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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ben Takeshita Interview
Narrator: Ben Takeshita
Interviewer: Virginia Yamada
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: March 11, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-467-9

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BT: But in the meantime, we continued going to school and so on, and then come 1945, August, the war ended, and so we were able to go back to San Mateo to our hometown and leave Tule Lake. My oldest brother, because of the treatments that he got with American citizens, felt that America was not for him, and because he was bilingual he would be able to better, maybe help Japan recover from its war effort. And so he decided to go be one of the first ones to return to Japan. But as soon as he got there, he found that the Japanese citizens were questioning, "Why did you come back?" Because they were very short of food and there were people going hungry. And so they were wondering, "Why did you have to come back?" So my brother did write back to Tule Lake to many of his friends and so on who were planning to return to Japan, and told them, "Don't come back because you're not welcome," and so on. So he turned a lot of people back from going back to Japan. But he stayed, and we have one of the uncles who was high in the bank business, so he was able to get a job with a bank. And later on, because my brother is good at math and really sharp, he was able to get an electronic firm, which later on, wanted to open up a branch in San Jose. So he became one of the persons that would set it up in San Jose, so he needed a sponsor. Because I was working by then, so I had to sponsor him as a relative and have him come to San Jose to start this business, electronic firm in Silicon Valley. So that's how, then he came back to the United States and was able to get to start his line of business. But I was, for one, was very angry at my brother, actually, because he forced us to go to Japanese language school in Tule Lake, so when I got back to San Mateo, I had to start from the eighth grade. My buddies who, we were classmates before the war, they were already sophomores in high school, but I had to start at an eighth grade level and then go on to high school two years behind. So that made me feel a little uncomfortable and really was upset about my brother forcing us to go to Japanese language class. But then when he wanted to come back to San Mateo, I mean, to San Jose to work on this electronic firm, because we were relatives and naturally he was my brother, I decided to sponsor him, so he did come back.

And that was the life that he started, I went on, from San Mateo, during high school, what happened was that from Tule Lake to get back to San Mateo, my aunt and uncle had purchased a property in San Mateo because they were American citizens and they had purchased the property in San Mateo. So they had invited us to come live with them in their home temporarily until such time when we could find a home. So my oldest brother went back to Japan, my second oldest brother, he was learning English still in high school, so he didn't come back, so the rest of us went back to San Mateo. But the house was very crowded so my two sisters, we started working for wealthy families as schoolgirls, schoolboys, and I went as a schoolboy, started working there during my high school period, helped cook and helped wash the dishes and pots and pans and so on, and that kind of thing and do the gardening work and so on, so did that all through high school. And also, right after high school, I mean, right after we got out of camp, I did not admit that I spoke Japanese because I wanted, I felt that maybe that was the reason that we were put into these camps, because they didn't know who we were, so I felt that speaking Japanese might be a sign of disloyalty. So in my mind, I felt I better not speak Japanese. And although our family was Buddhist, I felt that maybe that's too Japanese-y, and so maybe I should start going to Christian schools and so on.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.