Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Film Preservation Project Collection
Title: Eiichi Edward Sakauye Interview I
Narrator: Eiichi Edward Sakauye
Interviewer: Wendy Hanamura
Location: San Jose, California
Date: May 14, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-seiichi-02

[Ed. note: Home movie footage of the Heart Mountain incarceration camp, Wyoming, shot on 8mm film by Eiichi Edward Sakauye from 1943-1945. The voiceover narration was provided by Mr. Sakauye on March 14, 2005. Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

ES: My name is Eiichi Edward Sakauye, born January 25, 1912, and still living in the place where I was born, San Jose, California, born and educated here. You're about to see my experience in one of the ten relocation centers. The entire two and a half years that I've been there at Heart Mountain, Wyoming, which is a concentration camp located between the town of Cody and Powell, on a plateau with elevation of a little over four thousand feet, the most desolate, barren country. The camp comprised of about 11,000 evacuees. Their tarpapered buildings where evacuees were interned, in between this opening that is the recreational fields, where we have baseball and ice skating and other community activities, outdoor activities. I was standing on, on the guards, that was a guard tower just now, went by so fast, and I had permission from the guard to be able to take picture.

This is run after one of the snow blizzard. This is, snow is only about a few inches, and there isn't too much snow. The mountain on top in the center is called Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

This is the warehouse area, you can see the frozen icicles hanging. This is the wire fences frozen, this is the, under the office building was icicles hanging. They'll hang for days. That shows that temperatures was way low.

These, on one Sunday afternoon, the Caucasian personnel's youngsters had just enjoyed themselves skiing down one of the slopes.

WH: What about the Japanese kids?

ES: Japanese people, unfortunately, did not have the privilege having ski or sleds down its slope.

WH: What is this?

ES: A Caucasian personnel had his personal dogs.

This shows the view between the barracks. It snowed. On the right you see a flower garden that has been frozen over.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

ES: This is the annual fare of Japanese custom, is mochitsuki, making rice cake, at the New Year's time. The rice is pounded together and made into a dough, and later made into a ball and you'll see that a little later. This is all pounded. Watch the lady as she turns it over. See, I'd be afraid to put my hands in there, it was so synchronized that she is prevented from getting hit. Now the dough is brought to the table, and it's made into a tiny ball rice cake.

WH: Did these traditions mean a lot to the internees?

ES: Pardon?

WH: Did these traditions mean a lot to you?

ES: Oh, yes, it meant a lot to the person of Japanese ancestry. This is Mr. Hashimoto, who owned the drugstore here in town, on corner of Fifth and Jackson, he is examining the quality of the mochi. These are the boys from the Santa Clara Valley pounding rice to make this rice cake. This is an annual fair and it's a custom of Japanese person, Japanese ancestry.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

ES: This scene will show you one of the football field made into an ice-skating rink. The entire area is leveled and filled with water, and it freezes. And here we're skating on top. These ice skates were bought from nearby stores and as far away as Billings, Montana. This is part of the recreation program. We tried to keep all the boys and girls occupied and something to do every day. I took part in the community activities because behind barbed wire fence, unless some leaders get together and promote these programs, there'll be a very dull day in camp. We are very active in seeing the older people as well as youngsters have some activities in the camp. There were other activities such as baseball, swimming. That's Mr. Mori of Santa Clara, he is demonstrating for me when he falls.

WH: How old were you when you shot this film?

ES: I believe I was, oh, about thirty-three years old.

This is the activities of the high school. The lumber is harvested in the camp's forest, and they're cut and turned to the high school kids to make furniture.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

ES: Now you see a typical scene at the mess hall. We don't have any family table anymore. These kids or youngsters eat by themselves. There's no child-sized plate or men-sized plate, it was all one size. You can see the amount of food is placed on the plates. It was very sad that the custom, table manners were not kept up. You can see the, just the children are eating by themselves, and later on, you see parents eating by themselves.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

ES: This is one of, another activities, those who wished to learn how to play piano, be an opportunity to learn how to play piano.

