Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Jack Dairiki Interview
Narrator: Jack Dairiki
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: March 15, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-djack-01

<Begin Segment 1>

[Description of photographs]

MN: Tell me some of, the photo right there, who is that?

JD: Right, this is my grandmother in Japan, and she passed away 1990, that area, at the age of ninety-nine, so she lived a long time. And this is city of Sacramento, where I was born, we lived in Sacramento where my father worked in a hotel. There was a, my grandfather owned the hotel and my father became the manager of the hotel. Main Hotel was the name of the hotel. That was where I was born and grew up, until I was ten and that's when I left to Japan. So these are the photographs that precede me when I was, before the war. This street in front of the hotel, from the roof looking toward the east, you see the state capital building. We were about six blocks away from the capital. And our street in front was M Street, and M Street and Tenth was the capital; we were on the Sixth Street, so four blocks away.

This is the picture of the family, my brothers and sisters, all four of us, my father in the center and my brother Kenji, my brother Ned, myself, and my sister Helen. And this is a picture, again, of the hotel, very handsome hotel, about fifty rooms in the hotel, so was quite a big building, quite handsome one. And my mother, of course, worked. My father and mother worked. And sometimes we had my aunt come to help, and this is one of the neighbors that also came to help. I don't know why they had helper, but I guess it being a big hotel we needed a lot of help. So this is my aunt Tsugie, my mother was the first, first daughter of the family. Aunt Tsugie, she's still alive, about ninety-five, and my mother passed away some time ago, but, so they also worked together at the hotel.

And this, family activities, my brother Ned, Ned and my mother, Ned in one of the bedrooms, Ned, and then in the living quarter we had radios and so forth, phonograph player -- my father loved to play the Japanese records, so he had that for us to enjoy. My brother Ned again, my mother, there's a sewing, we did a lot of sewing and repairing sheets and pillows and so forth, and ironing and washing. And family photograph, my brother George. He died in camp, in Tule Lake, when he was eight years old. An interesting, we didn't know... well, we learned about his death through the Red Cross when we were in Japan and they said he died in camp, so I said how could it be in camp, we lived in Sacramento? So we didn't know anything about the camp life. We were looking in Japan. And this was 1942, June I think, my mother, my father learned about it. And these are all the photographs of the activity as we were growing up, swimming pool, wading pool in Southside Park in Sacramento, my brother and sister catching the flu and staying bed recuperating, interior of the hotel, what it looked like, the activity around the front of the hotel, playing at the riverside here, outing, some of my sister's friends that came to visit.

And this is a picture of myself just before I left to Japan in 1941, August. And again, the same, picture of my brother, myself and my sister. My sister's about a year and a half younger than I am. Myself in a Cub Scout uniform, a neighbor tenant, Mr. Taguchi, he was a attorney, had an office in the ground floor of the hotel. And some of the friends came to visit; we played in the front of the hotel, there's the hotel sign here. And we had a play area in the roof of the hotel, so we used to occupy a lot of activity on the roof. There's a soldier uniform friend; I don't know who he is, but one of the visitors. Here's a group picture. That's my grandfather. Actually, my grandfather is my mother's side, my mother's father. And so my grandfather was the owner of the hotel and he ran a grocery store, a place called Penryn, which is about thirty miles outside of Sacramento. He did very well and was able to purchase this hotel that we occupied. These people who came to the hotel to visit, a group of teenagers we encountered at the park -- my father took a picture of them -- and some of the pony rides that they had available at one of the parks. They called it Williamland Park, and they still have the same, same system there that, they have pony rides.

Now you see a picture of a ship called Tatsuta-maru. That's the ship that I went to Japan on, and we left on, as I mentioned, beginning of August 1941, and my father received a letter from Japan saying that my grandfather was ill. My father was the firstborn in the family, I was the first son in the family, so important for my father to perhaps meet my grandfather before he passed away. So that was the plan, go to Japan on a summer vacation trip, so we left there to Japan just Father and myself. We left my mother and other siblings behind, that we'd be back in about a month, so that was the plan. This is my grandfather in Japan, Mankichi is the name, and he fortunately recovered that we were able to enjoy each other. This is my, again, my grandmother, and now, this is, again, about 1941 in the fall. I wanted to return back to United States in September, but we found out there was no ship returning to United States. We were stranded there, so my father said, "You have to go to school," so he took me to grammar school where he attended, and became a student there. In doing so they have to conform to uniform; my head was shorn, short hair, as you can see. So my lifestyle completely changed, living style, and my yukata type clothing, of course, we had to wear uniform, but for me I didn't have a uniform, so I wore American clothes, whatever I had, to go to school. And in Japanese school system that, home school style; you don't wear shoes in the building, so you have to take your shoes off before you enter the building, so you're barefoot. And your footwear usually was zori, that homemade zori that, being the farmer, we made our own zori and wore them, and in doing so, of course, the winter, you could not wear any gloves or socks and that was the school system. The purpose of that was that they wanted to train children to become strong to become a future soldier of the emperor, so that was the training. So we gathered for school, marched to school about two or three miles, depending on where you lived, in rows of two. We had a leader -- the eldest of the group became the leader -- and we marched to school every morning. The return home was, each of the class were let out different schedules, so we came home on our own, but going to school we'd march to school.

And again, here is a picture of my cousin and my aunt, who was five years older than I was. She's the youngest of my father's siblings, called Aunt Shizuko, was the name. And she was very helpful in educating me in the Japanese language, because when I left the United States I was a fifth grader and when I got to Japan and went to school they dropped me down to second grade because of my language deficiency, and my aunt and a local teacher, helped me after school and I was advanced to third grade and then eventually fourth grade. Of course, being fifth grade in United States, my math and social studies was much higher up than the second grade, so they realized that and they advanced me. So that was the general, these are the general pictures I have here that show you the lifestyle.

Now, I have a painting here that I painted after I returned to United States, after the war. Of course, December '41, as you know, the Pearl Harbor and the Second War started, so United States did not enter the Second War until late, and of course when Tatsuta-maru left San Francisco in August of 1941, United States was not involved in the European campaign war, so that, one of the questions, why couldn't I get, return to the United States, we found out much, much later that the reason we could not get back to United States was because they were evacuating civil service people that worked in Japan for United States out of Japan. So this was September, so there was something that the government knew, that something was gonna be happening, so for the civilians who wanted to return to the United States there was no way to get back, so basically I was stranded in Japan and had to, forced to remain in Japan. And then, of course, the war came in December and then continued war years. As I mentioned, Japan system we started school in September but were taken out of school in October, part of October and November, to help harvest the rice, as a student helped the local farmer instead of staying in class, and then we returned to class after the harvest was over. That was the system, so for me, a city boy from Sacramento, was tremendous amount of training and education, different lifestyle. It was very interesting for me to live in that way. I became very physically strong, had to carry heavy things, bend down and use a sickle to cut their rice stalk, stalk it as you went by, and followed the other students, trying to keep up with them as a peer 'cause otherwise you'd be always ridiculed as a boy of my age, when you can't do the work like the other students. So I had blisters on my hands, many other injuries that I can't think about. Now, in the winter, of course, as I mentioned, can't wear stocking or glove, and it snowed in the winter and yet we could not cover ourselves. Only way to keep yourself warm was just don more jackets on your, on you, and there was no heater in the classroom. We ate cold lunch; we packed a bento bako, light, just an aluminum box packed with rice and in the center of it have umeboshi or something. That was the only, only thing we could eat. And we farmers were more privileged in this than people in the city.


MN: When did you draw this and why did you draw this?

JD: Well, I'm a major in architecture, so an architecture student you do a lot of artwork, and this was at City College Sacramento. I majored in architecture, so naturally I had to take a lot of art. One of the art classes, they had assignment, but there was a free day, so on the free day, somehow, I don't know, I start to sketch this and this came out. And the teacher's going, "What is this? What are you doing?" I said, "Well, this is what I recall when I was in Japan, when the atomic bomb exploded." And she got all excited and said, "Oh, you were in Hiroshima?" And of course there, that's the time, 1950, '51, Cold War, and there was a big issue about Russia and United States, the stockpile of the nuclear weapons and preparing for eventual nuclear war, so that was a big hot topic, and so when the teacher heard about my experience in Hiroshima she contacted newspaper people, and came to interview me. But before that, because of this, a free day, I just happened to sketch and my recollection of what I saw, and this is what I saw when I was age fourteen in the, August 6, 1945. We were conscripted to work at the factory as a student, because of the, during the three, three now four, going to four years of war, all the young men were drafted in the service and were off to the, off to the front fighting, and all people left behind was young people like myself or senior people, so anybody who could help with the war effort were conscripted.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MN: This is March 15, 2011, Tuesday. We are at the Woodfin Hotel at Emeryville. We have Tani Ikeda on video, we have Jun Dairiki sitting in. We will be interviewing Jack Dairiki, and I will be interviewing, my name is Martha Nakagawa. Okay Jack, let's start with your father's name.

JD: My father's name is Fred Kaname Dairiki.

MN: And your mother's name?

JD: My mother's name is Nancy Hatsue Dairiki.

MN: And were your parents both Issei?

JD: No, my father's Issei. My mother was born in United States, and I mentioned my father and mother are first cousins, so her maiden name and my father's name both same.

MN: Now, where was your mother born?

JD: She was born in Penryn, California, which is about thirty miles north of Sacramento, a country town where my grandfather, or my mother's father, had a grocery store. My grandfather on my mother's side, very interesting person, he was the second in the family; my grandfather on my father's side is the first, first son, so my mother's father is the second son in the family, so brothers, of course. And according to history they both were in United States, but my grandfather, Mankichi was his name, injured himself and so he had to return to Japan and never returned. In the interim my father came to United States to work for my grandfather, or his uncle, so to speak, and before he was assigned to work at the hotel that, in Sacramento, that my grandfather owned.

MN: So when your mother married your Issei father, did she lose her American citizenship?

JD: No. No, my mother, of course, being a United citizen, she always had her citizenship. My father came to United States and I assume he had his citizenship, but they were in difficult time because main political movement and many people came from Japan could not obtain their citizenship, as we find in our lifetime. So my father's citizenship is kind of questionable. I'm not sure how he did it. Maybe that's one of the reasons why he, when he returned to Japan with me he didn't want to come back to United States again. That's one of the reasons, that he didn't have a citizenship and it'd be difficult for him to live here.

MN: Was your mother sent to Japan for her education?

