Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kunio Otani Interview
Narrator: Kunio Otani
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Rebecca Walls (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 31, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-okunio-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

KO: And that was quite an experience too, quite a period of adjustment for me, in that I'm not used to being around that many people, and all Japanese too. So there was a period of adjustment that I think I myself, and probably my brothers and sister had to make, too.

AI: Did you ever have any conversations with your brothers and sister about the situation you were in, or what was happening to you and your family or...?

KO: No, I don't recall anything of that kind. We, I don't know, you always found something to do. And there were new people coming in, new friends being made, and you were trying to help set up your living quarters the best you can. My dad happened to be a fairly good carpenter, and... you know in the end, there were many, many talented people moving into these relocation centers, and I think that's why they were able to establish a city with hospitals and police force and all these other agencies that make a city work.

AI: Just like any other town?

KO: That's right. But I don't know if there was any time in history where such a situation occurred, where people, whether you were doctors, lawyers or just a common guy, would all end up in the same place. Having to make a life for yourself there.

AI: Right. What were, do you recall any of your feelings about being stuck there? Especially after you -- I mean, in the early period when you were adjusting and finding yourself, that you had actually been forced to go? Recall any of that?

KO: Well, I think it was a kind of a bitter pill to swallow in some ways. Because, you'd gone to school and you'd brought up to be an American, so-called. And as Americans, you had certain rights, and certainly that was when they decided without any recourse that you as an American citizen had to go into these camps. That was kind of hard to cope with.

Although, in thinking back, you sometimes wonder if actually that wasn't... not too unwise, because if we'd been there in that city and all these other Japanese in these other cities too, when the war got, had been dragging along and things were getting awful bitter, whether things might not have happened, that might have not been too pleasant. In the end maybe it all worked out. Certainly, the way it worked out for us, we have no complaints. Because we had actually nothing to go back to, anyway.

AI: So when you left Raymond, your father's business had...

KO: Already been gone.

AI: ...already been going down.

KO: Yes, that's right.

AI: Did -- you didn't own property there?

KO: No, we didn't. As I said, [Laughs] he never believed in, I guess, establishing too many roots. Probably feeling that, "Maybe tomorrow I'll be moving somewhere else."

RW: What were people's reactions from the town when you were leaving? Did they resist at all, or want you to stay?

KO: Well, I think it was nice that several people did come down to see us off, saying how sorry it was all happening. And so, I think it was a nice town at that time. I don't know if it's the same today.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.