Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Art Ishida Interview
Narrator: Art Ishida
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 24, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-iart_2-01

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: Today is Wednesday August 24, 2011. We are at the Centenary United Methodist Church in Los Angeles. We will be interviewing Atsushi Art Ishida. On camera is Tani Ikeda and I will be interviewing, my name is Martha Nakagawa. Now, Art, can you share with us about your paternal grandfather? Around when and where did he arrive in the United States?

AI: It's around late 1800. He and his oldest son came to Hawaii. I have no idea which island but came to Hawaii, then worked there. I assume a few years he work then he decide to go back to Japan, but my uncle stayed at Hawaii and then a later year he moved to mainland. My understanding is that he might, came over to Seattle area first, then he worked down to Fresno area. He settled down there.

MN: And then when he settled in Fresno, is this when he called your father over?

AI: After he established himself in Fresno area, he called my father to join him in the Fresno area.

MN: And your father was the second son, the jinan, right?

AI: My father is the second son.

MN: Now how did your father come into the United States?

AI: At that particular time there was immigration law that he cannot come through legally into U.S. So he got onto one of the merchant ship and when they reached to Mexico I understand that he jumped off the ship at the Ensenada from there he walk right into U.S. and somehow he got to the Fresno area, joined my uncle.

MN: Now do you know how long your father farmed in Fresno before he decided to get a bride?

AI: I assume he was there maybe six, seven years or so before they decide to move to Los Angeles area which was in about 1924 or somewhere around there.

MN: Before we get into Los Angeles, let's stay in Fresno. And your father, do you know what year he returned to Japan to get married?

AI: Well, I was born in Fresno in 1921 so I would guess somewhere around 1918, 1919 or somewhere around there, went to Japan, got married and returned to U.S., which this time he had his passport to go Japan and re-enter the U.S. so now he's legally into U.S.

MN: Now which prefecture were your parents from?

AI: He's from the... there's an island in Hiroshima bay called Etajima and there's a village called Kirikushi, that's where our family was from.

MN: And so your parents got married in Japan and then they both came back. Now you were talking about one of your parents had an eye infection?

AI: Eye infections, which when you reach to the U.S. if you have an eye infection you cannot enter in the U.S. because health problem. But if you're first class passenger, they do not have the physical examination so you can walk right into the U.S. without, so that's what they chose. They came with the first class passenger and returned to U.S.

MN: So did they buy a first class passenger tickets or did they sneak into the first class?

AI: No, they bought the ticket and there's a lot of funny stories. I heard about it because at the time they had no idea... well, they're from the farm country and they had never been to a place in where like the first class passenger areas. So they couldn't go into the restaurant or the mess hall and have dinner, they didn't know how to order the food in the first place. So they have to stay in their cabin and everything ordered to the cabin.

MN: And now your parents are in Fresno still. In total, how many children did your parents have?

AI: Four altogether, two was born in Fresno and two was born in Compton, California.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

MN: Where were you born?

AI: Fresno.

MN: And of the brothers and sisters, where are you? Are you the oldest?

AI: I'm the oldest and the next is my brother, Takashi, he was born also in Fresno. And two younger sisters, they were born in the Compton.

MN: Now in Fresno were you delivered by a sambasan?

AI: I don't know exactly how. What I heard was in hospital but could be sambasan.

MN: Now what is your birth name?

AI: Atsushi.

MN: When did you get the name Art?

AI: After I returned from Japan, so that would be in 1937. One of the friend just gave me that name Art. And in fact that when I went to school or anywhere nobody could pronounce my name Atsushi so I started using Art.

MN: Now when you were a child, what is the first language that you learned? Was it Japanese or English?

AI: Well, being on a farm I guess learned Japanese from parents more likely.

MN: So when you went to grammar school did you have problems understanding the teacher?

AI: I have no idea on that. You know, being children, I don't think so because there was three family in that farm and there was three or four about the same age kids that we played together so I assume we were kind of mixed, some Japanese English.

MN: Now do you know why your father decided to leave Fresno for southern California?

AI: I have no idea.

MN: Did your uncle come down with your parents?

AI: Yes, they did everything partnership.

MN: So from Fresno, where did they first go in southern California?

AI: When first they arrived to Los Angeles area they worked at lumber yard in Long Beach. I don't know how many year until they found the farm to do their farming.

MN: And where did they find the farming grounds?

AI: That's in Compton, California.

MN: And in Compton, this is where your younger two siblings were born, is that right?

AI: Yes.

MN: What kind of crops did your parents raise in Compton?

AI: Well, they were raising just about everything, onions, celery, whatever the green they can raise over there.

MN: So that's what farmers used to call truck farming crops?

AI: Right.

MN: Can you share with us some of the memories that you have of your life on this farm in Compton?

AI: You know I was so young then. I was there until eight years old and then the uncle took me to Japan but all I can remember is we used to just run around and play, that was our life.

MN: When you say run around and play, did you run around after the wildlife, the jack rabbits?

AI: No, just the same age friends that we had, we'd play games with them.

MN: What kind of games did you play?

AI: I can't remember. We were chasing around, there were some boys and girls mixed.

MN: Within yourselves did you mainly talk Japanese or English?

AI: You know, that age I have no idea. I can't remember what we were talking.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

MN: Which grammar school did you attend?

AI: I went to Gardena Elementary School, I started there.

MN: What was the racial makeup of Gardena Grammar School?

AI: I think few Japanese, because Japanese population wasn't that big then back in... late 1920. Although we did have a Japanese school so there was some, but compared to now I would say percentage wise I think it wasn't that big a percentage for Japanese population.

MN: So was the other rest of the population Caucasian?

AI: Caucasians.

MN: How did you do academically in grammar school?

AI: [Laughs] You had to ask that. I guess I was kind of talkative in a class and I used to sit in the corner on a high stool. Otherwise, that's about all I can remember in that school wise. Academically I don't know, probably not too good.

MN: Is this the school that had the big walnut tree in the front?

AI: No, that was in the Japanese school.

MN: Tell me about Japanese school. Did you go every day or after school or on Saturdays?

AI: Every day after school we used to go to Gardena Elementary with the bus and the bus would take us to Japanese school on the return trip, then they'll drop us. From Japanese school the parents have to come after us because bus will not pick up from the Japanese school because bus was for the Gardena Elementary School.

MN: Who paid for this bus?

AI: I guess the school. So tax money I assume.

MN: So this bus picked you up in the morning, took you to Gardena Grammar School, picked you up, went to... sent you to Japanese school and after that your parents picked you up?

AI: Right.

MN: And this is where the big walnut tree was?

AI: Yes.

MN: Did you eat a lot of walnuts?

AI: Oh, yeah, we did. We'd pick off the ground, we didn't pick off the tree, what's on the ground.

MN: How did you crack the walnuts?

AI: Probably rock.

MN: And then so on Saturdays and Sundays did you have to help on the farm? I know you're very young.

AI: Never helped on the farm. Playing was our day at work.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

MN: Can you tell us a little about your parents' farm? Like how many acres was it?

AI: I don't know. I was only eight years old or so. Probably somewhere in twenty to forty acres that area was.

MN: Were there tractors at the time or was it all horse?

AI: No, no tractors, horse.

MN: What about your mother, what did she do?

AI: She work in the field, just like all the Japanese farm.

MN: And your mother also did the cooking?

AI: You know, dinner she did. But the breakfast and lunch my father did.

MN: What did your father cook for breakfast and lunch?

AI: I have no idea. I don't remember.

MN: What do you remember of your mother's cooking?

AI: I don't remember.

MN: Do you remember if it was Japanese food or American?

AI: Yes, definitely.

MN: So you had rice and shoyu?

AI: Yes.

MN: Did your father like to drink?

AI: Oh, yeah. He'd brew his own sake.

MN: How did he brew the sake?

AI: With rice and kouji.

MN: And where did he store this?

AI: There's a little dark area in the house, storage area. That's why he used to cook breakfast and lunch because he could come home and have that cup of drink.

MN: Did either of your parents smoke?

AI: I can't remember, I don't think so.

MN: Were your parents involved with the Hiroshima Kenjinkai?

AI: He might. But for me, no idea.

MN: At that age do you remember going to any of the picnics, the Hiroshima Kenjinkai picnics?

AI: No, I don't remember.

MN: Now your house had a lot of guests stay over a short time and then leave. Who were these people and why did they come over to your parents' house?

AI: Well, all these people, my house was like central station. People that walked from Mexico, they stop at our house because it's between central Cal and south so it's a good stop place. Then my father provide them with, if they need cash, he'll provide them cash then he sent them to where ever they wanted to go. So they all came by there because my father had experienced his own, he'd walk in, so in that case he was very generous to people.

MN: Now around 1927 or '28 your father bought a car. Can you share with us about this car?

AI: Yeah, the car name I can remember says called that Oakland. Up to that point most of the car we had was canvas top, open on the side. Well, this car is all boxed in with the glass windows so it was something new to us and we were so proud of it. First when he brought the car home we asked him to take us to drive, I remember that.

MN: Now was this a brand new car?

AI: No, it's not a brand new car. It's a used car but still different from everybody the car they had because it's closed in.

MN: So you asked your father to take you for a ride. Where did he take you?

AI: I can't remember. He just drove around the ranch area.

MN: Did your family go on drives on the weekends?

AI: We used to go to, yeah, I remember that, we used to go to downtown L.A., the so-called Little Tokyo now on the weekends.

MN: What did you call it back then?

AI: I don't know but I know a lot of Japanese gathered. We had funeral, whatever, weddings was all done here in the Little Tokyo area.

MN: Now since your folks lived near the ocean, did your parents go fishing?

AI: He loved the fishing. He used to go fishing, he used to go octopus hunting out in the... I remember that now that Palos Verdes area there's a road going off the cliff down to the bottom. And when I came back and returned to L.A. area I saw that and I says, oh, there that road is I remember that, still there.

MN: So were you to eat a lot of octopus and what kind of fish did your parents...

