Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kazumu Naganuma Interview
Narrator: Kazumu Naganuma
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda, Yoko Nishimura
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: September 20, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-482

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Today is September 20, 2019, we're in San Francisco at your home, Kazumu Naganuma, and on camera we have Yuka and also interviewing is Yoko. This is Tom Ikeda. To start off with, right before the interview I was just saying, so what name should I use during the interview? And you came up with several names. I thought that would actually be a good start. So first, tell me what was your given name when you were born?

KN: It's Kazumu Julio Cesar Naganuma. Julio Cesar translates to Julius Caesar. I don't know why they didn't just call me Julius instead of Tony, it would have been easier.

TI: Well, so now Tony, where did "Tony" come from?

KN: "Tony" comes from my sister Kiyo that gave us these American names because it was difficult for the teachers and friends to pronounce our names in school, especially from middle school on. I experienced that in the military as well because there was no Tony there, and every time they had a roll call... I went in with my friend, they had roll call, you go through alphabetically, his name is Matsuura, and then my name came next, and there's this long silence because they couldn't pronounce it. That's why "Tony" came in handy, yeah. After a while it got to the point where they just, there's a long silence and everyone knew the name, so I would just say, "Here," and that was the simplest way to get by the roll call.

TI: Well, what was interesting to me is, so you have all these different names that were given to you, but that also carries over to your life today in that different people call you different names. So just briefly tell me, like what do your family members call you, what do people at work call you, on and on, just the differences?

KN: Yeah, my side of the family all refers to me as Tony, and I think that comes from my sister that gave me the "Tony," that's the second oldest sister in the family, and it's just been that way forever. On my wife's side it's all Kaz or Kazumu. The ones that knew me from way back, it's Kazumu. My friends that I grew up with, it's Kaz. And as I said, now my friends at my club are all calling me Julio or Tony. [Laughs] So there's a mixture. Sometimes people don't know if it's the right, or the same person. I get a kick out of it.

TI: I do, too. Because in many ways, when people call you, you kind of know who they are in some ways, or where they come from or where they knew you.

KN: Well, my employee, she's a longtime Japantown person, she knows almost everyone in Japantown. So she knows me by Tony because that's how she met me in the profession, but she knows when she speaks to so-and-so, she says Kaz. So she goes back and forth, switches.

TI: Oh, so she's able to do that switching, she knows...

KN: She's pretty darn good at that, considering all these different people we know.

TI: She'll be really good when she knows when to use Julio, right?

KN: Oh, that'd be funny. That's just recent, like I say, at my club. I'm having fun with it, they're having fun with it, too, because they know now, more so my background.

TI: But for you, when you think of yourself, what name would you use?

KN: I prefer Kaz or Kazumu. It's more so now, today, than ever before, and it really started with the March pilgrimage in particular. That one started to tell me it's important to let people know what my real name is. So when I applied for the U.S. citizenship, my driver's license, my social security card, all that is Kazumu Julio Cesar Naganuma.

TI: So it's like reclaiming your original name.

KN: That's correct. That's who I am, and I'm proud of it. Not that I wasn't proud of it before, but it wasn't of value, if you will. "Tony" was important in the business, it was easy. In our industry, name recognition is important. They have to know your work, but if they say, "Oh, go see Kazumu," they wouldn't even get by Kazumu, and it would never carry on, let alone Naganuma. "Tony" caught on and that's how I was successful in the business, just because everything, almost ninety percent of the work was all referrals. So it helped to have that, Tony in there. Lot easier, should I say. I've had from, when I was in the military or at junior college, my name was pronounced as "Nagima," "Naguma," I got a "McNamara" out of it. [Laughs] I don't know how you get McNamara, but they see the name, it's just overwhelming. People that are Hispanic, easy, you know, Na-ga-nu-ma, it's very easy. So it's interesting, but they stumble. And another part of the name is, the name Naganuma, when you hear it, some people thought it was African, not knowing who I was. There's that "numa," that part, so I got that out of the Naganuma, too.

TI: See, what I sense right now is this taking back of your name, this pride.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: And so I wanted to kind of talk about that journey to get there. And you mentioned the reunion/protest in Texas. But even before then, I guess maybe the question is, let's talk about your interest in learning more about your family history, and kind of, because I think that set the foundation for later on. So tell me when you first started becoming interested in what happened to your family.

KN: I think I was always interested, but really focused at the march and pilgrimage. It became important because I knew I had to speak out somewhere, and really important when I started to get all the people calling me for an interview.

TI: And let me just, for people who are watching this, this is March 2019, the pilgrimage to Crystal City and then a day later, I think it was a protest at...

KN: Dilley.

TI: Dilley, Texas, which was a family detention facility.

KN: That's correct, yeah.

TI: So you're saying that that really brought it up. So, first, how did you come to actually go to this? Why did you go to this?

KN: Well, a good friend of mine, this is the co-chair of the pilgrimage that's coming up, said that they were doing this, planning for this pilgrimage. And it was nothing official, it was kind of, almost ad hoc, we just got together and I said, "Well, I'd be interested in joining the committee." So after they were, already met three or four times, I joined the committee. And, of course, I knew Satsuki Ina from school way back when, and I know her brother was in my class. So I joined, and then as we got started, I realized I could offer my services to make this pilgrimage a lot better.

TI: You're saying, like your design services?

KN: Creative services, yeah. And so that's kind of where I got deeper into it and then, actually, it was Satsuki who said, "Maybe you want to not use your 'Tony' email anymore." I said, "Good idea," because she knows how deep this is going to get into. So I got my KazTJC, "Tony," "Julio," "Cesar," TJC, at gmail. And that worked out really quite well because now it's easier to keep things separate. And so, but the main reason I wanted to do this is just to get a better sense of what my parents might have gone through. And I was a little disappointed at the March pilgrimage because we spent very little time at Crystal City. We did so many things, it was a short ceremony, it was nice, but off we went. This one that's coming in November, it's actually October 31st through November 3rd, we're going to spend the whole day there. We're lucky to meet, the advance team went last week and met with the officials, and these are all the movers and shakers, the mayor, the school superintendent, the county judge, so on and so on, and they rolled out the red carpet. They are going to be just taking care of everything for us. So the cost alone is going to be substantial for us to put that into other areas. But it really came down to wanting to just get a little sense of what my mom and dad went through psychologically. It was hard to do that in March because it was too short. I hope to do that more, just because there's going to be a lot more Japanese Peruvians, Japanese Latin Americans coming. These are actual internees like myself and we could be sharing our stories. There was a lot of success stories, by the way, I've been in touch with a lot of people. And the key there, again, is just to really get a sense for what our family went through. It's just amazing that they could go through that and then actually make it in life later, and then have all the children do okay.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So was that first trip to Crystal City in March, then, which we're, what, about seven, eight months ago? I'm trying to think.

KN: Yeah.

TI: And so not that long ago. And prior to that, you kind of knew the story but you didn't really dive in and know as much, is that what you're saying? That really kind of ignited your interest? This phone call probably from, I think you're talking about Hiroshi Shimizu, who said, hey, come join us.

KN: They're planning this, and I said, "Okay, I'm really interested." I mean, I knew the story enough, but going there was, I just felt it would be different. There's been many Japanese Peruvian reunions for a number of years.

TI: Have you gone to those?