This is the USO. This is the only US-, registered USO in ten relocation centers. Here the boys who are in service or returning from service meet their friends, families, sweethearts, and enjoy the day while they're here. There's a welcoming party. We have people from all theaters of war here come through this door. Here they are registering at the USO. Now, this is social activity, dancing. Now, after the dancing, we have a little snack period, and here they're enjoying the snacks.

This is the community store where we can buy clothing. The clerk is an L.A. girl, and the customer is a San Jose girl. Here's how they demonstrated how to use it.

Now, this is everyday scene at the Heart Mountain bus stop. Daily, the bus comes by here in the morning, in the afternoon, and pick up passengers or unload passengers that, who had visited the nearby city for shopping or other purposes.

This is a scene at the military police station. One day they were giving a dress rehearsal, and I got permission to take their program. That little hutment in the middle of the picture is the entrance and exit gate. There's Dr. Frederick Rowe Thorn of the First Presbyterian Church in New York City, has visited the camp.

On inclement weather, the Boy Scouts and Campfire Girls have their training in this high school gymnasium. We had a wonderful leader who was leader in Boy Scouts from Los Angeles that continued teaching Scouts to these boys and girls in this relocation center. As you see, the leader is a local boy from Mountain View. All along, we were American citizens expressing our patriotism, but the rights of American citizens were denied.

I don't remember how many pounds it was, but it's quite a weight that he's lifting.

Here's another scene of everyday activities at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center station. Every day, someone's coming in or going out. They're going out for temporary leave, or going out for higher education, or going out because of the service in the military, and also some shopping in nearby town of Cody and Powell, as far as Billings, Montana. Here comes a Trailway bus to come in to pick up the passengers. Sometimes we have a half bus and half freight. This couple is relocating to Chicago. Here are some more boys relocating for higher education. We were permitted to leave the camp provided there's bona fide job offers or bona fide institution that they can move to.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

ES: Sergeant Ben Kuroki is a boy from Nebraska. He served in Italian theater of war, and when he returned, he came to Heart Mountain and showed us, or told us the experiences and why we should serve in the military. He was a B-29 gunner in the Italian theater of war. Every time there's a dignitary or something important, these Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire girls have a parade for them. Now we are gathered in front of the administration building, and you'll see a single star there that shows every star is a serviceman from the camp, serving in the United States Army. They come from far corners of the camp just to be part of the program.

WH: How many people total?

ES: Pardon?

WH: How many total people at Heart Mountain?

ES: There were 11,000 people at the peak.

WH: How long would it take you to walk from one end of the camp to another?

ES: How long...

WH: To walk from one end of the...

ES: Oh. All depends upon how [inaudible] you are. But these, you'll see there are more girls than boys, because boys, a lot of 'em are in military service or out employment, or out to higher education.

This is George Tani of Los Angeles; he was the chairman of that program at that time. Here's Sergeant Ben Kuroki. This is Project Director Guy Robertson, and this is Chairman of Council for the Japanese in camp. Here's Sergeant Ben Kuroki. I misplaced his speech, but he gave his very nice speech. He also spoke to the San Francisco Commonwealth Club. The star and the number 336 means that at that particular time, there were 336 men in service in the United States Army. "Autograph, please."

Now, the farewell parade. The weather there on some days are very nice, and other days are windy, dusty, and very hazy. What you can't get away is cold. I think under the direction of capable Mr. Nako and Mrs. Nako, I think we had one of the nicest Boy Scout, Girl Scout, Campfire groups that I ever heard of. We had praises in nearby cities, and they participated in many programs. He says, "That's enough."

Here's me and Sergeant Ben Kuroki as he's leaving the camp to go to Minidoka. Here are the pom-pom girls that welcomed Sergeant Ben Kuroki and farewell to Sergeant Ben Kuroki.