AI: Those days a lot of mackerel, plentiful mackerel then.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

MN: Now in the late 1920s your father and uncle made a profit with dry onions. Can you share with us that story?

AI: Yes, the one year they planted dry onions and when they harvest there was, price was way down in the market and they couldn't make anything from that price. So there was one barn nearby our farm so they leased the barn and they hung all the onions in there to dry it. And they wait until the price came up and fortunately price really jumped up the way I understand so they really made money on that onion. And that's when my uncle decide to go back to Japan, retire, and that's when he took me and my brother to Japan with him. What I heard from mother later is that he... my father really didn't want to send us to Japan but in a Japanese custom the chonan has say and what he says goes. So he took us, not my father sent us, and that was 1929.

MN: And you were eight years old?

AI: I was eight years old.

MN: So when learned that you had to go to Japan with your uncle how did you feel?

AI: No idea at the time. I don't know where Japan is, I have no idea where we're going and uncle is more like father to me anyway. We all lived together in one house and after I was born what I understand was that he took me into his bed rather than Mother took into the bed. In Compton I remember I was sleeping with him and my brother was in my parents' bedroom. So he was more like a father so what he says we didn't argue we just went along.

MN: So other than your uncle and yourself, who else made the trip with you?

AI: Just three of us, my brother and uncle.

MN: So this brother is the next youngest?

AI: He's right below me.

MN: And then your sister and the youngest brother wasn't born yet? But the sister stayed.

AI: No, two sisters.

MN: Two sisters.

AI: One brother, two sisters.

MN: And then where did you leave from?

AI: I think we left from San Pedro.

MN: Were you in first class, second class?

AI: No, third class.

MN: What was it like being a passenger in third class?

AI: Being kids really did not bother us but I remember we called that, in Japan they call that kaikodana, means silkworm stacked bed. And I think it was about three stacks in a bed.

MN: So did the ship stop in Hawaii?

AI: Yes, we did stop in Hawaii and my uncle went out and bought some banana, green banana. And I says, "Why green?" He says, "Well, this will ripe right away so we'll finish the whole banana before we reach Japan." But he bought so green and I guess we were going to Japan, that was in 1929, either January or February, so weather is kind of cool so banana never ripe so we never got to eat one banana.

MN: And how many days were you on the ship?

AI: Well, those days was still two weeks. Seven days to Hawaii, seven days from Hawaii to Japan.

MN: So for two weeks the bananas were still green?

AI: No, one week, Hawaii we already spent seven days.

MN: So did you get seasick?

AI: I assume I did but I don't know. I usually get seasick first two days after you leave the harbor then I get seasick. Then after that it's okay.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

MN: Now where did you land in Japan?

AI: Yokohama.

MN: What was your first impression of Yokohama?

AI: No idea.

MN: What was one of first things they made you do when you arrived in Japan?

AI: Well, the funny is when you go to Japan it seems like all the children get the boil and it gets real itchy, eventually you scratch and they'll get infected. And to prevent that they said, "Eat lot of tofu." So I remember we're eating a lot of tofu on the first day in the Yokohama hotel. But we didn't have a boil then but when we got on the train from Yokohama to Hiroshima, boils start coming out. I would start scratching and I had that problem for a few years in Japan, first three or four years.

MN: Was it something to do with the water?

AI: You know, I don't know why the adults don't get but only the children gets that. And it wasn't just us. I talked to a lot of the others, the same thing. I guess just the weather change caused that.

MN: Now when you got Hiroshima, who did you live with your mother's side or your father's side?

AI: I lived with the uncle and my grandparents.

MN: And where did they live?

AI: Hiroshima.

MN: Near the city?

AI: In the city, yes.

MN: In the city.

AI: Yeah, in the middle of the city.

MN: Did you get to meet your mother's side at all?

AI: Not at the time. Probably did but I don't remember.

MN: When you first arrived in Hiroshima, how much Japanese did you speak?

AI: I don't think very much. Probably we may not even call Japanese. [Laughs]

MN: Did you get teased by the other kids because you were from America?

AI: Yes, mostly by clothing that we wear. We took the apron pants and jeans and so forth. You never see that in Japan. And I assume we were talking funny too because probably mixing some of the English in it and the Japanese word may not be like in Japan. Even here we have all the Niseis and Sanseis they kind of talk funny Japanese, funny accent and I assume that's what it is so they immediately start teasing us from first day they saw us and they start teasing us. And I remember that I got home and I complained to my auntie that I don't want to wear this clothes anymore. They've been calling us all kinds of names.

MN: When you say "eipuron pantsu," that's the overalls?

AI: Overalls, they used to call it apron pants because of the apron in the front.

MN: Now what about the teachers? How did they treat you?

AI: There wasn't any difference I don't think because in Japan in those days there's fifty students in the class. And the teacher cannot be teaching one student separately. I don't think they'll even see who's who there out of the fifty people in the classroom.

MN: Now what grade were you put into?

AI: I was, my age I was supposed to go into second but I guess my Japanese wasn't good enough so I got put into first grade with my brother together.

MN: How did that feel like to be in the same class as your younger brother?

AI: I didn't like it but not much I can say. I had to do what they say.

MN: So you know the other students are teasing you, did you get into a lot of fights?

AI: I didn't really have a so-called fight but I guess I had been older, one year older than classmate so in that respect I had more of a... I guess my brother was teased more than I did because he was smaller and younger. It really didn't bother me much what they say but the clothing really bothered me.

MN: Did a lot of the teasing stop after you got more Japanese clothing?

AI: Yes, eventually they stopped. I guess I start talking like them and I start wearing clothes like them so then teasing stopped.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

MN: Can you share a little bit about what school in Japan was like? How did the day start? What was it like?

AI: Well, Japan school system is more strict than the U.S.. You get to school first thing in the morning, everybody lined up in the playground and we used to have what they call radio exercise. They turned the radio on, everybody do the same exercise the whole from first grade to six grade everybody's out there. And that's your first things before you go into a classroom and as far as the classroom goes there wasn't that much but they're more restrictive and rigid teaching wise.

MN: Did you still have the rajio taiso when it rained or snowed?

AI: No, not when it's rain. When you mention that I think we did something in hallway. I can't remember exactly what but rainy day we used to do exercise or something in the hallway.

MN: How about like did you have to bow to the emperor's direction?

AI: Yes, that's first before even exercise starts. So when you line up, face to the east where the emperor was, then you sing the national song, then your exercise starts after that.

MN: Did you also have to recite the Kyoiku Chokugo?

AI: Yeah, we start learning that as the grade goes. First grade you don't know, you can't even count the number when the first grade ends but eventually yes.

MN: Did you have to recite that every day?

AI: Every day.

MN: Did you understand what you were reciting?

AI: No, just copying everybody else.

MN: So do you still remember it if I were to ask you to recite it?

AI: I don't remember.

MN: What about soji toban, cleaning the classrooms, did you have do that?

AI: Yes, I remember that. We used to wipe the hallway, everybody line up side by side, we start from one end all the way to the other end. Yeah, you bringing back a memory.

MN: So there was no janitor, the students were the janitors.

AI: Well, I assume there's a janitor but that was one of the things that school in Japan do is let the students do the cleaning too, some work.

MN: Now academically how did you do in school?

AI: I would say probably middle of the class.

MN: Were there other Nisei in your classroom?

AI: Not that I remember.

MN: Did you have to get a tutor to help you keep up in school?

AI: No.

MN: What did you do in your free time?

AI: Go fishing, go swimming, because there was a river not too far from the house where we lived. So we used to go fishing and swimming and other than that play with the neighbor kids. There was probably about like half dozen kids about my age, our age so we used to play together.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

MN: Now what year did the rest of your family return to Hiroshima?

AI: 1935.

MN: Was your father planning to permanently stay in Hiroshima then?

AI: Well, actually he wasn't ready to come home then but he got the bleeding ulcer and he went to doctor and the doctor says you have to operate immediately or else. So father asked, "What's the chance of the surgery?" He says, "Fifty-fifty, you may live, you may die." So he says, well, in that case if it don't, you're going to die. He says, then he said that he wanted to go back to Japan and see his parents before he dies so that's when he returned. But when he returned, his ulcer got cured right away because there's no more pressure of the farming or he's relaxed so the ulcer got cured.

MN: But your father got hospitalized anyway, what happened?

AI: Well, after his ulcer got cured he went to a hot spring in Beppu Kyushu Island to recuperate. There he caught the cold and turned out pneumonia and he end up in the hospital and never came out of the hospital.

MN: While he was hospitalized how did he spend his time?

AI: He was actually hospital in Hiroshima hospital for probably about six months. Then they decided... meantime when he was in the hospital he designed his own house and had his brother-in-law, my mother's younger brother was a carpenter, had him build a house. When the house was completed they brought him back to the house, a new home. And he stayed upstairs, this is a two story house, he stayed upstairs until he die.

MN: Where was this new house built?

AI: His hometown Kirikushi.

MN: Those who may not know what Etajima is famous for, can you tell us a little bit?

AI: Etajima is known to most people by there was a naval academy school was there. That's why when I say Etajima lot of people say, oh, yeah, where the naval academy is.

MN: Now your family, their village, was it connected with naval academy?

AI: No, naval academy was in the middle of the island, we were outer edge of the island, our village. There's ten villages altogether in that island and Kirikushi is one of the ten in that island.

MN: So before your family returned to Hiroshima you were living with your uncle near Hiroshima city.

AI: In Hiroshima city.

MN: And that was for five years? And during those five years did you visit your mother's side in Etajima?

AI: Yes, we used to go summer vacation but I didn't stay at my grandparents' home. We stayed at our uncle's home, there's another younger brother, my father's younger brother, we stayed at their home because they have a same age kid as we are but we didn't care for that family so now we go to our cousin's home to sleep.

MN: When did your father actually pass away?

AI: 1936.

MN: How did you feel about losing your father at such a young age?

AI: You know, like I said when I left father when I was eight years old, when he came back, we lived together a couple of months, then he was in a hospital so I really don't know father to speak of. So I really didn't have any feelings to tell the truth.