JD: Not education, because she was sent to Japan, but because her mother was ill -- she, I think she had tuberculosis -- so my mother and her sister, and there was a third, third one was a son, about a year old, and they all went, sent back to Japan with their mother and for the idea for my grandmother to recuperate from the illness, but unfortunately my grandmother passed away, so again, they, so the three children returned. But in the interim the youngest of the three, the son, died. I think in Japan he died. So just my mother and my aunt returned to United States and lived in Penryn.

MN: So it sounds like your mother's first language was English.

JD: Yes.

MN: And your father's first language is Japanese.

JD: That's correct.

MN: How did they communicate?

JD: My father was able to, well, when he was, came to United States he did attend grammar school, much as he could, so he did learn some English so was capable of speaking. He was, had enough English language in him then it was, worked as interpreter in Japan.

MN: Now, your parents' family, what prefecture do they come from?

JD: Both my mother and father, of course, as they were my, their parents are both brothers, so they came from Hiroshima prefecture, Aki-gun is the... Aki-gun, I don't what you call that, the county, perhaps. In the town of Higashi Kaita mura and the village of Sunabashiri.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

MN: What year were you born?

JD: I was born 1930, December.

MN: And what city were you born in?

JD: What now?

MN: City.

JD: Oh, I was born in Sacramento.

MN: And how were you delivered?

JD: I think there was a Sutter Hospital in Sacramento, and that was the delivery point. And I, my understanding is that I was a premature baby, but they were able to come through that, and I grew up in Sacramento. And I was able to attend Sacramento Lincoln Grammar School, where I attended.

MN: Now, you're the firstborn, is that correct?

JD: That's correct.

MN: How many younger brothers and sisters?

JD: I have three below me and the fifth one was born when I was in Japan. My mother was pregnant when we left to Japan.

MN: And what is your birth name?

JD: Birth name? Oh, Japanese birth name? Jack Motoo Dairiki.

MN: So your parents also gave you the name Jack, Anglican name?

JD: Yes, that seemed to be on my birth certificate, Jack. All my brother and sister have English name.

MN: Before the war, what were your parents doing?

JD: They were the manager for the hotel my grandfather owned. My mother's father owned a hotel in Sacramento and they became assigned as the manager to work on the hotel. That was their work.

MN: What was the hotel called?

JD: Called Main Hotel. 1226 and one-half Sixth Street is the address. [Laughs] That was the address of the hotel. About six, only four blocks front of the state capitol building.

MN: Is the building still there?

JD: No, the building was demolished about, maybe, thirty years ago to, bought by the state by eminent domain, so now a state building stands there.

MN: Can you give me an idea how big this hotel was?

JD: Yeah, it was about, it's a handsome brick building, red brick building, three stories tall, and as I recall, about fifty rooms hotel. The certain amount was added, oh, probably in the 1970 area -- no, wait a minute, before the war -- it was added on, a new section was attached to it, so it became a bigger building. It was built about mid-1925 or so.

MN: Now, this hotel, was it considered a part of Japantown?

JD: No, it was close to Japantown, maybe four blocks away from Japantown, the old Japantown. It's, the old Japantown was on Third between M Street and, M and O, I think, M, N, O. M, yeah, M and N Street, I guess, on Third, that was the kind of Japantown district.

MN: And then, now, you mentioned that you went to Lincoln grammar school?

JD: Yes.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

MN: What was the demographics, the ethnic makeup of the school?

JD: Demographic, we had a few, a few black people, a lot of Spanish people, mostly Caucasian, of course, and then our Japanese group. And a Buddhist church was about a block away from the school, so we used to attend Japanese school after the grammar school and on the weekend.

MN: And at this Japanese school, did you enroll in judo or kendo?

JD: No, we had no physical activity there. It was just a literature school, just learning Japanese language. There were judo classes, but that was separate. You had to take it on your own separately.

MN: How would you define the Japanese school? Were they strict?

JD: Well, it was, it was developed by the Buddhist church and supervised by it. The teachers were sometimes the minister and their wife and some hired schoolteachers, and it was classrooms, for sure, and we used to go there from three o'clock to maybe four o'clock, a one hour class. And as I mentioned, for me it was one block away from the, our grammar school, so it was very convenient to get there.

MN: Now, on Sundays did you go to church?

JD: Yes, Sunday, being a Buddhist family, I went to church, but my parents did not take us there 'cause they were too busy working, so our neighbor used to pick us up and walk to school, to the Buddhist church. And Buddhist church wasn't that far away, about four, four blocks away from the hotel.

MN: So every day you went to school, regular school, and then you went to Japanese school.

JD: That's correct.

MN: And then Sundays you went to church.

JD: Yeah, church in the morning.

MN: What did you do in your free time?

JD: Free time, well, we used to play around the neighborhood, mostly around the homes area. As I mentioned, Japantown was only a couple of blocks away. We were on Sixth Street, Japantown on Third, so about three blocks away, and so we used to intermingle with friends, as we were allowed to. And I, seems like remembering going to movies on the weekend, especially Saturday, and there was just, we had a lot of theaters, Sacramento being a main, capital city, we had many movie theaters. Saturday night was a special night; at the Buddhist church they had a Japanese movie, so the family used to go there. My father was very excited to go to and take us to the Japanese movie.

MN: What kind of Japanese movies did they show?

JD: Oh boy, they had Japanese, mostly samurai movies, or sometimes the romantic movies. Generally sort of Japanese culture movies mostly, sometimes the war events stories. I guess whatever that came out in that period movie was very popular and people used to congregate there.

MN: Now, you're growing up during the Great Depression, 1930s.

JD: Yes.

MN: Were there people in your hotel who committed suicide in the rooms?

JD: The people in our hotel was?

MN: Committed suicide in your hotel rooms?

JD: No, we didn't have that kind of situation. We do, we did have people were, had difficult time paying for their rent so they'd barter with my father, and that's how we obtained a camera, said, instead of paying, "I can't pay, so could I give you my camera for the payment?" And that was acceptable. And that's how my father obtained a camera to take a family picture. And there was, the issue was there and, of course, I was too young to probably recognize the hardship on my parents, but I know they worked seven days a week. They didn't have much time off. I had a uncle, who was my father's younger brother, who occupied a space on the ground floor. He had a restaurant called Tom's Cafe and Tom was his name, so we used to enjoy attending, going to his restaurant to eat, more American food.

MN: American food.

JD: Yes.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

MN: Now, in the summer of 1941, you and your father were going to Japan.

JD: Yes.

MN: And why did you plan to go to Japan?

JD: Well, in the spring of 1941 my father received a letter saying my grandfather was ill and so my father became quite conscious about traveling to Japan, and he wanted me to go with him to meet my grandfather before he happened to passed away, before he passed away, so we made a plan from the spring, after getting the letter, and getting ready to go to Japan. We got a fare on the ship that left from San Francisco port called Tatsuta-maru, and apparently that became the last ship that left United States and we were able to board on that ship from San Francisco. And we were supposed to depart at the last week of July, but we were prohibited from traveling by the government agent, comes aboard doing a search of the ship, so the ship was delayed almost by a week and we didn't depart until beginning of August. In doing so, the ship did not stop in Hawaii. It just bypassed Hawaii, went straight to Yokohama, and it took us two weeks to cross the Pacific.

MN: Do you know why these agents came on board the Tatsuta-maru?

JD: Well, as you know, there was, the war was raging in Europe and for Japan, Italy and Germany was the three Axis, and so Japan was under suspicion at all times, so that's, that would be my understanding of why they wanted to search the ship, to see if there's any contraband or anything that would be supporting the war effort in Europe. I assume that's the reason why they boarded the ship and stopped it for a while.

MN: Why didn't your mother and your siblings go with you?

JD: Well, because we were just going on a short trip, summer vacation trip to be returning about a month. And so I wanted, I was anxious to get back to school, of course, continue my education, and that's one of the reasons that -- and somebody had to work on the hotel to keep the business going, so that was my mother's duty, to watch the children and work on the hotel.

MN: Now, how did you feel about this trip?

JD: Well, for me, I was very excited to go, of course, any trip to go, especially go abroad is something unheard of at the time, and to be able to travel across the Pacific like that was a great adventure for me. I was excited. I know, I can't remember, my mother tried to stop me from going. Because felt that she would not see me again, something might happen on the trip, but we persevered in the travel to go to Japan.

MN: Now, when you traveled on this ship, did you travel first class, second class, third class?

JD: No, our traveling rate was third class. We were in the bottom of the boat and we were on the bunk bed stacked about two or three high on the boat. That's all we could afford. And we were off limit to go to upper, upper deck too high. The main deck was fine, but couldn't go anywhere else, so that was a limitation on, as traveling privilege.

MN: So what kind of people were traveling on third class?

JD: Mostly Japanese people, as I recall, so we made a lot of friends on the ship, but probably similar situation like I was, they were returning to Japan. Some were permanently returning to Japan, some just visiting Japan.

MN: Did you get seasick?

JD: Yes, on the first, soon as the boat started to leave San Francisco harbor I became sick and I couldn't eat for a couple, couple, three days, and I remember my father nursing me, doing whatever he could to feed me. But eventually I got over it and I was able to enjoy the travel.

MN: How, what kind of omiyage did you bring to Japan?

JD: As I mentioned, I don't know, well, I mentioned my grandfather ran a grocery store in Penryn, and of course, then Japan style grocery store in Penryn, they had many other things, clothing, chinaware, canned goods, and also some farm equipment that he could carry, so any other of the items that they could gather and put in a box we took with us. Took some radios with us, and being, being a hotel, some of the tenants would leave an item behind, so we gathered those, like some abandoned radios we took home with us, some probably old clothes, many sheets and towels that we could carry, fit in a box, took those with us and took advantage of whatever left behind in the hotel, packed it to take it to Japan. And when we got to Japan we distributed them to the neighbors, I remember, as a gift.

MN: Now, when you got to Japan were you able to keep the radios?

JD: No, we, of course, as the war started in December the police came to our house. We were, course, well-known as we were foreigners, of course anybody who comes from a foreign country were known as the gaijin or the foreigner, and we were under suspicion of the police department at all time. Although, we had an uncle, my father's brother was in the Japanese army, so we were a pretty upstanding family, but still we were under suspicion of the Japanese police department. So we were, all the radios were confiscated, any other thing they could, thought was suspicious were taken away from us.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MN: I'm gonna go back to where you landed in Yokohama. Now, from Yokohama, did you go straight to Hiroshima?