KN: My family only went to one way back when, when it was here in San Francisco. They've gone back to Peru, to Crystal City, all over the place. They actually stopped doing it about ten years ago. I think people are getting older, people have passed away, so they stopped doing that. But some of the people that are on the committee are part of that group. I wasn't quite involved, those years, my focus was my work. I hardly got involved with the community at all. Then when you're children, they need to go to different sports and things, then I got back involved. But that pilgrimage was really a good turning point for me. Hiroshi Shimizu runs the Tule Lake thing. He goes every other year, does a great job, he's been doing it for a number of years, so he's experienced in all that. That was my first, really, pilgrimage, and like I say, that was really to do with my parents. I just really thought I could get a sense for that, and I did get a sense of what they might have gone through when we went to Dilley, the day after we went to Laredo, which is a border town, and there was a facility there for migrants. This is a facility that takes the migrants in after they were released by the government. And there were a number of families there, mostly all women and their children, hardly any men. But the idea was for us to share our story with them, because it's very similar, and their story with us. The Laredo trip was probably the most impactful for me, simply because all they could speak was Spanish. And there was a translator there, and the stories were just horrific.

TI: This is really interesting. So the three days, the first was a brief visit to Crystal City and the next day in Dilley, Texas, the protest. The third day you visited...

KN: The town of Laredo.

TI: And talked with people who were going through... were these detention centers?

KN: They were released from detention centers. So this is where they could get their life started.

TI: And of those three days, you're saying the third day was the one that really impacted you the most?

KN: Yeah, that visit. And we also crossed the border at one time, and that was an interesting story in itself. But this Laredo trip was the closest I felt that I could feel what my mom, my sisters went through. Just hearing their voices in Spanish, there was an interpreter there. They were saying, oh my god, their story is nothing compared to ours. We were, they were detained for six months to a year, we were there for three and a half years, they don't think there's any comparison. But for them to tell their story in Spanish, I could see my sister in particular, Kiyo is the second oldest now, my oldest sister married right out of camp, so she went to Los Angeles. So my older sister was kind of in charge, and she did a lot. And she only spoke Spanish and Japanese, so her English was this heavy accent, Spanish accent. We always had fun with her because of that. But when I heard the ladies speaking, one lady from Guatemala talked about her four kids, and the oldest was eighteen and her daughter was eighteen, and they took her away. This is now happening today, and she couldn't figure out why, and later they told her, "Well, she's eighteen so she can take care of herself." There's no law that does that. Everything's, they're breaking the law regularly, no different than what they did with us. And when they were telling their story they were breaking down and crying, the interpreter was crying, and it was a moment that I could feel a little bit of what my parents and my sister went through.

TI: And how were you feeling as you heard these stories?

KN: Yeah, I was really torn. That's when I said, oh god, that speaking, hearing the Spanish, you just, right away, I could sense what my sister or my mom went through, because that's all they spoke, or Japanese.

TI: And did you know, kind of, coming away from that, what you were going to do? Because what you've done since then is pretty remarkable. At what point do you say, "Oh, this is what I have to do"?

KN: No, I think it took a while because I just had to absorb all that, just digest all that in. It was after a short period that we already knew at the March pilgrimage that we were going to have a larger one later on in the year. We told the people, "We're coming back," and then that kind of got us going to do the one in November. So that was kind of automatic, so we formed a committee and started the whole thing.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: But then the other thing that happened during those three days, you spoke out, you were a spokesperson.

KN: Yeah.

TI: How did that come about? Was that something that you were thinking that you would do?

KN: I think I mentioned before, our family as a whole were kind of on the shy side and we were not outspoken at all. There's one person that organized this, she's like a writer, and she does a lot of great projects, her name is Nancy Ukai. And she basically just gave me the mike. [Laughs]

TI: So you weren't, I mean, she didn't warn you?

KN: Well, Satsuki was on the mike and this is the mike that Hiroshi Shimizu put together, he has a portable one. And Satsuki just got finished speaking, and then she said, okay, she said it was my turn, and I'm ready to speak, now the mike goes dead. [Laughs] First of all, I don't have a great speaking voice, it doesn't carry. The rest of my family, they had a great voice, it just carries, not our family. But I spoke out, and what was good about all this, it just came out naturally who we were, we were kidnapped, we were imprisoned without due process, blah, blah, blah. And so Hiroshi Shimizu is the one that suggested, "When you introduce yourself, do you want to use your Spanish name?" And I said, "Let's give that a try," so I said, "Kazumu Julio Cesar Naganuma." Oh man, that sparked everything. Right after the rally or even while it's going on, all the local papers were just tugging at me, "Can I speak to you?" "Can I speak to you?" Emails, all that. So I made several interviews there and then several after that. Natasha was involved in all of that, and she took all that down, of course. Since then there's been many other interviews, including NHK. And recently KAWL, that's the radio station that's here, they're doing a short documentary. They used Hiroshi Shimizu and myself and Hiroshi Fukuda, who was one of the sons of Reverend Fukuda, they got a grant to do a short film just to educate high school students about our story. So that's, they're almost done with it, actually, going to be done at the end of the month. So the story's getting out, and so I'm not an official protestor, never was, but it got all over the papers, and I went to different events and people were coming up saying congratulations.

TI: And so when you came back to San Francisco, what was the reaction first with your family? I'm interviewing a couple of your brothers, I met your daughter, what did people think?

KN: I don't think they got the full sense for that, not at all. Even though I showed them some of the articles, even some of the live things, I don't think they really got it. But the people that, the community leaders, they knew right away that I was at an event, and somebody, definitely a community activist, came to me right away and said, "Oh, that was really good." I'm thinking, boy, what did I say? But it came out right, so I'm very fortunate.

TI: How about any pushback? Anyone say, "Hey, Kaz, maybe you shouldn't have done that," or, "What are you doing?" Any of that?

KN: No, not at all, not at all. It's all been supportive, so I'm glad. Again, everything I'm doing today, and then this is all to do with what I can do to bring the story out is really for my parents. That's really the important part of all of this. I'm part of it, but it's for my parents' sake. Even the redress, we could get into that later, but my parents had passed away so they didn't get the redress, and boy, did they need the money more than anyone else.

TI: So when you say it was for your parents. Tell me why this is for your parents.

KN: I think they suffered the most. I still don't know how they made it through, but this is, like I said, many other Japanese Peruvian, Japanese American families. How do you make it through when you're already in your mid-fifties and you have seven children and you're basically penniless? And you're in a country where you don't speak the language, how do get a job? And to go through all of that and to be able to live a pretty good life, and all the kids come out doing okay. That's a wonderful accomplishment, but what they had to do to sacrifice... first of all, they lost everything, so that alone is a big, I don't know people make it psychologically when you're stripped of all your hard work and your wealth.

TI: Well, and talk about how much they lost. Because in Peru, the family was very wealthy.

KN: Yeah, you know, my dad, I guess, went there... again, in those days were all hearsay, there's no CNN news, he had nothing to check so it was all hearsay. He went there with, he said, hundreds of Japanese men on a ship, so that takes a long time to get there. They said there's all this work in Peru, and he said immediately they found out there was very little. He said people starved. It's not like people could just pay and say, "Oh, I'm going to go back and fly back." There's no even taking a boat back. So he quickly went from his trade, which was being a carpenter, and did some farming, and then got into the laundry business and was successful with that. He ended up with three different laundries, and he was quite involved in the community there as well. So when you're involved with the community and you start to grow as his business, you became successful, and that's one of the reasons why he was targeted. And he was at a point where, I don't know for a fact how many people worked there at the three laundries, but to the point where he had a nanny to take care of the younger kids, a cook, they didn't drive them, but they would call their limo, so they were wealthy. And he was at his prime when they took all that away from him, the business, the property, of course, all the money that he had. That's probably the hardest part. My mother, being the typical Japanese wife, just went along. She's a "picture bride," and so she went along. It's not like she had a choice either. And so that's kind of the whole story there, that what they've lost, I just want to be sure people know about this story. It's really, again, for them. All this is, everything I've done recently, in particular, is for them, to get the story out. My nephew in L.A., he's the son of my oldest sister, he's already sixty-four, sixty-five, he's going to go to the pilgrimage, because even his mom didn't tell him much, but he wants to learn. And on Friday of this pilgrimage we're having some workshops, some plenaries to talk about the Japanese Peruvians and some of the redress issues. So it'll be educational, so I think they're going to like that a lot. My two sons are going as well.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So after the first march in Crystal City, and we're calling it a pilgrimage, but I think some of the organizers say that was really kind of the preliminary...