MN: Now when your father built this new home in Kirikushi Etajima did you also have to start a new school?

AI: Yes, we moved back into the new home so we started going to the school in Kirikushi.

MN: Was it hard to make new friends?

AI: No, it wasn't because we used to go there every summer for summer vacation, so a lot of children our age is in the school too so it wasn't that problem of changing school, class.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

MN: So now you're in high school, what kind of clubs were you involved in?

AI: I was in the judo club and other than that mostly sports whatever we get.

MN: How did you do in judo?

AI: I was okay in the class except the one guy from the Korea, he was six foot tall and I'd grab him and I couldn't budge him he was so big.

MN: So you had a Korean student in Etajima Kirikushi?

AI: No.

MN: Oh, this in Hiroshima.

AI: This is high school.

MN: In the city.

AI: Yes.

MN: Was it in the city that you were also on the volleyball team?

AI: No, that was in Etajima, grammar school.

MN: Can you share with us that story?

AI: Yeah, we used to have an island, whole island tournament and that particular one year that our class did so well we had a strong team and because of one guy is six foot tall, he's not Korean, he's Japanese. And there's a couple of guys small but real fast on moving so we had a good team and we got up to the championship game and I know were capable to win easily but funny part everybody frozen and they just cannot do anything. So I start yelling at my team. I almost got kicked out from the game because I was yelling so much, but we lost the championship.

MN: So it sounds like you were really athletic. What other sports were you involved in?

AI: Well, judo and I was doing the... what do you call that? Bar and tumbling and so forth.

MN: Gymnastics.

AI: Yeah.

MN: Was life really different living in Etajima than living in Hiroshima city?

AI: Yes.

MN: How was it different?

AI: Etajima is like an island and we're right by the ocean. If we want to go swimming we just leave the house with swimming suits and run right into the ocean water. I used to just swim the whole summer, eight hours a day stay in the ocean. Then they do in the village in Japan, they do talk a little different than people in the city, so that was the case that also in a class. I was in a middle of a class in the city but when I went to Etajima I was a top of a class with the same IQ. And things that we do, playing, everything's different from the kids in the city.

MN: Was it difficult to adjust?

AI: No, because I was there every summer vacation in Etajima so it was like another, second place home.

MN: Now you mentioned that you spent a lot of time swimming.

AI: Yes.

MN: Can you share with us what happened to your facial muscle because of that?

AI: Oh, yeah. I think one summer I was swimming and the same time I started doing spear fishing, I made my own spear and dive in and spear fishing. So I spent ocean, like I said, eight hours a day and one occasion from diving I came up and a friend said, "What happened? I said, "What happened what?" "What happened to your face?" What happened to my face? I couldn't feel anything so I can't see my face. And I went home and Mother got excited and she said, "What happened?" So she took me to doctor then found out my half of face was paralyzed, nerve was paralyzed. So the only treatment they had was heat treatment at the time. And my mother wasn't satisfied with the heat treatment so now she started taking me to the acupuncture and here. And there and this type of sickness, nerve, you cannot cure overnight, it's going to take a long time to cure. And I have this for now what fifty, sixty, seventy, over seventy years, seventy-five years and I still have partial, it's not a hundred percent cured. Mostly cured but I would say ninety-five percent but there's still five percent or so.

MN: What happened though? You were diving and why did --

AI: Well, they said it comes from exercise and getting too cold causes that.

MN: And that paralyzed your muscles?

AI: Yes, not the muscle, nerve.

MN: Now this is getting into the late 1930s, did you start to see Japanese nationalism getting stronger?

AI: Still that age I'm not really interested in politics so I cannot say. I know Japan was more in the army control by then and everybody want to be a soldier and they want to be the leader but I really had no idea of that. I didn't have an interest in the politics then.

MN: At that time though you're in Japan, but did you consider yourself Japanese or an American?

AI: It didn't matter to me then.

MN: You didn't think about it.

AI: I didn't think about it. I know I was born in the U.S. so I know I was a citizen, that's as far as I'd go at the time.

MN: If you had been drafted into the Japanese army at the time would you have gone?

AI: Either go or you're going to jail, one or the other. I wasn't of age yet.

MN: Would you have gone to jail? Or gone to the army?

AI: I wasn't even thinking about that. Not really, not yet.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

MN: You're in Hiroshima from 1929 to 1937. When did you start wanting to return to the U.S. or did you always want to return?

AI: 1936.

MN: Why did you want to return to the U.S.?

AI: 'Cause I wanted to see where I was born.

MN: But your family is in Hiroshima.

AI: Yes, but I wanted to see... go back to where I was born.

MN: How did you mother react to your wish to return to the U.S.?

AI: She was okay, she sent me back when I asked her to send me back. Then she was going to come back and join me later which didn't happen but that was our thinking that we'll go, my brother and I will go first, reestablish, then she'll come back and join us because if she comes together immediately we have no place to live. Who's going to have the job? She won't have a job, but of course I assume that she didn't have to work immediately, financially she was okay. But the other thing I think she was kind of debating to go or not because in Japan that's where she was born and all her friend is there and she's very comfortable living there. Although I asked her let's go back and she was almost ready to go but didn't happen.

MN: Now when you left Japan in 1937, had Japan invaded China yet?

AI: No, we heard that two days after I got on the ship when we left Yokohama.

MN: Did you return to the U.S. by yourself?

AI: My brother, two of us together.

MN: What port did you leave Japan for the U.S.?

AI: Pardon me?

MN: From what port did you leave?

AI: Yokohama.

MN: Do you remember the ship's name?

AI: Asama maru.

MN: Did you get seasick again?

AI: After two days, first two days got seasick, then after that was okay.

MN: Did the ship stop in Hawaii?

AI: Yes, we got off, we didn't have much money and beside when we got off the boat was late afternoon it was getting dark, we don't know where to go, we weren't speaking English. So we got off the boat but we came right back into the boat because we don't know what to do and where to go.

MN: Where did you land in the United States? Did you go to L.A. or San Francisco?

AI: L.A.

MN: Now when you landed in L.A. was there someone there to pick you up?

AI: Yes. What we called uncle, my father's friend, Mr. Hamano, who I lived with.

MN: Mr. Hamano, was he a bachelor?

AI: He was a widower, yes.

MN: How were you able to make arrangement to live with this man?

AI: Well, my mother called and asked him to take of us, take us in so it was pre-arranged.

MN: And what did this man do?

AI: He was farming.

MN: Where?

AI: Artesia, California.

MN: How big was his farm?

AI: His farm was twenty acre.

MN: And did you have to help out on the farm?

AI: Yes, definitely, yes.

MN: What did you do on the farm?

AI: Well, I never worked up 'til that time and I don't know what the work is so first we kind of watched whatever they do and we had a lot of Mexican labor working for us and we kind of look over what they do. And whatever we can we try to help but I don't think we were much of a help.

MN: What was he growing?

AI: Truck farm. We used to grow, I remember we used to grow beans, cauliflower in the winter time, beets and Chinese cabbage whatnot, but mostly beans, carrots, we took it to a cannery, carrot and the beans and we used to take it to cannery also.

MN: Now when you returned to the U.S. you received a lot of gifts. Who were these gifts from and why were they giving it to you?

AI: I think that's from because of my father helped so many people that came into U.S. through his farm and a lot of people appreciate and so all those people that give us the gift because father was gone, so returned the favor.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

MN: Now when you returned to the U.S. how much English did you know?

AI: None, I had to start from ABC.

MN: How did you learn English?

AI: I started with first grade in grammar school.

MN: You went to a grammar school?

AI: Grammar school because the Artesia area there was no special class I can attend so I had to go to first grade start from the ABC and I was there six months. Then moved to sixth grade after six months and I was in there six months. Then I moved to eighth grade and I was there one year then went up to high school.

MN: And is that where you were supposed to be in high school?

AI: Yes.

MN: Was your brother in the same class with you?

AI: Yes.

MN: Other than attending the grammar school and moving up is there other ways you were trying to learn English?

AI: Mr. Hamano don't speak any English so when we come home from school we speak nothing but Japanese so that was one of the drawback I had. And I was thinking about going out schoolboy, move out and... but I don't know how to do that and I don't know where to go and who to ask, and before that happened the war started so that never happened.

MN: Now you started to move up into high school, skipping up to there. Once you got into high school did you join any clubs or sports groups?

AI: I wanted to play in football but I was not big enough, I was too small, but one of the problems I had is we had to help the farm so we couldn't stay after school so we really couldn't join any team.


MN: You weren't able to join a lot of the sports clubs although you wanted to because you had --

AI: I wanted to but because I had to help the farm so I couldn't.

MN: Did you have any spare time on the weekends?

AI: No, I was house maid on the weekends. Where somebody would have to clean the house, do the laundry and that was my job.

MN: What about your younger brother?

AI: He took off every day.

MN: Who did the cooking?

AI: He did, uncle did.

MN: Was he a decent cook?

AI: We enjoyed the food so it was okay.

MN: Now how well financially was your uncle's farm doing?

AI: He wasn't good because it was right after the Depression and he was really struggling on the farm. That was the reason that I had to help after school and weekend and so forth.

MN: Now holidays, what did you do on the holidays like Oshogatsu?

AI: Oshogatsu we used to have the Kirikushi village people, originally there was about close to fifty families in the L.A. area so they organized the club and then oshogatsu they used to meet and they used to feast on oshogatsu. That's where we spend oshogatsu.

MN: Whose house was it held at?

AI: One of the farmhouse because free parking, lot of playground for children to play and you can make all the noise you want, it wouldn't bother the neighbor so they always had it in one of the farms.

MN: So it changed from year to year.

AI: We have a volunteer.

MN: Did you do mochitsuki?

AI: Yes, we did.

MN: What was that like?

AI: We used to get together three family, yeah, three family, and everybody make hundred pound. Can you imagine? That's a lot of mochi. We start two o'clock in the morning until later in the afternoon to finish that 300 pound of mochi.

MN: How did you eat the omochi?

AI: Ozoni basically, ozoni and the yakimochi.