JD: We were there for a few nights. I remember it was a summer, it was, as I mentioned, August, so very hot. And we were very anxious to leave there, so we just get, stayed there a day or so to recuperate and then got a fare to, on a train ticket to go to Hiroshima, so just stayed there just a couple days.

MN: What was your first impression of Japan?

JD: Well, coming from the United States, we, I felt everything was really tight. You know, tight, tightly spaced, the room small. Of course, you have to take your shoes off to walk on the floor and that was very interesting experience for me. All the doors were not swinging doors but sliding doors and the shoji. Ice cream was different, kind of a, more like a flaky ice than ice cream that we, I remember. There's no hot dog or hamburger type thing that I recall in all the, I remember flavor in Japan from United States. People wore kimono mostly. People worked in the inns or hotel. People in the street wore, men wore suits and Western clothing. People wore shoes like, almost like a tennis shoe, but one thing I noticed was they had the shoe that was divided by the big toe, and that was quite unusual for me to watch and see. Canvas top rather than leather top footwear. Geta was a very unusual thing to see, zori was another thing. And always on, the bathroom was different. A furo in the inn was different; you'd soak in the tub. You wash yourself outside and then soak in a hot tub. So all these cultural differences were quite interesting. The train, the automobile or trucks that were running outside, a lot smaller in scale, not miniature, but just smaller in scale. Even the train, they said the track was a little smaller, so the train tends to get smaller and everything compact feeling from United States. Not that I traveled much on the train United States, but observing it from the outside it looked much, much smaller in feeling. The headgears, hats and so forth, more structured, I guess, but little different. The students wore a uniform. The hat of the university student was a square black hat that they wore. That was quite different that you'd never see in United States. And, again, you were familiar with some of the sights from the movie I've seen in the United States, so just to see it in reality was different. The clothing had a lot of buttons on the front, for the college students. Yeah, they hung their towel on the belt, that you don't see in the United States. The attire, style of eating, you know, chopsticks the usual equipment to use, so that was very, eye opener for me.

MN: Now, yourself, from Yokohama to Hiroshima you took a train. What was the train ride like?

JD: Well, we had no sleeping unit, of course, just the upright chair, cushioned chair, not wood. It was comfortable in that respect. And I remember my father used to take his shoes off and I thought that was kind of uncouth to do that, but he said that's okay in Japan because... so I, seemed like I kept my shoes on, but my father was more comfortable, being born and grew up there, that he knew the Japan style more than I do. And you'd buy lunch a certain station or people would bring a box lunch, crude type box lunch. Used to buy those and that was a sort of treat for me, to see something like that. You'd buy fruits on each different station, mikan, or apple, peach, or those like. No bananas were seen. But so that was the experience. Looking out the window, everything was very plush green in Japan. You never saw anything like, in California it was dry, dry grass. Always green, and it rained in the morning, and then dry in the afternoon but very humid. And it was in August, so it passed the so called tsuyu season, so there was occasional rain but not, not every daily rain.

MN: So once you got to Hiroshima, how was your grandfather's condition?

JD: He, fortunately, very improved, so we had a very happy reunion, meeting my relatives. Wasn't there to greet me, but we made a point to visit each of our relatives living there. We figured we're gonna only be there for few weeks, so we, my father made a point to make a trip to all his relatives that we could travel. We had a lot of relatives in Kure, which is about an hour train ride and then you take a bus to get to their place. Bus was another mode of transportation that is quite different from United States. It was not a gasoline operated because they cooked coal in the back of the bus, and it smoked a great deal. A very windy and very narrow road that they traveled, so it was quite different in that feeling. Bicycle was abundant. Bicycle all over the place, people rode bike. And a lot of people walked, too. There was, walking was a really healthy mode of transportation for them, especially in the country.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MN: So your father and yourself, you were only gonna be there a few weeks, about a month?

JD: Yes.

MN: And so when you, when it was time to return to the United States, what happened?

JD: Well, about first week of September we were, I thought was our plan to return to United States, so we started making arrangements, and my father was making contact for transportation and then started to realize there's no ship coming back. And seemed like he had a return ticket to return, but found out there's no ship to get board on, so it was frantic at first and then we're starting, we couldn't do much about it after a while. So next turned, turned to arrangement for me to go to school instead of staying home, and school would be beginning almost the second week of September, so it was taking me to the school to register, and that was the occupation at that time. We were so busy with that thought.

MN: Well, how did you feel about having to go to school in Japan?

JD: Well, of course, I was under supervision of my father, so whatever father directed me I had to follow his instruction.

MN: Now, before we get into your school years, I wanted to ask you, in Japan at that time, were people talking about a possible war with the United States?

JD: They weren't, there's no thought then. They probably hear and read about it in newspaper, the war event in Europe, but United States was not in the war so it was no concern that time. And I didn't read the paper, so I really didn't know, didn't listen to any news either. Of course, I couldn't understand the news, so totally ignorant about the situation of the war in Europe.

MN: While you were there in the beginning, how did the children treat you?

JD: Children, well, I looked different from everybody. My, my hair was longer, first, my attire was different from what they wore, I had shoe on, eventually had to abandon, and so I was slowly changing into their, their form of lifestyle. And being a farmer, we made our own zori from, footwear, from pounding the rice stalk, making it softer so you could, pliable to make zori. And I started to learn how to make rope by using the rice stalk, my grandparents taught me by watching them. And we had a cow in our house, a working cow, so we had to feed that and start to be applied to work, how to feed the cow. We had to cut the rice stalk in small pieces, and they mixed it with barley or wheat, and cooked the wheat and then mixed it with the rice, and they'd feed the cow. We had to take the cow out, clean the stall, this type of thing, so I started to get into mode of the daily work mode. And of course we had to cook rice and then also heat this, the bath, bath water, so start to learn routine of getting water out of the well, filling up the bathtub, and then cooking under the, putting fire under the kettle, and then we'd start to get into activity of gathering dry pine leaves, going to the neighboring mountain and gathering dry pine leaves to start the fire. And these would become the daily activities for me, so my lifestyle truly started to change and started to be a very interesting life, quite different from what I'd experienced. And of course, this was fall yet, weather was still comfortable. Until the winter, it would start to get pretty harsh and only thing we had for warmth was hibachi in the house and always had layer of clothes to put on to keep ourselves warm. And sitting, we had to sit on the floor. We, I couldn't sit my legs under, so I had to Indian squat, and they permitted that for me. And so then the farm work, it was assigned to cook rice at home while the people worked out in the field, since I'd return from school, I'll be free after school to do chores around the house, so one of my assignments was cooking the rice, so I learned how to start the fire under the kettle, for the rice kettle, and cook. I didn't have to cook the vegetables or food, but just make the rice, and the rice was already washed by my grandmother, so that was all prepared so all I had to do was cook it.

MN: Well, you sound like you blended in very well, but in the beginning you also said you looked different, your hair was different. Did you get picked on a lot in the beginning?

JD: Did, they had what?

MN: Did you get picked on?

JD: Yes, their peer pressure, so to speak, but as I mentioned, we had a, of course, the village, Sunabashiri, there's about, oh, a dozen or so students from various grades and the eldest, about seventh, eighth grader, was the leader of the group, so they kind of looked after everybody and became very good friends. Of course, we had neighbors, and my grandfather was unusual man, my mother's side, the second son was, Grandfather Kusakichi was the name, he had, was raised at the same house where I was living, and during the Russo-Japanese War he was inducted in service and came back with the Medal of Honor for service, so all of a sudden his family name became famous in the neighborhood, so people knew, the village people knew who Dairiki was, so from that point of view I was pretty, pretty much high, high level person. And, but of course, children are very teasing, they always taunt and always pick a fight on me, and I was picked to fight, always used to fight, but again, the senior of the group always protected us, and that became a very, comfort for all of us.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MN: Now, I know in Sacramento you went to Japanese school, but when you got to Japan how much Japanese did you actually speak?

JD: Well, apparently it wasn't adequate, so they dropped me from fifth grade to second grade. [Laughs] And that's, that was the starting point. I guess, I don't remember taking any test to see I was qualified, but I could read some Japanese, but not, not comfortable. And so, but after a rigorous education at home, schooling, I was able to advance to third grade, and then a month later I went to fourth grade, and as I mentioned, my mathematics and social studies was advanced to fifth grade, so I was comfortable fitting there, and I couldn't quite get up to fifth grade because that'd be much more difficult, so that's where I stayed. And then of course you have the calligraphy that you have to study, and that was about the right level for me at the fourth grade level. There was singing class. You learned and I was able to fit into that group. And I remember when I first went to school my father would be introduced to the teacher who was in charge of me, and he, first thing he would say, "If my son does anything wrong beat him up." [Laughs] That's what he said, so, "Oh, is that right?" The teacher says, "Alright. Thank you." [Laughs] And that's how they, and that's how they'd greet each other. So we were respectful to the teacher. The teacher was very highly esteemed in Japan, very high ranked people, as a teacher, well looked up to.

MN: So let's see, in the United States you were supposed to be in the fifth grade, but in Japan they first put you in the second grade.

JD: Because my language was, yes.

MN: And then, now, you said you had rigorous home schooling. Who, who tutored you?

JD: Yeah, lot of learning more characters, more words to fit into the upper level. You're supposed to learn about two thousand characters, so, and probably I was down to maybe a couple hundred at the time, so I have to really increase my vocabulary to keep up with the class, reading and so forth, and to speak. And to listen to the lecture, be able to understand what the teacher was saying, so truly a quickly learning stage.

MN: Now, who was your tutor at home?

JD: My aunt. As I mentioned, my aunt was the youngest aunt, my father had seven brothers and sisters, so the youngest aunt, Aunt Shizuko, was about five years older than I was, and she was going to junior high school at the time, so she'd come home, she lived with us and she really was kind enough to help. And we had a neighbor who taught, who was a teacher, so I went to her home at night and she gave me extra study class. So that really helped. And she also had a younger brother, the teacher had a younger brother, about the same grade that I was, so that really helped, too.

MN: So with their help you were able to skip --

JD: Be able to accumulate, increase my vocabulary to be able to advance slowly and be able to stay with the class.

MN: Now, were there other Niseis in your class?

JD: No, there was none that I could remember. I was the only one foreigner, so to speak. I was the only one there. Yeah, it was interesting, I didn't see any. I knew there were some other friends from Sacramento, I later learned that he lived in, in the city, but I never ran into him.

MN: You had mentioned how your father went and talked to your teacher.

JD: Yes.

MN: How did your teacher treat you?