KN: It was a preliminary kind of a tryout if you will.

TI: And not really a full pilgrimage. But that trip, so you came back, you got some good feedback, but what else have you done since coming back in March in response to that trip?

KN: Well, almost immediately, I was on the committee, so we started to work on the next one. And we were, other than Hiroshi Shimizu, most of us are not experienced, so it was really difficult to get this thing going. So that's been, it started back in, boy, April or May, and only the last month things have really come together, but it's taken a lot. There's been a long learning curve, but we've been involved, and now we're meeting weekly, just getting down as much detail as possible. We still have a lot to do, a long ways to go, by the way, but it's coming together nicely. Other than that, I haven't done anything as far as protesting or anything else.

TI: But how about your research? Have you been doing more research about the family?

KN: Yeah, you know, I did the research because I saw bits and pieces of where... and the map that we had, well, actually, it's a smaller version of this.

TI: And this is a map from a website that you....

KN: Exactly.

TI: Go ahead and, why don't you show it?

KN: This is the map of the entire Crystal City camp, and we were really in this area here. I started to look at this because I wanted to know where we were, and I was surprised to see that our name is on there. I thought, oh, great, first time I know we were there, I mean, I had no clue. And the map itself, you have no clue. So now I know where we are, you know, we were.

TI: And what did it mean to actually see a map and to see where the family was and to actually see your name on here? How does something like that help you?

KN: It really told me that it wasn't just a vague "we were in camp," specifically we were in a spot. And speaking to Jimmy, my brother Jimmy, he could say, "Oh, yeah, we knew this family over here," and that started to put things together. It really made sense of where we were. The orchard, sugar cane that we used to gnaw at when we were kids, had to come from that orchard. And so everything started to come together just a little bit more, started to crystalize so that I could get a sense of what the camp was like. And that was important, and it was important to share that with Jimmy and George because they'd never seen that map. And then I started getting photos from my friends, Hiroshi, of my oldest sister. And there were three in particular, she was the teacher. And I figure, well, she's not teaching Spanish because there's no reason to, so it had to be Japanese, she couldn't speak English. So she was teaching Japanese, but it was more like a kindergarten. So it was maybe more of a preschool kind of thing. But anyway, it was great to have those photos, it started to come together. I showed that to my nephew who's never seen a photo of his mom, and actually, that photo is... and I'll show this to you. This is my oldest sister and my nephew, her oldest son is coming. So I said to him that this photo now has become one of the symbolic, iconic image.

TI: Boy, that's an amazing photograph because it's shot through the barbed wire with a guard tower.

KN: We had to piece this together.

TI: Oh, okay, so it's a composite.

KN: Yeah, because there isn't hardly any photos around. My friend Hiroshi had this photo, and this one, and there's the two guards there.

TI: They put all those pieces together.

KN: Just to make some sense out of it, this became our logo that we're going to be using.

TI: Can you hold it up?

KN: Sure.

Off camera: And which one is your sister?

KN: That's my oldest sister, she passed away many years ago.

TI: Yeah, I guess this had to be a composite because you have these power lines also and all that.

KN: Yeah, but what's interesting is that my brother Jimmy was just old enough that he could remember things, and I would check with him about where we were and so on and so on, that was important to get all that. So the more you start digging, the more you find out things, the more interesting it becomes.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Well, so that's when you did, you actually started getting of these primary source documents, maps, photographs.

KN: And a few years ago, Mary Jo McConahay, she's an author, she wrote the book called The Tango War, she interviewed my family, and just happens that she lives two blocks from here. So we went to her place, and that kind of also started this whole thing, because she asked for a family picture, she asked for a lot of information. And what was interesting about that is when we spoke to her as the three of us together, it takes a third party like her to start bringing things out, and Jimmy or George would say things that I never heard before. Like, "How come you didn't tell me that forty or fifty years ago?" Well, that's because no one asked. But now that it's together, they started to say things and he was, Jimmy was saying, "Our barrack number was something-something," and now I could show him this picture that confirms all these things. So everything starts to come together, it becomes an accurate story. That's what's important for me, it's not just vague hearsay, now we can say this really happened, and that's where we were and so on. I think that's really important for our family as well. So I'm showing that to my nephews, my sons and my daughter, it's now real. I'm trying to get my granddaughter more involved in it, but she's fourteen now, so her focus, of course, is school, she just started high school.

TI: That's an amazing story, that the writer of that book, The Tango War, that she used to just live a couple blocks away. Was that just a coincidence in that when she did the book, she said, "Oh, my gosh"?

KN: Well, you know what it is, she knew Grace Shimizu who does the Japanese Peruvian oral history project, and she asked, "Do you know about the people that were interned?" So she referred us and she called me. And we were, folks here, the Noe Valley, this area's called Noe Valley, the Noe Valley Voice, in the papers. Soon after that, that story got out, and of course the San Francisco Chronicle came out. And I'll show you some articles on that, and they contacted me and said, "Can we do a story?" And I said, "Sure, of course." Because the more people know about this, the better, of course, and then they came here. The woman that was a photographer, she was a Japanese American, and heard that her uncle was in Crystal City, too, how interesting. She didn't say anything, by the way, I just found out later on through Hiroshi Shimizu. He's more of the historian, by the way, he's very good at it.

TI: I know, I know him.

KN: Anyways, yes, so she took some really great photos, the most dramatic, and it got into the Chronicle. And once it hits the newspaper, I would get an email from one of my former clients, he deals with what's called "orphan diseases," diseases that very few children have. But anyway, he says, "Tony, is that you?" Because he said, "I only knew a Naganuma that lived in Noe Valley," of course, we went back and forth. He's not an American from here, I'm trying to think what his nationality is. But he kept apologizing as if it was... "I'm so sorry that this happened to your family," which was really nice, but he didn't have to do that. And I graduated in 1960 from high school, so I get an email from someone in high school, I didn't even know him that well. He says, "Is that Tony that played basketball?" [Laughs] "Yeah," I said. He said, "God, I never knew," of course, they never knew. So that's what, of course, exposure does.

TI: So that's something else that happened since March is people...

KN: Oh, it was before that, before the March pilgrimage. So the book came out, the Chronicle...

TI: That's right.

KN: Yeah, so all this, the publicity started to happen. And I was glad because, again, I could tell the family story, so important. And then I got my brothers involved. But then in the beginning it was kind of ho hum, but once they got into it, I think they started talking about it, which was good.

TI: Okay, so you're doing more research, you're getting more feedback, anything else happen? And, of course, the planning for the October/November pilgrimage.

KN: The planning right now is really at a critical point where we're getting really good people to come, number one, key players, and we're trying to confirm all of that, so that's really been our focus, nothing else. As I said, we are meeting weekly, it's a lot of work, a lot more than we thought. Instead of, like, fifty, sixty people, now we have a hundred seventy-five, we're actually starting to turn down people. The deadline passed a long time ago, first of September, but certain players, people that are important are wanting to come, like the reverend from the Buddhist church here, he just saw me at a service that I attended for my sister, and he said, "Oh, so what's going on with the pilgrimage?" I said, "Well, we're doing it." He said, "Oh, can I come?" [Laughs] He went to the one in March. I said, "Well, sure," and everyone loved the fact that he's coming, so he just signed up. So it's, the stragglers, if you will, are coming, but they're important ones.

