mean, people were holding on to all this money all the way through the war without really telling anyone.

MK: Nobody knew.

TI: And nobody knew. And I'm guessing a lot of people, during the war, were worried about the money.

MK: Oh yeah. Definitely.

TI: They thought that --

MK: I would imagine they were worried. "What the heck happened? What happened to the money that Reverend Kitajima had?" I suspect that some of this was, came about... that was part of the reason why that they were digging up the house and stuff like this. Because somebody...

TI: And so it's a great story that that money was kept. Someone was very honest and kept their word. The money was still there and it helped build the church.

MK: Well, you know, in those days, also, when you trusted a person you trusted the person. You never questioned.

TI: Yeah, well, that's still a big, big trust for that all to happen.

MK: Yes, it is.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

TI: So I want to pick up now... so you graduate from high school. Then what happens next?

MK: I went to New York, to the Academy of Aeronautics to become an aircraft mechanic.

TI: New York, so you're in Kauai and you go all the way across the country. Probably as far as you can go. Why, why'd you choose New York?

MK: Exactly. [Laughs] You just said it. So I could get as far away from Hawaii as I possibly could.

TI: Why? Why so far away?

MK: I hated Hawaii. I hated Hawaii so badly because of the way I had been treated since I came back from, from the camp. Swearing that I'd never come back to Hawaii.

TI: And how'd you find about this school in New York?

MK: I loved it. I loved the people in New York.

TI: But how did you find out about it?

MK: Oh, through the library reference material, seeing what they, what schools offered what kind of education. And the reason I picked the... this is part of my personality, I guess, that I picked up when I was in camp, and maybe it's my dad's heritage or whatever. But at one time -- I must have been in the junior year or the senior year, someplace thereabout -- one guy asked me, "When you graduate high school, what you going to be?" I said I'm gonna be an aircraft mechanic. Guy says, "What?" I said, "Yeah, I'm gonna be an aircraft mechanic." He said, "How can you be aircraft mechanic? You Japanese. There's no Japanese, Japanese mechanics except with Japan air force." I said, "No, I'm gonna be a mechanic." Then I told him, "You watch me. If you think I can't be a Japanese, a mechanic, I'll come back to show you that I'm a mechanic, aircraft mechanic." So I decided I'm gonna be a mechanic.

TI: So it sounds like the best way to get you to do something is tell you you can't do it. [Laughs]

MK: You can't do it, that's right. Don't tell me I can't do it. [Laughs] Because I'll do it. That's how I always did, after, after that I always did. My dad said I couldn't build a house. I said I'd build it. "I'll build you a house." A year, it took me a year and a half, but I built it.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

TI: Going back to your career, though, it was a long career as a mechanic and as then a supervisor in the airlines business.

MK: United.

TI: And not just airlines, you're talking about 747s, you know, major jets. I mean, these are the, the... and not just big jets but new jets, when they're just coming out.

MK: Yeah, the development.

TI: Right, so how did you get so good at all this?

MK: I don't, I really don't know how I got to recognize. I went to New York and I worked through my own schooling. I had some help from my dad a little while, while I get my foot off the ground 'cause I spent all my money just to travel to New York. But I worked at night to get, pay my tuition, and after I got graduate, I graduated, I worked for United Airlines, because they were the only airline would accept me because I was draftable age. I tried to work for other airline, they wouldn't accept me because of the draft. I hadn't served my two years in the military, so I couldn't, they wouldn't hire me. Second thing was that I knew I had to get some transportation back to Hawaii every so often to see my parents. That was the second thing that made me want to go to United. I worked at United for a year in, two years in New York, then I moved to San Francisco for a year, and then transferred to Los Angeles for two years before I got drafted into the military.

Once I came out of the military, I had come to... let's see, I went in the military, finished up... oh, then all my brothers and sisters -- by this time it was 1960 -- my brothers and sisters decided that they all want to come up here to the mainland to live, so that left my mom and dad alone in Hawaii. And now come back to the responsibility of the firstborn, I had to come back. I felt that I had to come back to be with my parents, to take care of them. They weren't, they didn't need care at that time, but I figured I had to be aware that this responsibility was gonna eventually fall on my, fall on me. So that's the reason I came back here. If it wasn't for that I would never have come back. I would have stayed in Los Angeles or a place like Denver, preferably. Then I got married, raised family. Then I became an inspector with United.

