Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Taneyuki Dan Harada Interview
Narrator: Taneyuki Dan Harada
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: San Jose, California
Date: November 30, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-htaneyuki-01

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: Today is Tuesday, November 30th. We are at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose. We have in the room Dana Hoshide on video, we will be interviewing Taneyuki Dan Harada, and I will be interviewing, my name is Martha Nakagawa. Let's start with your father's name.

TH: My father's name was Itaru Harada.

MN: And what prefecture did he come from?

TH: Fukuoka-ken.

MN: And you were telling me your father was the oldest child. Now, how was he allowed to come to the United States if he's the oldest child?

TH: Well, that I don't know. I don't really know.

MN: What about your mother's name?

TH: Yoshino Kutsunugi.

MN: Kutsu...

TH: -nugi.

MN: -nugi.

TH: Yeah.

MN: And what prefecture was she from?

TH: Also Fukuoka-ken, Sakurai-mura.

MN: Now, when did your father come to the United States? Do you know around what year he came out here?

TH: No, I have no idea.

MN: Do you know where he landed?

TH: No, that I don't know either.

MN: How about when he married your mother?

TH: Well, I don't know that.

MN: Do you have a vague idea when?

TH: Well, I'm sorry, it's before I was born, so before 1923.

MN: Well, how many children did your parents have?

TH: Two.

MN: And where are you in the sibling hierarchy?

TH: I was the oldest.

MN: And how many years older were you older than your younger brother?

TH: Two years older.

MN: And where were you born?

TH: Los Angeles, California.

MN: Were you born in Little Tokyo?

TH: Right, Little Tokyo.

MN: Were you delivered by a samba-san?

TH: Yes.

MN: So you remember her name?

TH: Not offhand. I have it on my birth certificate.

MN: What is your birth name?

TH: Taneyuki Harada.

MN: When did you pick up the name "Dan"?

TH: Well, that's when I was in, at Tule Lake. I believe the secretary of the block manager for some reason started calling me Dan, so, well, I thought it was pretty nice and simple, anyway, so started using that as my middle name.

MN: So you don't know how this secretary picked the name "Dan"?

TH: No, I have no idea. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 2>

MN: Now, at the time you were born in Little Tokyo, what was your parents doing?

TH: According to my mother, at first, they were operating a hotel. Then later, what she called a sweet shop, which, where they were selling ice cream and that sort of thing.

MN: Do you know where in Little Tokyo? Was this on First Street?

TH: I believe so.

MN: Now, your parents are from Fukuoka. Were they active in the Fukuoka Kenjinkai?

TH: My father was. The way I heard it, he was at one time the kaichou of the Fukuoka Kenjinkai.

MN: What about your mother? Was there a Fujinbu or Fujinkai?

TH: No. I've never heard of anything about that.

MN: Did your father, when he was the kaichou, did he have meetings at your house?

TH: No, I don't remember anything about meeting at the house. I hardly saw him because he was so busy doing whatever, and he liked to drink and have party. It was only after he became sick when I was seven that I began to see him a little bit.

MN: What about kenjinkai picnics? Did you go to those?

TH: No, I can't, I don't remember any.

MN: What do you remember of growing up in Little Tokyo? I know you were very young, but who were your playmates?

TH: As far as Little Tokyo, I don't remember anything. It's only after my, I believe my father got sick with cancer, the family moved to Boyle Heights. And there I remember a little bit. There was a Japanese family across the street, and the rest were mostly a Caucasian family.

MN: Now, do you remember what year your family moved to Boyle Heights?

TH: Probably around, I don't know, 1929, '30 or something like that.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

MN: So when your father became sick with cancer, did he get treatment at the Japanese hospital?

TH: That I don't know.

MN: Did you understand what was going on with your father?

TH: Well, only thing I knew was that he was ill. After he got ill, I think he started working for the, as a car salesman. And I remember he, once he took me to, took me and my brother to Santa Monica.

MN: When did your father pass away?

TH: Around 1930 or '31.

MN: And how old was your father when he passed away?

TH: Forty-five.

MN: Where did your father have, where did you have your father's funeral?

TH: Well, I think it's Buddhist church nearby, 'cause I still remember the smell of the incense.

MN: Were there a lot of people from the Fukuoka Kenjinkai there?

TH: Yeah, there were a lot of people.

MN: So do you remember anything else other than the smell of incense at the funeral?

TH: No, nothing much.

MN: Now, after your father passed away, what did your mother decide to do?

TH: Well, there wasn't much she could do. Well, she has to find the work, and only thing she could think of was to work as a live-in maid in a hakujin's family. So that's when she decided to send me and my brother to Japan.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

MN: So how did you feel about having to go to Japan?

TH: Well, nothing really. I suppose that's the way it is.

MN: So you didn't protest or...

TH: No, no, no.

MN: How much Japanese did you speak at that time?

TH: A little bit, I think. Maybe I was going to the Japanese school.

MN: Do you remember which Japanese school? Could it be Chuo Gakuen in Boyle Heights?

TH: Gee, I don't remember. Besides, my parents were Japanese-speaking, so I must have picked up some.

MN: What year did you leave for Japan?

TH: 1931 or late 1930, I think.

MN: And did your mother go with you?

TH: Yeah.

MN: So you, your mother and your younger brother, all three went. Do you remember the ship's name?

TH: No, not offhand.

MN: Do you remember getting seasick?

TH: That, too, I don't remember.

MN: Now, did this ship go directly to Kyushu or did it stop in Yokohama?

TH: Probably Yokohama.

MN: And then went to Kyushu to the Fukuoka area. What was your first impression of Japan?

TH: Well, it's very vague. I don't really remember.

MN: Now, once you arrived in Fukuoka, you and your brother didn't live together. Who did you live with?

TH: With my grandparents and my uncle and his wife.

MN: On your father's side?

TH: Right.

MN: Now, you were saying your paternal grandfather was the sonchou, the head of the mura?

TH: Yeah.

MN: Do you think that prevented you from being teased by the other kids?

TH: Yeah, probably, yeah.

MN: And then your paternal uncle, Kyohei, was an amateur painter?

TH: Yeah, he didn't always paint, but one time, I noticed that he had painted my father's portrait.

MN: Now, did your love of painting, do you think it started around this time from your uncle's influence, or was it something else?

TH: I don't think, there wasn't much of an influence from my uncle, just that I enjoyed painting.

MN: Now, what did your paternal grandparents and uncle and aunt do for a living?

TH: Oh, well, they operated a, they built a factory next to their house and they manufactured noodles, udon. And they also had a patch of land where they grew grapes, and also had some goats, to sell goat's (milk). They were doing a lot of things, they were not basic farmers, so they tried to make a living doing something else. But I guess they weren't really too good as a businessman, and eventually they had to sell the house and move to Hakata, a city in Fukuoka.

MN: Did you have to help them out in the business?

TH: No, no.

MN: Now, what about your mother? How long did she stay with you?

TH: About a year.

MN: And your brother stayed somewhere else. Why couldn't you two live together?

TH: Well, I guess my mother decided to put him with her side of the family, her uncle.

MN: And her side of the family, the uncle, what did he do?

TH: He was a priest of Zen temple.

MN: And what happened to your brother when he was seven?

TH: He, basically he was kind of sickly since he was a little boy. So he contracted diphtheria and he passed away when he was seven.

MN: Now, were you there with him before he passed away?

TH: No, I heard about it.

MN: Is he buried in Fukuoka?

TH: Probably buried, yeah, in the Zen temple.

MN: Did your mother return to the, for the funeral?

TH: No, I didn't see her.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

MN: Now, in the United States, were you already attending grammar school?

TH: I don't really remember.

MN: So you started school in Japan, and so what grade did you start?

TH: The first grade.

MN: Did you have to have a tutor to catch up on your Japanese language?