TI: And where do you guys, are you staying? Are there facilities that hold that many people? That's surprising.

KN: Oh, it'll be at the (La Quinta Inn), they gave us a special rate.

TI: Is this in San Antonio?

KN: San Antonio, yeah.

TI: Oh, so you have to drive.

KN: Yeah, it's almost two hours, so we'll have three busloads and a couple of vans that will take us, it's about a two-hour trip. That's what we did in March as well. This way we'll spend a whole day there, that's another whole logistical thing, it's really tricky moving that many people, and there are two ninety-two year olds that are coming. So we'll probably have them go in the van, that's easier for them to get in and out. A thirteen year old as well, so we've got a big range here.


<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So, Kaz, we're going to go back and talk a little about the upcoming pilgrimage that's happening at the end of October or early November. And you mentioned earlier about a hundred seventy-five, so of those hundred seventy-five, how many were actually held inside Crystal City?

KN: My guess -- and we don't have an exact count right now, but I would say that are coming, probably about twenty or thirty.

TI: Okay. And then, in addition, of the others, how many of them are family members of the people who were in Crystal City?

KN: I think overall, counting the former internees, about a third of that hundred seventy-five.

TI: Wow.

KN: Eleven from my family is coming, that doesn't even count my wife, my daughter and my granddaughter. But my two sons, wife, girlfriend, my nephew, my other nephew and his wife, so eleven. The Uno family, this is Edison Uno, was very active and known for his work. His nephew is part of the committee, and his family, they're bringing, I don't know, fifteen maybe or more.

TI: Boy, it sounds like maybe even more than a third.

KN: It could be, when you stop and think about it, yeah. Hiroshi's nephew, Brandon, he's half Japanese, half Chinese, he's interested in it. That's really the most important part for me is that even for the committee members, I really would like the younger generation to be part of that committee. And my hope is that when this is, I'm hoping this is going to be fun and successful and informative, and I hope the next generation will carry on for us, simply because, I tell Hiroshi, "Hey, we're getting too old." [Laughs] No, it's important, and to pass on that information, Densho. Such an important part.

TI: So you're hoping that this becomes like a catalyst or a spark for a younger generation to get interested and carry the story forward.

KN: Yeah, especially for Crystal City, the Crystal City camp. The other camps are doing well, meaning there are people that's carrying on, but this is our first official pilgrimage, so it's important that we don't just have younger people in our committee, but the people that attend. Once they get a sense for that, what took place, and I'm hoping my two sons, they were interested right away, which was really good. They got a sense of what I went through, and I think that was important. Hopefully they'll carry on from there, because I wanted to be sure that we have a, even a family website. Meanwhile, I'm so grateful for JANM and Densho to be doing just, this is, I told my granddaughter this morning, taking her to school, when she's my age, she could go into Densho files and see this story.

TI: And see you and her uncles talking about this.

KN: And that's what's important, and she's fourteen. So another fifty-plus years...

TI: Well, tell her don't wait that long. [Laughs]

KN: Yeah, and that's the beauty of what you guys are doing, and I'm so appreciative. Because I don't think anyone's done it as well, that's the key. Everyone's got bits and pieces, but you're now really putting it into, you've done a lot of the Japanese American ones now, but the Japanese Peruvians, Japanese Latin American information. My younger son and his wife went to, I think last year, to the museum in Los Angeles, and they said, wow, they were impressed. That's good to hear that, because I was impressed several years when I went. So it's this kind of thing that I want to be sure it goes on record. Going on record's important because, again, I don't want to lose my family story. Being the youngest in particular, I found that, even though I'm the youngest as we were all growing up, my sisters, my brothers, used to kind of lean on me to be the spokesperson, I'm not sure why. [Laughs] But I was happy to do that as I went along, and now, even more reason why I want to speak for the family because this story is not unique in a sense because there were many other Japanese Peruvian stories that are real similar. But again, it goes back to what my mom and dad went through. It's just... several of my friends that say, "Oh, I heard you're doing these Japanese Peruvian stories, you guys got the worst deal," yeah, because we were kidnapped, of course. The word "kidnapped" wasn't even used way back when, and we used, even in the local, you'll see we don't say "internment," we use "concentration camp," because that's really what it was. So anyways, I'm hoping that this pilgrimage is successful, we get new, good press out of it, I'm having a couple PR people work with me on this, and get it out there that not only was it successful, but that people want to return. I think we'll do this maybe every two or three years, you know?

TI: And how large will the Japanese Peruvian component be, both in terms of the storytelling during the pilgrimage and attendees?

KN: A real important part of it, yeah. The educational part? Definitely. I think that's a big chunk of it, actually. We were at one time thinking, should we include the German Americans and the Italian Americans? Then we decided against that because it was just too much to do, and if you're spending three days and we have German Americans, then half of those three days you want to have people do their thing, and there's just not enough time for that. So we went strictly Japanese Americans, Japanese Peruvians. The Department of Justice camp at Crystal City was really where Japanese came together, that's why Hiroshi Shimizu's family, his dad was interned in three or four camps prior to going to Crystal City. Satsuki's dad, the same thing, different camps, that's where they met. Satsuki's family wasn't even there that long, but overall, in all the camps, they were in there about three or four years, same with Hiroshi's. And what's neat about all this is that we've known each other since the camp. Not real friendly and all that, but immediately after because of the forming of the Boy Scouts, that we got to know each other and we've known each other for over seventy years, which is really a nice story.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Yeah, I want to talk a little bit, I mean, a lot of what you know about what happened to your family came from your sister.

KN: Correct.

TI: And she passed away almost eight years ago or so?

KN: Yes.

TI: So tell me first a little bit about her. About how much older was she in terms of the war, and let's talk about some of the things she told you.

KN: Again, I have three sisters, the oldest one is in the picture, the logo, Shizuka. She was married right out of camp, so basically she went straight to Los Angeles, so she didn't live here in San Francisco with us. And my dad was against the marriage, so...

TI: Oh, I didn't know that.

KN: Yeah, so it was something like, so they didn't contact us very much. And then there's... shall I continue? There's Kiyoka, the second oldest sister.

Off camera: Can you start again?

KN: Okay, so the second oldest sister is Kiyoka, and she's the one out of all of us that was the most outspoken. Outspoken in a good way, not loud, not at all. And the third sister was Sumika. But the one that we often talk about is Kiyoka because... we called her Kiyo. For me in particular, at twenty months up to, I was five when I came out of camp, so we spent three and a half years there. Especially after camp, she was like a second mother to me, she really took care of me. And along with Sumi, they bathed me, my mom was way too tired working. So they took care of me and that was really good. I mean, I remember all those things. I'm sure anything good about my personality comes from them and my mom, I'm certain, in fact. So Kiyo had an impact on my life as few other people have. But personality-wise and just doing the best you can, that comes from my sister Kiyo. She just always pushed, but in the right way. She has a daughter and son, and I'm sure she did the same thing, but somehow it caught on with me and I just tried to do things on my own. So Kiyo was, again, this outspoken person in the sense that when the government sent -- this is during the redress period, during the late 1980s -- the spokesperson came to the JCCNC center here, community center. And while he was speaking, my sister went right up and showed him this one document that says, each of us have this, that says that we were arrested by the FBI. And surprisingly he said, on the spot, that, "You qualify." So like we were kind of shocked. The other Japanese Peruvians that were there didn't have the same papers.

