Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Junkoh Harui Interview
Narrator: Junkoh Harui
Interviewer: John DeChadenedes
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: February 3, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-hjunkoh-02

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

JD: Maybe we could start by talking about what you remember of your family life in the early '40s before the war and before 1942.

JH: Well, I think we had a great life. At least from my perspective it was great, because we had all these wonderful things around surrounding us. You know, the bay here, Fletcher Bay, fish or dig clams or whatever it is. And then we would, it was more wooded in those days, and we used to have a wood trail that came to Fletcher Bay park there. And I was always the tail end because I didn't have a bike and I had to run after my brothers because they had bikes. I always remember that. [Laughs] But it was a wonderful time for us young kids, 'cause we didn't have the materialism that there is today. We took what nature gave us and played with it, and go fishing and clam digging, all those things. I thought it was a great life. We didn't have any worries. The only worry we had was when do we start dinner again. But here was a gift of God, all these wonderful, natural toys if you will. And as I can recall, it was the best part of my life.

JD: One thing that's hard for me to imagine is how your parents were able first to establish a farm and then to build Bainbridge Gardens. The amount of work that they must have done to clear the land and begin growing plants, it's very difficult, I think, for modern people to image how they could have accomplished that.

JH: Well, they say that 24/7 is a new term that people are saying about people who spend twenty-four hours, seven days a week. That was their life. And they had laborers that helped 'em not only conceive, but turn out a wonderful nursery of yesteryear. It was the grand workings of several people, many, many people as a matter of fact. I had that same experience when I rebuilt Bainbridge Gardens. It seems that everything just seemed to float perfectly, and one thing would follow another. It was the easiest thing we could ever have done is to rebuild Bainbridge Gardens. Because it has such an aura of history and a tremendous legacy as far as plants and the environment. It was a wonderful time.

JD: This is when you came back, when the family came back from Moses Lake?

JH: That's right.

JD: How old were you then?

JH: Let's see, '46, I was twenty-three years old.

JD: One thing that interests people a lot is how the Japanese American community felt at the beginning of the war, when Japan entered the war and they suddenly realized that their situation was completely different. It'd be very interesting to hear more about what you know about how your parents reacted to that and how they were able to make the decision to move east rather than waiting the way some families did.

JH: Well, fortunately or unfortunately, I wasn't aware that war had even started when I was in school. I recall one day one of the teachers took me out of the class, says, "Junkoh" -- that's me -- "you need to go to a certain bus." And I was scared to death. I thought I had done something wrong. But all it was was a call to the Japanese American students to get on buses and eventually go to the ferry dock where they departed. And that was a rather traumatic situation for me because all through our young lives, our parents said education is number one, and respect is number two. And so I felt real bad because I didn't remember doing anything wrong. It was a rather traumatic moment. Unfortunately, as I say, maybe it was fortunate, I didn't really realize that there was a war started from Japan. Our parents sheltered us in terms of all these harmful things. Or they were too busy to acknowledge that we would be interested that there was a war, and even if they did say that there's a war, I don't know what the reaction would be from us. But I didn't experience the actual trauma of what happened, and obviously it's just a terrible trauma.

JD: Did your mother and father ever speak to you later about how that affected them?

JH: No. As a matter of fact, they didn't. I didn't know that there was a war with Japan until we got to Moses Lake and we went to the school.

JD: You heard from teachers or from other students that now the U.S. was at war with... and did they say, "with your people"? Did they think of you as... did you experience discrimination?

JH: Well, that conversation never did come about. I just absorbed it from what I learned in school. There was a principal of the school who uttered some phrases with "Japs" in it, and I'll always remember that. But that was one of the first contacts I had about American being at war with Japan.

JD: Did that sense that you might have done something wrong, did that stay with you? That you said you had when you were sent home from school?

JH: Well, yes it did. I had a very troublesome situation when I went to Moses Lake, particularly in the school. There was this guy that I can remember his name but I won't repeat it, would pick me out and beat the hell out of me every morning. He was a couple grades older than I was, and he was a big guy to begin with. I distinctly remember that he took me into this pit, and he would beat me up, and all surrounding this pit was all the other students quietly watching. Nobody objected. So that stuck with me and still does. It wasn't fun. Not only that, we played "War" in which, you can always remember which side I was on. And during the winter, there were rocks in the snowballs, and that was no fun either.

JD: I remember that from my childhood. Some kids would put rocks in the snowballs and really try and hurt you.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

JD: Were there many Japanese American families in Moses Lake?