Then 1969, when I was inspector, I got, I got to know some people in San Francisco who was in work projects, and I used to do the inspection work. So one day I was asked if I would be interested in going to Boeing to look at how they constructed airplanes. I said yeah, I'd be very interested in seeing the fundamentals of aircraft mechanic. I want to know what... so I went, figured I was going there for about two or three weeks. Went to Boeing and looked at the airplane, and I said, "My God, I don't see how anything like this can fly." Then the two or three weeks turned out to be longer and longer. Then came about two, two months and then the union got up, uptight about a inspector who's a union, union person. Inspector's job is a union job. That the union person was not using his union job but working as a management job by being in Boeing and watching airplanes being built. So they offered me an ultimatum. Come back to Honolulu and be an inspector, or go with management and be a management person. I enjoyed it in Boeing so much, I said, "No, I want to take the Boeing job." So I stayed with United as a Boeing, as a, not as an inspector any longer, but as a, just a technical, technical, just a technical representative until the airplane was completed. The first airplane.

TI: And this is the 747?

MK: 747, the first 747.

TI: Yeah, you look at that and you wonder, how can that thing fly? It's so big.

MK: So that, that's really how I became a technical rep. Then --

TI: I'm curious, did you ever get to go on the early test flights of the 747?

MK: Yes. The initial test flights, the proving runs, we did all that.

TI: So you were, you were on...

MK: On the plane.

TI: Wow, that's a piece of history, aviation history with the 747.

MK: It was a company rep job, so...

TI: That's exciting.

MK: But it was fun. Was eleven months there.

TI: In the Seattle area?

MK: Everett.

TI: Everett, okay. Good, thanks for sharing that.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

TI: Something I want to go back that we talked about earlier, when you were a seven-, eight-year-old boy, you thought you were going to become a minister. You instead chose this career in aviation --

MK: I knew you would get back to that. [Laughs]

TI: So when did you decide that you were not going to be a minister? Here your family, when we look at your, both your mother's side and father's side, generations and generations of priests and Buddhism. You're the oldest son, and so you decide not to become a minister. Tell me about that.

MK: There's a difference there, okay. My father doesn't have a church anymore, so I don't have that tradition. My mother gave up her, to give it to her sister to take care of that. We come to Hawaii, there's no church that a minister owns. It's a community, the community owns that church. In Japan, yes, I would've been forced to accept that position, but in Japan, in Hawaii, since the system is different, I would not be able to get it, have to fill a church. There's some ministers still do that, but I decided I didn't want to be a church... primarily because I didn't feel that, I didn't have that patience to teach people to be, to conform to, well, to learn ministry. I didn't, I wasn't that interested in becoming a minister. I didn't care. This is the age when I was up to the tenth grade, before I changed. I told my dad, "I'm not gonna be a minister." And my dad looked at me and he says, "You don't want to be a minister?" I said, "No, I don't want to be a minister because I don't want to be like you." Told him, "I don't want to be like you." He said, "Why?" I said, "I don't like to bow my head to every person that comes along and ask you for something, you have to bow your head, say yes. I'm not a yes, I'm not gonna say yes to everything. I can't live like that." And he says, "Okay, if you... that's it." For a man who said "no" all his life, he said, "Yes."

TI: That's interesting. I'm wondering, so you had a successful career. You did well. You talk about your family, raising family. Were you ever able to talk to your parents, at some point, were they concerned about you? I'm thinking about that time when you just didn't really care after the war, but then you picked yourself up and did well. Did they ever talk to you about, you know, "Masa, we were really, really worried about you" at some point?

MK: My dad was. He talked to me the day before I left.

TI: This is for New York?

MK: August, August 1951, when the church was being built and the walls were going up. And he says, "You're finally going to New York. Are you going to where you want to go? Are you sure you want to go?" I said, "Yes, I want to go." He says, "I'm not gonna stop you." I said, "How come you're not gonna stop me? You never, you always told me I had to do things, but now you're telling me you're not gonna stop me." He says, "You know, in order for you to be successful you have to have failures, and if you don't try, you're not gonna have failures. But if you don't try, you're not gonna have success, so don't be afraid to try." Said, "The only way that you're gonna succeed in life is by trying." That's what he said.

TI: Very simple, but very wise.

MK: I would think that would've come from my mom, okay, 'cause she's that type of person. I would've thought that would come, but that really surprised when my dad told me that.

TI: Excellent. That's, I think... I'm done with my questions, and I think that was a great way to end with my questions. Is there anything else that you want to talk about before we stop?

MK: No.

TI: Okay, so why don't we stop now. This is over three hours. This was a great interview, so Masa, thank you so much for taking the time. This is good.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.