TI: So let me back up. So when he said, "You qualify," so you received the twenty thousand dollars?

KN: My sisters and brothers did.

TI: I didn't know. So your family, I mean, those were about the only Japanese Peruvians who received that.

KN: I think so.

TI: Because they received a different sum.

KN: Five thousand dollars many years later. The key was the letter of apology from Ronald Reagan, and to receive the twenty thousand. That didn't come automatically, again, because, again, Kiyo, she could have waited later, but she just had to do this.

TI: So tell me again, what was this piece of paper that she showed? You said this was from the FBI?

KN: That we were arrested by the FBI to bring us here.

TI: And where did she get this piece of paper?

KN: We all have it somewhere, yes, every one. They give one to individuals, not a whole family, it's individual.

TI: So did every Japanese Peruvian in theory have that?

KN: Not necessarily, that's why some of them didn't get it. Unfortunately, so much of this was based on a technicality. I told you, Hiroshi Shimizu's sister was only a couple years younger, didn't receive it, because they cut off the date to 1946 or something, well, she was born in '47, but she was in camp. [Laughs] So she didn't receive it, Hiroshi received it.

TI: Received the five thousand?

KN: No, twenty thousand, yeah.

TI: Okay, right.

KN: As I mentioned before, my mom and dad had passed away already, so they really were the ones that...

TI: But this is new information. Because going back to Hiroshi, he was a U.S. citizen and he was born in the United States. But your family, your older siblings, were born in Peru, and so I didn't understand that, I didn't realize that some actually did receive the twenty thousand.

KN: And again, I have papers that showed that.

TI: Okay.

KN: So it'd be useful to have that on record.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: And then it was your sister speaking up, I mean, she went up there and showed him the...

KN: Yeah, maybe it could have eventually worked out, but the fact that she kind of shortcut things... but there are papers that go back and forth, back and forth asking for this. Now, this again where you bring up Wayne Collins' name, he's doing office work for us. Even the deportation paper, we were going to be deported in 1947 September, when we were getting out of camp. It wasn't until 1954 that it got settled.

TI: Oh, so you were still subject to deportation?

KN: All those years.

TI: Even though you were being sponsored and had that arrangement, it was temporary pending this action.

KN: That's correct. And that paper showed that you are no longer going to be deported, that's 1954. So it gives you an idea that somebody's done all this work on behalf of our family. The legalese on that, let alone just the English language, my mom and dad couldn't read it. So someone's doing all this on behalf of us, this is Wayne Collins, Reverend Fukuda. It's wonderful that these people give you this kind of time, be caring enough to do that. Reverend Fukuda -- and I'm jumping around -- but he found our sponsor family. Prior to that, he said he wanted to be the sponsor. Having a sponsor family, having a job, was one of the criterias of being able to stay here. Seabrook Farms that hired one, two hundred Japanese Peruvians, they became like the sponsor for them.

TI: But then their sponsorship was tinged with, what's the right word? I'd almost view it as economic exploitation.

KN: Without a doubt.

TI: Because they were paying below market wages.

KN: They took advantage of everything they're doing with the Hispanics right now and other foreigners, dirt cheap, nothing, they're breaking the law. It was a way of them getting cheap labor, but they were good labor. They didn't know that. But the, I think, the group that went there probably found a way out, if you will, getting the sponsorship. That's why they ended up in New Jersey.

TI: Well, many of them stayed there for a long time, too.

KN: Yeah, there's a guy that's quite known, Seiki Murano, he just emailed me a few months ago, he also emailed me just a few days ago. He was born in Crystal City, his family went to Seabrook, and he became a really good athlete, he played quarterback and the school took championship, became a successful businessman.

TI: So right in that Seabrook area, like New Jersey?

KN: Right. I can send you the article he sent me recently, it's really kind of neat to read that. He's actually coming to the pilgrimage, and he lives here in San Francisco here. But stories like that are really neat because they're another success story. Comes from really nothing to something. Success story that happens in America, but not as easily as it should be.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So let's go back to your sister a little bit more in terms of, so she was very outspoken in a good way, you told that great story about getting, approaching an ORA, so Office of Redress Administration official.

KN: And she really was almost like the head of the family in a sense because my parents were getting old, and she was always responsible. She got married, she had a son and a daughter, her son's coming to the pilgrimage and he's quite active with the Buddhist church. But during this period after camp, well, even the boat ride to Crystal City or to New Orleans, there's this document that my sister kept asking for milk for me, I was twenty months old, and basically they just ignored her. So through this trip, through that three-week period, basically I had nothing going as far as nutrition. They didn't feed us very well, so she was active just in that sense, for me. And then she worked hard again, I think she must have felt that responsibility and she worked for the Flower Mart. And Flower Mart, they opened early, like probably four or five o'clock in the morning, so she worked there. And she and my dad and myself, we fell in really poor health, we ended up with TB. And I don't recall how we got out of it, meaning how we recovered, because there wasn't a simple solution as we have today. But she worked hard, and between my mother and my father and my oldest brother and my sister Kiyo, before then, they got jobs that they could get. And I don't think they were making very much money, probably four of them combined maybe made the equivalent of one good salary.

TI: So was it really hard, again, talking about your parents, how much they suffered and how much they lost, had to start all over. Your sister was, lived with some of that also.

KN: Yeah, she was already, like my oldest, they already went to high school so they were educated in Peru, but not educated here, but they had to find good jobs, or jobs that can at least make a living. So there's hardship, just my sister alone. The third sister was going to school, so she started in exactly the same school that we all went to. Those days, the grade level went from kindergarten to like the eighth grade or so. But even through that, she worked as a, I forget what that's called, a house... a live-in...

TI: A live-in domestic?

KN: Yeah, so she did that in her high school years. So that's not a great life for someone that's having your good years in high school. So everyone suffered in different ways, and I think my two sisters, it's hard to tell about my older sister because we didn't hear much of her for a long time. But I know Kiyo and Sumi, they did all the work. In fact, all of the information I have, all the documents, Sumi is the one that kept all that in order, and it's because of her I have all this.

TI: So she was kind of the family historian in some ways, and now you've taken over?

KN: Yeah, she gave it to me, which was great, because with my mom and dad just not able to communicate to really anyone, I mean, she would pay for the mortgage, write the checks for bills, she did all that. So she was the gatekeeper, if you will.

TI: How about your oldest brother? What happened to him?

KN: Yeah, he got a job in the laundry because that's all we knew, the laundry business. It's called Pine Laundry, on Pine Street right off of Fillmore Street. It was Japanese-owned and he worked there for a number of years. I don't know when, exactly, but he ended up getting a job at Bank of Tokyo. And that was great because it was hard labor, if you will, and that gave him a sense of, I guess, pride, because now he's wearing a suit, you know, more professional. I have no idea what kind of income he was making, but it was good. It was good the fact that he moved up the ladder, if you will. Then he got married in 1956, I remember, because I remember him buying a car, a '56 Chevy. And he and his wife... actually, he has a brand new car, really a beautiful Chevy, it's called Bel Air, and their honeymoon, he gets in a crash. That was kind of a sad story. I remember that only because... let's see, I can't remember, '56, I was fourteen years old, so he would have been driving into the garage and backing up, just so I could have a little fun. So he did well and ended up with a good life. Nothing unusually high end or anything, but good, and his wife was really good to our family.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Yeah, I just want to kind of go through a little bit, because I read about a touching story, I think you're the only sibling that, after the war, returned to Peru? Or maybe not the only one, but you went back earlier? Or tell me the story, because you had one more brother that you didn't know, but you went back...