JH: There were none.

JD: Yours was the only one.

JH: Well, no, there was a group of us that went. The Sakumas, the Kobas, the Shibayamas, the Sekos, the Haruis, went to this farm. And I don't know how they managed to do this, but... and to this day I don't know whether they leased it or bought it. I'll talk to you about Mr. Shibayama later on, but he was an integral part of why we were there. But anyway, the pain still is there. That was your question, I think. Still there, and what's happening to Iran and Iraq and those countries, I can see where it's gonna happen there, too. It already has. And so it's rather poignant that the memorial garden is there. The facilities are there, and there's a lesson to be learned by everyone that visits, and I think it's wonderful that we're able to construct such a beautiful place.

JD: I know everybody on Bainbridge Island feels that way. It's the most remarkable place. And we hear about how people would go there and just spend the day appreciating and enjoying the garden that your parents built, and it still has that same quality, I think. It's a very, it's like a center of life and the plants...

JH: It certainly is, yes.

JD: Were you, did you maintain any contact with friends on Bainbridge Island when you were in Moses Lake?

JH: Oh, no, no, I was too young even to know about the post office.

JD: Do you think your parents, did they manage to...

JH: No, I don't think so, because they spoke Japanese and read Japanese but they didn't, which they could do in the mail, but they were too busy involved in getting things organized. They were hard workers, and what we did in Moses Lake was we farmed, and various people would come by and they would talk about what to plant, and there was that act of kindness. But initially, the younger men mostly were the Koba brothers. They were in their late teens and early twenties, and they asked for jobs, and they got very bad response. Said, "No, I don't want no Jap working for me." But finally one of 'em got a job on a farm, and he proved himself. So all of a sudden labor was really hard to get at that time, during the war period. All of a sudden everybody wanted these young, hardworking Japanese boys to work on the farms. And they finally got jobs in various farms and proved themselves, that they're not the enemy, and they're not dangerous.

JD: These were all the sons of families who had moved east of the mountains.

JH: That's correct, yeah.

JD: Did they farm with machinery at that point? Did they have fuel?

JH: Yes, there was machinery, there was fuel, there were tractors. Well, there had to be because they were immense farms.

JD: Were they farming wheat primarily?

JH: No, we raised onions and potatoes and corn. [Laughs] During the school vacation period in the summer they sent me out in the farms. Just to show the enormity of the farms, I was told to weed a row of corn down this way. And when I was done, I had a suntan on one side. [Laughs] So it was quite an experience. We had, I think, some of the first Mexican laborers that came to the farms in Moses Lake, they must have come from Mexico, but they were recruited because of lack of labor. I remember -- this is a very racial statement, but I remember my younger brother... in fact, let me back up a little bit. Along with the Mexicans were some black laborers. And one of 'em cut his hand, and my younger brother said, "My gosh, his blood is red." It sounds kind of funny at that time, but it was a lesson learned. You can read a lot into that statement. We learned a little bit about culture, differences in culture with these laborers working for us. And then there were some that were slacking off, but my dad was, when we raised potatoes, we would have a belt with some nails on it, and you hooked a bag, you pulled the paraphernalia with your feet and your hands, and you put the potatoes in the bags, in the burlap bags. And that made you very strong, because I was just a kid then. And then one of the days, the foreman says, "Hey, there's a guy over there slacking off, why don't you go over there and show him how to sack potatoes?" And I'm sweating to beat the, trying to make myself go ahead of him, and I remember that experience. It was just kind of meaningful, too.

JD: You were probably ten or eleven years old?

JH: That's right.

JD: And did you have a potato fork that you'd dig 'em out?

JH: No, what they did is they dug it up by tractor, and you'd follow behind with this sack between your legs, throwing the potatoes in the bag.

JD: Did you beat him?

JH: Yeah, I did. [Laughs]

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

JD: So before you left Bainbridge, you didn't do too much work on the farm or in the garden?

JH: No, I didn't.

JD: You had kind of a protected childhood situation?

JH: That's right, yeah. Well, there's Issei Creek that goes by here now, I used to spend a lot of time at Issei Creek fishing for rainbow trout. In those days, we didn't have catch and release, we just catch. [Laughs]

JD: Catch and eat.

JH: Yeah, that's right.

JD: Your dad, first building the farm and then building Bainbridge Gardens, did they, who was the labor? Was it primarily other Japanese immigrants, or were there Filipinos?