JD: It just, just "welcome to the class" and not very, it's, I was another student to him, doesn't matter.

MN: Now, how would you compare your schooling in Sacramento to your schooling that you started to get in Japan?

JD: Well, of course the cultural differences that when you go to school there's no janitor in school. You were the, student was the janitor, so we used to clean the school, once a week get a wet towel and go back and forth on the hardwood floor so the wood floor would be shiny and polished. All the windows would be washed by ourselves, all the sweeping, and then, of course, the bathroom, we had to clean the bathroom ourselves, and it was a really dirty job to clean the bathroom, but be able to clean the bathroom you kept it clean as well. You were aware you don't want to dirty the bathroom. And of course the waste was conserved to use as a fertilizer eventually, so it was important for the farmers to come and scoop it up, put it in the, in a certain area, so the farmer was grateful to accumulate the waste and take it with them. In the wintertime we walked barefoot on the floor, very cold. I got frostbitten, my ears, my hand and my foot, and I was very uncomfortable in that respect, but that's the way all the student was, so we just bore it. And my frostbit hand became infected in some place, and my grandmother used to get the pus out of from the infection, so I have leftover scars here that my grandmother cut and squeezed the pus out to heal my hand, probably some scars on my hand is from, leftover from the frost, frostbitten and the scar that created from it.

MN: Why didn't you wear gloves?

JD: Hmm?

MN: Why didn't you wear gloves?

JD: Because it was a training, discipline training, so to become a strong individual. And the girls were the same way. They didn't wear gloves or socks either, unless you had a medical condition that you needed to wear, but it was more embarrassing to be in that situation because, again, you'd be taunted as a weakling.

MN: So even in the wintertime, when it's snowing, you were not allowed to wear gloves or socks in the classroom?

JD: That's right, yes. Just had zori to walk on, around. And Hiroshima was not, not in the winter country, but it was, it had snow. It didn't stay on the ground that long, maybe a week or so, that's about it. It was very beautiful in the snow, but, and then of course the fall, the harvesting time, we helped the farmer harvest.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MN: Now, I'm gonna, I want to kind of ask you, how did your morning start at grammar school? Can you take us through how you, you went to school?

JD: The schedule of the school? Well, we gathered in the center of the village where we all lived, Sunabashiri, about a dozen people gathered all at one time, and we had a lunch box, pack on the back. Oh, sometimes we didn't have bag; we just had a furoshiki, a book, and a lunchbox together, wrapped it, wrapped it in a furoshiki and that was our baggage, and we took, carried that, marched to school. Sometimes we'd sing and sometimes we do not. We had to cross a river, one river we had to cross, quite a, quite a wide river, but, of course when it rained the river will rise so we had to be very careful, and it was a concern of my grandmother one time that the river rose, so she came with me to make sure that I won't fall into the river. I did fall in, but what happened is the river rise and we have a plank, just maybe two feet wide plank we have to cross, and the water is right below the plank, it's rushing right below, so you try to concentrate your eye on the plank, but the water running there you get dizzy, you get pulled into it. So I fell in one time, my grandmother jumped in with me and she saved me, so there was one situation like that, and I was grateful to my grandmother for saving me. But, and then sometimes the plank would get, the river would rise high enough, and the plank is connected by wire so that they wouldn't wash away, it'd just drift to one side and get, and when the water goes out it'd get pulled back and put back into place, so sometimes they couldn't cross the, the bridge at that point, had to go much more further upstream, cross the solid bridge to get back home. But I don't remember, we didn't have that too frequently, just once in a while.

So we got to class schoolyard and we assembled at the schoolyard, wouldn't go to classroom. First we go, get all assembled by class group, and then there'd be a leader of the group who'd call attention to everybody, and then bow to the principal, and then we also had inspection of our fingernails, make sure the fingernails clipped and clean, and there's an inspection of your pocket to take out a handkerchief, make sure it was a clean handkerchief in your pocket and no, no ornaments on yourself. And see, I remember the girls used to have, they don't have a pocket, so they used to pin their handkerchief on their clothes. Boys had a pocket, so they had handkerchief in the pocket. And then we'll, after a simple exercise and maybe announcement of the day each one will go to their classroom. We'd take our footgear off, put it in the box, shelf that we had outside and then go to each classroom, some upstairs, some downstairs. It's a two floor building. We open the glass sliding door, move in and an assigned seat, and then wait for the teacher to come in, and the teacher will come in by themselves. When the teacher come in, close the door, the leader of the class would say, "Attention," everybody would stand up and bow. We'd all bow to the teacher and teacher said sit down and everybody'd sit down together. This was the way, and you wear a uniform. And then the lesson would start at that point. And as hour go by we'd go to, assigned to different classes, music class or social class, P.E. class outdoors, and so forth. Again, gym was a very heavily taught or very appreciated exercise. They had gymnasium, running, or P.E. class of a sumo type. We didn't have judo, but we had sumo type exercise, pushing against each other. Once a year in autumn we have the undoukai, or the, where people will get together and participate in various sport activity, and red and white group will be separated so we have competition against each other. And again, once a year in May they'll have a Girl's Day and then there's a Boy's Day in April, but in May we had to have long distance run around the village and we had to run barefooted, too, so your foot had to be pretty strong. And at first I had a very bad time because, coming off the shoe to barefoot my foot was very soft and tender, I was getting a lot of cuts and bleeding at the time until it got very firm, so that was a very difficult time for me at the beginning, to get adjusted to that. Let's see, otherwise clothing, it was a little different than the uniform that students had, but somehow the school accepted it, so I lived through that way. And for, not all the students are rich, so they came in different attire, but basically they were in uniform. There was, we had a lot of Korean students in there, Korean Japanese, I noticed, but I didn't, I don't remember any Chinese students. It was Korean Japanese was basically... and sometimes they'd get taunted, being a Korean Japanese, you'd get pushed aside. But we tried to treat everybody fairly. Yeah.

MN: Now, was this, you know, this, all this very strict regimented life, was that part of Japan's growing militarism?

JD: Yes, I think, it's, it was a pattern that probably hadn't changed since my father went to school there. Lunch was a certain hour and the noon hour would be lunch program. There was no hot tea. I don't know what we drank. I think we just had water for tea. And there's no way, stove in the classrooms were very cold. Tried to close all the windows so that cut the wind out from the classroom. The teacher had the privilege of their, they ate their lunch in their office, so they had tea, but student didn't have tea, I remember, just water. It was cold rice, water, rice for lunch. And everybody was the same, so we endured it. We were just lucky to have a lunch period.

MN: Actually, I do want to ask you about the growing militarism in Japan. Was that very obvious in Hiroshima?

JD: No, I think it was very typical in, whatever school you went, it was all standard, a standard system. And then we faced the Emperor in the morning, of course, before entering the classroom. Everybody'd saikeirei, which is toward the Emperor, and they'd bow.

MN: Were there soldiers on your campus?

JD: Hmm?

MN: Were there soldiers on your campus?

JD: No, no soldiers, just the teacher. And teacher, the male student teacher wore something like a uniform, some of 'em did. But more during, during the war it was more obvious to wear uniform, but during the peace time, when I first attended, the teacher was black, black clothes like university student uniform. The women students were more free, I think. They wore more loose clothing, skirt, you know.

MN: Now, while you were going to school, before the war started, were you able to contact your mother in the United States?

JD: No. There was no communication we had, and we, we had a communication from the Red Cross in summer of, early summer of 1942, and the message was a telegram saying my brother George, at age of eight, passed away in Tule Lake camp. And my father looked at it, he couldn't make sense of it. "What do you mean 'camp'? Supposed to live in Sacramento." And that's when we start to realize that they no longer lived in Sacramento, and there was no other way to find out what the camp meant. I don't know if my father knew more, but they sent to us, didn't relate any more than that, and couldn't write anyways.

MN: So just that one correspondence from the Red Cross?

JD: Yes, that's all.

MN: So, and you weren't able to go through the Red Cross and try to communicate --

JD: They, I don't know how we got, I think it got delivered to us through the mail system somehow. And I thought that very unusual. We could write to the people in the service, Japanese service. My uncle, as I mentioned, was in the Japanese service, so we used to write to them, but we couldn't say a word or send, it was just, said a general, general address and them from there they distributed it, so there'd be no information from either way, where they are, what they are doing in the service. Just saying they are well and nothing more, not much more we could say to each other.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MN: Now, many Japanese Americans in the United States remember December 7, 1941. What was it like in Japan December 8, 1941?

JD: Well, all we had was just a radio report and then the newspaper came out, and many people didn't realize where Pearl Harbor was or what, what is it, so it's, just the military people knew more than we did. And the people, general people were very ignorant about, unless they knew the geography well, but Pearl Harbor itself, Hawaii, they know about where it is, but Pearl Harbor didn't make sense to people. But anyway, the war started because of that. And there were always, on the radio there was a certain program hour there'll be a, very militaristic music would start, there'd be announcement of the war news. And at the beginning, of course, Japanese army or people are doing very well in the service, you know, every city we captured, the city we captured and bombed and so forth. All that news came through. But of course we were very happy for each other.


MN: So once the United States got into war with Japan, how did you feel about this?

JD: Well, I was just caught in the situation, as age, age ten you couldn't do much. Just horrible feeling that, not being able to see my mother and siblings again, that was sort of a sad feeling, and what's gonna happen to me now? So you couldn't do much anyway, whatever my thought was.

MN: Did you consider yourself a Japanese or an American?

JD: I was more American. I had American citizenship, and I think my father changed, made into a dual citizen, at the time you could do that, and beyond that probably just American citizen kind of stayed in the background, faded and never, never mentioned. Didn't want to get into trouble.

MN: How did the school, your education, start changing once Japan got into the war?

JD: Well, there was, there was a situation when you get into junior high school. You would be taught English as a subject, and there was an argument that they shouldn't study an enemy language, but again, there's a philosophy that came out, you have to know the enemy and doing so you got to learn their language, so there was an argument there and the junior high school I attended I had an English class available, so they taught English. And I did, I did have an uncle that taught that school, English, so he was a graduate of Waseda and was, he was an English teacher, and probably that's one reason I went to that school.

MN: Now, what would the food situation be like?

JD: That's interesting. Grammar school I think it just came, I guess there was a payment, but I never got involved in paying, so it was all my parents' doing, so I didn't, I had no concern over how they paid the school, the equipment or teacher's salaries and such had no, no relation to me. I had no, I wasn't thinking about it.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

MN: When did the government start pulling students out of the classroom to help in the factories?