WH: Why was Ben Kuroki a hero?

ES: Well, he's a young boy from Nebraska, he served in the United States Army, he had difficulty in serving the country because of the feelings that the Japanese had, but he was finally admitted, he was tail-gunner in a B-29 in the Italian theater in Italy.

Now, this is, again, Sergeant Ben Kuroki's leaving at the gate, and here I am about to shake his hand. He's now transported back to bus depot.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

ES: This is everyday scene in the camp, as the camp began to close, or they begin to leave their loved ones, they'd get their autograph book filled in.

This is one of the camp leaders, this is another camp leader leaving for outside employment. We're losing all the leaders just as fast as they find their jobs, so the only people who are left in camp are the Isseis, or our fathers and grandfathers who are ineligible to become American citizens. Therefore, they're up in their age, and they have no opportunity to get employment.

This is another induction ceremony, it is usually held early in the morning, about seven o'clock, and it's cold and it's windy. Each inductee placed a star on that board.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

ES: The first year that, was very few flowers. This is my father's and my flower garden. I ordered the seeds from Montgomery-Ward, and had planted them. And some of the flowers were used for services. On the right is my dad -- on the left is my dad, now, on the right is Norm Mineta's father. This is my dad down in the neighborhood, youngsters as well as my mother and my barrack. We were the only ones that grew flowers. The second year, there were a lot of flowers and a lot of vegetables throughout the camp. We had a little nature study, bumblebees started to gather, the butterflies start to come, and these little youngsters were very tickled to come here and see these little insects. Those are nasturtium in the foreground. That's California poppies. There's some marigolds, some asters, some zinnias, snapdragon.

WH: Those bumblebees and butterflies the kids saw, were they the first ones that the kids had ever seen?

ES: Yes. Bumblebees were the first ones, then you got the honeybees, but they were too far and few between.

This is sunset at Heart Mountain.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

ES: That concludes the, one part. Now, the second part, lot of people wanted to see our agriculture program. This is a separate series showing where we were living in relation to our agriculture program. We grew all the seeds in the seed catalog except Carter's peanuts. There was thirty blocks in camp.

Here you can see the topography of the land where we were supposed to raise crops. That's Assistant Farm Superintendent, and this is one of the helpers. This shows the hotbed area, growing peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, so that we can get them out in the field. 'Cause we only have 109 growing days, and if we don't get a crop to harvest in 109 days, the frost or freeze will get it. So they grow these plants in the hot frame. The experienced group of farmers are from Wapato, Washington, where the climate is almost similar to where we are staying in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. These are the Isseis who had farmed in Washington, very experienced.

This is the tilling of the barren land. Of course, the ground has never been tilled, so we grew some cover crop in order to equalize the fertility of the soil, and the texture of the soil. These equipment were used by CCC camp, the old plow, you could see there were plows that needed repairing, and we had mechanics in the camp, and blacksmiths that repaired these plows. As my assistant superintendent, Alden S. Ingraham.

WH: What was your role?

ES: My role was, after James Ito left for private employment, I became the statistician to Assistant Farm Superintendent.

This is Dr. and Mrs. Smith, one of the Methodist minister.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

ES: This is the field after we had cleared, and were planting cucumbers. Let's see, cucumbers and squash, and other crops that can be grown from seed. We had over 30 acres in crop. This is Mr. Tachibana showing how it's done. This is Mr... can't think of the name right now, he's from Washington, showing how the hot caps are put together. This is Mr. Iguchi of Santa Clara, here the seeds are planted and circled, so they can put hot caps on top. Hot caps prevented from insects and cold weather.

On the right is the chief of agriculture, now is assistant agriculture, Alden S. Ingraham, looking over the first crop of peas ever grown. This is the first crop of peas ever grown for canning purposes. High school boys were operating these equipment. All these equipment were in bad shape, and we had talented people who had repaired these. Now they, watch, these peas were gathered and put on wagon and taken to a thresher later on. The peas ripen so fast that Mr. Hartman, Chief of Agriculture, had to even, worked on Sundays to get the peas harvested.