JH: There were Filipinos, yeah, most of them were Filipino workers. They had separate houses, it's now gone, but back in the woods. They were very loyal and good workers. We got to know 'em well. And strangely enough, I never realized this, but they used to eat at our home because they had no facilities to cook. And it was part of the bargain, is that, "You get a meal." Fudgie Sakuma, Fudgie Koba Sakuma used to be a checker down here in Thriftway, she worked at Bainbridge Gardens and she was a very important person because she was bilingual. And before she died I showed Fudgie some pictures, family collections that I had and she was very much part of that album, pictures. And I asked Fudgie, I said, "Fudgie, how much did my dad pay you?" And she says, "A dollar a day." I said, "My god, my dad was a cheapskate, giving you a dollar a day." And she said, "No, no, no. We got a dollar a day and we got to sleep in the attic, which is room and board, right? And then we ate at your house."

JD: So that was a pretty good deal.

JH: Pretty good deal.

JD: Were there many Native Americans on the island? Were they ever working for your mom and dad?

JH: Yes, there were Native Americans, and they worked as berry pickers. You talk about discrimination, that was an era of Bainbridge Island that was totally terrible for how they treated those Native Americans. It was a shameful thing in many ways. We, and I include myself, treated them roughly and with very little respect. That will live with me, too. I'll never forget that, and hopefully they will all forgive me. But I was listening to the wrong people.

JD: You didn't know young children of the Native American families when you were little? They weren't running around in the woods and fishing?

JH: Oh, yes they were.

JD: They were.

JH: They weren't fishing, but they were running around in the woods.

JD: One thing I'm curious about... maybe we could talk a little bit more about the transition from Bainbridge Island to Moses Lake. There was such a very short time for anyone to make plans, come up with a, whether they would stay put and go along with the order, the executive order, or if they would move. And it's difficult to imagine how your father could have figured out an alternative to transplant the family and leave all of his work behind.

JH: Well, my father didn't do it because it was done by a gentleman by the name of Kamekichi Shibayama. And there was a story about him, I think, in the Seattle Times, if I'm not mistaken. But anyway, Kamekichi jumped ship in Eagle Harbor. No, excuse me, Port Blakely Harbor. He jumped ship, and he was penniless. And he swam to shore and he was thirsty. And by luck, he knocked on a door, and there was a Japanese living in this house. And they asked him in, gave him water and food, and eventually he was a very resourceful man and he had three jobs. He washed dishes and he'd do some... but he was always busy. And he accumulated quite a fortune, multimillionaire. He passed away as a multimillionaire. But in between that time, there was this disruption of moving to Moses Lake, and he was the one that found out that the Executive Order 9066 allowed certain people to live east of the Cascade range, to move there, and not have to go to camp. Well, they did that for a very short period of time and then they decided to close the doors. But we got there in time, and you're right, it'd be interesting to find out how they did that, because I had no idea. Well, I didn't even know it was going on. But anyway, Mr. Shibayama was very resourceful. I think he had attorneys, too, at the time, because he by that time had bought a lot of these multi-complex hotels.

JD: What year did he jump ship and swim ashore?

JH: I can't tell you exactly when that was. Unfortunately, well, there's still some sons and daughters, but it'd be kind of interesting to find out.

JD: In 1942, was he living here or was he already east of the mountains and invited people to...

JH: There's a yellow house right across from Bainbridge Gardens, he lived there. We had 22 acres at that time with the old Bainbridge Gardens site. And my uncle and my father were partners. Well, my uncle is the son-in-law of Kamekichi Shibayama, and he was involved in some of the decisions of Bainbridge Gardens, and he was a very astute person. I think that's why it happened.

JD: Does Mr. Shibayama, he still has children who live here?

JH: Yes, yes. Well, Michi Tsukada, I don't know if you've heard that name, she just died about a half a year ago, she was the daughter. But there's two sons and another daughter, one son died. I think there were seven of them. And there's two ladies, yeah. But anyway, they're all around this area, in Seattle mostly.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

JD: Do you remember anything of what your parents said to you during this time when they, when the family was going to be moved? Did they just say, "Pack your stuff, we're going"? Did they tell you that you were going to be gone a long time? You don't know?