TH: No, not really. I didn't have much problem. Besides, I wasn't too talkative, so I kept silent. No, I had no problem.

MN: So how did you do in school?

TH: I was doing pretty good. When I went, went to the first grade, I was the tallest one in the class, and I was doing pretty good.

MN: Were there other Niseis living in the same mura?

TH: Yeah, there was one Nisei boy who entered, I think, third or fourth grade. And he had a noticeable accent when he's speaking in Japanese, I noticed.

MN: But you two were not friends.

TH: No.

MN: Did you guys have to do the chourei?

TH: Oh, yeah.

MN: From what grade did you start?

TH: Gee, I don't remember. Probably first grade, it's a matter of usual thing to do.

MN: So basically, since you started from the first grade, you didn't think this was odd, or this was not something that you would think would be strange if you had gone to school in America?

TH: No, just a normal thing.

MN: Now, was this every day when you went to school?

TH: Uh-huh.

MN: And then after you did the chourei, what did you do?

TH: Well, I guess go back to the classroom.

MN: And then did you have to also memorize the kyouiku chokugo?

TH: Well, as far as memorizing that, I don't know. But yeah, we had to go through that, reading it.

MN: From about what grade did you have to do souji touban, clean the classrooms?

TH: Gee, I don't remember. But pretty early, I think. Everybody was participating, doing something.

MN: So when did the students clean the classroom? Was it before class, during class, or after class?

TH: I think it was after class.

MN: Now, did the boys do one thing and the girls do another thing?

TH: That, I can't say.

MN: Do you remember bringing your own zoukin?

TH: No. I don't remember that.

MN: Can you share with us what it was like going to school during the winter?

TH: Because it was very cold, as far as I remember, we used to wear geta, and snow used to get stuck in between the tooth of the geta.

MN: Were you allowed to wear socks and gloves?

TH: Gee, I don't know. I think those things were a luxury.

MN: Do you think part of this was because the Japanese government was trying to train the students to be good soldiers?

TH: Well, as far as trying to train good soldiers, but it's just met all the government policy.

MN: What were your summers like?

TH: Oh, summer, of course, it was very hot. In Japan during the summer there are a lot of mosquitoes, so we had to sleep in the kaya or the mosquito net. So very particular smells, we had musty smell.

MN: Did you have to go to summer school, or were you able to play around?

TH: We just played around.

MN: What did you, what did the kids do to play around?

TH: They played like heitai gokko type of thing, or play with wooden sword type thing, yeah.

MN: Who were the bad guys when you played heitai gokko?

TH: No, there were no bad guys.

MN: So it wasn't like the bad people were the Chinese or the Koreans or that mentality?

TH: No, nothing like that.

MN: Now, you had to move when you were in high school. Why did you have to move out of your grandparents' and uncle's place?

TH: When?

MN: Or why? Why did they move you?

TH: Well, because the high school was a little too far from where I was living, so my grandfather and uncle thought it was best that I move to another relative's, whose house is nearer to the high school.

MN: And you mentioned your grades started to drop. Why did your grades start to drop?

TH: Well, I think it's, in a way, it was kind of stressful to be living in a new household, new relative. And also probably it's around the age there's change going on within yourself.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

MN: So by this time, this is the late 1930s, were you getting a sense of the militarism building up in Japan?

TH: Yeah, I think you could feel it, yeah.

MN: How could you feel it? Did you see more soldiers, were they on your campus? Were the Kempeitai around? How did you feel it?

TH: Well, because there was news about the conflict between China and so forth. But, well, I was too young to really understand what was going on.

MN: So how did you know that there was militarism, that militarism was being built up?

TH: Well, looking back, you could see it, but at that time, it's the usual thing. You have like Japanese army shoukou, what you call that shoukou, officer conducting some sort of training. And, of course, you're wearing, what you call? Around your leg.

MN: And they were around a lot? You saw them around?

TH: Yeah, they were part of the instructors at high school.

MN: They were instructors at your high school? Is that what you said?

TH: Well, part of the... yeah. They were always there.

MN: Did they have a room in your high school?

TH: You mean like a classroom? Oh, yeah.

MN: So they used rooms in the school, the soldiers did.

TH: No, I didn't, I didn't really see them that often, but a certain period, I would see him.

MN: Now, at that time, if you were drafted into the Japanese army, would you have gone?

TH: Of course. You have to. Otherwise you would be thrown into jail.

MN: But yourself, what did you think about yourself? Did you think you were Japanese or did you still think you were American?

TH: Neither, actually. Mostly Japanese American. I didn't really belong in Japan. So, no, I never thought of myself as a pure Japanese.

MN: So you never, did you always feel like you didn't fit in in Japan?

TH: Well, I didn't really belong there like a native Japanese.

MN: So you always thought you would come back to the United States?

TH: Pardon?

MN: Did you always think you would come back to the United States?

TH: No, I never thought about it.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

MN: Well, when did your mother call you back to the United States?

TH: 1938.

MN: Why did she call you back at this time?

TH: Well, looking back, I suppose because if I stayed there I'd be sure to be drafted.

MN: Now, how did you feel about returning to the United States?

TH: Of course, it was nice to be returning to my mother.

MN: How was the ship ride back to the United States as compared to the ship ride to Japan?

TH: Well, I don't really remember. I have the photographs of going to Japan with my brother, but it's... of course, it's always, on a ship, it always smells so, kind of rotten orange smell. Otherwise, I was okay.

MN: Do you know when you reached the United States?

TH: Yeah. I remember waiting at the pier in San Francisco. And my mother came out but she didn't recognize me at first, because she was expecting me to be taller and bigger. And finally she found me, and it was getting pretty dark then. And my, well, by then my mother had married, and my stepfather was really my uncle, my real father's younger brother. So they came after me and then we rode across the newly built Bay Bridge and reached the apartment in Oakland.

MN: Now, when you saw your mother, did you recognize her? You said she didn't recognize you.

TH: Oh, yeah, I recognized her.

MN: Now, when you reached San Francisco, did they stop you at Angel Island first?

TH: No.

MN: Now, you said your mother had remarried your father's younger brother. So did you know him from when your dad was still alive?

TH: No, not really, no. I don't remember.

MN: You haven't seen your mother in six years. What was the reunion like?

TH: Well, of course, it was good to be back to the United States with my mother. Well, basically, I'm kind of easygoing, so whatever happens, I tend to accept it.

MN: But you didn't hug or anything like that?

TH: No, not... I think Japanese don't do that.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

MN: Now, you had your formative years in Japan. How much English did you remember when you were here in 1938?

TH: Nothing.

MN: How did you relearn your English?

TH: First my parents sent me to the special English class in Oakland. It's, it was within the school, grammar school called Lincoln School near Chinatown in Oakland. And that's where I learned some of the English. Then for a while I think I went, I attended grammar school, then junior high and high school in Oakland.

MN: Now, this is a special grammar school that you were learning English?

TH: Uh-huh.

MN: Were there other Kibeis there?

TH: Oh, yeah, several Kibeis and a lot of Chinese immigrants from China.

MN: So it was a mixed class.

TH: Yeah, mostly Japanese Kibei and Chinese.

MN: Now, these Kibeis, were they also from Fukuoka, or were they all over Japan?

TH: Oh, I believe they were from all over.

MN: And while you were going to the special class, you also went to an American school, a regular American school.

TH: No, that came after I more or less after I finished the special English class.

MN: How long were you in the special class?

TH: Gee, I don't know. It wasn't that long.

MN: And so when you started the American, regular American school, what grade did you start from?

TH: Probably it was sixth grade. Of course, I was much older, but...

MN: You started in sixth grade? And were you able to skip to what grade you were supposed to be in?

