Densho Digital Archive
Friends of Manzanar Collection
Title: Chikaye Sande Azeka Hashimoto Interview
Narrator: Chikaye Sande Azeka Hashimoto
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: January 10, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-hchikaye-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

MN: -- camp, who were the names of your odori teachers?

SH: They were called the Uyeda sisters, their name was Tome and Haddie, Haruko, Uyeda.

MN: Now let's go to your postwar. You had, your parents had this, a stool in the front.

SH: In the cleaners, yes.

MN: And people used to sit on it.

SH: There used to be a stool when you come into the cleaners, (...) my mother had her sewing machine right there and then while she's doing her sewing a lot of people used to sit there and chit chat with her and my father. My father's doing the pressing of the clothes. So a lot of (them were not) women, but men would come in and (...) chit chat with her and (...) my father.

MN: What did they come and chit chat about, and were there, like, certain people who always used to come?

SH: There're certain people 'cause I guess they have the time. (...) But one was Mr. Hanami, Clement Hanami's father, and he used to live (in) a hotel above us. (...) He would come in and sit on that little stool there, and I knew he would be carrying on a conversation. So one day I asked my mom, "Mr. Hanami, he comes so often. Doesn't he work?" And she says, "Yeah, he works." (...) One day he came in, I said, "Mr. Hanami, are you going to work?" (...) He says, "Kyou wa samui kara shigoto ni ikanai." (...) So it's cold so he's not going to work. Then maybe a few days later, here he comes again, he's sittin' on the stool. So my mom says, "Oh, kyou wa doshita no?" He says, "Kyou atsui kara shigoto ni ikanai." And then I said to my mom, "One day it's cold, one day it's hot, then when does he go to work?" She says, "I don't know when he goes to work," so we used to laugh about that. [Laughs]

MN: You know, I'm wondering why your father didn't go back to Eleventh Street when he first came back and open a cleaner there.

SH: Well, the reason why he didn't go back to Eleventh Street was he had a friend by the name of Mr. Walker that had a barber shop (...) a few doors down from him. He told my father (who) was looking for another cleaners (...), "As much as I like you, and I wouldn't mind you opening up a cleaners on Eleventh Street again, (but) the neighborhood has changed a lot since during the war, and there's a lot of rough people around here (that) won't welcome you. So for (you) and (your) family's safety, I think you should find another location to open up your business." That's the reason why my father decided to then open up a place in Little Tokyo (again).

MN: Do you remember what the address of the Baby House Cleaners was?

SH: It was 341 1/2 East First Street.

MN: Now, was your family's cleaner the only cleaners in Little Tokyo?

SH: No, there (were three) other cleaners. I don't know what the (names were). There was one around Weller Street, (...) one on First Street on the same side (was) Ace High Cleaners. There was another cleaners on the other side of First Street, but I can't remember the name (...), but I remember Ace High used to be one. (...)

MN: So was competition pretty tough?

SH: Well, I don't know anything about competition because, being as young as I was, I had no worries about that.

MN: So your family was out of Manzanar before the war was over, and so when V-J Day was declared in August '45, what was it like?

SH: You know, I don't remember.

MN: There was, like, no huge celebration?

SH: Not up and down First Street that I know of, 'cause I would've asked, what's going on? But I don't remember anything like that.

MN: So you're living right in downtown Los Angeles. Where did you go to play?

SH: (...) We used to play up and down First Street. Nishi Hongwanji (was) on the corner, so we (...) go in there, and behind (the church) there used to be a playground. (...) It's not like a park with a lawn (...). It was all dirt, and they used to have swings and (slides). (...) Most of the time (we would skate on) First Street (...). (In) Nishi Hongwanji (...) there's a lot of places (although) we shouldn't be playing in a church. (...) One time I remember we were playing hide and go seek, and I didn't know what the rooms were -- (...) I thought I found myself a nice hiding place. Well, I didn't realize that was the room where they kept all the ashes, and I was sitting there and (...) counting, and said, "Here I come," (...) then I started looking around (...) and noticed (...) there (were boxes with) all kind of names written (...) I said, oh my god, (...) the room with all the ashes. I screamed and ran out, and we never went back to that church again. (...) My folks never knew that we (played at Nishi). But you have to do something to pass the time (...). We'd go across the street to Koyasan, not so much to go inside, but we used to play in the driveway (...).

MN: I'm surprised the Obonsan didn't get angry.

SH: I guess they didn't see us. (...) They're busy in their offices (...), and we don't go inside, so they don't really hear us (...).

MN: I think you mentioned that your uncle had a barber shop?

SH: He had a barber shop in the Nishi Hongwanji building (...). It's a (sushi) restaurant now, but he had a barber shop on First Street.

MN: Okay, the restaurant faces First Street right now.

SH: (...) (There is) a door where you could come out of the church from that area. (...) He was just about a few doors (...) from there on the other side. (...) It used to be the Ninomiya photo studio. (...)

MN: And when we were talking about Nishi Hongwanji, you're talking about the old Nishi Hongwanji, which is on --

SH: (Yes), not the pavilion. It's the historical building.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright &copy; 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.