JH: I don't remember anything. What we did was... the only thing I do remember, and very vaguely, is that we put our... see, most of the people that got interned, they were only able to carry what they had in their hands. We were fortunate. We had a pickup truck and we could drive to Moses Lake, which is, at that time, maybe a three-hour drive or four-hour drive, probably more than that. But anyway, we had more personal possessions than the people that were interned in the camps. But all I could remember is that there was four of us stuffed in the front part of a cab of the truck. And we traveled that way, it must have been terribly uncomfortable, but I don't even remember that. [Laughs] So I was just too young and too naive to even know about all the details about moving. And as I say, I vaguely remember. I do recollect one thing. We went to a restaurant during this time because we were traveling a long time. So my dad finally decided that we'd pay for a meal. And I think it was in... no, it couldn't have been Ritzville. Anyway, it was a little small town, and we stopped at this restaurant. And I've thought about it now, my thoughts now, I was thinking that, gee, maybe they would even refuse to feed us. The guy was, the restaurant owner was a very nice man and treated us so well. I'll never forget that. Because it was days of trauma, although I still wasn't aware of war with Japan. I don't think we'd ever been to a restaurant. [Laughs] Now, everybody goes to restaurants.

JD: Do you remember what you ate?

JH: No, I don't. [Laughs] I don't remember.

JD: Did your father or your uncle ever tell you later what they thought that move meant? Because they were leaving behind decades of hard work and their whole life, did they have any idea that they'd be able to come back and reclaim it? Or was it just a matter of...

JH: I can't answer that. I have no idea what their thoughts were. Obviously, it was a crushing blow to their lives. I mean, goodness, they worked for days and hours and weeks, months, to build Bainbridge Gardens to the wonderful place that it became. And I imagine it was -- you're probably going to ask me about this later -- but I imagine that it was real traumatic when they returned to devastation.

JD: Yeah, it's difficult for modern people to imagine the effect on individual families or on the whole community because growing up here, we can't really imagine something like that happening to our families. It's very difficult to imagine. Or the effect it would have on your life from that point on. It's very hard to imagine. But your parents didn't talk about it later.

JH: No, they didn't.

JD: Did you just come back and you sort of got to work with your, now you were old enough to help your father and uncle rebuild?

JH: That's right, yeah. Yeah, by then, well, I have another story of my oldest brother and sister who were stuck in Japan during the war. Then my...

JD: They'd been sent back for education, right?

JH: That's right. And then my next older brother was a great help to my folks, both during the Moses Lake situation and the rebuild of Bainbridge Gardens on Bainbridge Island. He was very instrumental in helping my dad, because now he was the oldest boy. So I came up a step, too, little bit, and I would do all the communication on the telephone, and I would do the necessary governmental forms that were, needed to be addressed and sent out. So it was a learning process for me, too, so I'm thankful that I had that opportunity.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

JD: I assume that when you came back to Bainbridge Island, that was the beginning of your working 24/7, which probably continues.

JH: Yeah, that's right. Fact is, John, I have to admit that I said at one time I'll never be a nurseryman because of the rigors of the job. Fact is, I was hired to work at the American Marine Bank, and ready to go to work the next Monday, but then Friday I got my draft notice. [Laughs] So I never became -- I could have been a banker instead of a nurseryman. How fate works.

JD: Wear a nice suit, go into an office? [Laughs] What year was that? That must have been...

JH: '52. Oh, no, excuse me. '58. It was after college.

JD: '58 you got a draft notice?

JH: Uh-huh.

JD: Amazing. Then did you do military service? What did you do?

JH: Yes, I did. I had the opportunity to go to Europe, and I'm thankful for that. It was a wonderful experience.

JD: Were the effects of the World War II and the separation and discrimination between the Caucasian community and the Japanese community, did that affect your time in the military or was it already fairly...

JH: Oh, no, there was no thought of that, no problem there. We lived in these Quonset huts in the army, and there was diverse people from all places and various creeds. There was kind of a wonderful experience, I thought, to meet all these people. I'll say my opinion sometimes, to say what I thought, but... [laughs] But it was an interesting experience.

JD: They were different from people you --

JH: They certainly were. [Laughs]

JD: That you'd never known before.

JH: That's right.

JD: Were you stationed in Germany?

JH: No, in France.

JD: For a couple of years?

JH: Thirteen months. It was fun. We went to Paris almost every weekend. But I went to see the museums and the art and all that stuff. I won't tell you what the other guys did. [Laughs]

JD: I think people can probably guess. [Laughs] Interesting. And many of the people who were of the right age, or who went to camp, then volunteered for the military or were even drafted into the military. In the small group of people in Moses Lake, I assume there must have been some talk about whether they should take that path or whether they should...