MN: So for a while is that all you ate?

AI: Oh, yeah, one month straight probably we eat every morning.

MN: Because omochi goes bad really fast.

AI: Those days we didn't have a refrigerator, there was ice box but leave it at room so what we did is we soak in the water and we change water like every day or every other day, change it to fresh water and we kept that way and it would last like a month or two months.

MN: Now in 1939 you had to get surgery. Can you share with us what happened?

AI: 1939, oh, I had the appendicitis. I had a stomachache and I couldn't go out to the field so I stayed in and eventually the pain was so severe that couldn't do, I couldn't sleep. So finally when one of my neighbor's kid came to see me I asked him to go Mr. Hamano to come back and take me to the doctor. So we went to neighborhood doctor, Caucasian doctor, and he said, "You have appendicitis, you have to have operation." I guess Mr. Hamano didn't want to have the unknown strange doctor do the operation so now he took me to Japantown and we had Dr. Tashiro look at it. By then my appendix was burst and the pain was gone and as soon he looked at it he says, "Oh, you have a busted appendix, go to hospital right away." So from there we went to hospital right away which was in the east L.A. and same that afternoon I had the surgery. But the funny part is that all this surgery done used to be... after surgery they used to insert the tube to remove any pus or whatever involved. He had something new came out, still was in testing stage which is the sulpha drug that he told me after surgery he sprinkled that in my stomach then he sew back completed. Usually appendix everybody stay two weeks in the hospital those days but I got out in one week. After I went back to doctor he says, "You know you were my guinea pig," which was good.

MN: Now I want to get into the war years now. When you left Japan in 1937, 1938, did you have any idea that the youth in Japan would get into a war?

AI: No, no idea.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

MN: Now what were you doing on Sunday, December 7, 1941?

AI: I don't know what I was doing but I don't remember what the particular day but I remember that later in the evening when I came back from the field, found out that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor was blasting on the radio. Because we used to turn the radio on to listen to the vegetable markets news. They used to have a Japanese program that used to what price cabbage was so much at the wholesale market and so forth and we used to listen to that. And that would give us what to harvest to send it in the next day. And the same time is that we heard that news.

MN: Now when you heard this news what was your reaction?

AI: It's something out of the blue we couldn't believe and still didn't believe.

MN: Did you hear of any Japanese Americans in your area being picked up by the FBI?

AI: Not then, not then.

MN: When did you hear?

AI: We didn't hear anything about somebody was picked up. Later on before we went in camp we kind of got together with the other friend was in Compton and we heard that they start picking up the reverends, Japanese school teachers and the chamber of commerce president and so forth that we heard.

MN: But this was later, months later then you had heard.

AI: Yes.

MN: Now when the government instituted a curfew were you affected?

AI: Yes, we were affected.

MN: How were you affected?

AI: Well, curfew is nine o'clock to next morning, seven or eight o'clock or something like that. And we had to be home, wherever we are we had to be home and then they said we're not supposed to go beyond five mile radius from the home. So in the short time we can be home. Being a young teenage we used to go out and we got caught couple times but being a teenage, cop would just say go home don't come out after nine o'clock so they let us go. That's I think a benefit of the small town, if you're a big city I think it's a different story.

MN: Now how did you hear that you had to go into camp?

AI: 1942?

MN: How did you get the news? Did you read it in the paper or did a friend tell you?

AI: No, we got the notice to evacuate within three days.

MN: You got it in the mail?

AI: Yes, and we had notice came we had to evacuate within three days and that was on a weekend that just happened to be Friday, Saturday, Sunday and we asked to leave on Sunday rather than Friday or Monday because we want to sell whatever we had, farm, tractor, house and our crop and so forth so we asked last day to leave so we picked Sunday to leave.

MN: Was this all the Japanese Americans in Artesia only?

AI: No, no. The first area is including Long Beach, San Pedro, and we were considered as north Long Beach so part of the Long Beach Artesia was. Right up to the boulevard and to the north and to the east is -- I don't know how far they went on the east -- I think we were just about the end of east boundary and west wise, Compton wasn't end. So Bellflower or somewhere around there.

MN: Now when you got this notice that you had to go to camp, how did you feel?

AI: We don't know why, we don't know what the camp is, no idea what's going to happen or what they're going to do or what. It just felt like we were treated as an enemy or something. That's all we could think about.

MN: Now you're given three days' notice. How did you or your uncle get rid of the farm equipment, the house furniture?

AI: Just give away practically. We bought... I bought, I should say my brother really did, car, that was the first car we purchased three months ago before the evacuation and I remember that we paid nine hundred dollar, Mercury convertible, and that was real sporty car then. And we couldn't find any buyer so he took it back to the dealer and all he offered was three hundred dollar, no choice, we had to grab that three hundred dollars. Farm-wise I think Mr. Hamano got nine hundred dollar for the tractor, the horse, the house, and the crop. And the crop is ready to harvest and that alone will pay back the buyer his nine hundred dollars.

MN: Now yourself personally, what did you pack to go into camp?

AI: Two suitcase. So how much can you put in two suitcase immediate clothing?

MN: Did you buy new clothing?

AI: No, no, no. I mean you put your underwear, one week or whatever the underwear and a couple of shirts and no suits but just everyday clothes. You'll fill up the two suitcase.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

MN: Now on the day you were to enter camp where was your gathering point?

AI: We gather in Long Beach near ocean. And come to think of it, I think we were close to the end of red line, trolley line, I think the end of the station there close to because that's... we were two groups separated to go to Santa Anita Assembly Center. And the first group got on the red car, they left. We were supposed to get there seven o'clock in the morning and I think around eight o'clock or so the first group went with trolley and the second group is go with your own car in a caravan. So we left the Long Beach area about ten o'clock and I guess we went through the Lakewood and so forth, I remember that we passing by the Douglas aircraft plant and it took us about one hour drive to get to the Santa Anita.

MN: So you went in the car caravan but it wasn't that new car that your brother bought. You had another car?

AI: No, we sold our cars so we went with Mr. Hamano's car. He had a Chevy coupe.

MN: Do you remember what month or day you left for Santa Anita?

AI: I think it was April 5th.

MN: So you took Mr. Hamano's car to Santa Anita.

AI: Then as soon as we got there we had the baggage inspection so I guess, so we weren't carrying any contraband or whatever. And soon as the inspection's done then they issue us the tag for the room, which room to go and button for the mess hall. Later on I found out there was a blue mess and a white mess was open first and we got the blue mess buttons. And after we got the tag then we started going to look for the room. We don't know where to go so the group was there before us we stopped one of the guy and we asked, "Can you tell us where this room is?" I show the tag. And he says, "Oh, I'll take you," so he took us to the room which was a horse stable. And you got to the horse stable and the horse stable floor was a newly paved with asphalt and it's still warm at the time. Probably they did it in the morning or the night before something like that. And the smell of the manure and the asphalt combination was about ready to throw everything out. Then I look in the room, there's still manure on the wall, it wasn't completely washed. And I thought, oh my god, this is where we're going to sleep for the... how long? It was a really sickening feeling.

MN: How about the food?

AI: First two, three days we all had diarrhea, everybody, and the toilet is one long building, all the toilets are lined up. And we had to line up and wait your turn to get in there and here you got to run. It was horrible.

MN: Any idea what you ate that gave you diarrhea?

AI: I think most of the food that we were eating is the army supply so shouldn't be kicking too much about what they fed us but either -- I don't know what the reason for that everybody had diarrhea but maybe they opened the can too long before they cook because they're cooking for hundreds of people in one mess hall. So they had to prepare early in the morning for that and it might be open too long, whatever the reason that we had diarrhea.

MN: So once you got over this and you settled in Santa Anita, what did you do? Did you find a job?

AI: Later on more people came in and they started building the barracks in parking lot so the people came in later they all got the new barrack to live in. And all those people there, they need another mess hall so they opened the red mess which is in the grandstand lobby. And I worked in that mess hall as a pantry and we used prepare the salad, fruits, dessert fruits and the salad. And there was three of us all day we were there chopping lettuce, chopping this, chopping finger. [Laughs] And that was my job. Then the other people, they used to make camouflage net, I think that was a major work in that Santa Anita but I enjoyed the mess hall.

MN: Now you mentioned this is a mess hall after the new barracks in the parking lot were built. Were you able to transfer into the new parking lot?

AI: Our family friend, Yatabe family, move in from stable to new barrack. They were farming together in Compton and so we went and visit them and one of the boy's room there was enough room for two more beds so we asked them, "Hey, can we move in?" So they said, "Sure, come on," so we asked the administration to move into there and we move in there.

MN: And so you and your brother moved in there?

AI: Yes.

MN: What happened to Mr. Hamano?

AI: Well, he moved into his stepdaughter's together. They were in the new area also, they're from Pasadena.

MN: Now what did you do in your free time at Santa Anita?

AI: Just roam around. Nothing you can do. We used to go see... well, they had some activities, they were playing baseball, there was a lot sumo. They built the dojo and they were having sumo so we'd go see the sumo. Other than that it's not much you can do, play poker a lot of time.

MN: Did you win a lot of money in poker?

AI: No, we played penny poker, no money.

MN: Santa Anita had a riot, where were you when the riot broke out?

AI: You know, I never heard that. I heard that later when everything was all over and I heard but at the time I wasn't aware of that. Maybe I was working or whatever but I wasn't anywhere near the riot.

MN: Now you received your first telegram from your mother in Japan at Santa Anita. What did that --

AI: No, no, not Santa Anita, that's in Jerome later.

MN: Oh, I thought you got one in Santa Anita.

AI: No, no.

MN: Oh, okay.

AI: I got two of 'em when I was in Jerome.

MN: Okay, you're a Kibei, did the Niseis give you problems?

AI: No.

MN: Did you go to a lot of the dances?

AI: In Jerome, yes.

MN: But not at Santa Anita.

AI: Not at Santa Anita. I don't think we had it, Santa Anita. They might have had it but I wasn't aware of it.

MN: Now you worked on the farm so you would be considered a country boy. Did you the city boys give you a lot of trouble?

