Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Frank Fukuhara Interview
Narrator: Frank Fukuhara
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Hawaii
Date: February 9, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-ffrank_2-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

gky: You underwent a little bit different education than your brothers, either Pierce or Harry, or Victor even. Can you describe a little bit about the kind of education you had?

FF: Well, since I was the youngest in the family, I think as the baby of the family, in other words, my mother wanted me to get a complete Japanese education, so I started primary school. I was in fourth in the States, but when I came back I was put into first grade again to start all over. So a year later I couldn't understand any English anymore. I forgot all my English. So, but my mother wanted me to go to a good public junior high school, high school, and college in Japan, so I kind of went along with her and I tried very hard to get into this government high school, public high school, junior high school, and I made it and she was very glad at that time, and I was too. But that was in nineteen, let me see now, it was, can't remember now...

gky: '35?

FF: Thirty, yeah, let me see now, '35 would it be?

gky: So you went back in '33, in first grade.

FF: '33, so it would be thirty, '39 I entered.

gky: Oh, so you entered seventh grade, what would be the equivalent of seventh grade?

FF: Equivalent to sixth, seventh grade, that's right. That's right. Seventh grade, and the school I went to was a sort of a high school and junior high put together, five years course, but Japan was in war with China, maybe five, seven years prior to that, so by the time I entered I found out, I didn't know that this school was sort of a preschool for the Japanese army and navy academy. I didn't know that at all. After I entered it I found it out, but I did not tell my mother that because I didn't think she would like it. But I suffered because medically, plus they give you, they give you pretty bad treatment. They slap you or hit you or kick you, and you have to take it. Fifth grade was, in that school, they'll do that kind of treatment to you. And the school knew it went on, but they just didn't bother, they just let it go.

gky: Was it because you were a Nisei or was it because they were, any young kid they came along and did this sort of hazing ritual to?

FF: Well, in my case they had me just stand up and the first thing this fifth grade student said, that I was wearing a blue shirt at home, and the rules for the school was that we were not allowed to wear underwear other than white color, but I thought, since I was at home I thought it was okay, but he saw me from walking by my home that I was wearing a blue shirt, and that was the excuse he started beating me up.

gky: Okay, so fifth grade really is the equivalent of seventh grade, eighth grade?

FF: Is equivalent to eleventh, eleventh grade.

gky: Oh, eleventh grade, so it was really the, the older children picking on the younger children.

FF: Young, yes, that's right.

gky: So you were in this pre military school.

FF: Pre military, well, it was supposed to be just a public.

gky: When did they change the way that it was regulated inside the school?

FF: That was changed, it seemed like to me, it was changed, it started changing about three years before I entered, and it got worse and worse every year. But the time I graduated from that high school it was 1944. The war was pretty well towards the end, and in Japan they were very scarce of labor, so we all had to go to work from school, and we, like the first, second and third grade students would go, maybe, volunteer type of work on weekends, like Saturday and Sunday, and go to school weekdays. But after third grade, third, fourth and fifth graders, we all had to go do volunteer work, like army arsenals and freight, what do you call, labor from freight trains to things like that, and third, third, fourth and fifth graders were mostly, worked five days a week, volunteer work, and go to school on weekends.

gky: Boy, that's pretty tough. I mean, they didn't, that doesn't give you much school time.

FF: Yeah, they actually, because after we worked five days a week and got your back, you're all tired out, you go to sleep right away and things like that, so I, we got healthy, maybe, but we didn't get any study, no study time. So I think it was, it was kind of tough on the teachers, too, because they couldn't, they didn't want to work. They came and helped us out, too, but for the students it was really rough because no time to study, and still when we graduate you'll have to take tests for entering college and we all didn't have enough time. And that was because we were in Hiroshima. Hiroshima is known as a military town and they need a lot of labor, so they finally put us to work.

gky: How about farm work, helping...

FF: Yes. Farm work started when we were in the second grade, yes, in that high school, second year. I went to help the farmers for two weeks to plant rice, and that same year autumn time came and I went to help farmers two weeks harvesting rice. And that lasted for, until I graduated because they were short on... but in case there's, farm work was a, had a higher priority because you had, it was a time limit on planning and harvesting things, so I had, I went, in other words, four weeks every year to help the farmers.

gky: When they changed the inside of the school, how the school was run, why did they change it and gear it more towards military education?

FF: Why did they change the... well, our school was a very well known school for the army and navy. It's just like the West Point or, in America they call, what, academy? That's academy, right. And the, our school students were known, maybe about five or ten percent of the graduate students used to go, peace time, go to these academy type schools, but the time, and they were doing very good, so they all wanted all of us to try to take tests to go to these academy schools. But if you don't have, if you're wearing glasses or things like that they won't let you in. In other words, they were very strict on the health test. But I didn't want to go, so I didn't go, but if I didn't I'll be drafted, I knew. I was a little bit older than the other kids, so to keep out of draft at that time, the only way to do for me was to either go to medical college or technical college. Then I can extend my draft. So I worked a little bit harder than I did because I found that out, so I took a test, about three schools that were public and technical, and I just passed one of 'em, so I went to that college, which was in Toyama, Japan. But once I got there I thought, I took, I chose the country college because I thought I could eat better, because food was very short in Hiroshima at that time, but I went there, but it was just the same. I couldn't get enough to eat.

gky: This is 1944?

FF: This is 1944, yes.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.