TH: Gee, I have no idea. But I had a good friend who was about a year younger than me, Kibei also, and we were close friends. So after grammar school, we went to the junior high together, then from there on to high school, it's called a technical high school. Then the war started.

MN: Now, this good friend of yours who was a year younger, was it through him that you learned more about the Nisei culture?

TH: Yeah, a little bit. He was, he had an older brother who was an Nisei, and he was a very outgoing type, so I sort of tagged along with him. I was pretty introverted, so anyway, we went to the same judo class, which I quit soon after.

MN: Why did you quit judo?

TH: Well, I'm not a physical type. I didn't like to be thrown. [Laughs]

MN: You mentioned about Miss Hollis. Who was Miss Hollis?

TH: She was an art teacher at the high school. She was very good to me, and she used to bring the pictures of, kind of illustrator, to show me. And even after internment, she used to write to me, which I really appreciated.

MN: So all from Japan all throughout, you still continued drawing?

TH: Yeah, it's basically copying things. Copying the picture of what animals and picture of Japanese actress, like Kirishima Noboru. I wasn't very creative, I was just copying. And then I got pretty good at it and I thought I was doing great until I went to camp and started to study with real artists.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

MN: Let me still ask you now, you also mentioned when you first got here, you went to the Buddhist church and you tried to mingle with the Niseis there. How did that go?

TH: Well, it didn't go too well. I was pretty shy, and also the Nisei seemed to have their own group, which is natural, I suppose. Besides, I didn't speak English and I kind of behaved differently. Well, I don't blame them for that.

MN: So was it really hard to mingle with the Niseis? Did they look down on the Kibeis?

TH: Well, it's not that. I don't think it's just... you know, Kibeis are a little different, so, of course, they have their own group, and Kibeis started having their own groups.

MN: So yourself, your friends, were they mostly Kibeis?

TH: Oh, yeah.

MN: And at this time, what were your parents doing for a living?

TH: They operated a little cafe where they sold beer and a light meal on Franklin Street in Oakland.

MN: And how did this cafe get its name and what was its name?

TH: You mean the name?

MN: Name of the cafe?

TH: Oh, name of the cafe? My father named it Nana. He was a kind of frustrated poet, and he admired a writer like Emerson and Whitman, and Nana came from the novel by... who was that who wrote Nana? Well, that famous French novelist.

MN: Now, did you have to help out at the cafe?

TH: Yeah, usually I cleaned up the floor.

MN: What was your relationship like with your stepfather?

TH: Very nice. Yeah, he was a very understanding person. So on Franklin Street, across the street, there was a Japanese cleaner, and next to it was a Japanese furo, bathhouse, and he used to take me there and get into the Japanese-style tub together. He was really trying to be, you know, get close to me, to communicate with me. I appreciate that.

MN: And you said your stepfather was a frustrated poet?

TH: Well, he wrote Japanese-style and freestyle haiku. And he belonged to this group called "Popy-Sha."

MN: Popy-Sha?

TH: Well, sha is a club, you know.

MN: So your stepfather did the haiku, and your uncle in Japan was an amateur painter, and it sounds like your father's side was very artistic.

TH: Yeah, seems to be. Except my grandfather, who was -- I hate to say this -- but at the parting, when you say "goodbye," he said, "The most important thing in life is money." I was kind of disappointed.

MN: Now, what about your stepfather? Did he encourage you to draw and paint?

TH: Well, in a way. He didn't come out and say I should do this or attend art school, but he backed me up.

MN: Now, I'm gonna go back a little bit, and you mentioned about your family moving to Sixth Street in Oakland, and it was, this apartment was owned by Okinawans.

TH: Yeah.

MN: And that time in Japan, Okinawans were discriminated against very heavily. How did you feel about living in an apartment...

TH: Oh, nothing. I didn't know anything about it. At that time, their name was Dakuzaku, but later, the parents' son changed it to... gosh, he became a dentist. Changed his name.

MN: Why did he change his name?

TH: Gee, I don't know.

MN: Now, in 1940, your mother became sick. What happened to her?

TH: Oh, she had a heart ailment. She also had a thyroid problem, probably that caused the heart problem. And she was, most of the time she was bedridden, and also stayed in a hospital for a while. So my stepfather was having a rough time.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

MN: So 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked. And what were you doing on that Sunday?

TH: Sunday, well... I don't remember what I was doing, but the next day, Monday, I went to high school, then I was told to go home, probably because I understand, I heard that some Japanese Americans were bullied by the classmates, so probably that was a good idea.

MN: So was it only the Japanese Americans who were told to go home?

TH: Yeah, as far as I know.

MN: What was your reaction when you heard Pearl Harbor was bombed?

TH: Well... of course, it was shocking, but I really wasn't too mature, I guess, growing up, to understand what's going on. At that time, there was an organization called Heimushakai, which asked for donation to help the military in the United States, and my father put my name on it. This was, of course, before the war.

MN: And did that affect you after Pearl Harbor?

TH: No, I don't think so.

MN: Did your parents close the cafe on that Sunday?

TH: No, my father was starting to make a go of it, but the store's liquor license was taken away, so basically he had no business. So he tried selling candies and chewing gums and those little things. He was really trying his best to make a go of it.

MN: So after Pearl Harbor, the liquor license for the cafe was taken away?

TH: Yeah.

MN: Did you see FBI agents coming around that week taking people away?

TH: I don't remember, no.

MN: Now, in the spring of 1942, your family moved out of Oakland. Where did they go and why did they move?

TH: Well, we moved to San Lorenzo, which is a little inland from Oakland. My father felt, I think it's... well, might be helpful to move inland where his haiku friend had a farm.

MN: Did you have to help out on the farm?

TH: No. I just sort of roamed around the farm and painted, did some watercolor, which I enjoyed.

MN: Now, around this time that you moved to San Lorenzo, in Southern California, the Terminal Islanders got kicked off Terminal Island. Had you heard about that news?

TH: No, I didn't know anything about it.

MN: When the United States issued orders for Japanese Americans on the West Coast to be imprisoned and in camps, how did you feel about that?

TH: Well, I didn't really feel... well, I suppose that's the way it is.

MN: So no anger or sadness?

TH: Well, I read somewhere where the Japanese are very accepting, you know, shikata ga nai type of thing, and try to make the best of the situation. Of course, looking back, it's kind of amazing that most of the Japanese and Japanese Americans just follow the government's order and went to the assembly center, then to internment camp. I don't know. We seem to think that it was kind of a natural thing that happens. But as far as I'm concerned, like myself, I was taken to Japan when I was small, then moved back to United States, and then move around, so I thought that's the way life is.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

MN: Now, how did your family prepare to go into camp?

TH: Well, my mother was sick, so my stepfather did his best to take care of things. I don't know exactly... of course, we moved to San Lorenzo, so already we got rid of a lot of things. We then, Hayward, that's where the bus left for Tanforan Assembly Center.

MN: Where in Hayward?

TH: That, I don't remember.

MN: Do you remember the day that you left for Tanforan?

TH: It was in May. I know the date and I have it written down, but I can't think of it offhand.

MN: Now, from Hayward to get to Tanforan, how did you get there?

TH: On the bus.

MN: And let me go back a little. How did you get to Hayward?

TH: Well, gee, I can't remember.

MN: Did a friend drive you?

TH: Probably Mr. Fukawa, yeah, probably he had a car.

MN: And then when you got to this Hayward place, were there armed guards there?

TH: Yeah. This I learned later. I don't really remember what happened.

MN: Now, when you got on the bus, did they tell you where they were taking you?

TH: No, I don't remember.

MN: So when this bus dropped you off at the Tanforan racetracks, what did you think?

TH: Well, basically, "What is happening?" [Laughs] But I guess one consolation was that we were all together, Japanese.

MN: Do you remember your family number or your barrack number?

TH: I had written it down, but offhand, I can't remember.

