Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Akiko Kurose Interview I
Narrator: Akiko Kurose
Interviewer: Matt Emery
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 17, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-kakiko-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

ME: A few months after that, you were sent to...

AK: Then we were sent to Idaho. And it was -- we were welcomed by dust storms. And it was really, you know, desert. Tumbling weeds, and dust, windstorms. And the barracks were at least more stable than what we had in Puyallup, but they were not finished, so they were covered with tarpaper all around. And so at least it was giving us more protection. But the weather was very extreme, and those of us that were born in the Northwest were not accustomed to that kind of weather.

ME: Tell me what it was like for you when you first arrived there.

AK: Well, we just again looked over the situation. This time they gave us army mattresses, so we didn't have to stuff mattresses when we went there. And there were still the steel army cots and we had to arrange the six beds so that there'd be space enough for us to move around. And then there was the mess hall, which was more permanent-looking than what we had in Puyallup. And so, we said, "Well, I guess this is where we're going to stay for awhile."

ME: Overall not too pretty, huh?

AK: Uh-huh, uh-huh. And, one of the things we did is to find out where each other, you know, each of our friends lived, "Which barrack are you in?" and so that we could visit. And so, it's not that we weren't that concerned, but we did go around trying to socialize and make friends. Well, they were our friends, but to establish contact with them, knowing where they were.

ME: How did your parents react at this time?

AK: And, you could see the disappointment in them, but they didn't say much, you know? I never heard them really complain. And it was 1984 when my husband and I decided to take my mom back to camp as a pilgrimage. And when we went there, she was by the river and she let the leaf float down the river and she said, "It's been a long time, and those were not very pretty years," was all she said. But she never really ever complained. I think they decided to make the best of it and that was it. And that's -- I think that's, was their upbringing. And so, they weren't the type that would go and protest or demonstrate. Whereas I think if -- well, I don't think it could occur now, with us, because we would protest. Also we have more legal kind of help, we have more experts in that area. And people are different these days. It's a land of protests and demonstrations.

ME: What was that pilgrimage like in '84 with you and your mom?

AK: It was very interesting. We just felt we'd like just go see what it was like. And as we looked over it, it had changed so much. The land was more arable, people were farming where our barracks were, and there were, barracks had been relocated. And we saw a man, and he said, "You know," he said, "I want to apologize to you." And he said, "I was one of those youngsters that worked here in the camp, as, you know, an eighteen-year-old, to help build these camps." Then he said he went into service and when he came back, those barracks were being offered, and that land was being offered as a homestead agreement. And all those GIs could get the barracks and the land if they served. One of the stipulations was if you have ever lived on that land, you could not homestead it. Well, the only people that lived on that land were the Japanese American soldiers, so they were the only ones that were not permitted as GIs to homestead that area. And so it was very interesting. And he, he had fought with the Japanese Americans in the service, and he felt that he needed to come in there and because -- but...

ME: That is interesting.

AK: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.