AI: No, in Santa Anita there's a group of boys from East LA. Which they wore zoot suits and we kind of figured that they were a bunch of gangs so we stayed away from them so we had no trouble. I mean, I had no trouble.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

MN: Now what month did you leave Santa Anita for Jerome?

AI: We left Santa Anita October.

MN: '42?

AI: To Jerome, Arkansas.

MN: And what do you remember of the train ride?

AI: Well, train ride it took us about three days and one thing is we had to keep the drapes down, cannot open any time, night or day we had to keep it down. And so you can't see the outside, you're tired talking to whoever sitting with you, you can't talk three days so I don't know what I did.

MN: Do you remember what you ate on the train, where you ate on the train?

AI: You know those things are kind of vague. I can't remember how we ate, got the bento or I know... I don't think we went to mess hall. Train is not prepared that much so I assumed that they must have made a bento at the mess hall and gave us.

MN: Now you got sick on the ship to Japan. Did you get sick on the train?

AI: No, train don't bother.

MN: Now once the train got to Arkansas, did it stop and did you have to get on bus to get to Jerome?

AI: No, train stopped right in the front of the camp. There's a railroad running right in front and from there the truck, we had the army trucks flatbed and everybody get on that they took us to the block, barrack that we assigned to so that was the transportation, no bus.

MN: What was your first impression of Jerome?

AI: You know I went there it's wide open camp, nice. Well, they was still under constructions, the six blocks was completed and rest of them still under construction. And green all around, forest and they cut the forest, open up to build a camp so it felt like now I could breathe like in a camp. Well, that part was okay but the later found out the ground was very clay type of soil and when it rains, muddy, like you walk in the mud pie. When it's summer, just dust blows all over the place, clay when it dries up gets particle so when the wind blows really get dusty. So that was kind of drawback but otherwise I felt more free and more wide and I liked that swamp wood area. And one beauty is plant, dogwood flower blooms in the spring that was really a sight.

MN: So when you first got to Jerome, what did you do?

AI: Well, I think first thing to do is we were allowance of nine dollar a month, clothing and whatever. And nine dollar even free meal and free room still not enough, so first thing you want to get some kind of work, increase your income to twelve dollars a month from nine dollars. And I think first thing we did it was in October we went there so in the winter ground freeze, I mean it gets cold. Water gets ice so we had to have the fire to heat the room, so everybody went out or I get the job as a lumberjack. We go out and cut the lumber, bring back to the block, we chopped that for the firewood. And each room had a pot belly stove and that would heat the room so I did that right away. Before that, in fact, we took a job on a salvage truck, we went around every mess hall, collect the empty cans and when we get enough truckloads we put that on the truck and we took it down to the... there's a little town near Jerome, we took it to there, to the salvage yard, I guess one of the administration guys would come with and he'll sell that over there. And since we go in truck on the way back we go to train depot over there and we pick up meat or whatever supply we need to bring it back. But this town is one street town, there was one laundry, one hardware store, and couple of grocery, one liquor store, maybe half dozen stores, that was the town and in there it really surprises me was Chinese laundry was there. In nowhere, I mean, you can't even imagine why the Chinese there in middle of nowhere but that's what the Chinese is, they're all over the world. Anywhere you go there's the Chinese and the laundry and this was one of them and the rest of them were all black people.

MN: So you said the smaller town there was a lot of black people there.

AI: Oh, yeah. Ninety percent.

MN: Did they give you a bad time?

AI: No, black people don't.

MN: When you went out and you were selling... putting the scrap metal at this place did you see segregation? Blacks only, whites only?

AI: Not there. In fact, we stopped at the liquor store we used to buy a couple of whiskey and come back because there's no liquor in the camp, that's the only source.

MN: How did you get that into camp?

AI: We'd bring it in with truck. We just carry in.

MN: The guards didn't --

AI: No, no there's no inspection. It's a camp truck, not an outside truck or anything, and we're bringing in the mess hall supplies, beef, stew, meat and whatnot. There was no problem with that.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

MN: And then after this you became a lumberjack?

AI: After that... well, the one incident happened that later on the people from Fresno group came in and they want a job. And one young teenage group, they want to work with the truck, so one day this group came up to us and they start trying to fight, trying to get the job, but the leader trying to fight with one of our guys, he's six foot tall, big guy and so is the other side's leader, six foot. He threw a punch, missed so our guy gave him one punch and knocked him out. So those two got friends after that and said there's no worth fighting for driving a truck so he says, we quit, the truck we gave to whoever wanted it then we started working as lumberjack from then on. And that was okay. We're out there in the field and the woods.

MN: How far did you drive out to cut the woods?

AI: It's just behind the camp, just outside of fence because that's all nothing but wood and rattlesnake and copperhead.

MN: It sounds like a very difficult job to be a lumberjack?

AI: It's not an easy job, yes.

MN: Did you ever get injured?

AI: No, none that we know of. We're not really working for the wage, we're out there and we got all the time we want, nobody pressure us, there's no quota to cut so many trees. We were lazy cutting and having fun and cutting so it was okay.

MN: Now I know a lot of people when they got into camp they would make their own furniture. Did you do that?

AI: Yeah, because only thing we had in a room, my room, two cots, mattress, one belly pot stove, that's it, nothing. So that part because we were first one to go there and they were still building so there's lot of scrap lumber. So we went out there and picked up all the scrap lumber and build a bench, chair, and I don't remember if I built a table or not but I know we built a bench and stools.

MN: Where did you get the tools to build these furniture?

AI: You could buy that through the PX they had a commissary store in the camp.

MN: Canteen.

AI: Canteen. And through the Sears Roebuck catalog you could buy anything you want long as you can pay, afford to pay for it. So nothing fancy, all you need is saw and hammer and get some nails and nails you could pick up over the construction site, there's a lot of nail scrapped out there, you can pick those up. So just the saw and the hammer, that's all you need.

MN: Now can you share with us how started to take mandolin classes at Jerome?

AI: Just nothing to do so to do something, so that's one of the thing is music. I like the music so I thought well, what can I play? And there's a lot of Kibei people that used to play mandolin so I start. I thought, well, I'll start from that so I pick up and learn, no teachers, self learning. And I start to learn how to read the music.

MN: Did you buy a mandolin? Did you borrow some?

AI: No, I bought it. You could buy from the Sears.

MN: Did this class hold recitals? Did you give performances?

AI: Not there, no.

MN: Did you learn any other musical instruments?

AI: Later on start learning guitar.

MN: Is it very different from the mandolin?

AI: A little different, yes. You know, mandolin are more play melody, guitar more of a chord so your finger is quite a bit different playing mandolin and the guitar.

MN: Did you also buy a guitar?

AI: Yes, cheapest one you can find. [Laughs]

MN: And how cheap was that back then?

AI: Gee, I don't remember how much one of those were. I bought one, cheapest one I could find in catalog, and then later on I changed to more well known brand, later on.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

MN: Now you became a member of this group called the Octogonians?

AI: Octogonians.

MN: What is that?

AI: It's Block 8, octagon and made a club with all the teenage group, dance club or social club.

MN: So you were in Block 8 so that's why you called yourself the Octogonians.

AI: Octogonian.

MN: And what kind of dances did you have?

AI: We used to have jitterbugs, whatever the music we could get. People buy some records those days and record players then each block would invite each other and that way we meet different girls. Otherwise Octogonian we'll be dancing with the same girl.

MN: So how did you learn how to dance the jitterbug?

AI: By trying it. [Laughs] I didn't know how to dance then but all the people don't know get together then we teach each other and some people know how so they'll teach us how, so the club member we get together every weekend, that's how I learned.

MN: Now you know when you were in Jerome you also created your own darkroom in your barrack? How did you get started in photography?

AI: I'm always interested in photography because when I was in Artesia I had camera, nothing, little tiny box camera. I was taking a picture so I sort of continued and went into camp I bought one again in a camp. Went to Jerome and then it was available so I bought one and later on I learned how to develop the film, develop the picture then I start kind of getting to a little bit more by that way.

MN: Now did you learn how to develop pictures? Self-taught?

AI: Self-taught.

MN: Through book?

AI: I think so.

MN: You even experimented with colorizing photos. How do you colorize black and white photos?

AI: Those days using the dye and trying to colorize but that again self-taught, so trial and error, try this way, try that way.

MN: Didn't the chemicals stink up your barrack?

AI: Sort of, yeah.

MN: Nobody complained though?

AI: Well, just my room so far nobody did.

MN: Did you play any sports in camp?

AI: No.

MN: What did you do on your free time?

AI: Just roam around, play guitar, mandolin and just friends get together, yak and sometime we go outside of barbed wire, sort of a picnic into the woods, a whole bunch of us girls and boys, we all go out there. Time like when the dogwoods blooming we go out and have sort of picnic, nothing to eat but we spread the blanket and we sit around and just yakking.

MN: Did you have to get a permit to go outside for that?

AI: No.

MN: How far did you go out?

AI: Far as you can.

MN: And you had no problems?

AI: No problem except you don't want to go too far in that swamp because if you go too far you may not be able to come back.

MN: But then you can run away?

AI: Where? In a swamp you don't know where to go. There's hardly anything around there other than that little town I think it was called McGehee. There's nothing around and besides, you don't want to take a chance and go out and get caught and you may get slaughtered so you want to stay near the camp.

MN: Who were most of your friends? Were they Kibei or Niseis?

AI: Mixed.

MN: Now you said that you received a telegram from your mother in Jerome. What did that say?

AI: She said we are fine -- it's a very short telegram. It's we're doing fine, how are you? Are you doing okay? That was it but it's nice to hear, especially in a war, you didn't expect anything to come and that was really a surprise for me.

MN: Did you send a reply?

AI: Yes, I did. I sent it through the Red Cross. That was the... the Red Cross did that. And when I got it, mine, I was the only one that enjoyed, all my neighbor they all came and they looked at it like they got their own letter. They're all surprised because nobody expect anything from Japan.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

MN: Now when the so-called "loyalty questionnaire" came out in 1943, were there block meetings at Jerome?