KN: That's Kazuaki, he's, one, two, three, the fourth in line as far as age. Yeah, he passed away at the age of three, three and a half. He swallowed a pin, and they couldn't get it out, and he suffered for several days and he passed away. And I know my mom and dad, for the longest time, when we even got out of camp, always had a picture of him in front of the Japanese Buddhist Church, the Buddhist altar thing. And we always gave something to him before each meal. This is what I was saying earlier about, I would ask my mom, "So how come you didn't just take him to the hospital, get it taken care of?" That's what you do today. And it's like, it's almost like they didn't do things that way. All of us, we were born at home, not in a hospital, so it's the old mindset. I'm not sure if that would have made a difference. So a lot of the questions I would ask my mom. The answers were very unsatisfactory, it's just like, yeah, then I realized, okay, that's the way they thought in those days. Things are so different today, no different than if I asked my sons, they would say, "Well, you could do this, you know." [Laughs]

TI: New technology or something?

KN: Yes, you could do a lot faster, easier. So it's that kind of thinking. So, unfortunately, he died at three and a half years old.

TI: It sounds like a very tragic death, too. When you say it took days...

KN: Yeah, so he had to suffer.

TI: And for your parents, it must have been unbearable for your mother.

KN: Yeah, it had to be. Since we were all baptized as Catholics, you're not cremated, you were buried, so he was buried in Callao, Peru. I know my mom and dad always wanted his remains to be here, and the reason I know that is when my dad got the tombstone at the Japanese cemetery, the first name up there is Kazuaki Naganuma. Then his name, my mom's and so on. And only in the last three years, and this is because of Jimmy's wife, Nobuko. Nobuko is from Japan and she is really active and does things similar to my sister Kiyo. But she's not part of the Naganuma other than in marriage, but she does so much for us. Our contact, we're lucky we still have a contact in Callao, it's a doctor, Tsuneshige. He's a retired, I think like a vet, but a higher level with the government. So make the connection, we had the, there's a lot of red tape. The bones were brought out, they cremated the bones. Oh, and Jimmy and his wife Nobuko, when they went to Callao with my nephew and his wife, they were able to pick up the ashes.

TI: Oh, so it was your brother who picked up the ashes.

KN: Yeah. But then Nobuko, again, does all the red tape work. How do you bring it into here? Because they're going to inspect everything, right? She did that extremely well for us and took care of everything. It was twenty-five hundred dollars for everything, but that's fine, we're able to then put it in the cemetery, and that was really, again, for my mom and dad. So, finally, in the back of the stone, all the names are in red until they pass away, then you put it in white, so we were able to make that white, finally. It's nice to have that together with my mom and dad, and that was a special thing. And, again, I thank Nobuko because it's a lot of work to do. Just the translation, she translates the... her English isn't real good, but she does it well enough, and translates it into Spanish. And the guy over there goes back and forth, and just surprised. Similar story I can get into later, but I had to get my birth certificate, the current one, in order to get my social security. I had copies but they said they can't go with copies. So he was also instrumental in getting that done, and then also for my U.S. citizenship. So it was good to still have contacts in Callao.

TI: Because you needed some kind of official...

KN: It had to be official, yeah. So that's my brother Kazuaki. And we have photos of him, he looks just like one of us, and I think he would have been a good big brother to my sister Sumi, because I could just sense that he was that type even though I just see pictures of him. And so those are... and then there's my sister Sumi who was just very, so soft-spoken and I don't think I've ever heard her complain on anything. She ended up basically taking care of my mom because they lived together, and we didn't realize how much work she was going through. Taking care of your parents is a lot of work, but if you live with them, it's a daily thing. It's got to be a lot of work. So she did that for us and took care of all of the paperwork. I look back and you're thankful, but probably too late. I could have thanked her a lot earlier. That goes through with all my brothers and sisters.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: You talked about needing to get your birth certificate from Peru for, I think, your U.S. citizenship, which you were talking earlier, that you received, I guess, last year, 2018?

KN: My citizenship? Yes.

TI: Yeah, so tell me about that. Why did you decide to become a U.S. citizen when you're in your late seventies?

KN: Right. Part of that was because, I think, okay, it might be easier just to travel with a U.S. passport. So I applied in 2017. Of course, it took forever. And, of course, then we started the new administration, then I realized it's time to make a move. With this administration we're vulnerable. I even saw an article, it was on either 60 Minutes or what, there was a person with a green card, and he broke the law and they got him out. They took his green card out and they shipped him out. So we're vulnerable, especially with this administration, it's just way too scary. That's another reason why. And, of course, it took so long, I ended up getting my Peruvian passport. There's a story of that in itself, because years ago, when I first got my Peruvian passport, we went through red tape, it was just a horrible place to go, to the consulate general here, they just put you through the wringer. We had a contact in Los Angeles, this is through my sister Kiyo, who was a newspaper writer and he traveled to, back to Peru once a month. And he took care of my birth certificate for me, he had to get a current one in order to get my passport for my trip to Japan. And he did that quickly, and they had to have something more current, my old one didn't work. So he took care of that, so the contacts that we had is so crucial. And then the social security one, I turned sixty-five, and they said you to have the original birth certificate. I said, "I don't have any." I can't tell them I was kidnapped, they don't know what I'm talking about. So we had this whole thing again, contacts in Peru, they had it done quickly. It was so encouraging, no red tape, we get all the red tape here. Went back to the Peruvian consulate the first time I went there years ago, this is back in the '70s, '80s, it was really hard. The last one I got to travel to Japan which was 2018, they changed everything, meaning they call it, they were people-friendly. Everything changed there for the better. During the time I was having trouble back in the '70s, '80s, our contact in Los Angeles said, "Who is this person that you have so much trouble with?" and I said, well, and then he sent a picture to me, "Is this her?" I said, "Yeah." He says he's gotten a lot of complaints about that woman.

TI: Just that one person?

KN: Well, he got her out because it's a constant complaint. And that's different from what they have now. The woman there, I had my friend from Guatemala help me fill out some of the forms, because it's all in Spanish. So his wife helped me, which was really great, but when I was at the consulate, there were other additional things, and the woman there, she just said, "Oh, I'll help you," she just filled it all out for me. So there's a big difference from years ago, so that was really quite refreshing to get that kind of service. And I was also relieved about the U.S. citizenship. First of all, there's a hundred questions that you have to answer. But once you pass sixty-five, I believe, they narrowed it down to twenty. So I said, okay, that's a lot easier.

TI: So it had to be after you're sixty-five years old, you mean, they make it simpler?

KN: Simpler.

TI: I didn't know that.

KN: Okay, well, so you say, "Well, fine, and most of it you learn in high school, but high school was a long time ago. So out of the twenty -- they give you a booklet -- and out of the twenty they'll ask you ten. They even asterisk, out of the hundred, which twenty, so you could know which one they're going to ask. [Laughs] So you could quickly kind of do a quick, refresh your memories.

TI: That's funny. Because I've heard people say the regular test is, a hundred questions are hard.

