Densho Digital Archive
Friends of Manzanar Collection
Title: Bill Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Bill Watanabe
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 8, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-wbill-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

SY: And when you say they were able to stay, do you know what the formality was to allow them to stay even though they had...

BW: I don't, except I think around August or, let's see, the war ended in August, so maybe around September or October, my father left camp and returned to L.A. to look for a place to live. And then my two older brothers left Tule Lake right after Christmas, and they came to L.A. with family friends, or a family that were friends of my parents. So they, then when they came to L.A. they hooked up with my father, but my father couldn't house them. So apparently my father was living somewhere in the Valley and so my two older brothers stayed for a month or two at Koyasan Temple in Little Tokyo, where they, the temple had put out cots or beds for hundreds and hundreds of people returning back to L.A. And then eventually my two older brothers got back together with my father, while my mother and myself and my younger brother were still at Tule Lake.

SY: So she was there with two babies, basically.

BW: She was there with two babies, and I think after Christmas probably most of the people had left Tule Lake.

SY: And the whole experience of having, being completely separated from her family --

BW: Yeah, it must've been a hard time.

SY: But the decision, in other words, your father leaving first, was, that was a decision that he made based on trying to restart a life here.

BW: Right.

SY: And do your brothers remember this Koyasan, staying at Koyasan at all?

BW: I'm sure they do. They're the ones who told me about that. I did not learn that until about two years ago. [Laughs] So I thought, "What? You stayed at Koyasan Temple?" They go, "Oh yeah, for a short time."

SY: I mean, in a sense they were orphaned, really, because their parents weren't there too.

BW: Right, right. They were, how old were they? Let's see, they must've been like twelve.

SY: And Koyasan, then, took care of younger kids as well. They didn't just take in families. They took in children.

BW: Right. But they came back with the Akita family, and they were good friends of my parents. And actually, Miss, the Akita family had a daughter who eventually married my uncle Tomio, so she became my aunt, so they were, they were kind of close.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright &copy; 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.