Densho Digital Archive
Friends of Manzanar Collection
Title: Kiyo Maruyama Interview
Narrator: Kiyo Maruyama
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: October 24, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-mkiyo_2-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

MN: Let's see, how about Japanese movies? When you were growing up, did your parents take you to see Japanese movies?

KM: Not too much. I got used to seeing a lot of Japanese movies after the war when I was there, and that was probably in the late '40s and early '50s.

MN: Now, before the war, though, if you had gone to the Japanese movies, where would you, where were they being shown?

KM: Oh, most of the time, you had a couple theaters in Little Tokyo, but once in a while I think the Japanese school used to put on a movie, some kind of a movie, and then show it to the gakuen people. But I can't recall, maybe one or two that I can recall that they had, but they were not too often.

MN: How about the Japanese navy ships that used to come to the port? Did your father or mother go down to entertain them?

KM: Yeah, we used to... if there were some sailors that were from that particular prefecture, Nagano-ken, especially, they would be notified about the sailors that are from Nagano that were in that ship. So we'd go down there and we'd pick 'em up and entertain 'em for that particular day or something, or take them out to eat or something like that, that's right.

MN: And did they take you along also?

KM: Hmm?

MN: Did they take you along?

KM: Uh-huh, yeah.

MN: How did you feel about these trips?

KM: No, I didn't... I just was tagging along. I didn't have any feeling, I just wondered, I never did... I knew that there was, we should be entertaining some of these guys from the ship, but for the reason, for what, I don't know. I never analyzed it.

MN: Let me ask you a little bit about Nisei Week before the war. What was Nisei Week like?

KM: well, Nisei Week, I had very little to do with it. I was an outsider, and maybe, I think it was in the early '30s that they started it. But I just went down to Nisei Week because of the events as a sort of spectator. And I didn't get involved with Nisei Week until after the war.

MN: Now if you compared Nisei Week now to what it was like before the war, were there more activities before the war, or how would you compare it?

KM: Well, I think before the war it was a different environment. I mean, at that time, a lot of rowdiness was going on, which I don't think has occurred after the war as much. But we used to have street dances, carnivals and stuff like that, beside the parade, and then the Nisei Week coronation was a little different again. But I never did go to a coronation before the war, so I can't compare that to the ones that we had immediately after World War II.

MN: Now you mentioned rowdiness. Are you saying that there were a lot of fights?

KM: Yeah, there was... yeah, gang, there was gang from different areas like Hollywood, downtown, Exclusive 20s they had, some other clubs that, in Boyle Heights. So there was always rowdyism, too, because of the different kind of clubs that they had.

MN: Did you get into any of the fights?

KM: Yup. I don't know why, no reason. But just because I was with some friends that were, got involved with it, so that's why you get involved, too.

MN: So you're saying you weren't really in a club or a gang, but you were associating with them.

KM: Well, I had friends that were in these, not gangs, but clubs. So I was associated with them, so I got involved because of that. I guess we were rubbing elbows with the wrong guys.

MN: How bad were these fights? I mean, did people end up in the hospital?

KM: Oh, no, I don't think it -- most of it was all fistfights. So there's bloody noses. I think it... there was maybe one incident where somebody pulled a knife and that was a no-no. But most of the time it was all fistfights.

MN: Now at that time, was the Little Tokyo area the area of the Exclusive 20s?

KM: Well, there was, Exclusive 20 was, had a sort of lock on Little Tokyo. But if you went outside that area, I guess, you had the resistance of some of the clubs. So that's where the fights come in.

MN: Boyle Heights had the Cougars.

KM: Uh-huh. Boyle Heights had a lot of clubs out there. But the Exclusives was always notorious for being in fights.

MN: They always come up.

KM: Hmm?

MN: Their name always comes up.

KM: Yeah. But they all mellowed down later on. I know a lot of 'em.

MN: They even became respectable.

KM: Yeah.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.