KN: It could be, yes. If you're in governmental, you know anything, if you watch MSNBC, you should know all that by now, but not most people do. I went and... first of all, the environment there at the immigration office, again, very different. When we came out of camp, we had to check in every month. Every month, take a day off, my sister took a day off work, Sumi, took Jimmy, George and myself there. Of course, we never drove there, we took a bus, it felt like forever to get there. So the whole day is spent there. You go there, you wait, there's hundreds of people. Several hours later, you get in, you register and you go back home. Another side thing is our family has motion sickness, so even taking the bus, we get motion sickness, we're that sensitive. It's our eye-ear, all that. So we had to get off several blocks before we got home to walk home. But those days were just grueling because... so now I go there for my U.S. citizenship, it was before October, to do the test. And I get in line and the guard there, first of all, welcomes you, "Oh, are you here for your citizenship?" "Yes." Then he said, "Okay, you go over there," they just escort you, and the woman there says, "Okay, just relax." [Laughs] Take a deep breath, you go to the second floor, clear instructions, very friendly. I go to the second floor, there's maybe forty people or so waiting. And I could see immediately all the people that's going to give you the test are, of course, younger, just casually, not the old fogies that we had before. Totally different environment. The guy that interviewed me had all my papers ready, and he had to dig because back in those days, no computers. So he had my army record, he had the record of our internment, so he had it all ready. And then basically, as we were just talking, he knew, I've been here for a while and I knew English, so he gave me like two questions and we're done. But I can imagine...

TI: Do you think part of it was your service? I think you were a National Guard.

KN: Perhaps. I brought my army discharge and National Guard discharge papers, and that was important because they didn't have that, but they had the record. It could be that, but I think also because he knew the story of the internment.

TI: Oh, interesting.

KN: Because he had that all in front of him, which I was glad, he knew...

TI: But did he know the Japanese Peruvian part? That was probably....

KN: He knew because of the papers and that was important. I was surprised that he had things ready, he knew who I was. That was really good. Two questions, I was done, a few months later I was sworn in in Oakland, they do like a thousand people at a time. That's an interesting experience in itself. In this case, I had 880 people there out of eighty different countries. And they go by alphabetical order, they say, "Okay, for the people that are from this country, you stand up." They say from Peru, I think I was the only one. [Laughs] Mexico, big group. From China, big group. But that was a good experience, and then I got my papers, then, of course, I got my passport. I got the passport just because, for any travel it would be a lot easier.

TI: Does that make you think any differently now that you're a U.S. citizen? Did that change you in any way?

KN: It makes me feel a lot more protected. Right now because, again, I go back to our administration is breaking the law daily, daily. Anything they could get away with, because the House is, I mean, the Senate is just letting them get away with it. So you feel safer, it makes a big difference in that sense, yeah. They can't do something weird to get you in trouble, that makes a big difference. So that's the part that means a lot to me.

YN: How was your identity? Is that changing? Because you were basically growing up here, but you're keeping that Peruvian passport for a long time and now your identity became a U.S. citizen. How your identity, did you feel more American, and still you feel more Peruvian?

KN: No, not much different, to be honest. I was always proud to be a Japanese Peruvian, citizenship or not. And now that the stories are coming out, I get together, Hiro Shimizu and I, we all grew up together, so our group gets together once every two months or so. And they hear the story and say, "Oh, I forgot, you're from Peru," things like that are coming up. And so it's fine, but as far as the impressions or anything, like I said, my racquetball club group, they're having fun calling me Julio. And I had fun with that, too, because they see me differently. It's more they know that I'm from a different country. And some people say, "Where are you from? You look Japanese," or, "You look Asian." [Laughs] But it's all in good spirit, I think, I like that a lot. It hasn't changed anything as far as my inner feelings. I think I've always been good about who I am and I go back to, I know it's from my parents. And my older siblings, they have a big influence in me, a lot more than I had imagined until I became older and I realized all the things that they've done that's influenced me being the youngest. So not a whole lot difference in ID, I am who I am and I feel good about it.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So, Kaz, we have like ten minutes left.

KN: Okay.

TI: And there a couple things I can go, and I'll ask you which one. Either talking about some of your work, or we can talk about your community service.

KN: Yeah, I think, all that comes down to one thing and that is, I think when you have success in what you do, and starts with, well, starts with actually basketball. The Japanese leagues, the Japanese leagues were formed back in the '40s actually, before the war, and then into after that because the Japanese were too small to compete. So that's why they had this, it's called the NAU, Nisei Athletic U, I forget what that stands for.

TI: Maybe Union?

KN: Yeah. So that was there, but as time went on,� I was able to try out for the high school team, and very fortunately, I made it from my first year, and for three years straight. Jim and George, I'm not sure why they didn't try out, maybe whatever reason. But one of Jimmy's friends was one of the first All-City players of Japanese descent, so that's big.

TI: So you made the high school, so this like a large public high school?

KN: Yeah, George Washington High School.

TI: So like how many students?

KN: Oh my god, my class alone had six hundred.

TI: Okay, yeah, so they had sophomore, junior, senior?

KN: That's correct, yeah.

TI: And you made the varsity as a sophomore?

KN: Well, I'll show you. [Laughs]

TI: So this is, again, Japanese basketball, this is big. [Laughs]

KN: Well, I got lucky and found these photos.

TI: And so these are?

KN: These are archived photos from...

TI: So that's you shooting right there?

KN: That's me shooting. I got the perfect form on that. Even, see that space between the hand and the ball?

TI: You have quite a bit of air, too, because you're stretched out, this guy's stretched out, and you're over him.

KN: I was, I had ups, I can hit the rim. That's another one of me.

TI: So did you end up becoming...

KN: This is what I got out of it. [Laughs] 1960.

TI: That's Most Valuable Player for the high school?

KN: Yeah, for the year of 1960, of all the guys that played basketball. So anyone that's graduating in 1960, they choose the basketball player of 1960 and they would give this award.

TI: Did you play the... so you said you played in the Japanese leagues, too, so you must have tore that up.

KN: Well, no, not really, because we had a lot of good players.

TI: That could play at that level?

KN: Yeah. And you talk about varsity, this was what's called the 130, which is right below the varsity, right? The coach there had a huge influence in my life. His name was Anthopoulos, he's a Greek, we called him Mr. A. Tremendous influence in my life, more than I ever had imagine. When I struggled in school academically, he would help. When I first started high school, I think I mentioned that I was very small. I was undersize, underweight. Well, it was malnutrition when I was growing up, I was really small.

TI: You had tuberculosis, you said?

KN: Yeah, my brother George, who was always taller, like my brother Kazumi, was always wondering when I'm going to grow. So when I get into school, I was five-foot-two, a hundred and two pounds, so I'm little. And the only reason I remember that is because they take your height and weight and your age. Through that, they say, "Okay, you can play in this class." But I had the same coach then, he says, "Come back and play for me next year," because I was so small. But he also coached in what's called the 130 level. So at senior, I played at that level, and all three years, I was a starter, but I had to work hard for all of that. But the third year I was a starter and I had a specific role, he's a Hall of Fame, Bay Area Hall of Fame coach, by the way. And our team would beat the varsity on a regular basis.

TI: So the 130, was that weight?

