Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Jun Dairiki Interview
Narrator: Jun Dairiki
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: March 15, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-djun-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

MN: Now, where did your family live before the war?

JD: In Japan?

MN: No, your family. Where did you live? Did you live in --

JD: Oh, we lived in San Francisco.

MN: In the Japantown in San Francisco?

JD: Yeah, right. Right. In fact, the house that I sort of grew up in for the first seven years of my life is still standing. It's on Laguna Street between Sutter and Bush. It's actually a building that has three flats in it and we lived on the very top flat, so the family below was a Japanese, and the one who lived on the, the family that lived on the first floor, the main floor, I don't know why I remember this, but they were a mulatto family. And I think the mulattos come from Louisiana somewhere. I think that, I think that's the derivation. So for whatever reason I remember that. It just stuck in my mind. I don't remember their names, nothing else.

MN: Now, you're telling me this building is still there, have you gone inside and examined what it looks like now?

JD: No. I would like to, but I haven't had the guts to go and knock on the door. [Laughs]

MN: Before the war, which grammar school were you attending?

JD: Raphael Weill. That was in Japantown basically, and most of us, the Issei families, lived in Japantown, so to speak, and so all of us pretty much went to that grammar school. And the ethnicity of it was probably mostly Japanese, maybe with a smattering of a few Filipinos and maybe Chinese. I don't remember any blacks because I think the blacks came, the African Americans, I should say, came in droves during the war years to work in the shipyards, but they really weren't physically in San Francisco before the war.

MN: Now, did you attend a Japanese language school?

JD: Yes, I did.

MN: Is it every day or just Saturday?

JD: I remember going after school. I don't remember a Saturday class, and I don't know how many days a week I went, but it was after school. It was at the San Francisco Buddhist Church, and the sensei that I remember was a reverend by the name of Sanada, Reverend Sanada, and he was my language teacher. If I had any others I don't remember their names. But that's, yeah, but I did go to Japanese language school. I hated it. I did not like going to Japanese language school, because it was after school and, you know, you want to go and have fun, not to go and go to another school, so I really fought that. But I went anyway. I don't think I learned much. [Laughs]

MN: Did your parents enroll you in anything else other than Japanese school? Did you do Nihonbuyo or ikebana?

JD: No. No, I didn't learn anything before the war. It was just a Japanese language school.

MN: Now, what about your older sisters?

JD: Okay, my oldest sister, as I mentioned, she took the classical Japanese dancing. My other sister, my mom had her take tap dancing, ballet, and piano, so that's what my second sister was told to do.

MN: So your family was able to afford having two daughters take all these different classes?

JD: Yeah.

MN: Your father --

JD: I think my mom wanted to be sure that they learned something, and so she just decided that with my oldest sister, she was gonna take Japanese dancing, and with my other sister she decided okay, maybe she should not take Japanese dancing, but maybe she should take up the American culture, which was the ballet, tap dancing, piano.

MN: That's very unusual for a Nisei to be taking ballet and tap dancing.

JD: I guess. I don't... I guess. I don't know. I don't, I don't remember if she had other, well, I think there were other friends who took that, too. I had a picture of her, but I think my niece in Chicago has that.

MN: Now, what about Sundays? Did you attend church on Sundays?

JD: I don't remember that I did. My two older sisters did, but my mother never forced it on them. But my two sisters went to two different churches, but it's because they had friends at these respective churches, and so Maggie, my oldest sister, went to the Christian church 'cause that's where all her friends were, and then Rey, my other sister, went to the Buddhist church because that's where all of her friends were. So it wasn't really a religious thing for them; it was mostly social.

MN: So your parents didn't care what churches your, their daughters --

JD: No. Not to my knowledge anyway.

MN: What did you do on your free time?

JD: I tried to play as much as I could, after school and do whatever study I had to do, but after homework was done, then you played with your friends. Yeah, that's, and then there was a YWCA in Japantown, which is still there, and it's now what they call Nihonmachi Little Friends. It's for little kids, kindergarten and all that. But I went there for activities after school, so on those days I didn't go to Nihongakuin I went to YWCA and did, participated in whatever activities they had. I don't remember what it was, but I remember going there.

MN: Now, other than the YWCA, when you were out with your friends what kind of games did you play?

JD: I don't remember what kind of games we played. I don't remember that. We might've played hopscotch. We might've played jump rope, that sort of thing, but other than that I don't remember what we did.

MN: So you're the youngest of your siblings. Who looked after you?

JD: When I was, before the war? Well, if my mom wasn't around probably one of my two older sisters.

MN: So did they take you to some of the social functions they went out to?

JD: No, no, it wasn't anything like that. If they had their social function it was strictly their social function. It did not include me. But I think they took me out to, like, the beach or wherever they, or maybe to the movies or whatever. We had a cousin who lived with us. He room and boarded with us, and I remember he took me to go see Fantasia. I don't, I remember that movie very specifically because there's a scene in there where Mickey Mouse is coming down the stairs with this bucket of water and the water is rising from the floor below, and this music was going on and it was, it was making me scared actually, and I was very frightened with that. And maybe that's why I remember that, but that's the only scene that I remember from, as a kid. I've gone to see if after that and yeah, I remember those other, when I looked at it the second or third time around, yeah, I kind of remember it, but I remember that one very specific thing. I still remember it today. [Laughs]

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