AI: No.

MN: How did you answer the two controversial questions?

AI: My answer was "no-yes." No, I'm not volunteer unless I'm treated as U.S. citizen, and twenty-eight, I think I'm still citizen so if I get drafted, yes, I'll go.

MN: Did they try to change your mind?

AI: No, they don't try to change my mind. I was looking through my scrapbook and some more information came out, but I think there was another hearing came and they were asking me a little bit more detail, what the background is and so forth but my answer was still the same.

MN: So if you were drafted you would have gone.

AI: Yes.

MN: But you didn't change your answer so what did they do?

AI: Well, I being a Kibei and at the time I wasn't speaking much of English either, so I guess the FBI figured that well, this guy is no citizen so he says, "Well, we're going to send you to Tule Lake." So I says, "No, I'm not going," but they sent me. Tule Lake from Jerome, the very first group of about 1,500 went and second group, about 200, went few days later. And when my time came we were about 200 out of Jerome which was if I remember correctly somewhere near months later from the first group went. We went to Rohwer, then about 200 from there joined us, then we went to Amache, then we'd pick up about 100 there, then we went to Tule Lake. I don't remember that we stopped in Amache or the Rohwer but my scrapbook said that.

MN: Because you kept a journal.

AI: Yes.

MN: So the truck left from Jerome with about 200.

AI: 300.

MN: 300, then this truck --

AI: No, 400. 200 from Jerome, 200 from Rohwer.

MN: Well, the truck went to Rohwer, picked up another 200.

AI: Train, we got on the train at the Jerome, the train went to Rohwer, pick up 200 there, then train went to Amache, pick up about 100.

MN: And then the train went to Tule Lake.

AI: Tule Lake.

MN: Was security very strict?

AI: For that, yes.

MN: How was it strict?

AI: Well, just like going, everything closed down, shut down, MPs on the train.

MN: Were most of the people on the train men?

AI: No, a lot of families on there because I think a lot of people that went to Tule Lake is because of the father says, "We're going to go back to Japan," so what else the mother and the kids going to do, especially young kids, teenage. So lot of family went.

MN: What about your younger brother? What happened to him?

AI: He went out with his friend to work in the sugar beets at the time so he was out of the camp. Because of my time for going Tule Lake was so late is I applied to leave the camp, I had application in and all my question "yes-no," I mean "no-yes" and so forth that FBI interrogation so forth that took us so long to get answer. That's why I think I was sent to Tule Lake later time.

MN: But your younger brother must have answered "yes-yes."

AI: Yeah.

MN: So he was able to get a leave clearance.

AI: He might have even went out before the questionnaire but when he came back, "yes-yes."

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

<Begin Segment 18>

MN: Now do you remember when you left for Tule Lake, what year, what month?

AI: I left Tule Lake?

MN: From Jerome to go to Tule Lake, was it '44?

AI: I was in Jerome for a year and a half so I went to Jerome October '42, '43, '44.

MN: So probably the winter of '44 or January maybe? Does that sound about right? January '44, February?

AI: Somewhere around there I think.

MN: What do you got there? Is that your cheat sheet?

AI: October 7th, '43, went to Tule Lake.

MN: So when you got to Tule Lake, it's getting cold. What was your first impression of Tule Lake?

AI: I felt like I was in the last jail, last place I'd be in. 'Cause I really, didn't wanted to go and I got kind of sent over there.

MN: When did you arrive at Tule Lake, in the daytime or the nighttime?

AI: Nighttime.

MN: So when you got there at night were able to see anything of Tule Lake?

AI: No, all I saw is truck took me to the room and there was a one gentleman in there, older man, and that's the only thing I saw first night. And I didn't like that man. So next day or two there's another friend went together so we got together and he was in the same situation, stranger and himself. So he didn't like that so we talked about some way we get together again, get the room for our own, and we found out that there was one empty room in Block 62 if I remember correctly. So we got together and then there's another guy from Jerome went that from the Block 8, three of us got together and we said, "Hey, there's one room open. Why not three go in there?" They say, oh yeah, great, so we went administration we asked if we can move in there three of us. They said okay no problem so we got the room. But the only reason that room was open was that there was a talk going on says ghosts comes out from the room, young lady. Found out that young girl died in that room so they were saying that there's a ghost in that room so nobody wants to go in that room so it was fortunate for us. [Laughs]

MN: Did you ever see a ghost in that room?

AI: Never saw a ghost. We had a happy time there.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

MN: So what did you do in Tule Lake?

AI: Really nothing you can do. There's no work unless you're, probably work in the mess hall or I can't remember if there's any work available in that camp. It's more of a prisoner like, really there wasn't anything to do.

MN: Did you continue with your mandolin classes?

AI: Yes, I did. In fact, we got so bored that I went to high school and music class and I asked if I can join the band or if I can learn. So they said, "What do you want to learn?" "I'd like to learn the clarinet." So he says, okay. So you buy the... mouthpiece and they'll furnish the clarinet so I start learning and I was blowing good because they thought I was just nothing, fresh start, but I played the mandolin and guitar so I knew a little bit about music, I knew the tune, so picking up pretty quick. But when I started hitting the high note, because of my paralyzed face, I cannot keep my lip tight and I couldn't blow the high note so I had to quit playing the -- they thought they found somebody that really could play but that was my career for the clarinet. Then I start, in that class I start the viola a little bit, it wasn't for me so I drop out of the class. Then there was a conductor, Japanese Columbia radio station conductor was in that Tule Lake. He was studying in New York and got caught and he was back to Tule Lake to go back to Japan. So he organized the orchestra so I joined that orchestra with my guitar so I played there a little while. It was good experience. It really surprised me the way he does that... I think there was about forty of us mandolin and guitar and violin was in that band and all that, everybody stroking note, and one person make a mistake which was me. He runs into the room and he was outside listening through the speaker, and he run into room and, "One mistake, who was it?" He picked that out, out of the forty people, one mistake on the note, on guitar your six strings? That's when I found out, boy, what an ear he's got. So music just is not for me. [Laughs]

MN: Did you folks give concerts?

AI: No, we practiced, practiced, and we never had a concert. Good thing. [Laughs]

MN: How about the darkroom? Did you make a dark room at Tule Lake?

AI: Yes, I made a darkroom in the corner in that Tule Lake and I was dabbling with the film again.

MN: Share with us the story about how you guys made Christmas cards.

AI: One George Naohara, one of the roommate, he's got good handwriting. And there's next barrack there was a guy named George Kimura and three of us got together says, "Hey, let's make some Christmas card." Says, how we going to do? We couldn't buy a card enough, too expensive to buy a card so we said, "Okay let's buy postcard," and we print the Christmas card. So we decided to buy the whole thing out of the post office, all the penny postcards they had and we made a Christmas card out of that and we took to canteen, we asked them to sell that. And people went to post office trying to buy postcard for their holiday greeting and they can't find one so they were forced to buy our postcard. And I think we pay, what, penny and we sold them like five cents or ten cents or something like that. And out of that we made about forty-five dollars out of about twenty dollar investment. Each of us made forty-five so I don't think anybody in the camp did that.

MN: How did you make these postcards into Christmas cards? Did you draw on there or put photos?

AI: Well, we draw and we used to... they call that you etch out the -- what they call that stuff that they used?

MN: Block print?

AI: Well, in Japan they call it teppan but you cut out the...

MN: Stencil?

AI: Yeah or something, use the ink to print out.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

MN: In October 1943, and then during that winter, November, December there was a lot of problems at Tule Lake and the U.S. Army came in with the tanks. Do you remember that at all?

AI: No, because of the area where our room was far away from the middle of camp and we heard that later on and besides that, in the camp I wasn't really pro-Japan so I tried to stay away from any trouble areas so we never went walk around the camp, once in a while I did go to visit some of the old friends was in the camp, otherwise we stayed away.

MN: How about the Hoshidan? Did you get pressured to join the Hoshidan?

AI: No.

MN: Were any of your friends in the Hoshidan?

AI: I think there was, my second cousin was in.

MN: What was your opinion of the Hoshidan at the time?

AI: I didn't believe that.

MN: At any point while you were in camp did you ever think about returning to Japan? Especially your mother's there?

AI: No.

MN: Why not? The government is putting you into this camp?

AI: Yeah, but why go there because the reason I came back to U.S. is the citizens and I wanted to stay in U.S. I had no idea going back to Japan.

MN: Even if the U.S. government is treating you like this?

AI: Well, that was the question.

MN: Do you remember hearing about people getting beaten up at Tule Lake?

AI: I heard, but that's about it.

MN: Now at Tule Lake you were also part of this group called the Nonkina boys. What was that?

AI: That's we started originally we started in the Jerome, we had, a one night we had a engekai and they need whatever the program or volunteer to do so George and I and there was a guy named Yamada, he was the number one singer in a camp. So three of us got together and we made up this Nonkina boys and somebody had a record, I think it was Akirata boys in Japan, pro and we kind of took off that and we made our own kind of program and we played as Nonkina boys. So we did that. We didn't do that in Tule Lake but after came out of camp, Chicago north side had a Buddhist church and south didn't have. And later after about half a year or so I can't remember the reverend's name but another reverend came and he started the Buddhist church on the south side of Chicago. So for the opening ceremony they also had an engekai and George and I, Yamada wasn't there, but George and I, we did Nonkina boys there.

MN: So you sang.

AI: Sang and joke, a lot of jokes, some of the jokes I can't even say in front of camera. [Laughs] That was the highlight, the joke.

MN: Did you have a uniform?

AI: In Jerome we're supposed to wear tuxedo, white tuxedo, we couldn't, so then I was working in the kitchen, I was a cook in the morning, breakfast cook. So we took that cook uniform and we asked one of the lady to starch that hard as they can, then open the collar and iron that and make it look like tuxedo, white tuxedo and that was our uniform which turned out to be pretty good. And we had, somebody made the red carnation for us to put it on so white and red, it turned out pretty good, everybody enjoyed the joke.

