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_2-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

gky: You must've had some pretty jumbled emotions at this time. On the one hand, you're an American, but you've grown up Japanese most of your life, and America is your country, but they've just bombed your family.

FF: Right. Well, Hiroshima is known for having a lot of Niseis, so I think Niseis that had to stay in Japan during the war felt the same way I did, but we didn't, we were so scarce on everything it was hard to get anything. That's all we worried about, trying to get enough to eat and things like that. We couldn't pay much attention towards our family in the States all the time. But I think most of the Niseis that lived in the city, I think they all died. I was just lucky because I was drafted, but the people that were not drafted, there were a lot of Nisei, especially the girls. They were not drafted, and a lot of 'em died, I think, the Nisei girls. But I have no idea how many died, Nisei died at that time.

gky: Can you describe your feelings the first time you saw your mother and she was sick, and Victor when he was sick?

FF: Well, I don't remember much about Victor because the only thing I remember about my brother Victor was that he was so weak he didn't want to talk anymore. But my mother, she was feeling better, but I noticed she had a neckerchief over her head, so I asked her and she said she lost all her hair so she's hiding it from that neckerchief. And she said that ever since after she went looking for the relatives in Hiroshima city she was -- that was over a month already, almost two months, about two months already -- and she was still bleeding from her gums all the time, and she had diarrhea all the time, so she lost a lot of weight. And I noticed her, but she was really different. And it was less than a half year since I last met her, but she aged about maybe twenty years in that time, since she was in that bomb radiation. But she recovered from that later on, a little, but she was going out, going in and out of the atomic hospital in Hiroshima until she died.

gky: Can tell me about your cousin, I mean, your aunt going to find her daughter?

FF: Oh, that's my cousin. My cousin, Misao, she was Nisei and she came to Japan when she was about thirteen and she married a Japanese boy, and she had a daughter. When the bomb dropped she was thirteen years old. And that daughter Harry knows very well, I know very well, very close to our family, so when Harry left for the States in Japan she came to see him off and things like that. But about ten, ten years after the war ended, my cousin came to visit me, and she's not that type to visit people or talk too much, but she came and I was surprised she came, and I knew she lost her daughter in Hiroshima atomic bomb. And she was living about two, two and a half miles south of the Hiroshima city, so this girl, the daughter of her was thirteen and she was going first year of junior high school, and she knew just about when the drop, bomb dropped, so she figured from that, she took a bus, she took a streetcar and things like that, and she would be right on this area when the bomb dropped, so she went looking, the next day my cousin went looking for her daughter. And she found out that all the people that were laying down in the street, they all put 'em in this school that was still, everything was blown out, but the roof was there at least, and they're all laid down in the hallway and all the names were put up. And they're all sleeping; you can't tell if they're a girl or a boy, she said. But then she found her daughter's name, but she couldn't recognize the, and she was still breathing yet, so she called her. Her name was Kimiko, Nishimura Kimiko. Said, Kimiko... excuse me. So my cousin recognized her by voice, so my cousin said, "I'm gonna go back home and get you some musubi and something to drink, so you wait." She said there was no transportation. You had to walk all the way back home. She prepared the stuff and came back about four hours later. She was gone. But I didn't know that until she came to visit me. She didn't say to anybody what happened, what took place on Kimiko. But she wanted to tell me at least, that's the way she died, that her daughter died, but less than a year after that my cousin died, so I think -- she was in the atomic bomb, too. She was right close to the center, but she was lucky. She was living, but she was still having trouble with radiation.

gky: Yeah, because she must've only been in her forties when she died then.

FF: Oh yes, she was in, she was, older than that. She's Nisei.

gky: But too young. Too young for...

FF: Yeah, she was about, yeah, little over forty, I guess, maybe between forty and forty-five. But I think she had a feeling she's not gonna live long anymore, but she never talked to anybody about this, except me. She came all the way from Hiroshima to where I was living in Nagoya, took her about half, at least twelve, fifteen hours to get to my place, and so I had her to stay a couple nights. I heard a lot of stories about something like, but this daughter of hers said that she was, she saw a parachute coming down, so she looked up and was watching it and all of a sudden it blasted, and that was the atomic bomb. And it blinded her, so she had to crawl for about a couple hours. She said, "I crawled a couple hours, but I didn't know which direction I was going. I was crawling, but I finally lost fight and I found myself here." And she was really close to us, the cousin, the mother was a cousin, but the cousin wasn't that close, but the daughter was very close to us. So maybe that's the reason why she wanted to tell me about it. But we lost a lot, besides my mother, she died from the radiation later on, and my brother Victor, he died a year after the bomb dropped, but we lost a lot of relatives.

gky: The war has really affected your whole family.

FF: Yes, that's right. It's the whole family, because my, my mother comes from a big family. She had seven sisters and two brothers, altogether ten in the family, and half of 'em were living in Hiroshima city, see, so she was busy looking out for 'em. And then meantime, she didn't know any better, she inhaled all this gas or radiation, so she, she was more sick than a lot of people and she wasn't there. She was there, but she was on the other side of the house, so she didn't get direct radiation or nothing. She, just because she went looking for 'em in town, she got really sick.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.