Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Hiroshi Kashiwagi Interview
Narrator: Hiroshi Kashiwagi
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: October 1, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-khiroshi-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

HK: Yeah, I grew up in a small town. I didn't speak English until I was about five-and-a-half. I went to an all-Japanese kindergarten to learn English, but I didn't like it. And other kids knew English, so it was kind of hard and foreign. And I, yeah, I wrote something about that. But then we moved into town. And we would walk to school. And I had some friends who were living in town, these were white kids. So I remember them. Loomis. Loomis. And, but we had this teacher... a classmate of mine, I saw the other day, and he says, "Oh, she didn't like Japanese, you know." And I don't remember that she, she was that way, but apparently he, he got it from her. And sometimes he would do something and then he'd be forced to walk home. [Laughs] She'd force him to walk home. And then when he told her that, that he lived six miles from school, then she thought better, and then says, "I'll punish you some other way." [Laughs] But our class was all, almost all Japanese, 'cause they figured we, we didn't speak, know English well enough. And so they segregated us, actually. And she would harp on our pidgin English, and so forth. But in a way she was good. We learned good English, yeah.

But from there we went on to high school, and this was about, about 8 miles up. And whenever we hit the thousand feet on the bus, then our ears would pop. And we'd go there, and it was a union school. And there were all kinds of different people, but we were pretty much to ourselves. And the town, town kids were the elite, and they kept to themselves. And they became all the class officers, and the most popular, and so forth. So that there was this separation and most of us were workers or, or sharecroppers, or... and then we had bosses. So even in school, you had that, you know.

CO: Even in the Japanese American community.

HM: Yeah, uh-huh. So that my father felt that I should know Japanese because later I probably wouldn't be able to get a decent job. So he, he sent us to Nihon gakko -- Japanese language school -- from the time I was about five, five or six, six, I guess. And then later, when kendo came around, then he started kendo for me, which I didn't care for very much, but that went on for a couple of years. And in kendo, there was not only the physical training, but there was also this propaganda -- shuushin, they called it, you know, ethics and stuff, so that you had to oyakoko and all this. So it was very Japanese and very nationalistic. So I had that kind of background.

And then, when I was a junior, after I was, I became a senior in high school, then I was sent to L.A. And later, later I found out the reason for that was that my father had TB and it was rather active TB and he didn't want me to catch it. In fact, I had already had it, but at least to protect me then, I was sent away. And so maybe I owe my life to that. But my sister, two of my sisters, one died when she was three, three and a half, and then my other sister caught it after the war, so maybe it was there. And she had to, after the war, there were some drugs that cured TB so she, she finally, after many visits back and forth to the hospital, she, she recovered, and she's still living. But TB was a thing in our family, although it's pretty common in a lot of families.

CO: So what were, like, did the Japanese American kids keep to themselves or did they mingle with the white kids at school?

HK: Not so much. Especially when, when you were bussed to high school. Then you're bussed home, and then they, all the social activities are after school and in the evenings. You don't, unless you drove or your parents drove, you didn't go to those things. So the only way that Nisei got involved was through sports. And so, and they were active that way, but those of us who didn't do sports, we didn't do anything. We'd go home and then we'd work or whatever, do chores. And then get up and take the bus. So, yeah. You might know a few friends between class or something, but no, I don't... I had a few fairly good friends. But after high school, you know, different.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.