MN: Do you remember what some of the first things you did when you got to Tanforan?

TH: Yeah. Our family was one of the, those that had to stay in the horse stall. And of course it was smelly and we had to fill the cotton mattress cover with straws. It was pretty bad.

MN: Now, your mother is sick. How was she taking this?

TH: Oh, she, gradually she got better. She was able to walk.

MN: But in the first, when you first got there, did you have to do everything for your mother?

TH: Yeah, I suppose so, yeah.

MN: What was it like living in a horse stall? Did you develop, like, allergies?

TH: No, I didn't develop any allergy.

MN: What do you remember of the food at Tanforan?

TH: Yeah, it wasn't too good, like a lot of weenies and pork and beans, I guess. We had to line up in a long line three times a day.

MN: And your mother was also able to line up to get food?

TH: Gee, that I don't remember. But gradually she got stronger.

MN: And what kind of work did you do at Tanforan?

TH: In the beginning, I joined a group of people, crew that dug the holes for the... I don't know. Well, some holes were for the posts for hanging the wash, washing clothes, and digging ditches. I don't know how long I worked. But then I heard about the Tanforan art school opened, so I started going there.

MN: Now, when you were digging holes and ditches, were they Niseis or Kibeis?

TH: As far as I could remember, mostly Niseis.

MN: Did you get along with the Niseis?

TH: Oh, yeah, fine, yeah.

MN: What was your stepfather doing at Tanforan?

TH: Well, nothing, I guess.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

MN: Now, you mentioned that you went to the art school at Tanforan. Can you share with us how this school started?

TH: Yes. This is something I read later on. I read the biography of Professor Chiura Obata, and I understand he entered Tanforan a little earlier than us, then right away, about four days later, he saw that there was a couple thousand children doing, nothing to do. So he worried about it, and he thought about starting an art school, then he talked this over with his good friend Matsusaburo Hibi, who was, before the war, he was teaching at the California School of Fine Art. And, of course, Chiura Obata was professor at UC Berkeley. And a few days later they really, their plan was materialized. Chiura Obata really had to work hard, but he had a lot of connection from UC days, his students and his colleagues pitched in, sent him art materials. So then the first opening, he heard -- it was a really stormy day, rainstorm -- and when he got to the entrance of the school he saw three little girls waiting, drenched in the rain. And he was very moved by it, and these three girls were the only students during the opening days.

MN: Now, how many teachers were teaching at this art school?

TH: Quite a few. Did I write it down? I don't know what it is. Seventeen or something. Yeah, there were a lot of graduates from (UC Berkeley), the art department, probably from the School of Fine Arts, College of Arts & Crafts, And there was one person who studied at an art student league in New York, so there was quite a few in all different subject like drawing, pencil drawings, oil painting, mural painting and cartooning. Particularly there was, I remember this young fellow who used to work at the Disney studio was teaching cartooning, which was attracting a lot of young kids. It was a really lively, vibrant place. So starting from three young girls, I understand that later it had three hundred students.

MN: Now, the classes, was it every day? Did you go every day?

TH: I believe so. I don't exactly remember. At the beginning I took Professor Chiura Obata's class, Japanese brush painting, and a couple months later I switched to, I decided I liked the Western-style painting better so I switched to oil painting. And also I took drawing class, basic drawing class.

MN: And the classes, were they a mixture of women and men, or was it all boys, was it separated?

TH: Oh, mixture of some, probably there was some Issei who liked to study with Professor Chiura Obata. And somebody like my age, in twenties, in their twenties, and lot of children, young kids. Mine Okubo, who was a graduate of UC Berkeley art department, was very, probably always young girls. She was very attractive and vibrant, she always used to wear jeans.

MN: Was there, like, sculpture, or was it just strictly painting and drawing that was taught?

TH: What's that again? I'm sorry?

MN: Was sculpture part of the class?

TH: I understand there was a sculpture class, yeah.

MN: What other art forms were taught there?

TH: Oh, I read later that there's a class for the architecture or so.

MN: So you're in Tanforan and you're going to art school. What did you do in addition to going to art school?

TH: Just roam around the camp, visit my friends. This one particular friend, his name was Sasaki, he was with his father. His mother passed away before the war, and they were sleeping, and under the grandstand where a lot of bachelors was sleeping. So I used to visit him. In a way, it was kind of nice.

MN: What did you guys talk about?

TH: Oh, I don't know. [Laughs] And also they had talent show, and next to the grandstand there was a little room where Goro Suzuki, he used a Chinese named Jack Soo later on, used to sing and imitate Bing Crosby. And there was also one Kibei who played harmonica really good.

MN: You know, later on, when Goro Suzuki, and he became Jack Soo, and he was on a TV show Barney Miller.

TH: Right.

MN: Did you watch him?

TH: Yeah, sometimes, yeah.

MN: What did you think about that?

TH: Oh, nothing. We went to see him in San Francisco at the Forbidden City nightclub. Didn't think nothing of the fact that he was using Chinese name.

MN: So that didn't bother you at all that he had changed the name?

TH: No, it didn't bother me.

MN: Now, at Tanforan, how did the Niseis treat you, as a Kibei?

TH: Well, at the beginning, this crew, they didn't treat me differently. I was fairly comfortable with them.

MN: Did you have any contact with the JACL?

TH: No.

MN: Were there any strikes or riots at Tanforan like they had at Santa Anita assembly center?

TH: No, not as far as I know.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

MN: And when was your family shipped out to Central Utah, mostly known as Topaz?

TH: Topaz? Yeah, it was in September.

MN: 1942?

TH: '42, yeah.

MN: Now, did they tell you that you were going to Utah?

TH: Well, they must have. We must have known.

MN: How did you get to Topaz?

TH: In a train. You know, I can't remember really. Must be in the train.

MN: Do you remember the train ride at all?

TH: No, I don't remember anything.

MN: How was your sick mother taking this?

TH: She was getting stronger, because I suppose this, getting together as Japanese ladies, that kind of invigorated her.

MN: Now, did the train stop directly at Topaz, or did you have to go to another city and take a bus into Topaz?

TH: Yeah, probably. I'm not too good at remembering things, but yeah, it must have stopped at the city near Topaz and then riding the bus.

MN: So when you saw Topaz, what was your first reaction?

TH: It was very dusty, dust storms, and when we got into the barrack it wasn't completely finished, so we had to put up the (sheet rock) ourselves, because there was some space between the floors and the dust would come in.

MN: Do you remember what barrack you lived in in Topaz?

TH: Yeah, Block 9. I remember the room 9-3-F.

MN: What did your stepfather do at Topaz?

TH: Well, as far as I could remember, nothing.

MN: I understand that during the winter it got so cold that people just dug a hole instead of using a refrigerator or ice box. Do you remember doing that?

TH: No, I don't remember that.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

MN: Now, did Topaz offer an art school?

TH: Yes.

MN: And where was this art school located?

TH: I don't exactly remember the barrack number, but it was at the corner of camp which was across from the MP building. And right next to the art school there was a guard tower. I painted this MP building, which was situated across the road. Of course, there was a fence in between. I still have that painting. That was the first painting I more or less successfully completed, and so I was very happy with it.

MN: Now, were the same instructors that taught at Topaz teaching at, taught at Tanforan, teaching at the Topaz art school?

TH: No, not all the teachers. Like Mine Okubo, she became, I think she became the editor of the camp magazine, literary magazine, Trek, and she drew some wonderful drawings for the cover of this magazine. And she was also, I understand, editor of the camp paper. And also, all the young kids started going to regular school, so most of the students were adults. I remember there were only a few teachers like Professor Obata, Matsusaburo Hibi and his wife Hisako Hibi, Byron Suzuki, who studied in New York. Maybe there were a couple others, but I can't remember.

