Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview II
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2 & 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-02-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Let's now go back to your uncle, who was pleased that you're going back to the U.S.. So I imagine you took a ship back to Japan.

RT: Yeah, well, that was...

TI: Or the United States, I'm sorry.

RT: ...that was the thing that amazed me. When I said, "Yes, I wanna go back." He says, "All right, we're gonna leave for Yokohama tomorrow morning." Now I'm talkin' about goin' back, must have been about eight, nine o'clock at night, and he's already saying, "All right, we're catchin' the train to Yokohama tomorrow morning." And I never knew, or I never realized, that things were so far gone. Because when I went, when we went to Yokohama, I couldn't get passage. And he went through the whole rigmarole tryin' to get me passage. And he couldn't get passage. And then he finally came out and he said, "Well, I shouldn't do this, but I have a relative. He's a captain on the Tatsuta Maru. Let me go talk to him." So he went to talk to this captain on the Tatsuta Maru, and that's the one I came back with. And to my dismay, we landed here in Hawaii and everything was fine. Only thing, we couldn't get off the boat. And we get to the Golden Gate...

TI: Now why couldn't you get off the boat in Hawaii, when you...?

RT: Because that was part of the United States, and they didn't want us walkin' around Honolulu.

JN: Japanese.

RT: And so, they never trusted any of us. So we get to San Francisco, and we anchor outside the Golden Gate. And we were anchored out there for four days. Now, can you imagine? I would say, oh, 80 percent of the guys on that boat coming back as passengers, were American citizens; but we were all Japanese. And we sat out there for four days, not knowing whether we can dock or not. And the third day that we were out there, there was another boat, the Kamakura came up behind us, and they anchored out there. And when, the following morning, the Tatsuta Maru was allowed to dock in San Francisco.

TI: And roughly what period -- because this is before Pearl Harbor. So this was how much earlier before?

RT: Oh, I would say this was six months before Pearl -- no, maybe more.

JN: No, it was about 1939.

RT: Yeah.

JN: This is where I'm telling you it gets rough.

TI: Okay, so it's a couple years before, still.

RT: Yeah, it was real early, before Pearl Harbor.

JN: It was about (October 1939).

TI: But this just is....

JN: How old were you?

RT: Well, I think I was either....

JN: About fourteen.

RT: Yeah, fourteen.

JN: Fourteen going on fifteen.

TI: So this just gives you an indication of the sort of strained relationships between the United States and Japan.

JN: Oh, yeah.

RT: Yeah.

TI: And here was a ship from Japan, and they were giving it a hard time.

RT: Yeah, they were giving it a hard time. I could see the difference that they said, "The only ones we're gonna allow to get off is gonna be the Americans." But it wasn't that. They made us sit there out for four days, and finally, they said, "All right, all the Americans can get off. But you will come off empty-handed." As if to say, "you got some contraband or somethin'," you know. And that's, and so, when we were allowed to come in, the Kamakura Maru turned around and had to go back.

TI: With their Americans on there?

RT: Yeah, yeah.

JN: He was the last ship.

RT: We were the last ship.

TI: The last ship that was accepted from Japan?

JN: Through Golden Gate, San Francisco Bay.

RT: Yeah, and we all walked off empty-handed. We couldn't take anything off.

RT: Now you see something like that, and you wonder who started the war? Because when I left Japan, they weren't talkin' about war. They said, "Well, it looks like we might have to go to war with America, but sho ga nai. Because if we let things keep going like the way the United States is pressing us, we're not gonna be a country. Anybody can walk in and take us over."

TI: That's interesting.

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