JH: Yeah, that's right. They probably did because they were all that age, that eligible age. But I didn't capture any of that in my experiences with living close to these people, these young men. But I'm sure that happened. I think they were ready to go, too, but I don't know. The 442 was a great group of, great unit. I don't know, I think they were there after it was all over, 442. Probably disbanded by then.

JD: Yeah, that was an amazing bunch. Did you know any of the Bainbridge Island Japanese Americans who were fighting in Europe with the 442?

JH: Oh, sure. The two Koura brothers, Nob and Art, and Don Nakata's dad, or no, excuse me, Don Nakata's uncle. Yeah, they were wounded, I think all three of 'em were wounded.

JD: But I guess you were kind of protected from that news so you didn't really know anything about it 'til later.

JH: Well, I wasn't old enough at the time. The draft came after World War II. Well, there was always drafts but then...

JD: I just meant in terms of understanding the importance of the 442 and their place in history. Later on, when you were old enough, you began to learn more about that?

JH: Oh, yes.

JD: I assume that must have been very important in terms of the...

JH: Well, they even made a movie, Go for Broke, name of that movie.

JD: I've seen that, yeah. It's not bad.

JH: It was a little overdramatic, I guess, but it honored a great unit.


<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

JD: Let's talk a little bit more just about the, what the Japanese American community was like on Bainbridge when you were a kid, and the kinds of activities they engaged in, were they very connected to the non-Japanese community or was it more they had their own cultural and social activities?

JH: Well, most of the Japanese citizens that lived on the island were engulfed in their farms. And they had very little time for anything else. But I do remember some of the nice times that we had with our summer picnics. There's an annual summer picnic, and everybody would leave their farms and make nice lunches and sake. [Laughs] I remember several gentlemen laying in a ditch out in Foster Park, which is only a few feet from here, drunk and feeling no pain. And that's a very unusual situation that I confronted. But it was a lesson to know what sake can do for you. But those were memorable picnics they had, and it was in Foster Park right here. There's a Foster Street now, that's all that's left of Foster Park. But that used to be a park that the citizens lived close to the activity. Well, of course, what I strongly remember is that Bainbridge Gardens was not only a grocery store, it was a post office. And it was a meeting place for people who spread the news. And when you stop and think about it, there's lots of these grocery stores in those days, probably only a mile or two apart. And they were local post offices and gossip places, and that's how some of the news got around. Because most of the people didn't have cars to go from one car to another, or one community to another, and that would be the meeting place for the new news. Somebody's having a baby, somebody broke his leg, etcetera, etcetera. And so there was a lot of grocery stores on Bainbridge Island. If you do a history report on it you can probably find that there's probably more than twelve grocery stores on Bainbridge.

JD: Would they sell mostly some canned goods and then locally produced foods?

JH: Yeah, that's right. Yeah, locally produced foods, yeah. The people themselves canned their own vegetables in those days. I remember my mother canning vegetables for the winter.

JD: What did she put up, do you remember?

JH: I don't really remember. There were a lot of Japanese pickles and stuff like that. I don't recall... then there was interracial groups that would exchange things like lutefisk and those horrible things that some people eat.

JD: But at home, you ate Japanese food.

JH: That's right. And some of it I hated. But I spoke of going, you're being surrounded by nature and there's a lot of, we had really lots of clams and perch and that type of fish. And a lot of root vegetables were grown in the gardens 'cause they would store well in the wintertime, and I hated all of them.

JD: Your folks had a root cellar that they'd store the...

JH: Yeah, they did.

JD: And your mother would make you lunches of, Japanese type lunches that you'd take to school?

JH: Yeah, there is... we were pretty poor at that time. Actually, this is after the war. We had a real struggle right after the war because we came back to pretty much total devastation as far as the nursery part of the greenhouse as Bainbridge Gardens is concerned. So I remember eating potato sandwiches, and I remember eating sandwiches with Jell-o in it just for color. But mostly it was just bread and starchy foods, those with carbohydrates, I guess. But there was very little meat. I weighed 127 pounds, and I was a guard in the football team. [Laughs] Whereas some of the people, we used to play the North Kitsap Vikings, and those guys were eating a lot of fish and meat, and they had ways to sustain themselves, and they whopped the heck out of us every year. [Laughs] As far as the community is concerned, they did have evening meetings at times, they were community meetings, and they were pretty much exclusive to Japanese. But they also had a minister, a Buddhist monk come over once a month and conduct a service. That became one of the highlights of their lives and were able to have a little spirituality in their life. But they had this chant that they, for the services, and us kids, stupid as we were, we'd start chanting and making up our own rhythm and chant, and we'd start giggling and stuff. It's a wonder we didn't get our ears boxed off.