MN: Now, you learned oil painting through Matsusaburo Hibi, is that correct?

TH: Yes.

MN: What kind of teacher was he?

TH: He was a, he really admired Paul Cezanne, so he more or less followed Cezanne's footsteps, post-impressionist type of painting. His painting was very masculine, and the technique was very... in a way, his painting's kind of rough looking. But as a teacher, he was a wonderful teacher. Some people didn't like him because he was kind of strict, he would say, yeah, one of my friend was a student of his and he was told that, "What's this? What kind of painting is this?" So he quit. But anyway, he was, I learned the fundamentals from him. Until then, I was... how do you say it? Facile in drawing and painting, kind of superficial. And he detested that superficiality and told me to simplify everything, which was good. I mean, that's the first step I learned about really fine, real art, fine art.

MN: Now, what is it about oil painting that interested you as opposed to watercolor?

TH: Well, that's the thing. Oil painting was real, so they say, real painting. At the beginning it was very difficult, 'cause I was used to watercolor painting, and in Tanforan I attempted to paint the south San Francisco mountain, which was a complete disaster. I messed it up, and I thought, "Oil painting is a really messy medium." Later on, I learned how to handle the paints. This has been my painting medium throughout the camp.

MN: Now, I am going to ask you about Mr. Obata. As the "loyalty questionnaire" came out, he got beaten up. And why did he get beaten up?

TH: Oh, this was in Topaz. It wasn't so much about the "loyalty question," it's just that Mr. Obata was so busy trying to establish an art school, so he had to go outside of camp and meet with the people in the administration. And so some pro-Japan people thought he was an inu, stool pigeon, so I think that's the reason he was beaten up.

MN: And after he was beaten up, did the art school close or did it continue?

TH: The school continued with Mr. Hibi.

MN: And what happened to Mr. Obata?

TH: Well, he was really badly beaten up in the face, so he almost became blind, and he was sent to the hospital in Salt Lake City, recuperated, and eventually he left Topaz, the whole family left Topaz.

MN: How did you feel about this beating?

TH: Oh, I think it's a terrible thing to do to another person, regardless of whether you're pro-Japan or pro-America.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

MN: Now, when the WRA passed out this controversial "loyalty questionnaire," did you discuss this with your friends?

TH: Well, I went to some large meeting, which was held in different mess halls. I don't exactly remember what was said. I'm not sure whether I was influenced by it or not, but like most Kibei, most of the Kibei I know, I signed, "no-no." And also probably it was my parents that consent, then later my father said "no" to 28, question 28, and also applied for repatriation to Japan. We must have talked things over. But my personal feeling is that I can accept a lot of things, but my family lost business when we were sent to Tanforan, and had to stay in a horse stall and then sent to Topaz, then the government ask you about whether you'd be drafted or volunteer, so ask about the loyalty. It didn't just sound right. It's, something is not quite right. Of course, another thing is to try to keep the family together after all the things that happened to us. So it wasn't, for me, it wasn't a question of loyalty, whether I was loyal to emperor or to the United States.

MN: So it sounds more like out of anger and protest that you...

TH: Yeah, basically it's the protest, yeah.

MN: So your father also answered "no" to question 28?

TH: Yeah, this I later found out through the record that I obtained.

MN: Did your parents talk about going back to Japan?

TH: No. As far as I don't remember, but it was more or less agreed on.

MN: You mentioned that you went to these meetings at the mess halls. Who was organizing these meetings?

TH: Gee, I don't know.

MN: Was there a lot of people at these meetings?

TH: Yeah.

MN: Were there women at these meetings or just men?

TH: Let's see. Mostly men, I guess. I'm just guessing.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

MN: Now, after you answered "no-no," what happened? You turned in the form, and then how many days before you were called in?

TH: Well, I think the "loyalty question" was passed in March or something like that. Maybe it was two or three months later.

MN: Did you get a letter to come to the administration office, or did some men come to your barrack?

TH: For the interview or interrogation? See, probably I received a letter, I think.

MN: So where did you, where were you interrogated?

TH: Oh, in a room somewhere, in a barrack somewhere.

MN: Were there other Topaz inmates there? Was there like a line of men waiting to be interviewed?

TH: Gee, I don't remember now.

MN: Who interviewed, who interrogated you? Was it WRA, the FBI?

TH: It was a couple of FBI agents.

MN: So when you say "couple," how many?

TH: There was two, I think. Yeah.

MN: And you were the only one in the room.

TH: Yeah.

MN: With these two agents.

TH: As far as I can remember. The letter I... there was supposed to be an interpreter, but as far as I know, there was nobody there.

MN: What kind of questions would they ask you?

TH: Basically it was a continuation of the "loyalty questions." They tried to pin down they want you to kind of, in a way, trap you. I answered at first, I don't want to hurt anybody in the United States. Then I guess the question goes on like, then why did I answer "no-no"? They said, you... I will not relinquish the... I mean, whatever Japanese emperor says, I will follow. And finally, they wanted me to stick to the... if I said no, I should follow the emperor. If the emperor ordered me to do some damage to the United States, I should be doing that. So I said, even though I don't want to hurt anybody, I guess I have to follow the emperor, which wasn't really my, that wasn't the way I felt, but then I had to sign the statement.

MN: Did you feel like you were bullied into signing the statement?

TH: In a way, yeah. They knew what they were doing. They basically confused a simple-minded Kibei into a place where they couldn't get out.

MN: Were you confused during this interrogation?

TH: Oh, yeah, it wasn't quite the way I felt, but still, since I answered "no-no," if the Japanese emperor says certain things, I must follow his order. Just kind of naive, I suppose, on my part. On a lot of Kibeis' part, too.

MN: So that's the way the FBI agent asked you this question: if you had answered "no," then you have to follow the emperor's orders.

TH: Right.

MN: And so logically you thought, "Yeah, I guess so." Is that how you were thinking?

TH: Yeah, I guess so.

MN: There's a statement in your files -- who typed that out?

TH: Gee, there must have been a typist sitting there.

MN: Typing out what you had allegedly said.

TH: Uh-huh.

MN: Did they show it to you before they put it into your files, before you signed it?

TH: Yeah, I signed it. I read it, I guess.

MN: How long did this interrogation last?

TH: I really can't remember.

MN: An hour?

TH: Probably one hour or so.

MN: During that time, did you ever feel threatened physically?

TH: Not physically, no.

MN: Did you feel threatened verbally?

TH: What's that?

MN: Did you feel threatened verbally?

TH: No, they were very gentlemanly, except that the technique, they knew what they were doing. They knew this simple-minded Kibei, you know, make us do what they want us to do.

MN: So after your interrogation was finished, what happened? They said, "Okay, you're free to go"?

TH: Yeah. I thought that was it.

MN: Do you remember what day you were questioned?

TH: No, I don't remember.

MN: Did you share this with your parents?

TH: Yeah, I'm sure I did, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

MN: Now, when were you picked up to go to Leupp?

TH: Early, I think it was in July, I know that. Probably early July.

MN: Where did they pick you up at?

TH: As I understand it, I was at the art school, then a couple of FBI agents came and asked for Taneyuki Harada. I suppose I was in shock that I really can't remember, but friend of mine who was at the school told me what had happened.

MN: So basically, you have this blocked out of your mind.

TH: Yeah, I guess so.

MN: So they came to pick you up, and so this sounds like it was a complete surprise to you.

TH: Oh, yeah. Supposedly I should have received a letter, but I don't remember receiving it. Then the next thing I remember was finding my, they took me to my room, barrack, and I picked up some of those personal stuff. And there was a van waiting for me, and there were several Kibei who were also picked up. Then we, there were supposedly eleven of us, all Kibeis. Then we traveled south in Utah. In between we stopped by Cedar City and spent a night in jail, then went on south toward Leupp.

MN: Did they tell you where they were gonna take you?

