Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hank Shozo Umemoto Interview II
Narrator: Hank Shozo Umemoto
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 6, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-462-5

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TI: Okay, so you now, you return to Manzanar, and you were there just for a couple more months.

HU: Yeah, just not even that much. And a funny thing happened. When I was out here in L.A., I saw this Hawaiian shirt, real yellow and palm trees, real Hawaiian shirt. And I wore that, when I went back to camp I wore that, and one day, my mother came over crying because people were saying that I'm a furyosei.

TI: And what's that?

HU: Furyo is a bum, delinquent.

TI: Because you wore a Hawaiian shirt back?

HU: Yeah. Because in those days, nobody wore Hawaiian shirts. Things were really different, everything was sort of changing.

TI: So when you came back, I guess the word on the street was that you were a delinquent.

HU: Delinquent.

TI: And so you were a bad boy.

HU: Yeah.

TI: So that really upset your mother.

HU: Oh, yeah, she came home crying.

TI: So did that help prompt you guys to leave Manzanar?

HU: No, it had no effect. I kept wearing the shirt.

TI: So what prompted you guys to leave Manzanar then?

HU: We had to. Because I think when they said, when they lifted the order in January or February, there was also stipulation that we had to leave Manzanar by November. So I think the last person to leave Manzanar was a lady on November 22nd, something like that. So we had to leave, and then for most people who had kids going to school, we had to leave before school started over here.

TI: That makes sense. So I looked at the records, and it looks like you left in August, early August.

HU: August 4th or something like that.

TI: And so you go to Los Angeles, and you're staying at Mr. Muro's place. The interesting thing, when I look at the date, is it happened right about the time the United States dropped the atomic bomb. Do you remember that and where you were when you heard about that?

HU: Not really. I remember the day the war ended.

TI: Yeah, so talk about that, because I was going to say, you were in Los Angeles August 15th when Japan, I think the emperor announced the surrender. So what happened in Los Angeles? Because this is the end of World War II.

HU: Yeah.

TI: It's a big deal.

HU: I guess we knew the war was going to be over, Japan had no chance. And I think it was already sort of indoctrinated that the war is going to be over, so it was over, I didn't have any traumatic expectancies. Just like Pearl Harbor, for months or even years before it happened, the Japanese community knew that it was going to be war. So when it did happen, it just happened, it was no big deal to us. That is, for me, it wasn't a big deal.

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