Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toru Sakahara - Kiyo Sakahara Interview I
Narrator: Toru Sakahara, Kiyo Sakahara
Interviewer: Dee Goto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: February 24, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-storu_g-01-0027

<Begin Segment 27>

DG: What were you doing, Toru, when the war started?

TS: I went to the law library and in the morning on Sunday and all of a sudden over the radio I heard that Pearl Harbor was under attack and that President Roosevelt was going to declare war. So I just left the law library, packed up my stuff at the J.S.C. and went home.

DG: Why would you do that? What were you thinking?

KS: Well, your dad was in...

TS: My dad was in California traveling on business and I felt that I had to be at home.

DG: What were your thoughts about...? Did you know the war was going to start? Did you talk about it?

TS: I didn't see Kiyo, I don't think...

DG: What made you, like Kiyo, you had to get home. What was the...?

TS: The first thing found out when I got home was that my dad had been picked up by FBI. After a few days, we found out that he was being detained in San Francisco. I didn't see that he did anything wrong to be held by the FBI. I thought, "Well I'd just take the bus and go down to San Francisco and meet him and pick him up and drive home." But I found out my dad was being transferred to Missoula the next morning. I was the only person who was notified of that transfer, so I managed to get down to the train station to meet him and I was the only person that met any of the internees. We just shook hands and cried a little bit and he told me that the car was up in Eureka and then I took a bus back to Eureka. I arrived there on the Sunday.

DG: Was there any problems getting gas?

TS: No, I took a bus from San Francisco to Eureka. My father was arrested near Eureka and the car put into storage (by) the Eureka Sheriff's office. I registered in a hotel and at that time I could hear news reports of Manila being bombed. So I got into my room, and after awhile I it was time to go to bed. I pushed all the movable furniture against the door! [Laughs] I went to sleep and nothing happened, of course.

DG: You had the feeling that you needed...

TS: Yeah! No use taking chances. On Monday, (I) went to the Sheriff's office and picked up the car and drove home.

DG: So once again, you didn't have any problems getting gas?

TS: No, no, but...

DG: Did they make comments?

TS: No, no problems.

DG: There's other occasions where I had some uncles who...

TS: Well, then, as I indicated, my Uncle Dan, who was twelve years older than me but the youngest brother in my father's family, and I took my dad's Buick and we drove to Fort Missoula. We had no problems getting gas or food or... we stopped at one place just before we got to Missoula. I told Dan, "Let's get a shave and clean up before we go to Missoula." I remember getting to the chair and the barber starts to put soap on and he says, "By the way, what are you?" And I told him I was of Japanese ancestry and I'm an American citizen. He says, "I can't touch you." So (that was "it"). We just walked out. Then we stopped on the highway near the entrance to the road leading to Fort Missoula. We ate some bento that my mother had fixed and went to see my father. Of course when my dad saw his big brand new Buick, he put his hand on it like you see an old friend, and all we could do was to say "hello" and "take care" and then we left. But a few days after we got back, I got called in by the FBI to the office and the agent says, "You were observed near the entrance to Fort Missoula." I said, "Sure, we had lunch." He says, "You were observed taking pictures of Fort Missoula," and I said, "Nothing doing. We didn't do anything of the sort all we did was went to see my dad." Then I told him well you could check with my uncle and he will tell you the same story and that was the end of it. But obviously, every service station that we stopped they reported that two Japanese driving a black Buick was through there and even at the entrance of Fort Missoula. So people were very, very sensitive.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.