TH: No, I don't think so, no.

MN: And in this, you said a van, was it an army truck?

TH: No, it was a small, like a, I don't know what you call that. Van type of thing, panel truck.

MN: Where did you guys eat? Did they feed you? You said you were in the jail, Cedar City jail, did they feed you at the jail?

TH: They must have fed us something.

MN: Now, this is July. Did any of the men pass out from dehydration?

TH: No.

MN: How long did it take to get to Leupp?

TH: Since we stopped by at Cedar City, it must have been a couple of days.

MN: So two days, maybe?

TH: Uh-huh.

MN: What was going through your mind at this time?

TH: Well, basically, "What's happening?" [Laughs]

MN: Were your parents at the barrack when you got your belongings to go to Leupp?

TH: Yeah, I think so.

MN: Do you remember how they reacted?

TH: No, I don't remember.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

MN: So you got to Leupp. What was your first impression of Leupp?

TH: It was... the building, I think it was, everything was kind of red, purpleish, the ground, and the building was built (with) thick red sandstone. We, there was a big room where there was a sleeping quarter. Leupp was, it used to be on the Navajo Indian reservation, it used to be the boarding school for the Navajo children. And this kind of large room, which, I don't know whether it was used as a sleeping quarter or for the classroom, but anyway, the army cot was all lined up on both sides. That's where we found ourselves.

MN: Now, how many army people were guarding you?

TH: Well, I read later that it was about 150 army, military police were guarding us, and there were four guard towers, and, of course, the fence.

MN: Do you remember that, or you said you read that?

TH: I read later.

MN: So you yourself did not remember that.

TH: No. Basically we stayed within the building except to go out... there was a playground in front of the building, and the other side was a dining hall. There was a large hall, building, which was used as a dining room. So used to go there for our meals, that's about it.

MN: What do remember of the food at Leupp?

TH: Oh, I don't remember anything.

MN: Were there incarcerated Buddhist priests there that gave sermons?

TH: I heard that there was one Buddhist priest, but I never even, I don't even recognize. I never met him face to face.

MN: So you didn't go to any Christian or Buddhist services at Leupp?

TH: No.

MN: Was it pretty regimented at Leupp? Did you have roll call?

TH: No. It was, well, basically we didn't have anything to do, so I used to roam around within the building. And some were playing cards, some were just talking, some were playing musical instruments, some were doing exercises.

MN: What did you do at Leupp?

TH: When I felt like painting, I used to paint. There was a lot of little small rooms on the second floor. I would go up there and open the window and paint a desert scene. I also painted the building itself, but then I don't have it. I guess I wasn't satisfied with the result. And I also painted outside beyond the fence, I have one painting in my possession. And I also painted the church, the Presbyterian church, but I don't have the original with me anymore. I made a couple of copies and somebody should have it, still have it.

MN: How did you get your painting supplies?

TH: Oh, I guess I had my parents send it to me.

MN: When you were at Leupp, did you receive any letters from the Military Intelligence Service to try to recruit you?

TH: No, I don't remember that.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

MN: How was your life compared, how was your life at Leupp compared to life at Topaz?

TH: Oh, 'cause Topaz I was with my family in our own room. But Leupp, we were all together, sleeping together. Of course, the weather was much hotter than Topaz. There was one time close to 114 degree.

MN: So how do you keep cool in that kind of weather?

TH: Building, I think because of the way it was built, thick, strong wall, it wasn't that bad inside. But there was a court inside the huge building, and people used to, some people used to play basketball.

MN: Did you have any interaction with the local Navajos?

TH: No, never.

MN: What about workers at Leupp? Were they Navajos?

TH: Gee, I never saw them. Some of us were working, I understand, in the kitchen. And sometimes several of us were called out to go outside the fence and work in the garden with all the people who were employed or maybe soldiers. And then, of course, we always had soldiers behind us with guns.

MN: Did you see any women at Leupp?

TH: No, I didn't see anybody.

MN: Now, Raymond Best was the director at the Moab citizen isolation center. And then when everybody was transferred to Leupp, later, Paul G. Robertson took over that position. Now, when you were at Leupp, was Raymond Best still there?

TH: Yes, I think at the beginning. I think, 'cause I heard his name, and he wasn't too popular with the inmate there. But Robertson, I understand, was very good.

MN: How would you describe Robertson's personality?

TH: Well, maybe I've seen him, but I don't remember. I never talked to him.

MN: Now, Topaz group was one of the last groups to arrive at Leupp. Were you able to mingle with the other men who were already there?

TH: Not really. Even with the Topaz group, there were only two or three people that I really talked with.

MN: And these two or three people you talked with, do you know why they were there?

TH: Same situation as me. But one of the people, his name was Wataru Nakahara, he, strangely, he was, we went to the same high school in Japan. He was one class above me, and he was very, tried to take, very protective toward me. Even after internment camp, we used to see each other. There was another person, Kinoshita, we became good friends. And even after Tule Lake, we used to see each other. But he went back to Japan after Tule Lake, but after several years he came back.

MN: Now, you talked about your friend Mr. Nakahara being protective. Did you need protection at Leupp?

TH: No, not so much, but you could say he was, well, he was kind of, he had a personality of kind of boss type. So he was really nice to me. And even after coming out of Tule Lake, through him I got a job at Simmons mattress company. At the beginning, we used to work together.

MN: So the men at Leupp, did they talk to each other, did they mingle too much, or did they just stay within their little groups?

TH: Mostly in their little group.

MN: By the camps? By the different camps?

TH: Yeah, by the camp.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

MN: And when did you leave Leupp?

TH: It was December, the first part of December, 1943.

MN: So you were, you got in there in July, you left in December, so about six months you were in Leupp. How were you transferred from Leupp to Tule Lake?

TH: Actually, I don't remember. I found out later it's by train.

MN: You blocked out a lot of things.

TH: Well, it's not so much, but probably just don't have a good memory. But anyway, only thing I remember is on the parting day, we were called to the playground and Mr. Robertson gave the parting address. I understand he accompanied all of us to Tule Lake, but that's the only thing I remember. Next thing I remember is finding myself in the stockade with a couple of other people, couple hundred people.

MN: At Tule Lake.

TH: Yeah.

MN: You know, this parting address that Mr. Robertson gave, do you remember what he said?

TH: No.

MN: And the Tule Lake stockade doesn't exist anymore. Can you describe what it looked like?

TH: Well, gee, I don't know whether the jail, which is, which still remains, was part of stockade. But when I got there, it was, there was too many people there so they put up a large tent to accommodate all these people. When I got there, really a lot of people were crammed into this tent, hardly could move, you know. And people were very agitated, tense. I really don't, didn't know what happened the previous month.

MN: So when you arrived, was there a hunger strike going on at the stockade?

TH: No, not at that time.

MN: Did you ever feel threatened inside the stockade?

TH: No.

MN: Now, when you were in the stockade, was it regimented? Did you have to have roll call?

TH: No, not as far as I know. I can't remember how long, maybe I stayed there maybe a couple days.

MN: Where did you sleep? Were there enough beds?

TH: They were a bed, really. Close, you could hardly walk between the bed. But I can't really remember.

MN: And inside the stockade, was there a hierarchy? Like were the Buddhist priests the bosses?

TH: Well, I didn't really have a chance to mingle with any of them. Only thing I remember is when I got there, there was one person who seems to be the boss type. I don't know whether he was a priest or not, but he was in his mid-forties or fifty. People were kind of catering, you might say, around him.

MN: Now, how were you released from the stockade?

TH: I don't remember how I was released, but the next thing I remember is that I find myself in a regular barrack room, Block 5. 5-19-D, I think it was.

MN: So were your parents already transferred to Tule Lake when you were released from the stockade?

TH: No.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

MN: Now, how would you compare the Tule Lake barrack to the Topaz barrack?

