Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kanji Sahara Interview
Narrator: Kanji Sahara
Interviewer: Brian Niiya
Location: Torrance, California
Date: October 5, 2018
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-448-19

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 19>

BN: And then after your retirement, you got involved in a number of things. Can you talk a little bit about that?

KS: Yeah. So then I was trying to figure out what to do. So one was, I was a docent at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, so then I'd take the children around. And then I did that for five, six years, but they have what they call a spring program, where you stand outside in the stand, and on a spring program they might have a thousand students come in one day. And then they divide up the students in two rows, so then you'd be speaking to five hundred students, and they come in batches of maybe fifty students. So for about ten or eleven times on that day, you have to talk to them about tidepools. So then in my presentation I used to stand up and sit down in the sand, stand up and sit down in the sand, and after a while I couldn't do that physically. So that's when I had to give up and then retire from that and move to JANM.

But another thing I did was, I thought I'm going to, in retirement, work on plants. And then there was this group that had these cactus, so there's all sorts of different plant groups, and that group was really working on succulents and cactus. So then I joined that for several years and bought a few cactus plants and stuff like that. And then another thing, my wife was doing Chinese brush painting, so she painted a lot of these things on the wall. She said I should do brush painting. So I went to, over there at this adult school I did brush, I mean, regular painting. And then also, after a time I learned how to play the piano, but all those things sort of went down the wayside.

And then the one right now I'm concentrating on is JANM, and then also the Tuna Canyon. And then sometime I entered the Huntington Beach Historical Wintersburg Village. So then whenever the Wintersburg Village, they want somebody to come to speak at the city council or planning commission, then I have to run down there and speak. So I do that every now and then now. So this past year I've gone to the L.A. city council and spoke there. You get one minute or two minutes, or the metropolitan transport, when they're talking about the route, which route to take. I went down there and in the past I spoke at the... oh yeah, when they wanted to tear down that Parker Center, they wanted speakers. So whenever they got the SOS for Japanese speakers, then I try to reply. And then I spoke at the Carson City Council. And then a long time ago, ten years ago when they had their redistricting after the census, they wanted people to come speak on behalf of the Japanese, so I did that.

BN: What do you do at JANM, the Japanese American National Museum?

KS: Okay. So at JANM, I'm what they call a docent. So then at JANM they have, very similar to the Cabrillo museum in that the students come around ten o'clock, and then take them on a tour of the Common Grounds at JANM. But there's a lot of difference between JANM and the museum. In JANM, if there's fifty students or so, and then they divide up into five groups of ten each or so, everybody starts from the beginning, because you want to go in chronological order in the history of the Japanese Americans, so everybody's jam-packed together at the beginning. Well, at the Cabrillo museum, they have a shotgun start. So that the start, it's spread out so that you don't bump into each other, and then everybody follows the same path. Anyway, it's sort of the same and different. But in JANM I talk about the history of the discrimination against the Japanese. So some of that stuff I talk about, they don't have an exhibit, so then I can expand upon the exhibit. And like at JANM they have one poster about the Japanese segregated public school in San Francisco, so they had just one poster, and then I could expand upon that and talk about Roosevelt's Gentleman's Agreement, and how the Gentleman's Agreement had the part about the Isseis come from Japan to the U.S. under two conditions. One is that they once lived in the U.S., and the other is that if there's an Issei living in the U.S., they could have an immediate relative come from Japan to the U.S. Then I'll sort of relate that to how it was in our family, and that was the way that my father and his brothers were able to come to the U.S.

BN: You're probably one of the few people who were directly affected by that.

KS: But then I also talk about the way in Japan, the way that the marriage license thing worked is that when the girl went to registrar's office and signed her name on the registry of the husband's family, at that instance she became the wife of that guy. So now she was the immediate relative of the guys in the U.S., and that's how they could become "picture brides" and come to the U.S. So a hundred years ago, the Japanese people were thinking about how to get around the immigration laws. So right now, Trump was talking about the chain migration, well, hundred years ago the Japanese were trying to figure out how to get around the Gentleman's Agreement, how could they get their wives here and stuff like that. So like they say, what comes around goes around.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.