JD: You'd make up your own words to go along with it?

JH: [Laughs] That's right.

JD: Your parents were Buddhist, or were they also members of a local congregation?

JH: Yeah, they were both Buddhist. For the most part, they were probably ninety percent, I'm guessing, ninety percent of the people on the island, Japanese people on the island were Buddhists. There's a few that were Christian.

JD: There was a... I think I've heard there was a Baptist church here that was Japanese, and the minister of that church actually went to Minidoka and continued.

JH: Yeah, I've forgotten his name now, but I remember where his church was right there Wyatt Way. But as far as other community activities, I guess they were surrounded by a work schedule that's 24/7.

JD: Was there a strawberry festival on Bainbridge also?

JH: Yes, there was, yes. Yes, there was. It started out to be a summer festival, then because of the people converting their farms into strawberry farms, there was a strawberry festival.

JD: Did your dad and your uncle grow strawberries or did they never get into that?

JH: Well, you know, there was a story behind that. There was a guy that started a strawberry farm, and that particular year, the price was good and the quantity was good, the quality was good, and so word got around that everybody should raise strawberries. Well, raising strawberries is a fickle game. You're kind of a victim of whatever happens in the weather. He made a lot of people suffer a lot because the next year wasn't very good, the prices and the quality. But that evolved with many additional strawberry farms, and some of the more sophisticated farmers such as the Kouras on Koura Road had tremendous production and they were a little more sophisticated in their farming methods. And so it worked out well for them. But most of them, that ties in with what I was talking to you about, having grocery stores. And the local grocery store was also your bank, because if you had a tough year, during the winter they would buy all their signs for their vegetables and their other edible foods. And hopefully, come strawberry time the next year, they'll have enough to pay the poor groceryman. But the groceryperson was very instrumental in some of the, the livelihood of the whole family.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

JD: We mentioned what happened when you came back from Moses Lake and you saw what had happened to Bainbridge Gardens. So I guess your dad and your uncle would have had no way of knowing what condition it would be in. What did they... initially, did they think it wasn't possible to rebuild it?

JH: Well, I can't answer that because that was beyond my scope of understanding. But what actually happened was that they had developed Bainbridge Gardens to the wonderful place and grocery store and greenhouses, nursery yards and vegetable gardens, ornamental fountains and water features. All of that went under trauma except for the grocery store. The grocery store was leased out to some very honest people who paid the rent. So by paying the rent they were able to pay the taxes. A lot of families lost their home and land and buildings because they couldn't come up with the tax, money to pay the taxes. So my uncle and my father, plus the grocery store owner or renter, were able to pay their taxes. Unfortunately, the people who ran the nursery just let it go and it crashed under the heavy weight of the snow, the greenhouses were totally collapsed. Most of the inventory and ornamentals, the beautiful fountains, etcetera, water features, they were all either pilfered or damaged beyond repair. It must have been really crushing to come back and see that. And my dad, I do remember when, after we came back, we were driving around the island for some reason, I'm not sure, but my dad would point out certain trees and he said, "You know, that used to be mine." So they must have had a free for all picking out the plants. So it must have been painful for my dad and my uncle because they'd worked so hard. The total devastation pretty much ended their partnership, so they split the property up. He got the east side and we got the west side. They both tried to, both my uncle and my dad separately tried to rebuild Bainbridge Gardens. We kind of had a Bainbridge Gardens One and a Bainbridge Gardens Two. But they were both getting up in age, and they didn't have the energy to bring it up to where it was.

JD: When you came back, you were, you got back into school, you were probably in sixth, seventh grade, something like that?

JH: That's right, yeah.

JD: But then would you use your spare time, you'd be helping your dad rebuild the...

JH: Oh, yeah. That's the reason I swore I'll never become a nurseryman because I hated the work, and we never got paid. [Laughs]

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

JD: But it wasn't until 1958 that you saw an opportunity to perhaps get into a different line of work?

JH: That's right. Because I went through college after I graduated high school. Went to college, and like I say, I was invited to work at the local bank here, but I got my draft notice. And that wasn't, as I stated before, it wasn't really a waste of time because I learned a lot during my army years and my years doing most of the bookwork, and my dad's attempt to rebuild Bainbridge Gardens. It was a great lesson.