There are mowed and windroll. Mr. Richard's helper and Mr. Alden Ingraham on the left. This is where the peas are brought, and we called it the vinery. And the vines and all was put in this machine, and the peas, little pods are opened up and separated. And they go to the cannery nearby where they are processed and are shipped to other relocation camp.

This is the women who are helping harvest peas, fresh peas. Some of these boys are block managers. The women are glad to come out to the field, because confined behind barbed wire fence is not very enjoyable.

Here's me and the rest of the block managers helping harvest. Here's one of the boys harvesting, there's the foreman, telling you to do that.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

ES: Now after a successful year, the Heart Mountain Agriculture Chairman, or the leader, decided to have a picnic for all the workers in the agriculture. So we had a little picnic down at the bottom of Shoshone River. "Shoshone," translated from Indian language to English, is "stinking water." Here's me coming up from the river, here we're ready to have a barbeque lunch. "Come here, we're ready to go." There's James Ito. James Ito was the father of the Judge Ito who presided over O.J. Simpson's case. There's one of my brother, and the girls taking a dip in the water. Drinking water comes from this river. Of course, it's filtered through a plant to make it safe for drinking. This is one of the ag. secretaries, Sumi Matsushige. Now, the ones that finish having their barbeque early are coming up the hill. The river's way down in the bottom of the canyon, and they're all coming home to board the bus to come to the camp. Here's a lady that just missed the bus. The trees you see are in the bottom of the canyon near the river. You see very, very few trees on the plateau. Here they're waiting for the next bus to pick them up to take them back to the camp. Here they're ready, about to go.

Here is the swimming pool, another community activity. We dug a hole in the ground, and we gathered boulders, big rocks, to put in the bottom, so we won't stir the dirt in the bottom and become a mud hole. The swimming board was there, that board you see, was there 'til a few years ago, until one of the farmers set fire to the grass nearby, and now the only remains is the square-shaped swimming pool.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

ES: This is some of the scenes on the farm, we are planting our first corn. There's Mr. Hosono of Santa Clara Valley planting corn.

WH: Before the Japanese came, had they been able to grow anything there?

ES: No, it was a barren ground with a little sagebrush and a great big anthill, and a little grass to graze the cattle there. It had never been farmed. It's been a buffalo hill country, and there's been no water. Therefore, the CCC boys just before the war, had started to build a canal to get the water to this area. And the evacuees, upon returning or coming to this camp, they were recruited immediately to finish up the canal so that we can have water on these farms the first season we started farming. It was quite a task because the evacuees were not used to the climate, extreme cold weather. This is the first crop that came out, is radishes. You know how radishes, they mature very quickly. These are some of the high school girls, are weeding.

This is another project on the farm, is a hog farm. We have chicken farm, also. These girls, one Sunday afternoon, went to the hog farm area, and I was able to take these pictures.

WH: How much did farm workers get paid?

ES: The farm workers only got paid twelve dollars a month to sixteen, to nineteen dollars a month, what category they fall in. Ordinary labor got twelve dollars a month, if they worked they got three dollars and seventy-five cents for clothing allowance. What can you buy for that?

This is a Los Altos nursery owner, he's taking care of one of the fields. A foreman like him gets nineteen dollars a month. But ordinary worker, twelve to sixteen dollars a month, depends upon his title. But that doesn't pay for anything, although the meals are furnished, the lodging is furnished, but you have no extra money to purchase anything. And you only get paid once a month, too.

Here I am inspecting the cornfield for the mess hall. The dark line behind is the railroad train pulling oil tankers to the town of Cody where there's a refinery. We're looking over the crops one Sunday afternoon. Oops, there goes my hat. Here we are again in the Shoshone Canal.