MN: Was this done in Japanese, English, or mixture?

AI: Japanese.

MN: So you were eventually able to leave Tule Lake? How were you able to get a leave clearance?

AI: Well, after ten months or so there I had another interview, hearing this time from the army major and a colonel gave me. And as soon as walk in the room, I asked I want to leave the camp and they kind of stunned and look at me and everybody came to go to Japan and why this guy want to leave the camp. And they both kind of talk each other, then one went in back room on the telephone and they called the headquarters in San Francisco and I guess after a little while he came back and says okay so that was it.

MN: Now when people found out you were leaving Tule Lake were you called a traitor?

AI: No, there's no time to say that. The only people knew I was leaving is my roommate, that's it. And as soon as they give me okay I think I left in about three days.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

MN: Tell us how you were able to leave.

AI: Order for people may not attack me, so what they do is they bring the box, GI box to pack my things middle of the night, two o'clock in the night, they dropped it. Then the next day they come and pick me up two o'clock in the morning, took me out to the administration area and we wait 'til little bit later in the morning, probably about I assume was six or seven o'clock, took us to I think was the Klamath Falls Greyhound bus station. I got the greyhound bus and sheriff took me to there and he stayed until the bus started moving. And the bus trip was something else, worse than the train trip because I was by myself, rest of them is all Caucasians and I know on the bus may not do anything but if I get off the bus may, so every bus stop everybody get off, I stayed on the bus until I got to the Minidoka. So no breakfast, no lunch in between, finally I went to Minidoka, Idaho, then I have to get off the bus so that's where I took a bite.

MN: What were you doing in Minidoka and how long?

AI: I just visit there. The other thing is I didn't want to say I came out of Tule Lake so at least I say, "Oh, I came from Minidoka," which is really true. And friend was there before me so I kind of visit him for one month there.

MN: What did you do in Minidoka for one month?

AI: Nothing. We just kind of... I surprised myself of what did I do one month there? I met one girl there and later on I met her in New York but I guess it's just roam around, that's all.

MN: How would you compare Minidoka to Jerome and Tule Lake?

AI: You know, Minidoka I wasn't there long enough to find out anything there so I can't compare.

MN: Was Minidoka having problems like Tule Lake?

AI: I don't think so.

MN: Because you had to leave at two a.m. in the morning. If they found out --

AI: That's Tule Lake.

MN: Now if at Tule Lake, if they found out you were going to leave would they have beaten you up?

AI: Most likely, very possible. But you know that time there was two young sisters left Tule Lake same time I did. I don't know where they went but they were there two o'clock in the morning administration area also. That was the army's things that they didn't want anybody to attack us so that's why they picked us up at two o'clock in the morning.

MN: So was there a lot of pressure to renounce your U.S. citizenship in Tule Lake at that time?

AI: No, Tule Lake like until that hearing came there was nothing that like I said we kind of stayed away from everything. Fortunately we were away from central area so really not.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

MN: So after one month at Minidoka where did you go?

AI: From there I went to Chicago because that's where my friend and my brother was there.

MN: But you stopped in Denver first right?

AI: I stopped in Denver to visit my friend. The friend I met in Jerome and he and his family was farming over there in Jerome, I mean, Denver.

MN: So what did you do in Denver?

AI: Just visit their farm. I was there only two days. We really didn't do anything, we kind of long talk we had while talking and he show us the farm, the areas and didn't go anywhere, there wasn't time, enough time to do anything or go anywhere so we kind of talked old times and what we did, what we do. I invited him to come to Chicago when he gets around, which he did.

MN: Now from Tule Lake your final destination was supposed to be Chicago but you went to Minidoka and you stopped at Denver. Did you have to get a special permit to go to Denver?

AI: No, ticket was made that way I found out. So same tickets I get off and took one month off at Minidoka I get back on with the same and went to Denver, two days I stay there, same ticket went to Chicago.

MN: When you were in Denver did you go to the Japantown?

AI: No, I don't think they had a Japantown.

MN: So when you got to Chicago did anyone meet you at the train station?

AI: Yes, my brother and one of the friend came and pick us up. And those GI box and my belongings they shipped it before me to the Chicago so I got the notice later to pick them up.

MN: And that was at the WRA office?

AI: Yes.

MN: And where did you folks stay in Chicago?

AI: South side, Ellis and 45th Street I think. That's where a lot of Japanese was.

MN: So once you arrived in Chicago what did you do?

AI: Immediately we rent apartment so the apartment there is we had to pay one week rent ahead every week. We pay the rent and since went out there nothing, so I had to buy all the utility for my chawans and dishes, pots and pans so we bought that and by then I had a forty-five dollar in the pocket to leave Tule Lake. And forty-five is gone so now next rent is coming next week so I had to have... so we went work hunting soon as we went there and I got job right away in a machine shop. And got the work there first paycheck one week, pay the rent, buy the food, same way that just about cover the expense. Not much money left maybe five more dollar in the pocket or something like that and this keep on going until we got a little bit more savings, accumulate.

MN: Did you encounter any racial hostilities in Chicago?

AI: It was really a surprise to me, none.

MN: What was your brother doing?

AI: He was working in the machine shop also, different machine shop. I got the job at a different machine shop.

MN: Now is it at this time that you were teaching photo retouching for the military?

AI: No.

MN: That was later.

AI: Later, I went to same school study and after I finished the course then I stay with the teacher. This school was basically for GI bill so all the veterans was coming to that class and I think I went with my friend, two of went that class and friend didn't continue. He went to work in another machine shop and I stayed there then gradually I knew enough of what to teach so I started teaching.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

MN: And how long were you in Chicago?

AI: Year and half until I got drafted.

MN: So once you got drafted what month was this, what year?

AI: I was drafted September.

MN: What year?

AI: 1946.

MN: So the war had already ended then?

AI: Yes.

MN: So when you heard the war had ended how did you feel?

AI: Relief.

MN: And so how did you feel when you got drafted?

AI: Well, I was expecting to be drafted anyways so sooner or later so that was fine with me. And same time I think it was three or four of us, our friends, they all got the notice. But the funny part is none of them passed the physical. So I was the only one that passed physical.

MN: Where did you do your basic training?

AI: New Jersey. Trenton, New Jersey. Since war was end, so the basic training was short, cut down to three months. Before was like during the war six months or something like that basic training but they cut down to three months. Then after basic is finished we all got shipped out to Korea.

MN: Now did you do basic training in a segregated unit or was it integrated?

AI: Integrated. In our company there was about a dozen Japanese Niseis was in there.

MN: How did the non-Japanese American soldiers treat you?

AI: You know I, in my company, in my platoon I had a guy, one guy from Hawaii and one young man from New York was sleeping next to my bunk, so we're a threesome there and they found that I wasn't speaking much of English and I told them that I can't speak and I want to learn. So they says, "Oh okay, we'll teach you how to talk," so they were real helpful to me. And what I did is instead of associating with the other Niseis, Japanese guys, if I do, then I'm going to end up talking Japanese so I kind of stayed away and I went with two guys and they really helped me. And I started learning more during the short time than going to the school. Especially one guy from Hawaii is being in Hawaii he knew all the Japanese so he was real friendly and real nice. The Hawaii guy was real nice, I mean the New York guy he was going university but he just somehow he stopped and he said he's going to go army then he's going to go back to school after discharge or maybe he want to get the GI bill or whatever the reason, so both of them was real grateful.

MN: Now on your free time what did you do? You had furloughs, right?

AI: Yeah, when I was in Korea I took my furlough and went to Japan to see my mother from there. In fact, I had ten day coming and when my furlough time was coming I was transfer to MI group which I was shipped to the South Korea, the Pusan, the southern tip of Korea. And then we went back, unit went back to Seoul again so I lost my furlough time about like what five days or something like that so my furlough got shortened but I went Japan anyway and I met my family there.

MN: Okay so we just skipped over it and went into Korea. Okay, so let's get into Korea. You got drafted in '46, you did three months of basic training and you were shipped to Korea. Did your troop ship stop in Hawaii or Japan at that time?

AI: No, troop ship went straight to the Korea, Inchon harbor.

MN: What was Inchon like at that time?

AI: Korea was, after the war and they're all torn and when you got off the ship -- well, in fact, we reached there in December 31st, '46, and we got off the ship January 1st, got on the train which had no windows, it's all blocked from the war and we got on that in the middle of winter and just freezing cold and we went to former Japanese cavalry unit station and I remember we got there, then it was, on the train we had no hot water, nothing. We ate the K-ration with cold water and went to this barrack and the barrack don't have a window, it's all broken and they served us a hot meal there. But we stand on the area where they used to wash horse and they kind of built a table and built it high enough that no chair, we had to stand and eat, outdoor, freezing. At least we had a hot meal. And we stayed there a few days and I was assigned to construction battalion and there was a place called Ascum city. I don't know why they call Ascum city but that's where I went.

MN: And were you still with the two hakujin people that were teaching you English?

AI: No, the one from the New York, I don't know where he went but the one from Hawaii somehow we got together, we went all the way through to the Korea to the construction battalion until I was reassigned to the MI. So we slept together, we got the same barrack, we slept together he was a real nice. Now I wonder what happened to him or where he is.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

MN: And so at this Askem city you were assigned to construction?

AI: Yes.

MN: How much construction did you know?

AI: None, so the captain interview all the newcomers and he'll ask, "What can you do?" So I says, "I have no knowledge, none about, nothing about the construction." So he says, "What can you do?" I says, "Nothing. Maybe I can do interpreter," because Koreans, if they were at the time if they were fifty years old or older they'll speak Japanese. The younger, they didn't. So he was so happy that he got his own... whenever the army did the construction project, the contractor, Korean, supposed to furnish a Korean interpreter and he cannot understand the Korean interpreter. So when I said maybe I can do so he was so happy. We don't have MO for interpreter in construction battalion. So, "Oh yeah, why not I assign you to do my jeep driver?" So I was his jeep driver and we went around together.

MN: And so when you say MOs, is this military order?

