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-01-0005

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ME: You mentioned that your mother liked to celebrate some of the Jewish holidays as well, so you interacted with those that were around your community. [Interruption] What I was wondering is, what about the interaction with the Nihonmachi, or the Japanese community?

AK: Oh yes. And then we also observed all the Japanese holidays. And, and my folks had lots of friends that came in and out. And so, we had a very multicultural experience from way back. I think it was a shock when we went into camp to have just... well, it was just so homogeneous, you know. And so it was a totally different experience as far as interacting with people. You know, it's easy for me to say now that our Constitutional rights were violated, I wasn't thinking of those things at that time. It was a shock to say, you know, to know that we had to leave by reason of race. But then I didn't think deeply enough to think about those things then. There was kind of almost a resentment of, "Why were we born Japanese that we'd have to leave like this?" And so, thinking of unfairness, it was almost like we were turning it against ourselves, saying, you know... we wished we didn't have to leave, but we had to leave because of our ethnicity. And it was a real fun childhood I had at that time. I was very much involved in the school functions, and so it was a different way of life when we went to camp.

ME: A complete turnaround.

AK: Yes. And the, and Japanese families are, were taught to be modest, or we just were. We never even undressed in front of our sisters, you know. We just were very private. And so to have to share the bathrooms with strangers as well as, you know, sharing the shower stall, and taking a shower with multiple groups of people was very devastating.

ME: How did you, how did you get through those devastating times?

AK: But, you know, one of the nice things was my parents were really positive-thinking people. And my father and mother said, "This is war, this is what happens. In wartime, people do crazy things. So we mustn't be bitter, but we must think in terms of never having war again. So we must work for peace." And at that time, "Okay," you know, it was... but as I... as the years went on, I really appreciated the impact it had on our attitude about being incarcerated. And we saw a lot of bitterness, as well as lots of sadness and devastation. And it wasn't... I'm not criticizing people, but it's just that it was a different atmosphere for our family, as it was for some other families. But I was... most of the people were accepting of what had happened, and they didn't turn their sadness into real bitterness, which was very good. But you know, I think that was part of the culture also. And so often people say, "Well, why didn't you protest?" And there's lots of criticism by younger people, and other people saying, "Well, you didn't have to go, you should have protested." But it wasn't the time to protest, and it wasn't that kind of a, you know, atmosphere. I think if we protested at that time, I think it would have been much harder on us than people protesting... today is a time of protest, and marching, and demonstrating. But it wasn't that kind of a time.

ME: It was a completely different atmosphere.

AK: Completely different.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.