JD: Okay. Yeah, that came, announcement came to us in December 1944, and I was about end of the first semester in junior high school at that time. As I mentioned, I was one year behind from regular school, so most of my students, classmates were thirteen, I was going to be fourteen at the time. So when the announcement came I was attending a municipal technical school, which is like engineering school, in city called Kure, which was a good hour and a half train distance from where I lived in the country, and when I heard the announcement I said I'm gonna change my school, transfer myself to Hiroshima to be closer. And as I mentioned, the reason I went to Kure is because my uncle taught English there and I wanted to be by him, so there was advantage there to go into that school. So then I transferred when I learned about they're gonna be conscripted to work for the war effort, and transferred to Hiroshima municipal technical school, sort of same, same category, but in the different city, and it'd be closer to home. It'll be only about half an hour on train ride for me to get to that school, so that's why I made the transition.

And so from January in 1945 I was assigned to work at the Kure, I mean Toyo koujo, Toyo factory located city of Mukainada, which is a station before Hiroshima, so it'd be, from where I lived it'd be the third station to Mukainada, for Hiroshima it'd be one station to the north. So that's where I was assigned to work, and being a technical school student, I was assigned to work one of the lathes, that was the machinery that spins and I could do carving on the, on the machinery, on a steel bar, and I'll make a round steel bar and check it with micrometer. And the reason we were assigned there to work on this particular machine is that we used to get machinery from Germany, Japan being allies, and Germany was very much advanced in machinery, so this particular factory had machinery from Germany that would make rifles, and when Germany surrendered in April 1945 we couldn't get any parts for it, so they knew that this is gonna be happening, so from January of '45 they knew that Germany had problem sending parts, so we started to make our own parts to supplant this rifle making equipment, so I was assigned to this particular machine because of that. And to work on the machinery I had to be very critical 'cause we, one in one hundred it'd come out perfect. It was that critical that it could work, so you worked under the lamp, machinery, on a stand, and you'd carve this rod as it'd spin and you'd carve it off and check it with micrometer to come out just the precise size, and that was my assignment. So I worked from eight o'clock in the morning to five in the afternoon. We had a lunch break at noon, and I took a seven-thirty train to get to Mukainada station and then walk a, maybe about a, maybe a mile or so to get to my particular station. It was a giant factory there. They made airplane parts and rifles at this factory. There were lots of girls, too, about my age worked at this factory, and the girl students were assigned to distributing oils, the various oils required in the industry like this and different grades, and also some of the girls were assigned to test a completed rifle. They'd put it on a stand and clamp it and then aim it to a certain point and make sure the bore, rifle bullet will fly correctly and make adjustment to it, and that was their assignment. And the firing range was underground, so we couldn't hear their, the sound, but... various students were assigned to various parts of the factory.

MN: So it sounds like you weren't getting an education. You were basically workers.

JD: No. We, they were completely out of, out of classroom, but we were still student status, so we had to take roll call every morning when we went to the, our factory, so we assembled in the courtyard as we do at school and our name would be called out, and students would come from various parts of Hiroshima area, outside, south, north, east, west, and assemble at the factory.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MN: Now, the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima city on August 6, 1945. Can you share with us how you started that day and what happened?

JD: Okay. Well, about a month before the bombing of Hiroshima, Kure city, as I mentioned, about hour and a half train ride from where I lived, that was like a port city that made ships and repaired ships. There was a canal, a deep canal, and so it was a very important city. Kure also had a little facility there, a school that was a academy like an Annapolis type academy school there, Etajima. So it was a very important city, so that was bombed about a month prior to Hiroshima bombing by incendiary attack, and they said, that was a night bombing and they said a city that was, took eighty years to create was wiped out in two hours by incendiary attack. And as you know the history, the city (of Dresden) was bombed by the incendiary attack and heavily damaged also. This was in also spring of 1945, and saturated bombing first and then second raid came with incendiary attack, so all the buildings was broken now the firebomb was dropped too, so completely burn the city down to the ground. So probably similar thing happened to Kure, and so Hiroshima, it was interesting that during the four years of war we had bombing and raid, but no bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, so Hiroshima city was basically intact and it was indicated that it was about the tenth largest city in Japan, Tokyo being the number one city, down the line, Kobe and Osaka and so forth. So Hiroshima official felt that Hiroshima'd be the next target, so they start to consider that perhaps to be the next target similar to attack that was done in Kure, so the, on the August the 5th they called out for volunteers to come to the city to create a firebreak, like purposely tear rows of homes down, one lane so that the fire would be prevented from jumping from one, one side to the other, and so when that happened our teacher announced to us that on the morning of August 6th we'll be marching to the city of Hiroshima to contribute in working as a work crew to establish a firebreak avenue, so to speak. And my aunt who lived in the same village we did, she volunteered. She was nineteen years old then, so she got on the early train and went to the city, and as her story goes, she was on top of the roof when the bomb exploded. For me, I got to the train to catch a seven-thirty train, but what happened was the daily bombing we had, the train got delayed in the schedule, so it was about maybe ten, ten minutes behind schedule when I got onto it, and when they went to Mukainada I was also ten minutes behind. I rushed to my reporting station, we assembled in the courtyard, were taking roll call, and by then eight o'clock came by and by the time roll call finished, it was close to eight-fifteen.

But unfortunate thing happened to Hiroshima city is that on that morning of August 6th, about one o'clock, there was air raid. The siren went off and so people came out of bed, went to the bomb shelter. The bomb shelter was just a big ditch with heavy timber on top and the earth from below piled on top of that, and that became the bomb shelter for them. It was maybe sufficed for a regular bomb that dropped nearby and all the shamble would fall on top of them but they'll be protected below. But that air raid became a false alarm, so the all clear signal came out about one, one-thirty or one-forty-five, so they all went back to bed again. But at seven o'clock there was another air raid attack, and this time a single aircraft came by. There was an air raid siren and then imminent attack. It was short blasts went off, so everybody took cover, and sure enough the one aircraft came by, took a run around the city and weather, it became a weather reconnaissance aircraft. And if the city of Hiroshima was overcast they would just bypass and go to the next target down south as planned, to Kokura, and if that was clouded over they would go to Nagasaki, and that was their plan. But unfortunately for Hiroshima it was clouded at first, then they saw a break in the cloud drifting over, so the aircraft cranked the phone and notified the aircraft one hour behind that Hiroshima is aiming point, AP, and so the three aircraft that followed behind came and eight-fifteen appeared in Hiroshima.

And that's when I was on the courtyard. I saw these three aircraft, no siren going. Said, boy, there's an aircraft above, no siren to alarm the people to take cover, so Hiroshima, after the seven o'clock bombing raid, all clear, no siren after that, so people was outdoors going, getting to work, train and the buses, streetcars were running, and here eight-fifteen we saw, the sound of aircraft, we saw it, it's coming toward us. We watched the aircraft and as if it, to study the aircraft, the path, if it was not coming directly over you you'd be safe, so we watched for that, and it was coming toward us, but it veered away about five degrees toward Hiroshima city, but then exploded. So when I heard the, felt the hot flash, I fell on the ground, covered my eyes and ears like we were trained to do, four fingers over the eyes and thumb into the ear. This was done so that if the bomb fall near you, if it blast, there'd be, cause a vacuum around you and pop your eyeball and eardrum out, so you protect, do that, protect yourself, fall on the ground instinctively. And the flash came, and right after the flash, a flash, a bomb flash followed. All the windows on the factory blew up. Every place covered with smoke and dust. You couldn't see anything around you. Then I heard a footstep running toward the bomb shelter created for the factory workers about a thousand yards away, so I started following the footstep noise and went toward that, blindly following that noise. Then when I got to the bomb shelter, it was elevated, so I looked back into the city to see what happened and saw the mushroom cloud. And that's where the painting I did came out, come back. I saw that, and such a beautiful cloud going up and the city at the base of it was, said thirty thousand degrees centigrade, that hot, center was in the millions of degrees centigrade. So the aiming point was Aioi Bridge and that point, according to bombardier eyesight, and that's where, missed the target by about fifty yards or so, but it fell on that spot. And the bomb exploded about, oh, three thousand, three thousand feet above the ground exploded, and that was planned to do so because it would have a better coverage by exploding high in the air, and that was the way it was planned. They say the bomb weighed about two, four tons. Yeah, or was it two tons, was it? And when it released that weight the aircraft jerked up ten feet, and then it turned around and escaped from the city. And then when it exploded the aircraft, again, jerked up ten feet into the air, and that was because the bomb blast caught up with the aircraft and blew it up in the air. Far as the pilot, the Enola Gay pilot concerned he was hit by, by aircraft, anti aircraft shell, but it wasn't. It was their own bomb that pushed them up in the air. But they escaped safely and returned to, to Tinian Island.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

JD: So beyond that, of course, we escaped. I myself got into the bomb shelter and waited for instruction what to do. Then we came out the bomb shelter by curiosity, to the doorway, and looked out and saw first a victim walking like a ghost, a young lady walking with arms extended. Her clothes were hanging from her body, her hair just burned off, and was just staring straight ahead. It wasn't her clothes hanging; it was the skin hanging. I realized, oh my gosh, what happened. So we backed into the cave and started the discussion, what happened here? Why, what caused this? Said, well, imagination flies, maybe a bomb fell on a giant gasoline storage tank to do this kind of injury. We had no idea what kind of bomb it was. Then about twelve we came out again to see what's, what's going on. We saw a single aircraft, a P-31 flying around, and so another bombing raid, so we just head back into the cave. But that turned out to be a, probably a photography reconnaissance aircraft. Nothing happened. And then about three o'clock our instructor finally came to us and said, "If you're not injured, capable of walking and able to get home away from the city, you can leave," so that's when, the first time we start to leave the shelter. I got on the highway. A drove of people start to come out, and you could see them in all phases of injury and, now, statistic goes there's, as I mentioned, Hiroshima is the tenth largest city in Japan, so they had about fifty-five hospitals available for the citizens of Hiroshima, and they had two hundred doctors and about two thousand nurses available, but when the explosion happened, fifty-three hospitals disappeared. Only two hospitals survived. And out of the two hundred doctors, twenty doctors survived, and out of two thousand, only maybe fifteen out of, no, only two dozen or so nurses survived. It was that much of a damage done to the city, so enormous amount of injury done to the city. And the fire developed everywhere. They said there was about twelve forest fires all over the city, around the surrounding area, and it was, the city was in flame for two weeks or so. My father, when I left the house I mentioned we might, might be going to the city like my aunt did to help the, in the firebreak, so my father knew of my direction. But that morning my father received a friend from Osaka, came to visit him, so he played hooky and stayed home to visit his friend. That's what saved him. Otherwise he would've been in the city working like anybody else. But when he saw the flash, he saw the bomb, he came on, I don't know if I got on the bike or what, but he came to the factory, went to the gate to inquire, "Where's the students?" There was just a turmoil of panic there and nobody could say anything, so he assumed that I went to the city and he walked down the highway against the fleeing victims coming out of the city, got to the bridge and got stopped by the MPs and nobody's to enter the city because the city was ablaze, fire So then he saw another relative doing the same thing and then he walked down, downstream and then waited 'til the tide subsided and waded across the river to the city and start looking for any sign of me. And clothes were burned off, faces were burned, the nametag was burned off, so there was no way of telling who the person is, so he was going one person and, "Are you Jack? Are you Jack?" If they didn't answer he just kept on going. So he, doing so he finally returned home about, about nine o'clock at night.