TH: Well, I think it's basically the same, except the arrangement was different. In Topaz, we occupied the end room, but in Tule Lake, we were in a... not the end, but kind of in the middle. And when I got there, the room was empty. The previous owner must have moved to another camp or relocated. The room was basically clean, but there was some things scattered. So I remember when I got there, there was a box of graham cracker lying on the floor, and I was hungry and I thought about eating it, but then thought, never know how long it's been lying there. So there was a stove -- how do you call it -- the belly, black stove, and it was very cold, so I went near the boiler room and got some coals and started the fire going. I didn't have anything to do, and I saw the bare walls, so I found magazine, movie magazine, and I decided to paint the face of the, I don't even know who it is, Lana Turner or somebody like that. It came out pretty good. I put the frame around it, painted the frame. Then finally in February, my folks joined me. I understand they, my father, stepfather answered "no" and decided, applied for repatriation, so that's the reason that I think they were able to join me.

MN: What did they say about the painting on the wall?

TH: I don't know.

MN: They didn't say anything?

TH: No.

MN: Now, did Tule Lake have an art school?

TH: Yeah, there was an art school.

MN: And where was this located at?

TH: It's kind of very end, overlooking the newly built section for the Manzanar people. So it was the very end of the camp, and it's the regular barrack, partition in the center, and one section was for arts class and other section was for music class. I used to hear somebody practicing Chopin on the piano. And as far as the arts class, it was, oh, there were really talented artists from Manzanar. I was able to learn a lot by watching them paint. And the teacher, I think, teacher, was a very free type of class. I wasn't sure who the teacher was, it was Mr. Morimoto who was in his mid-forties, probably he was the teacher. So it was a good class.

MN: And you also went to the camp library to further your art education. How did you do that? What did you learn at the library?

TH: Oh, what did I learn? As soon as I found out there was a library I went there and have some books. I was able to read quite a bit, and I learned a lot about English, I learned English through my interest in art books. And also there were books in Japanese and both in English also.

MN: So this was kind of an English lesson for you, too, then, reading these books?

TH: Uh-huh.

MN: Did you exhibit your paintings at Tule Lake?

TH: There was a camp-wide exhibit, large exhibit in camp in the auditorium of the high school, and that I remember. But toward the end, 1945, I had a chance to have a small one-man show in the ironing room, which was located next to the mess hall. And I hand-painted the fliers, and my stepfather helped me to paste it around the barracks.

MN: So when you had this one-man exhibit, how did the people react to your paintings?

TH: I have no idea.

MN: How would you describe your painting at that time?

TH: I was really in the process of learning a lot of different styles through looking at the reproductions which I took out from the library. I learned about Van Gogh, Renoir, and other impressionist painters. For a while I imitated a style like Van Gogh or Renoir.

MN: How many pieces did you exhibit at this exhibit?

TH: Not too many, maybe ten pieces.

MN: What happened to these paintings?

TH: Some I was able to take with me. Actually, I think I was able to have them sent to me when, later on. Some I tried to carry it, which, those are the ones that got kind of damaged, because I rolled the canvas and it cracked.

MN: Now, you also did a painting for Dr. Marvin Opler, the community analyst at Tule Lake. How did this come about?

TH: Well, it seems to me that Dr. Opler happened to see the painting I did of somebody's dog, so he came over and asked me if I could paint his two daughters who were, I don't know, probably five and seven. So that's how it happened. And, well, I went to his house and made some sketches.

MN: How many times did you go to his house?

TH: I can only remember two times. First time I went there to sketch his daughters, the second time, he and his wife invited me for dinner. So he came to pick me up and we had dinner, which I felt very uncomfortable. I wasn't used to Caucasians, being invited by a Caucasian family. But anyway, after the dinner, he was a very busy man, and also his wife was connected with the school. Maybe she was a teacher. So he left me with some art book in the living room and I didn't know what to say. I didn't know whether I, if I said I wanted to go back, it'd be kind of rude. So I stayed until after midnight, and finally Dr. Opler said, "Well, it's time to, maybe it's time to go back."

MN: Now, before you left camp, in August, end of August 1945, Dr. Opler again asked you to do some drawings. What was this for?

TH: I think for the research paper maybe. I did a couple of pen drawings, I don't know. I don't think it was that good, but anyway, one was about an old man in the boiler room, and one was about a man carrying coal. And actually, as far as leaving Tule Lake, I think my family received permission to leave the camp earlier than we left. We left in March of 1946, March 17th. But I guess we were kind of afraid to go leave the camp.

MN: Before we leave camp, I want to ask you a little bit more. What about the Sokuji Kikoku Hokoku Hoshidan? Were you part of the Hoshidan?

TH: No.

MN: Did you ever get pressured to join them?

TH: No, I didn't.

MN: What did you think about their name?

TH: Well, these people were kind of, somebody I wasn't connected with. I had my own circle of friends who basically thought the same way I did. Lot of 'em were from art school from Topaz, so what they were doing really didn't concern me. Only thing is in the early morning, I could see their, "Wasshoi, wasshoi," and bugle call. They didn't really have too much to do with me.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

MN: And so in late '44 when the issue of renunciation came up, why did you renounce your U.S. citizenship?

TH: When did it come? This is '44?

MN: Yes, in late '44.

TH: Late '44. Well, I think it's because I answered "no-no," and well...

MN: Well, you may not have renounced late '44, let me put it that way. The law passed in late '44. If you're getting confused about the time.

TH: Law passed to allow...

MN: People to renounce in time of war. Do you recall why you decided to renounce?

TH: Well, it's because I answered "no-no," and then my folks were basically ready to go back to Japan. And as far as I'm concerned, there seems to be no future in the United States, what's the use of... because you're not really thinking things through. So heck, I thought I'd renounce it and go back to Japan.

MN: And did you discuss this with your mother and stepfather?

TH: Must have, yeah.

MN: Now, what made you change your mind?

TH: Well, of course, you heard that Japan was defeated, and when you started thinking about the future, you realize that it was a dumb thing to do. Because of the mass hysteria, you said "no-no," might as well renounce it and go back to Japan without thinking too deeply. You realize that it was, it didn't have any meaning, real meaning. As far as answering "no-no" has some meaning, meaning of protest with renouncing and going back to Japan, it doesn't have much meaning.

MN: Why wouldn't it have much meaning?

TH: Well, when you renounce your citizenship and try to go back to Japan, there's no place to go back to Japan anyway. And renouncing isn't much of a protest, I don't think. "No-no" has some meaning as a protest. No?

MN: But this government is the one that put you in camp.

TH: Yeah. So "no-no" has a meaning, I think, it's a very important meeting. But more or less renouncing is more or less, I feel that it is more or less, we were tricked into it by the government that wanted to get rid of all the "disloyals." Does that make sense?

MN: You just said "disloyals." Did you consider yourself a "disloyal"?

TH: To the United States?

MN: I don't know. You said "disloyals." You used that word right now. Why did you, why did you call these people "disloyals"?

TH: Which people?

MN: I don't know, that's what I'm asking you.

TH: Well, when you answer "no-no," it's basically saying you're disloyal to the United States, right?

MN: Are you, but is that why you answered "no-no"?

TH: It's a protest.

MN: Did you consider yourself disloyal?

TH: No. If I wasn't interned, if I was outside and I was asked to fight for the United States, I would have, no question. Of course, that's the right thing to do. But after putting us through, make us lose our livelihood and putting us through horse stalls and you sent to the middle of the desert, then asking for loyalty is, you might say, "Baka ni shiteru."

MN: You thought the government was making fools out of you guys.

TH: Uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

MN: So you renounced. How did you get your U.S. citizenship back?

TH: Through the work of Mr. Wayne M. Collins.

MN: How did you meet him?