JD: What did you study in college?

JH: Business administration.

JD: Did you imagine getting into some completely different business, starting something of your own?

JH: [Laughs] I sometimes do a lot of things without thinking. [Laughs] I went back to see if my job at the bank was open yet, it wasn't. It was tough times. And somebody, I remember who told me to do this, the Nakata brothers. Says, "Why don't you go open a flower shop? We need one in Winslow." So I did. My ex-banker that tried to hire me says, "You need some money?" I said, "Yeah." He gave me ten thousand dollars.

JD: Is this in the early '60s when you came back from the military?

JH: Yeah. And then built a small nursery store, I mean, a flower store right there at Thriftway, at the very end of Thriftway, you'd never know it was a flower shop at the time. Look there real carefully, you'll see the outlines of the building that was once a flower shop, store there.

JD: About where the flower part is now?

JH: Yeah, it's east of that. And we struggled. Not only that, kids kept popping up, my own personal kids. [Laughs] Those were very tough, struggling years, but slowly and slowly, we kept working and working, and then I went from that location to where the yardage store is, and we went up to the village and stayed there until I got situated back here at Bainbridge Gardens again. So in the long run, it worked out for me.

JD: Even though you found yourself as a nurseryman again?

JH: That's right. [Laughs] That's right. Yeah, actually -- I stated this before -- but what I did just seemed to flow. They had divine guidance or something, just seemed to flow. But it's a wonderful thing that happened during that time. You can't imagine... well, maybe you could, how wonderful it was to rebuild something that was a legacy and a treasure of years ago. There's a lot of feeling. I want to tell you, share a story with you. We had that little restaurant, New Rose Cafe there. And there's a guy who used to run lumber, moved to Port Townsend. He came down and he said to me, says, "Junko, I've got to tell you a story. You won't believe it, but it actually happened." Said, "My wife and I were sitting having our lunch at the New Rose Cafe, and while we were sitting there, two objects glowed like gold." And I said, "That's my dad and mom." And I still believe that. So it was a wonderful thing that happened, probably never would have happened if it wasn't for something that triggered this off. And it has a lot of veracity because both of them saw it. So, see, all these things that happened, and you treasure 'em as you... you know how rich I feel now? It's not money, it's just, I'm protecting something that my dad and mom wanted to finish their goals. So that was another highlight of my life.

JD: Do you sometimes feel that they're still around?

JH: Yeah, I do. I do. I was just talking to my wife this morning, says, "You know, there's somebody else in this bedroom." She says, "Oh, you silly guy." But I keep hearing this breathing, and I think that's either my mom and dad looking after me.

JD: It seems in some ways, you have been an amazingly lucky person.

JH: I am, yeah.

JD: I know the members of the Bainbridge Island community also feel as if we're incredibly lucky that your father and your uncle and your family built Bainbridge Gardens and that you are, that you have built it up again into what it is now. It's a treasure for us.

JH: Thank you. Yeah, I'm very fortunate.

JD: So you don't regret the bank, you didn't get to go to banking?

JH: [Laughs] Yeah, well, I probably would have made a bad banker.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

JD: Okay, let's go back and talk about the lunches that your mom would prepare. I know that's a very interesting story about what would she actually put together for you to take to school and then how would you --

JH: Like I say, we were so poor at that time -- this is after the war -- that we would have very modest lunches with the bread and potatoes. Little bit of mayonnaise go a long ways putting the flavor into the potatoes. Also we would have little Jell-o put in between the sandwich to give it color. And, of course, it probably tasted okay because we were hungry. [Laughs] But anyway, I vividly remember some of the kids, I was caught eating some of these things, and they said, "Ooh, what are you eating?" And I said, "Oh, this is just my lunch," and I never let them see me eating that again because I was so embarrassed. So I would hide my lunch behind my hand like this. Today it's a little different. They're teaching me how to eat sushi. [Laughs] So in those days, eating sushi would have been a very adventurous thing. I think I still remember one of the guys who still lives on the island here. [Laughs] I'll have to share that with him, he probably wouldn't even understand it.

JD: This is the guy who was a schoolmate of yours?

JH: Yeah, that's right. His name is Ray Degoot.

JD: I remember in one of the other interviews, I think you mentioned that he was one of your closest friends, and did he take care of your dog when you moved to Moses Lake?