For me, I went to the highway, I saw the ghost train coming out, so I ran, hopped on the train and tried to look inside. It was just shambled, injured people trying to get, escape from the city and burned, injured asking for help, water, medicine, and I didn't have anything to give them, so I'm gonna walk home, so I jumped off the train, walked home. The windows are blown out. The side that faced the bomb, all blistered, paint peeled off the train, so it just, truly a ghost train. So I walked home from there and finally reached home about six p.m., and my grandmother looking for me outside the house and saw me coming, "I'm so happy to see you. Oh, you're alive, you're safe." And then eventually I asked, where's Father?" "He went looking for you. Didn't you see him?" I said no. So then surveyed the house, all the doors in the house were down on the ground, no glass was broken, the ceiling was intact. With, with a blast of wind usually the ceiling would blow up in the air. Even the, and the heavy storage, storage door was down on the ground, but a miracle there's no glass broken. So we waited. At nine p.m. my father came home. So we talked about each other's experience and said, I said, oh, it was just walking through hell. The tank of water in front of the house for, in case of fire they could use it, but people jumped into this to escape the fire and drowned. People jumped off the bridge to escape the fire and they just, it was terrible, terrible scenery.

And then next thing we noticed, Aunt went missing. Where is she? So next morning my father and grandfather got a buggy or a cart, small cart and went to the city, going to temples, schoolyard, any place where there's assembly looking for my aunt, again, asking each person, "Are you Shizuko? Are you Shizuko?" And they kept on going until the person answered, but somehow my aunt woke up and heard some noise and answered back, so she picked her up, "You must be Shizuko." They put her on the cart, brought her home. But no doctor, no hospital, no medication, so my grandmother baked a baked potato, mashed it and used that mashed potato as a bandage to put on the burn. So half of her body, because she was on a roof taking tile off when she heard the sound I did, looked up, poof. Exploded. She was about a mile from the hypocenter, so... I have a picture of her, how she recovered. And she's still alive. She's eighty-five now and she was doing the same thing I'm doing, talking to reporters and television stations, and she was nineteen years old, "This is what happened to me." And she came here in 1964, sponsored by the Quaker religious group. Went to San Francisco, went to, through United States, went to England and Germany to show her scars, how she was injured by the bomb. Her hand fused together, so she had to operate to separate her fingers. She could never use, stretch her fingers apart, always stretched, and her arm was always bent like this, and the keloid on her arm and the body, and she had a lot of surgery done, transplant surgery, and made her face look better, which her mouth is twisted and eyes are twisted. But she tried to commit suicide twice and we saved it, "Don't do it." And her husband finally came home from the service. He was officer in the Japanese army, taken as a prisoner in the South Pacific islands, and he finally came home and came to my, his wife and said, "I don't want you to die. I went to the war to end the war, to save people's lives." And so they lived together, they have three children. We always worry about the injury and the children that were born. So far the children's okay except one boy had an aneurism about five years ago and he's barely recovering now, and there's a daughter that married and she never bore any children, and I don't know if it's because of the radiation injury from the mother or not, so that's a big question mark always. And for myself, I married. I told my wife at the time that I'm a hibakusha and may never know what my outcome will be, but so far we don't have any children. My brother is a, in nuclear physics, worked in Livermore. He had one son and that's about all, he lived.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

MN: Jack, how far were you from the hypocenter?

JD: Hmm?

MN: How far were you from the hypocenter?

JD: From my aunt?

MN: No, you. How far were you?

JD: Oh, about three miles. Three miles from hypocenter. That's where the Mukainada Toyo koujo was located, three miles. Two and a half miles the critical area, they say. But so I've been checked by, the doctors from Hiroshima come every two years. They'll be coming this summer again, and the reason is to see how we are changing as a survivor of Hiroshima. And in 2001 they found I had prostate cancer cropping up, moving very fast, so I said to everybody have 'em take care of it right away, so I had an operation in 2001 in the fall. I had that taken up, and right now from a medical, every year I go and check up on my operation. Said it's down to zero now, so, "You're okay, so you don't have to come up anymore." So that's my news. But they said I have a thyroid condition and a liver condition you have to be careful of. That's what I've been watching.

MN: Do they think that is connected with the A-bomb?

JD: Hmm?

MN: Do they think that is connected with the A-bomb, your thyroid?

JD: Well, that's the typical condition of the hibakusha, thyroid, liver, blood pressure. Leukemia is a major problem they have, so it's one of the items that they keep on checking that is the cause of, they seen to be the cause, everybody has it, but for the hibakusha it seems to more in frequency and more in the younger age, this condition, so double alert for hibakusha. And I was able to obtain a medical certificate that I could travel to Japan and get a free treatment if I needed, but now they have it so that they made it into international affair that if I'm traveling around the world and if I get, become ill I could go to a certain hospital in any country and get free treatment, long as you have your certificate with you. Looks like a passport, you just show it to them and it has a certain number on it, name on it, and the, what the cause of having the certificate, and you'll probably get a free treatment.

MN: How do you feel about, you know, having this condition and living with it? How do you feel about that?

JD: Well, it's, of course, every day is a, long as every morning get up in the morning, oh, I'm still alive, fine. So I do whatever I can to watch my diet. When the medical team comes they're very critical about your body weight. They said, I was over one thirty-five pounds, they said, "You're obese." I said, one thirty-five pounds I'm obese? I'm one thirty-four right now, and I reached one forty one time, said, "You're, you're eating too much." [Laughs] So got to watch yourself, physical exercise is very essential. So I'm, fortunately, very athletic, so I enjoy exercise. And so far I've been very, very lucky so far, good condition, so I don't worry about it until, every day's a good day for me. No use worrying about it, just have to watch for it.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

MN: I want to ask you a little more about the day of the bombing. When, the instant the bomb went off you went down on the ground.

JD: Yes.

MN: But how did that feel like? Did you feel the blast?

JD: Well, I weighed about a hundred pounds then probably, but I felt, when the blast, the blast wind came I was floating in air. I felt that way. And as you, as I mentioned, all the factory window was blown out, so it was that strong of a blast. The building stood intact, so nothing will -- they said ten miles away some window cracked and broke, so that was that strong of a blast. They say people felt that intense blast ten miles away, and even fifteen miles away they thought they sensed the flash of the, in the air, you know the... even the blind person said they could, they felt the sensitivity of the, the brightness. Said ten times brighter than the sun, said of the flash, so it's a tremendous explosion. And I didn't feel that heat that much, by then probably dissipated quite low, but at the ground zero, the thirty thousand degree centigrade, they said a steel rod will melt at a thousand five hundred degrees, so it must've horrendously -- and there was a Shima building, Shima Hospital, right at the base, base point. It completely disappeared and anybody in the hospital just disintegrated. They couldn't find any trace of it, so it just, it was that intense of heat. Of course, you see photograph of the shadow image against the concrete walls and walkways and so forth, even a shadow of a horse, horse and wagon, it's still on the ground at the ground zero area, so it was that type of intensity.

MN: Now, you said before you went into the shelter you looked and you saw the mushroom cloud.

JD: Yes.

MN: Did you see the black rain?

JD: No. Black rain comes, it was, first the mushroom is created and then that starts to dissipate, becomes a cumulous cloud, and that's when the black rain starts and the thunder and rain starts. And then, depending on which direction, if you're down, downwind, that's where you, if you're upwind you're safe 'cause it's flowing that way, so it was moving away from me if anything. So, and even people who were injured, like my aunt, she, I don't know how she, well, she said was blown off the roof and said she probably crawled and ran to whatever, away from the center point, and she didn't get the radiation sickness that we experienced, but it's just the burn that she got very badly. So people without injury, when they were doused by the black rain they became ill. They start to, their hair start to fall, they start to bleed from the gum, and then they will die a few days later, so that black rain had an enormous amount of radiation in it that was harmful for the body.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MN: Your father went into Hiroshima city that day.

JD: Right.

MN: Did he get radiation poisoning?

JD: He lived to age ninety, and that was amazing for, for me to encounter that. No, so he must never have got that rain on him. He was just downwind, I mean he was upwind and the wind went in the opposite direction, and somehow in the search he never got doused by the rain. I never really talked to him about which area he was in, if he got doused by the rain, never mentioned that. He probably didn't know anyway if he did. He probably could get up to only a certain point because tremendous fire was going in the city, and he could just travel where he was safe to travel and tried to look for me and just guessed which direction I was. But he came home about nine p.m., as I mentioned.

MN: What did Hiroshima city look like in the weeks after the bombing?