KN: They call it exponent, they take the height, age and weight together, and they figure out if you fit into the 130 area or under, you could play that level. So a lot of guys that were tall couldn't make that, so they would play junior varsity or they'd play varsity. But because of our coach, we had this team that was -- and we talk about success -- undefeated for the preseason, the regular season, and post season, so of course he was, we never lost a game, even the practice games, you know. And then when you have that kind of success, you don't know it at that time but it does something for you later on. And he just had a really good system, and he would chew you out, I mean, like nobody else could. But it's that kind of success, but also the varsity coach, I played with him when I was a junior. It's only between my sophomore and junior year that I finally grew, otherwise I would have stayed down at five-foot-two. My granddaughter kids around because she's taller and bigger and all that when she was two years younger than I was. But because of the success there, our shooting guard made the first string all-city, our shooting forward made first string all-city, our center and other forward made second string all-city, and I got the honorable mention all-city. So the team was an all-city team, and then this award is for the graduating senior, but they were supposed to call the MOP, the Most Outstanding Player, and I was given that as well. That's from the team. So at that time, team concept made a big difference. Today it's who scores the most, that's not what makes a good player a good player. So I was fortunate, but I also wanted to show you, I think, this is another photo. This is a photo of... that's me here. And we were at a point where this is guys from three or four different high schools who were all friends, by the way, but we went to different high schools. And I wasn't a starter on this team, there were guys that were all-city players here. And this is what's called the AA level, that's the highest level in the Asian league, the Japanese league. And we played for the state championship two years. We lost one to the L.A. team, we won one time. So, again, there's success there. When you have success and you're around good people, again, good things happen. I could say it easily now, but then you're not fully aware of it. We always talk about if you want to be successful, be around good people, or successful people, but genuinely good people. And the key here is this is an offshoot from the Boy Scouts that Reverend Fukuda started, so important. And after a while, the money that goes into the Boy Scouts, and all the money that went in there, part of that was going to the basketball. Well, not all the boys played basketball, so they had to break it apart, and the person that, they called us the Associate, because it's associated to the tribute, that name Associate stuck around all these years, and they have twenty-two teams now from six-year-olds up to college level. And I still do their tournament t-shirt design each year. Yeah, because they've done so much for us. But there's a gentleman, Mr. "Judo" Hosoda. Judo Hosoda had, with his brother, had an import-export, actually, import business, Jimmy, George and myself all worked there during high school, it's all hard labor. But he was so passionate about basketball he sponsored everything. I know he'd pay for all the uniforms and everything, this gentleman. And he even made arrangements, he even made arrangements to train with the Japanese Olympic team when they came here.

TI: With Japanese...

KN: Our team, yeah.

TI: And how did you do?

KN: Oh, we didn't win, of course, but these guys were much bigger and all that, and much better. But he was that enthusiastic about our group, but this is at that St. Ignatius High School.

TI: So is that the Japanese...

KN: Uh-huh, yeah. And they were all seated there, but he was so enthusiastic about our team, because we were so successful, of course, and so he arranged all this, and his son didn't even play. So it takes that kind of individual, Reverend Fukuda, it's that kind of thing that really makes a difference in life. And I want to show this because without these people, it just doesn't work. You look back and these key players, and every part of my life, and I know because of that -- and I could talk about my work a little bit -- but there's just something about, once you had a taste of success, you know what it is no matter what it's for, and then you know how to use it in a way, in a good way. When I was in school, I was at the city college for two years, again, I had very good instructors.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KN: And things that most people don't know about our industry is that maybe five percent make it in the business. Five percent is very small.

TI: So, like, out of twenty, only one would make it.

KN: It's pretty tough. And this is the new head of the art department team, he's a big shot from the Art Center School in Los Angeles, and we're saying, "What is he talking about? We can all make it." It was absolutely true. And I got the same story when I went to the Academy of Art, it's not to discourage you, they were being realistic. And sure enough, just a few people made it. And one of my friends, Hiroshi Shimizu and our friend Koichi Fukuda, he's the youngest son of Reverend Fukuda, he went to the Arts Center and he got into the business and we both made it. Making it doesn't mean getting into the business, it's making it into the business and earning a living. And the part that I liked the most is that, at the Academy of Art, again, this thing about success, I had two good friends that we always competed in class and we're trying to be the best in class, so we were always the best three in class, and that was a good thing, it was a friendly competition. And one of my instructors said, "You want to come interview where I work?" I said, "Sure." And prior to that, I was interviewing at different places more to get some feedback, more of an informational interview. And I had three idols in school, I got in to see one of my idols and the first thing he said is, "Go back to school," that was very clear.

TI: Because he said you're just not ready?

KN: Yeah, go back to school, I went to an agency and that guy said, "Your idea is good but you should do it this way." But I got good feedback. The instructor gets... I go to my instructor's place, showed my portfolio, and his boss says, "Can you start now?" I said, "Like now? Today?" And he says, "Yes." I said, "Of course." Funny story about that is I borrowed George's car, he had a real nice, by the way, if you know the muscle cars, a 1964 GTO. Okay, he had the first of the muscle cars.

TI: I think a '66 GTO.

KN: Two years after, yeah. So I drove it there, and, of course, I'm working. I come out and it's gone, it's towed away because all downtown. So I go to my night class because I'm still taking... I borrowed money from all my friends to help get that out. Oh, my god, it's kind of bittersweet but it was a good day, I got a job. The neat part of this is this thing again about success. You have to have luck as well, there's no doubt. The second -- I had three idols there -- the second idol, this guy, known nationally, his name was Tom Kamifuji. My instructor knew him. My instructor ended up with a really good offer out of L.A., so he said, "I'm leaving, you want to go see Tom?" I said, "Yes, I'd love to see him." That neighborhood was all full of the art industry, the ad agencies. I went to go see him, I showed him my portfolio, I updated my portfolio just for him, and same thing happened. He says, "Can you start in two weeks?" I don't have a resume in either case.

TI: But your portfolio is your resume, right?

KN: Those days, that's what counted. Today, the resume's important, they won't even see you without a resume. So one interview, get my first job, one interview, I got my second job. So that's again, some of that is luck. Later, I realized, yeah, it had to be, my portfolio had to be good enough to get the jobs, and after two weeks, he said, "I didn't know you were that advanced," I know what he means, I'm only one year out of school, so he gives me a raise. And I was like, wow. I stayed with him for two years, and did a lot of work, I mean, a lot more than I could have imagined. National work, good stuff, high level, that's really what I wanted, because that's what I wanted. These guys were our directors, designers and illustrators all together, and I patterned my work after them. But he says, "It's time to make a move." And so I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, you could take the next step up." And again, I had no idea what that meant, he said, "Well, get into an ad agency or doing something." Well, what happened is I ended up, I started my own business after three years.

TI: After only three years you took the plunge?

KN: Yeah. That was a month before I got married. [Laughs] So my mom's telling me, "You're crazy. You're going to starve."

TI: Leaving the security of a good-paying job, security, you're getting married.

KN: She said, "Stay another year." My wife was a supervisor at SF State, and that was the steady income, so that gave me a chance to just...

TI: Oh, so maybe that was best time.

KN: Well, it gave me a chance to start on my own, and immediately, I got work from my friends from school, they were at different ad agencies. So for the first twenty years, almost a hundred percent of my work was with all the ad agencies in the city. Probably not just the major ones, I think with almost all of them. Working with ad agencies is very different than working with design companies. Design is design, but ad agencies, you learned about concept, copywriting, photography, just everything, how everything works. That was the best thing for me, and they just gave me so much background, working with a good writer is amazing, someone that really understands copywriting. So that got me really going, and to this day, I still work with good writers that I can get, such an important part of it. I'm working right now on the film for the Issei Women's Legacy, this is for the Nihonmachi building, the is the YWCA building in Japantown, it's got to restore... anyways, I got a good screenwriter just came on board. So that kind of stuff, that goes back to this thing with success. Something about being about to do things well gets good people to work with you and all these things keep happening. And I'm semi-retired. Sometimes semi-retired means instead of eight or ten hours a day you worked four to five. But I only work about one hour a day, two hours, sometimes a full day if I had to go to Sacramento, other than that, it's real controlled, and most of that is pro bono work. But I wanted to leave with you some other things that you guys can look at at your leisure. One other video --

TI: Well, let's do this. I'm going to end the interview so Yuka can break down. So thank you so much for taking the time. And just the hospitality of your family, and to encourage your brothers to speak, this was really good.

KN: When they were getting interviewed by NHK, I had them come over and we practiced. I wanted to be sure they gave them as much information, because they got more than I do.

TI: Well, you did a good job because they did a great job.

KN: And now they're getting used to it, which is a good thing, so thank you. Yeah, thank you, Densho, and thank you JANM.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.