JH: No, that was somebody else. Well, Lucy knows a little bit about this, but we lowered the mileage from, what was it, thirty-five to twenty-five. And the reason for that, we had...

JD: The speed limit on the road?

JH: Yeah, speed limit, yeah. The reason for that is that, well, I'm not phrasing this correctly, but we lost four Sparkys on that road over a period of years that I remember. Four Sparkys lost their lives because people were speeding down that road.

JD: Was that the name of your dog when you were a kid?

JH: That's right. There was Sparky 1, Sparky 2, Sparky 3 and Sparky 4.

JD: So who did take care of your dog when you went to Moses Lake?

JH: That I can't tell you. I don't know who did it. It must have been a trauma for the dog, too.

JD: Yes, the red pines that are still there?

JH: Yeah, the Pinus densiflora is the Japanese red pine. They are a living tribute to my dad because he loved them. He started the red pines from seed that he'd gotten from Japan. And he loved them and there still is a stature there at Bainbridge Gardens, one that's over eighty years old. But what happened was we got the orders for relocation from the government, and we were only given eight days to take what you can take. Well, obviously, he could not take all his red pines. So he hurriedly planted them in little clay pots and stuck 'em in the woods where there was lots of shade so that they would survive without somebody watering 'em. And this is a living tribute because they're standing there in Bainbridge Gardens right now. Many of them, there's literally hundreds of them. One group is a stage that was before I can remember, with another group that's after we returned to Bainbridge Island. The resilience of the tree itself is amazing. I often walk in the nature trail that houses these red pines, and I feel wonderful by being able to do so.

JD: Are these trees that are native to the part of Japan that your dad came from, do you think?

JH: Yes, they are. Yes. In fact, the Pinus densiflora are growing in Japan up and down the east, north and south borders. In fact, when we went to Japan this August, I saw a vision of what red pines do to a forest. It's absolutely wonderful.

JD: What is it like?

JH: Well, there's, see, there's a feeling of peace and tranquility. They call them red pines because their bark is red and they have an openness to 'em. Layers of nice green needles.

JD: Long?

JH: Yeah. And they're just beautiful. Gives you a feeling of serenity.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

JD: Yeah, that's interesting to me, too, the memorial and the message that you see it giving people. Can you say something about that?

JH: Well, the people who were on the committee to select the area in which the memorial is being built did a tremendous job because they preserved almost all the trees that were there. And particularly the native red cedars, Thuja plicata, have a tremendous stature. And it's basically because they are native to the Northwest, standing by as guardians of preserving the Northwest plant culture. And I think they're on the right track, obviously, and what a beautiful site that is. I think everyone should visit and treasure what they're seeing here, paying tribute to Bainbridge Island and the nature. I think it can be absorbed in spirit of all the people who see it and visit the memorial park.

JD: What about as a reminder of specific events from the 1942 and meaning of that? What would you like to see people get out of that?

JH: Well, BIJAC, Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community, put a tremendous amount of work in all of the events that they have sponsored. And hours and hours and hours of work and planning has come up because a few people cared. And pretty soon, lots of people cared. So there's certainly a richness in the project itself and the activities, particularly cultural activities of the Japanese community such as the mochi pounding. We used to have a teriyaki dinner. There are still some picnics held every five years, I believe. And they come here because we really care. And we'll continue, hopefully, The younger is getting, the younger generation of Japanese citizens on the island, are getting more involved in understanding their culture. So I think that's rich in itself. Niseis are getting older, and the Sanseis and Yonseis and Goseis continue with the traditional activities that they're getting involved in. So it's wonderful.

JD: Maybe you could just say a little bit more about the feeling for nature or the philosophy of nature that you've mentioned that obviously motivated your father, your uncle and yourself, too, throughout your whole life work. How you felt about nature, what you think is the importance for people of being connected to nature.

JH: Well, the very air that we breathe is enriched by our wonderful trees. I think the community itself, overall community on Bainbridge Island itself have stepped on the bandwagon, too, through our green program. For instance, more sensitivity to what we put in the ground and in the air. I think it's because of the understanding of these people and what they are exposed to that make it enriched by people who really care. That has to come with the knowledge of plants and what they do for you, not only physically, but mentally. And so I'm very pleased to see and hear more about the green program on Bainbridge Island, and rightly so, because the citizenry on Bainbridge is very pointed to preservation. And I think it's wonderful that we have such a community, richness of community.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2007 Densho. All Rights Reserved.