JD: Well, see, the war ended, let's see, April 15th and then surrendered beginning of September. My school started in the first week of September, so we got a notice that school opened so you could go back to class, so I took the train, went to, back to Hiroshima, and it just, it was still smoldering and it, of course, burned for two weeks and started to dissipate, so... people were dying constantly, so they were always having funeral pyre, you know being, people being burned in the city, so you'd smell the stench of the body. It smelled like, when you eat or heat up a dry squid, had that kind of smell in the air. It was a fish smell. And so we're, from the Hiroshima station we had to walk about five miles, and away going south, northeasterly, and just near, almost the direction of the factory was, across the river, they called it Shinonomecho, was the area where our school located. There was the Hijiyama Mountain not too far from the campus. Our school was still standing, but no windows. The ceiling was blown up and on the wall all the glass that broke was standing against the wall, like a thrown knife against the wall, and that was the situation. So we had class there September, October, and then winter came. We had snow drifting into the classroom and you had, our lifestyle there's no shoes, so barefoot in classroom. We'd make sure that we don't, we cleaned the floors so we don't, there'll be no glass to step on, and no window, no glass was available at that time yet. It didn't get repaired 'til maybe a year later. No books, no pencils, it was just a lecture class we had, just assemble, took roll call. And then only class held for maybe half a day. We got there about eight-thirty, nine o'clock in the morning and then left there about one o'clock. So afternoon was free to what you want to do, but it was just a flat, flat area, nothing standing 'cause the fire just cleaned the city up. They said it looked like atomic desert is one of the comments they made 'cause to stand on one edge of the city, you could see twenty miles across the city without any, it was a flat city. So that's how it was, just a rubbles. It just, burned items just accumulated, street was cleared by the, for traffic purpose, and they slowly start to clean up the city for, to building. They were warning the people that you couldn't, shouldn't live there for a hundred years because of radiation, but people who lived there had nowhere else to go, so they started coming back and found their location where they used to be and started making shacks, whatever they gathered to make shack to live under. Probably the water they drank was contaminated, but they were no wiser, so probably a lot of people died because of that contamination and illness. So when I went back to Japan about twenty years after the bombing, I started looking for my classmates and every time I'd knock on a door said, "Oh, he passed away long time ago," so students who went to school and lived in the area, some had contaminated by that, by the surrounding atmosphere, and died. So I think of, so if I tried to have a class reunion now nobody would show. It was a very sad situation. Yeah.

MN: When you talk about school, you, they started school the month after the bombing and you said you have, there's no school supplies.

JD: That's right.

MN: You had lectures. What did you guys, what kind of lectures were these?

JD: Well, whatever the teacher could assemble. And for our class grade any kind of news, I remember start to mention about the atomic bomb and the theory of atomic bomb principle that, and we're in the age group by then, seventeen, sixteen, seventeen years old, so start to understand what it entailed and the situation of the world. And anything we could do to hold a class, and we had books that were able to obtain somehow. The teacher had it somewhere and they used to distribute books to read. That's one of the, first time I think, came across reading a book on Faust, you know, German story, and so a lot of books was somehow available, started to come out on the market, you could buy on the black market or so forth, and started reading those, reading assignment. And then within about a, as the school got cleared and building structure get cleaned up more we start to have more classes pertaining to engineering, we start to have drafting class, pen and ink, and in those days we had ink drawing, so we used to do that. And I still have some, we have books at home that I had that I never took to class because we were, we didn't go to class 'cause we went to factory to work, so our books were intact at home, so we used to bring those to class and review them. So that was available. Yeah, there was a black market throughout the city. You were amazed at the black market started to come out in the city and people trying to make, make a living again. And there was condition like people wanted to buy sugar but there's no sugar, but people does it as, they grind glass, mix it with sugar and people eat, eat this sugar and use it and die, and there was that type of situation, so you had to be very careful with the black market situation. But people just doing anything they can to make, make money.

MN: Now, at that time, were you aware that Nagasaki been bombed?

JD: Yes.

MN: When did you get that news?

JD: Matter of fact, it was three days later, so we didn't, we didn't know too much about Nagasaki. It was too distant away. Communication was poor to us, and we were just trying to establish ourselves in our own way. Probably, probably the politicians, city officials were interested to help each other out any way, and of course there's many, many victims were being treated in the Hiroshima hospital that was created. I think people were being transferred from Nagasaki to Hiroshima because they, they were very behind in their creation of the hospital. And we had more help from the United States for the people of, hibakusha to be helped, Red Cross and so forth. And I know my aunt was transported back and forth to hospital to get plastic surgery done on the injured part, and there's also a Hiroshima maiden who was transported to the United States to be helped by the people, to see what they could do to the injured people, so that type of thing was going on as well. So as each day went by we tried to improve the situation. People tried to get back to, back on their foot. Soldiers were returning from the war zone area, train was always packed, and even as a student traveling you could hardly get onto the train because the train was so full, so we're just hanging onto the doorway to try and commute.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

MN: When did you first start seeing the U.S. occupational forces coming in?

JD: The occupation force in Hiroshima came about the third, fourth week in Japan. Kaita area, which is, our area Higashi-Kaita-mura, there's a station Nakano-mura Kaita Eki, and then Mukainada, so the Kaita area became one, one camp for the occupation force. So my father who wanted to work, as I mentioned, became interpreter. He applied for a job there and took the exam, passed it, and became interpreter for the Armed Forces, and because of his expertise and knowledge of the people around there he became supervisor to hire workers to assemble at the camp, to make barracks for the soldiers, and then that became the main work for him, so he was hiring people from Japan, citizens to work. So we, and in that way my father did very well, in getting acquainted with the, the armed forces, and I remember inviting the soldiers to our home at night for dinner.

MN: So there was no hostility towards the United States that dropped this bomb on Hiroshima?

JD: At the beginning there's no thought process of that. Everyone was just trying to recover from the war damage. They're trying to get their lives together. As I mentioned, soldiers coming back from the war zone. There was one case I heard, one of my relatives in Echigo area, there's, near the airport, Narita Airport area, they said they got the news during the war that their son passed away in the war, died in the war, so they gave up, they had a funeral for him and so forth. And then after the war there was a knocking on the front door and there was this disheveled man standing and said, "I'm your son and just got back from war." The mother went to open the door, screamed and ran back, said she saw a ghost there. So the father came back and started talking to him, and indeed he was their son, they just, somehow the message got crossed, so there was that type of story. But he came back so... body was so broken up in the war and starvation and all that he didn't live too long after he got home. But there's stories like that, just, people just trying to get back into their homes. Probably a lot of people, soldiers came back and their home was just diminished, family scattered, they don't know where they were. And orphan living on the street, a lot of shoe shine boys came out and they were trying to make a living. It was really a horrible scene to see, a country lost the war, all the, the poor sight of the injured people, injured people, the soldiers that came back. Hospitalization was poor, money was not there. So devastated.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

MN: Now, in that situation, how did you feel when you first heard that Japan had lost the war, that Japan was surrendering? How did you feel about that?

JD: Well, the story that we all gathered around the radio when the Emperor made announcement that, he didn't really say, "We surrender." He said, like apology from him that we have, there'll be no more continuation of this activity from the government, and it never mentioned the word surrender, but people knew what he meant. We were, before the end of the war we were being trained and stigmatized that we will not, Japan is a country that we don't, we don't think about prisoners. We don't think about surrender. We're gonna fight to the death, and we were trained to bamboo attack, the village people, against the machine gun, and that's how we were, mentality was, so when you heard this emperor speak that we won't continue this war it was a relief for sure, but then, people who had lost a son and father at war really grieved of this. I mean, I understand some of the officers committed suicide then, that they couldn't take the agony that we surrendered or came to this point. Such a, such a stigma in their minds of Japan's a country that never surrenders, so that was throughout the air in the atmosphere of Japan. And of course, a lot of people tried to get back on their feet in any way they can, and the food was scarce anyways, so they start to kind of, from the city or whatever, whatever they had, they'd go spread out the city to find food from the farmer, barter for food from the clothes they had, whatever valuables they had, give to the farmers to exchange for food, rice, vegetables, whatever they could. So it was a really, atmosphere of really a strange atmosphere, situation. Sad situation, for sure.

MN: Having lived through something like this, did you have nightmares?

JD: I'm frequently asked, but I, maybe we try to shut it out of our mind. Fortunately for me, we lived in the country, we were farmers, so we had no starvation problem. It's the city folks that really suffered. And our, both of our uncles, my aunt's husband came home and then my uncle came home eventually from, and came home without injury. He said he was in the South Pacific also, and battalion, Hiroshima Battalion, he was a (flag bearer), and came home and start to, and then married. He married his cousin, and it was a typical thing to do, I guess, in Japan. And so she was a schoolteacher and he used to work for the Kirin beer company, so he was rehired by, so for him it was okay to get, get back on his feet, and he'd commute on a bicycle, just outside, this side of Hiroshima city. So, and living in the same house we did, there was a room above the barn, so to speak, so he lived there, made a home for himself there and gave birth to a couple children there after they married. So I was in the, in the role of babysitting after the baby was born. [Laughs] I had a baby on my back and studying or cooking rice, so that was a mode of such a Japanese style of living.

MN: Now, you're still very young. You're still in, you're about fourteen at this time.

JD: Yeah, when the war ended.

MN: And your father was working for the occupational forces.

JD: Yes.

MN: Did you have any contact, did you work with the U.S. occupational forces?

JD: You mean through United States?

MN: When you were in Japan, since you spoke English.

JD: Oh, yeah, I was able to work kind of a minor translator, and I didn't get paid. I'd just, just go there and help out because I could translate and it was very helpful for them when they were making the rounds, doing search, research, security type thing. I mentioned about my uncle who was teaching English, and my father wanted to hire him, so when he'd write he'd, just beautiful English, grammar, grammatically correct. When he started to speak he couldn't speak it, speak the language. [Laughs] 'Cause it doesn't connect from the sound of, what the daily sounds sound like to what his writing, so we couldn't hire him, so very disappointing that. But he remained a teacher until he retired.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

MN: Now, at this point in your life, what did you want to do, remain in the United, I mean, in Japan, or go back to United States?

JD: Well, I wanted to get back to United States. That was my goal, and I asked my father to, to help me in that effect and start communicating with the United States. I know my mother, my mother's here, my grandfather on my mother's side was here, so I started to write to them, try to get a paper document straightened out, all the documents I've lost in Japan because of the bombing and the building being burned, so only way was proof from the United States saying indeed I'm the, I am the son of my mother, who lives in the Sacramento area now, but she lived in L.A. then. So from all this communication I was able to get, get back to United States. Took me about three years to get back. So when I came back I stayed, beginning of 1948 I was seventeen then, so when I came back then I went, my English was poor, so I went to grammar school. They said, "No, you're too old for grammar school. Go to high school here and take exam. See what you can do." So I did go to high school and, and then for, somehow passed the exam, so three years high school, Sacramento Senior High School I went to. I graduated in two and a half years, and even applied for valedictorian, kind of a, my grade was good enough for that. So I mentioned my sister's a year and a half younger, so I graduated with my sister. Everybody thought we were twins. [Laughs] But my mother knew. "No, we're not twins." But then went to City College together and my sister and I graduated City College together, in architecture field. I went to Sacramento City College one year and L.A. City College for second year 'cause they had a better architecture department there. And then when I graduated from L.A. City College I worked for Douglas Aircraft in El Segundo.