AI: [Nods]

MN: So you became an interpreter. Does that mean you became a military intelligence?

AI: No, that was my work supposed to be but he cannot give me that so I was, my title was a jeep driver.

MN: So when did you become part of the Military Intelligence Service?

AI: After about ten months in construction battalion, then there was a unit came through Korea, went through all the units in Korea looking for more Japanese interpreter. And we were, three of us was in that construction battalion so they picked all three of us out of that construction, we speak or not.

MN: And I'm going to go back a little bit. When you were in the construction unit what projects was the unit working on?

AI: Unit was, their job was to build the army -- what is that -- dependents' housings.

MN: So now you got plucked out of the construction unit and you're in the MIS. Is this 1947?

AI: 1947.

MN: Now once you're in the MIS where did they send you?

AI: They send us to headquarter near Seoul, Seoul, Korea. Then once I was assigned to Seoul, Korea, headquarter then they send us to the thirty-eighth parallel on Japan Sea side just company opposite from Seoul. And there was infantry division was there and we were attached to the division for purpose of meal and sleep. And our job there was to... they had a refugee camp away from border about three or maybe five mile back into south side from the border thirty-eight. Refugee camp and whoever the refugee come in there we supposed to interrogate and try to find out whatever information we get, what's going on in North Korea. But those refugees are usually hungry farmers or laborers and no information would come out from them. But that's what we supposed to do.

MN: So your MIS group was attached to this infantry unit near the thirty-eighth parallel. Where was your actual outfit located?

AI: Seoul.

MN: Seoul, and that's how many miles away?

AI: Across Korea. [Laughs] One side to the other side.

MN: So that's why you --

AI: I have no idea how many miles. We had to fly over, only way.

MN: So you had to be with this infantry unit because, to get meals?

AI: Yeah, only three of us so they supply us the meal and room.

MN: Now during your time in Korea did you ever feel like your life was in danger?

AI: No, really not. The war was over and we were just an occupation troop.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

MN: And then you mentioned during your furlough when you were in Korea you were able to visit Japan?

AI: Yes.

MN: What was it like to visit your mother's house?

AI: That was when I went... when I knew when I was get a furlough so I prepare earlier, and being a peon army we have no money, small pay so earlier I start buying things, box of chocolate, a bar of soap and accumulating, get ready to go Japan. So by the time I was ready to go I had two duffle bags full of gift accumulated. And they're all hundred pound each both bags had to carry that. Going to the airport was fine, jeep will take us I didn't have to carry anything. And then I get on the plane and went to Fukuoka that's where we land, and from there I had to take a train. Now this time on train but it was close enough and jeep took us to the station so when I went to reach Hiroshima I got off at the Kure rather than Hiroshima station. Kure is just on opposite side. From there I'm all by myself, there's no army truck, transportation or nothing. And by the time I got home I had a big hole in both duffle bags. And when I went there, even K-ration they enjoyed it, I mean, they were so hungry from everything. They really had nothing even you had money there's nothing to buy. So when I gave the gift to Mother, then she starts dividing to everybody. She said now I have to give it to all the relatives so started dividing everything in small pieces here and there. And she spread to everybody, even bar of soap, they didn't have soap so that was really something, really surprised.

MN: Did your family lose anybody in the atomic bombing?

AI: Yes, my uncle. That one particular day he was repairing a roof and up in a roof facing where the bomb was dropped. And when the explosion he got flash burned so his whole front was burned but with the explosion he got blown off of the roof so fortunately just the front burned, back wasn't burned. But unfortunate part is everybody got burned, they all got infections afterwards so that took him a few months before he died but finally he died. The infection got so bad and I saw him, his scar, it's ugly scar, you never see it even the burn that atomic burn is something else.

MN: And what did the city of Hiroshima look like?

AI: Flat, nothing. Only building left was the Fukuya department which was concrete steel and concrete built. Then knocked down it was there. Sumitomo bank was standing, all the windows was blown out. So any concrete steel building was there but rest of the buildings all flat.

MN: You're in the U.S. army and you were seeing this. How did you feel when you saw this?

AI: You can't even describe the feelings. Wow, that was I think my only word.

MN: Sadness, anger?

AI: Well, sadness yes, anger no. I mean, it was so bad that you can't even get angry.

MN: Was Etajima affected at all?

AI: No, they were far enough.

MN: Now while you were in Japan visiting you also got married. How did this come about?

AI: Well, I knew her, this was my mother's things that she arranged it. And I knew her from... she was born in Pasadena. And they lost chance coming back to U.S. before the war because father died, mother die and just two girls and nobody here that they can depend so she got kind of stuck there. That was Mother's things that she said, "I got somebody here, I want you to get married," and sort of things that we kind of met each other then I ask her, "You want to get married?" She said yes so it was kind of simple.

MN: So after you got married and you returned to the United States to be honorably discharged, did your wife accompany you?

AI: No.

MN: Why not?

AI: Because I couldn't bring her with me at the time, the short time, I have no time to register marriage to the army. Unless we're legally married, we had a Japanese ceremony, but not for the U.S. And plus, if I register to marry I have to extend my stay in Korea which I didn't want to stay any longer than necessary. So we figured I would talk to them and say, "I'm going to go back and as soon as you get your passport, come soon as you can." So that was the arrangement we made.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

MN: And what year were you honorably discharged?

AI: '47, '48.

MN: And what did you do after you got discharged?

AI: I went back to Chicago and went back to the working again.

MN: Did your mother come with you?

AI: No, she didn't come at that time because I couldn't invite her. I didn't have a penny in my pocket so I had to re-establish myself financially before I can do anything and I know my wife is coming so that's going to cost me some more money. In fact I had to borrow money to get her.

MN: Well, you're in Chicago. Was it difficult to find another job?

AI: No, it was the same as during the war, easy to find jobs. In fact, this time I work in the cabinet shop.

MN: And how long were you in Chicago?

AI: We stayed there another year and a half.

MN: And then you came to Los Angeles.

AI: Came back to Norwalk.

MN: And why did you come out to Norwalk?

AI: One of the friend, old, old time friend, was farming and he was looking for partner so he invite me if I want to be his partner and do the farm. I says, well I got nothing so might as well do something, so I said yes. So we came back but that didn't pan out.

MN: So how long were you farming in Norwalk?

AI: One year.

MN: And then by then was your wife, did she join you?

AI: She came when I was in Chicago. I think she had a little trouble trying to get a passport to come back. She had to prove that she's a citizen, birth certificate and she had to go to Kobe to do all this. So back and forth traveling from Hiroshima to Kobe and it took a little bit longer to get a permit or the passport.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

MN: Now your wife and yourself are out in southern California and you were about to move into a house in Gardena but you didn't, what happened?

AI: Well, the farming didn't work out, so meantime I was just working for people and I figured I got to do something and everybody says quick money, why don't you start the gardening? So I says okay, I hate gardening but anyway I says okay I think I will. So I was going to start the gardening and we rent the house in Gardena then about ready to move then I got recall notice for Korean incidents. Here I'm back in army again.

MN: And that was because you were in the MIS reserves?

AI: Yes, because I was in the MIS reserve.

MN: Why did you join the MIS reserves?

AI: You know, I figured that since the war with Japan is over and they're not going to need any interpreters for Japanese speaking and they're not going to have any war with Japan anymore, so why not join the reserve MI. It turned out to be backward.

MN: So when you got recalled, did you have to go through basic training again?

AI: No, no basic training but they called that refreshing course. We went to Monterey to have the one month we were there refreshing course. Which we didn't have a teacher or we didn't have anybody, self-studying so being veterans nobody going to study, we just sit in the room until the time comes. Soon as time comes we're out. [Laughs]

MN: Now all these people in there, were they all Japanese Americans?

AI: Yes.

MN: And so from Monterey where were you shipped?

AI: Pardon me?

MN: From Monterey, California, where did they ship you?

AI: From there we were... ten of us shipped to headquarter in Tokyo.

MN: And then what was your assignment there?

AI: There we got I think two guys went to Okinawa and two guys went to CIC and one went to Hiroshima, Kure, Hiroshima, military government and that's what two, two, five and one. And three of us stays in headquarters, I was one of them to stay in headquarter.

MN: And you mentioned CIC and that's the Counterintelligence Corps.

AI: Yes.

MN: What did you do in headquarters?

AI: Headquarters all the headquarters already set, MI was kind of shorthanded and I learned the drafting at the school, in high school so that came in handy. We had all the prisoners in Russia or Manchuria when they came back, MI they interrogate trying to get all the information available and one of the thing was they drew a map, crude map by hand and my job is to get the map and the other guy's map and the other guy's map and we put all together and trying to make a map out and location where prisoner was and what was there and what's not. And that was my job is to make the map out.

MN: Now meanwhile while you're in Toyko, your wife is here in the United States and she's a Kibei. How was she supporting herself?

AI: Soon as we got... that was the first thing came to my mind, what am I going to do with her? So I say here's a chance that why not put her in schoolgirl and let her go to school and learn while I'm gone. So one of my relatives was doing gardening for one family, Van Vorst, they talked and says, "Oh yeah, we'd love to have." So I says okay. So I told them this is only long as she can stay would be until I get discharged and come back. When I came back, they love her so much they didn't want to let her go. I didn't want to stay in that family. Finally after a little while I says no I got the gardening work established, start going and we rent the house in Pasadena, small house behind another house, we moved out to there. I had her go Pasadena City College after she graduated.

MN: And that's how she learned her English?

AI: Yeah.

MN: Now how long were you stationed overseas the second time?

AI: Ten months.

MN: That was '51?

AI: '51.

MN: Okay, now I want to change the subject and I want to ask you about camp again. After the war have you visited Jerome, Tule Lake or Minidoka?

AI: No, none of them.

MN: Why not?

AI: I just don't want to see anymore. I'm not interested to see. I had enough camp life. That's my feeling.

MN: Well, 1988 the government issued an apology and reparation money. How did you feel about that?

AI: Not enough. Not enough for what we lost.

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

AI: No, I don't think so.

MN: We covered everything?

AI: I think so.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.