Mr. Hartman and the two secretaries from the agriculture department. Mr. Hartman and Mr. Ingraham were very nice people, other words, they really can understand us.

This is harvesting grain crop to be thrashed later for our chicken farm and hog farm. They are bundled in this manner, and later stacked for wintertime thrashing. Here's Mr. Alden Ingraham looking over the grain field to see if it's ready to harvest.

This is potato harvest, we're digging potatoes. As the potato goes by, you can see the potatoes are flipping onto the ground. This is another potato digger.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

WH: Who consumed this food you grew?

ES: The produce is consumed by the evacuee only, it is not to be sold. You see the potatoes, they're Bliss Triumph, one of the early varieties of potato. So we had to get them harvested before the first freeze or frost, usually comes in about 9th or 10th of September. These are the schoolteachers helping out, so that we can get these potatoes in the root cellar, so they would not freeze. We had a very nice crop, and a beautiful crop of potatoes. This is the first time any vegetable been grown on this soil since the Buffalo Bill's time. There were a lot of snakes when the grounds were turned over, little rattlesnakes. But after the ground cultivated, all the rattlesnakes disappeared. Some made rattlesnake stew, soup, and fried them. This shows how the Bliss Triumph looks. They're beautiful potato. Now they're sacked and their loaded, and taken to a root cellar, which will come in the picture later, and stored for the winter. Heart Mountain farm consisted of about 1,500 acres.

This is another field with one of the foremen. Boy, he's a husky fellow, he just throws it up like it's nothing. The peak on the back is Heart Mountain. Here's Alden Ingraham, Assistant Farm Superintendent, looking over some of the yellow onion which were beautiful. See how big they are?

Now this is takana field, that's been harvested and no longer to be harvested, are cleared up during the winter months before it freezes, for the following spring crop.

WH: Explain what takana is.

ES: Takana is a green vegetable, similar to, I would say... oh, the word slipped my mind now.

WH: Mustard greens?

ES: Yes, it's similar to that.

This is corn field. We had 60 acres of corn, to be harvested for canning the following day. And the man in the dark suit is the project director, and he went out in the field, this is the 60 acres of field, beautiful corn. Not a single worm, because other words, worms didn't know anything about corn growing in Wyoming at the camp, so there wasn't a single worm. And the following day was a freeze. We lost the entire 60 acres. We tried to harvest fresh for the mess hall, but the frosted corn is very bitter, so we lost that beautiful corn.

This Shoshone Highway was just a two-lane highway at that time, with the tankers running to Cody. But today, it's four-lane main highway to Yellowstone National Park. So there's a lot of tourists that goes through there, so the Heart Mountain camp is considered a historical center, and we are trying to bring the camp back to life again.

These little buildings are put there because we get sudden showers. We get sunshine in one spot, and all of a sudden we get thunderstorm and showers. The workers have no place to hide, so these little shacks are put up to hide. This is the one I told about, the grain harvest. They're piled in honeycomb shape like that, then later, the thrasher comes and thrashes for hog feed and chicken feed.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

ES: This is everyday scene at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center station. This is one of the trains that the government had sent here to recruit laborers to harvest crops in nearby cities. They were very short of harvesting, harvesters, so they recruited workers from camp, and they sent the train. And trainloads of people went to various cities to help harvest the crop.

Yes, these people are coming in from Tule Lake.

WH: Why were they transferring camps?

ES: Well, they were using Tule Lake as a "no-no" camp, and these people are the loyal aliens as well as loyal citizens that are being transferred to other centers. And Tule Lake people were one of the groups that came to Heart Mountain, Wyoming. That's Mr. Embrey of the housing department, got off the train. Now they're about to board a truck to their various units. Now, after the Tule Lake people were put in this, their different apartments, the "no-no" boys, or the boys' families, the "no-no" families, or those who wished to be sent to Japan, they boarded the same train and they're headed out to Tule Lake.