TH: I didn't meet him.

MN: What was the process?

TH: It was through the group, how do you say it?

MN: What group are you talking about?

TH: Oh, that group that, five thousand of us, all of us Mr. Collins represented.

MN: Now, his assistant was Mr. Tetsujiro Tex Nakamura. Did you have any contact with him?

TH: No.

MN: Did you have contact with the Tule Lake Defense Committee?

TH: No, I don't think so.

MN: Did you give an affidavit?

TH: Yes, I remember writing something.

MN: Who did you give that affidavit to?

TH: Gee, I don't remember.

MN: You must have given it to Mr. Nakamura, 'cause he was collecting the affidavits. When did you write your affidavit?

TH: That I don't remember either.

MN: How long did it take for you to get your citizenship back?

TH: I got my citizenship back in early part of 1959.

MN: So let's see. '45 you renounced, or was it '46 that you renounced? Was it 1945?

TH: Yeah, 1945.

MN: And then 1959 is when you got your citizenship back, so eleven years. Did you have to pay an attorney fee?

TH: Yeah, I remember paying something, I don't remember what it is, four hundred dollars or whatever, I don't even remember.

MN: How did you learn that you got your citizenship back?

TH: I received a letter.

MN: From Mr. Collins?

TH: Yeah.

MN: How did you feel when you got this letter?

TH: Oh, "Finally." At that time I didn't know too much about Wayne Collins. It's only later that I learned how hard he worked for all of us.

MN: Now you said earlier your parents wanted to return to Japan. Why did they not return to Japan?

TH: I don't know what happened to them, because I didn't return. I changed my mind.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

MN: Now, when did your family leave Tule Lake?

TH: We left in March of 1946, March 17th, as far as I remember.

MN: How did you feel about leaving camp after four years of imprisonment?

TH: Of course, you feel uneasy, you don't know where to go, no place to go.

MN: Where did your family go after camp?

TH: At first we were able to find a place to sleep at the Buddhist church, Oakland Buddhist church, and probably stayed for a few days. Then we found a place in Richmond, public housing in Richmond, where a lot of Japanese families moved also. Both sides of the Gordon Avenue, both sides of the street were all Japanese families.

MN: So you know this resettlement time, how hard was it, I mean, compared to going into camp, how would you compare resettlement after camp?

TH: Well, fortunately, somebody found us a place to live. And we were also still together with Japanese family people, so that was kind of nice. And eventually, several people from the housing project started working at the same place. So we rode in carpools.

MN: Is this where you were working at the Simmons mattress company?

TH: Yeah.

MN: And then you went to California College of Arts and Crafts?

TH: Yeah, that's a little bit afterwards.

MN: How did you pay for your tuition?

TH: Well, I think the tuition at that time was very reasonable. Besides, I wasn't taking the full course, like I wasn't trying to receive a degree or anything, so I attended as a special student, taking whatever class I wanted to take.

MN: And what kind of classes were you taking?

TH: Well, I took a lot of life drawing, because I figured I would learn a lot by taking life drawing class. And also take oil painting, because I went to summer session. And through the teachers, instructors, I was able to have a small one-man show and also find a contact with an owner of a gallery in Oakland.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

MN: What year was this when you had your one-man show?

TH: Probably toward the beginning of 1950 probably.

MN: And what kind of paintings did you show?

TH: Well, at that time it was more like semi-abstract painting.

MN: So the audience, who were they? Were they Japanese Americans or mostly hakujin?

TH: I don't know. Went there and it was just like, this radio station, small station, KPFA in Berkeley, and space was limited, so the painting was hanging on the side of the wall of the stairs, that's the only thing. And another place was in Oakland, Gray Shop, called, and mezzanine, the paintings were hanging in the mezzanine. And I sold a couple of paintings. I wish I hadn't sold it now. There was, one of the paintings was my best painting.

MN: What is it of, this painting that you wish you didn't sell?

TH: Oh, this was a painting of a man and a woman, man was playing guitar, and the woman was kind of looking over his shoulder from behind.

MN: So you sold a lot of your paintings through the years. Can you tell us what different museums have your paintings?

TH: Well, the first painting I sold was through the, through the San Francisco Fine Art Museum, San Francisco, so it's hanging, supposed to be hanging in the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. Other one was a painting of MP building, which I did at Topaz, which was purchased by the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. And last two paintings were purchased by the (L.A.) County Museum (of Art). Of course, they were all sold through private collectors.

MN: And most of these paintings, were they of the camp period, or were they of your abstracts?

TH: It's camp. Three of them were camp paintings, one which I painted for the 1998 show at the Pro Arts Gallery which was called the "Arts After Incarceration." Not just the camp painting, but also the artworks of prisoners in this country and also South America. And interesting story is that this curator, her name is Betty Kano, anyway, she asked me that I present a current painting. And so I was kind of forced to paint something, and I painted a completely abstract painting, which was actually related to camp. It was called Basic Design, it's a layout of the block and barracks, the background is the red, white and blue, which represented the United States. Which I wasn't completely satisfied, because the symbolism was too, kind of too obvious. But anyway, the museum bought it, so supposed to be hanging there. But I'm, I feel that I'm really very fortunate. I'm basically a camp painter. Without camp, I have no real inspiration, you might say.

MN: Do you still paint?

TH: Well, I try to, but it's in the process, you might say.

MN: How has your techniques changed over the years?

TH: It has become completely abstract. But in camp, I had this, I don't know, energy, you might say. In a way, I was forced to paint. It was something that was welling up from within. But outside, I was really, got confused. The outside world was too complicated. Looked kind of superficial. In camp, there was that basic elemental quality, the poetry, the simplicity, which moved me. But outside, I couldn't find anything, any inspiration. So that's why, even though camp life has been a tragic event, I still value it for the experience.

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

<Begin Segment 26>

MN: When did you first return to Tule Lake after the war?

TH: 1970, when I was mid-forties, I think.

MN: How did it feel returning to Tule Lake?

TH: Oh, I'd say natsukashi. My family went to Oregon for vacation, and on the way back, we drove south and start, I began to see the silhouette of Castle Rock, and it was like meeting an old friend. Block 5 where I lived, I could see the Castle Rock really close by. So it got closer and closer, and finally Castle Rock was still there, an old friend. The guardian of the camp.

MN: So you, for you, it was not a bitter feeling. It was more natsukashi, kind of a nostalgic feeling.

TH: Yeah, lot of memories. After all, I spent my (...) seishun...

MN: Your youth?

TH: Youth, from nineteen to twenty-three. So it was a very important part of my life. I tend to catch the experience as some kind of poetic happening, actually.

MN: Have you been back to Leupp or Topaz?

TH: No, I haven't. Topaz has sort of a bad memory for me, being picked up by FBI. And besides, I didn't stay there too long, from September to July. Leupp, I wanted to go back and see the building where I stayed for six months, but I understand it was bulldozed right after being evacuated, and I don't have any, I wish I had -- I had painted the building a couple of times, but I didn't keep it. I guess I don't have the sense of history, I guess.

MN: One more thing, I wanted to ask about redress. When talk of redress came up, did you think that this was possible?

TH: No.

MN: How did you feel when the government issued an apology and gave you compensation?

TH: Oh, I would say that I regained my trust in the United States. And also, see, I stayed, my family stayed in Richmond housing from 1947 through '52. In the meanwhile, my father received compensation for losing the business. So I don't remember how much it was, but we were able to use that as a down payment to purchase the small house in Berkeley, a two-bedroom house. So after all, there's honor in the United States, honorable quality.

MN: Anything else you want to add? I've asked my questions.

TH: Oh, yeah? Well, not really. It was a rich experience. I don't blame anybody. That's a miracle that somehow I survived and still, at this age, still able to talk about it, and I'm thankful for that.

MN: Thank you.

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