And then worked for about four months when I got a letter from the government greeting, "You're drafted into the service." [Laughs] Korean conflict, so I reported to Fort Ord, so I went to Fort Ord. So then in Fort Ord I take another exam and it's a test pass as bilinguist, and they need a Japanese American, Chinese American, Russian American, and American who wants to study Japanese, so we're sent to Arlington, Virginia, for language school. Then when I got to Arlington the quota got filled for my particular school, so I went to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, (Corps of Engineers), and finished my basic training in the remainder as Corps of Engineers. And then my background said I was a swimmer from Los Angeles City College, so they pulled me out of the rank and sent me to school as a water safety instructor, so I went to a place, forget the name. Quantico? Not Quantico, (Anacostia Naval Station) Washington, D.C. naval school, they had a pool there, training for water safety instructor, and the purpose is that when you jump ship you could have your clothes on so you could survive by inflating your clothes, and that's how I, and also lifeguard training at the school. So out of the hundred and twenty people applied from, the WACs and WAVES, Marine, Air Force, and so forth, a hundred twenty of us, only about two dozen passed it, so I was able to pass the course. So I was assigned to Fort Belvoir and assigned to officer's pool at Fort Belvoir, so I had a pretty plush job as a lifeguard at the pool at Fort Belvoir.

MN: Let me ask you about Hiroshima. When you returned to the United States, when did you first go back to Hiroshima and how did that feel like?

JD: Went back maybe twenty years after came back to United States. I don't think it's, I'd just got my license then, I think, and I went back to Hiroshima. And one thing they noticed that I never grew tall compared to all the cousins, taller than I was, and maybe, my grandma said, "Because you suffered so much in Japan, the hardship you endured, you never grew taller." But I think it's just a gene. My brother's about the same age I am, only he went to camp. He had a rough life there probably. So that's, that was my experience in Japan.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

MN: I wanted to ask about your family here in the United States who were put in camp. Did your mother ever talk about what her camp experience was like?

JD: No. I really never got to talk too much about it. I've got a picture of her, one picture of her in camp. And she, as I mentioned, she was pregnant when we went to, when my father and I went to Japan, so the baby was born November of '41 and she's, so my mother had four children to take care of. Fortunately, she had her parents there, so they stayed with her and wherever they moved they all moved together. They went to Tule Lake first from Sacramento, went to Jerome, Arkansas... Rohwer and Jerome, Arkansas, and then finally went to Amache and they came out of there when the war ended, so they had quite a bit of moving. And then my mother also had this sister, my aunt, they kind of lived together and was close to get in contact, so that was her group that they stayed together. And out of that her youngest brother, my mother's youngest brother went to service, not 442nd, but one of the, he went to service and served in the Philippines and then occupation force in Japan, so I got to see him in Japan when he came to Japan. He was nineteen years old then. And, no, was it nineteen? Yeah, it, my uncle -- no, couldn't have been. Yeah, he, I guess he was nineteen. Little over, yeah, about twenty, twenty or twenty-one.

MN: Did you ever visit any of the camp sites with your mother or your siblings?

JD: What, other?

MN: Did you ever visit any of these camp sites with your mother or your siblings?

JD: No -- oh, I went to Topaz one time. That was the only one I went. I never got interest in going to Tule Lake. My brother said he drove up there. Went to Topaz just two of us, my wife and I went there one time. And then went a bus trip to Topaz; that was the second time then, went to Topaz. Manzanar, I went there couple of times, but that's quite recently I went there.

MN: Having, having viewed what Topaz looked like and Manzanar, what are your thoughts?

JD: Well, it, my interest was, gee, what the people have gone through. I just wanted to see what, what the site looked like. I read about it and the horror of it, the season and so forth, and yeah, I just wanted to see how horrible it was. And truly the, whatever you see in the museum, you could feel the, the sadness of people broken down, losing all their properties and so forth. I could, whenever I read an article about the camp life I really relate to it.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

MN: Now, going back to Hiroshima, I wanted to ask you what your thoughts are on the status of nuclear weapons around the world. Have we learned from Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

JD: Yeah, whenever I give a talk, there's a little poem on the Peace Park that says, "Please rest in peace, for this error shall never be repeated again," and I try to relate that, that feeling to whenever I talk to people and educate the people the horror of atomic bomb and what it does to people. It's almost like a weapon with poison gas in it because the radiation affected the, do to the bodies, and it is declared as a poison gas, a poison weapon. In Japan, when they surrendered they, they protested the Geneva Conference that it's, it was a, weapon against Japan was a poison, poisonous weapon. But of course, Japan lost the war, so nothing was done about it, but it is truly a weapon with poison in it, and we see the sample from the Chernobyl accident that people cannot live in that area for a hundred years because the contamination of the ground, cannot drink the milk, the cow eat the grass in the area because the contamination. And we still don't know what effect it has to human body. We're still studying it because it's something really new. We just know what it might do or kind of feel what it might do, and even when you go to the dentist to have our teeth x-rayed we are protected so that it won't affect our body 'cause only so many radiation could receive in the body, so you have to be very careful. So that's the main message what it'll give, that if you, if you use the atomic weapon against an enemy there's no hope that you, you hit the enemy, enemy will remain there because the earth turns and whatever you affected the enemy will come right back to you as the nuclear count. So it's a really idiotic weapon that, if you think you're gonna win the war against the enemy, you cannot because it comes back to you.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

MN: Well, let me ask you about, you know Kanto just had, the Kanto region just had a huge earthquake and there's nuclear plants there, power plants, nuclear power plants there. Japan gets thirty percent of their power from atomic energy.

JD: That's right.

MN: What are your thoughts about that?

JD: Well, all countries have it now, Germany, the United States have it, too. They have nuclear plants and so forth, and whenever those things are built you always worry about the accident that's gonna happen from the, the element from the, of the generators' fuel, and there's no way, no way escaping it. They, they try to say, "We built it so that nothing, no accident will happen, no injury will happen," but it still will carry because a human, it's something created by the human knowledge. And I hope that, well, today we are experiencing the, Sendai's earthquake and the nuclear plant exploding, and that radiation's eventually gonna get here, some way, one way or another, because we learned that from the Chernobyl experience, Seattle had radiation reading, so there's no way of escaping it. We just hope that we don't have it. Even from the tidal, tsunami that we experienced at the Galapagos Islands, this morning's paper, to Santa Cruz port that ships were damaged and Crescent City damaged by the tsunami 5,000 miles across the ocean. You could feel that radiation eventually gonna reach here. Might not be much, but still you might experience it then. I don't know how you're gonna try to escape from it. We'll have to do protective covering or stay indoors like we try to escape from the smog and so forth, but it's really a new type of life, lifestyle that we fear. We don't have all the answers for it. Even the nuclear arsenal we have, we don't know what's gonna happen to it when it deteriorates and eventually start to harm us. There's a scholar named, I think Richard Rhode, came out with an article in the Chronicle December that, that we're so ignorant in the United States that we even think that we don't have the weapon anymore, but we have it and we don't know where it is sometime and we don't know how to dispose of it. And his, he's praising people that... so far, since 1945 we have remained not to use the weapon, somehow we escaped using it, but there's always a threat like Pakistan, India threatening themselves to use nuclear weapons. Now we have North Korea saying that they're gonna launch a missile to United States, they have a missile they could, it would travel 7,000 miles that would go, hit Seattle, San Francisco, L.A., and Hawaii, so forth. And so we are really at that age of frightening situation. We just hope that the humanity stays intelligent enough to not to kill each other, eliminate the earth itself. That's what we will talk about to people always want to hear about my experience. I'm always invited to speak at the (San Francisco State University) philosophy class, once a semester, Professor has invited me every semester to speak and speak to class of, humanity class or sociology class given by Steven Nakajo in San Francisco. I've been invited to speak there. I just spoke about, I think beginning of this month, I was there speaking.

MN: So in your opinion, should we not build any more nuclear power plants? There's a, there's a group of people saying fossil fuel is dirty and nuclear energy is clean.

JD: Yeah, well, wish we could do that. We're getting to the point of solar energy and wind energy and so forth, and then we try to even consider from the, wave energy from the ocean to create energy, any kind of power plant, and try to not to have the nuclear energy. Of course, when it, when an accident occurs it becomes very dangerous, so we could do that, so we are, hope to get away from the nuclear energy factor. Thermal, thermal energy another one that's available to us that could, then becoming hydrogen energy, we could, they're talking about developing, so there's always research done to do something about, besides using nuclear plants. I think nuclear plant's become a very dangerous item in our life.

MN: Anything else you want to add?

JD: No, I think, just I just hope the people become, well, knowledgeable about, from the past experience and don't repeat our error again that we had done. And we constantly fish for the error every day, around the world. Middle East, Eastern area, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq area, it's always threatening, and we are, last part is that North Korea. Just hope they stay wise enough that they won't use such a weapon. Yeah. Thank you.

MN: Thank you.


JD: [Holding up an article] The title says "Sakata," even though we, I was very, had a difficult time, very difficult time in my life because of that injury and to recover from the injury, and she wanted to express to people what the atomic bomb had done to her, telling about her experience in this article. And like I mentioned, half of her body, fifty percent, the way was she faced the sound, when she heard that aircraft coming above she turned around and poof, went off, so truly half, just half, just like the sun ray hits it, just perfectly, just one side. The left side's okay; the right side was totally injured. And again, she married, remained married and raised three children, and they all went to university, so they're very intelligent children. But she did a great deal of work in Japan to, to strive for peace in the world, and she really moves me, too. I'd write to her constantly, and she has only communicated with me -- of course, I could write in Japanese and she can't write English -- so I write to her always, about once a month we write to each other and how she was doing. Now she's troubled with the arthritis and so forth, which is common, but she's still well. Her hearing's getting bad, so I don't want to talk to her on the phone, be yelling at each other. [Laughs]

MN: Does she have thyroid problems?

JD: Not that she mentioned. No, she never mentioned. Arthritic is the main, major problem and the movement of hand. Pain in her body, of course. And she often mentioned about she cooked a special sushi for, once a year to distribute to the neighborhood, and I think there's a neighborhood in her village where she lives, so she really appreciated that. A very, very active person community wise.

MN: What is your aunt's name?

JD: Her name, Abe. Shizuko Abe, renamed Dairiki, of course. Shizuko Abe. Eighty-five right now, she's five years older than I am.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.