Now, this is another activity of the camp, is baseball, which was very popular. These are the block managers playing baseball.

On the right, we have a visitor from Arizona looking over the garden. My mother and my father, visitor, and my brother.

This is another induction ceremony, we had 457 or -67 people in service already. Each of the inductees are placing flowers, I mean, star. Chairman of the block managers, Mr. Howard Otomura, saying a few words.

WH: What was the feeling in the camp around volunteering for service at this point?

ES: Well, this is Miss Virgil Paine, she was the head of the welfare department, and she was very, very understanding, and very helpful to the evacuees. There's Mr. Nako and his Boy Scout band. Well, the feeling was that there were a group of people that felt that they were treated unjust, because denying their rights as an American citizen, denying their rights of freedom. So if those rights were restored, they would serve. But the government never restored their rights, so they were classified as "no-no" boys, or wished, a group to be sent back to Japan. That's why they were separated. My policy at that particular time, when I was chairman of the block managers, it was a very difficult decision. And for me it was very difficult, too, because I was denied my rights as American citizen, I've been, my rights as American citizen were denied, and treated as such, and I just felt terribly, but I did not know what to do. But I feel strongly that I am American citizen, therefore I went to induction. But due to my age and my handicap, then I was deferred.

Now, this is Bon Odori, the Japanese custom, annual festival, dance. These girls had sent for their kimonos, others, you see ordinary, everyday clothes. And usually it was toward the evening, so artificial light.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

ES: This is one of my friends, closest friend from Arizona relocation center. He came visiting Heart Mountain center because there are many of his friends here. This is, on the right was my neighbor. This friend of mine from Arizona, after a few days' stay, or visit, he returned to Arizona camp again. He is now living in San Jose.

WH: What's his name?

ES: Toshi Nakamura. I think he is ninety-two years old. That's Miss Virgil Paine, she's a wonderful person. Alongside of him is Douglas M. Todd, vice-administrator. Here Miss Paine is leaving for some position in Washington, D.C.

And this gentleman, I don't recall his name, but you know, the personnel at Heart Mountain were very compassionate. They listened to you, and that's the reason I liked the center very much. Although we had a few difficulties and misunderstandings, but those were ironed out very quickly.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

ES: This is back to my flower garden again, in the second year flower garden. That's my father there, think he's holding a snapdragon. That's the asters. Now, you see the butterflies flying now? That's why the youngsters enjoyed the nature study classes. 'Cause nowhere else in the camp, unless there's flowers, these butterflies and bees would come.

WH: Who's that woman?

ES: That's my mother, in back.


ES: This is one of the Scout, Boy Scout leaders, he is from Sacramento. Very capable man leading different community activities. These are the youngsters. One of the boys, Hirose boys, I understand, he is a professor in Santa Clara Valley. I forgot whether he was in Stanford or [inaudible] college. This is showing zinnias and marigolds. There are some, purple ones are the asters. These are the neighborhood kids, they're gathered together. Gathered together one afternoon with Phil Matsumura's father. Phil Matsumura's father was a leader in this community. There's our barrack again.

I believe this is baseball.

WH: Did Heart Mountain have a team?

ES: Yes, they had a team, but they were not able to play outside team because they were not able to go outside of the camp. But I understand in the third year, they were able to play with a few of the high schools nearby. So the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were able to play in the outside camp, and they became quite famous in that area.

This shows Heart Mountain right down one of the alleys.

WH: Sometimes the exposure is dark. Can you tell us why?

ES: Well, I had no access to a light meter. It was all truly a guess.

Well, Heart Mountain is very barren country, but when you see flowers and things growing, it's very interesting how it grows.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

ES: This a trek to Heart Mountain forest, and going up to the forest, see where the lumber's harvested, brought down to use for the camp use, and also for the high school, woodwork shop. It's a little river running down from the forest. These are camp leaders. I had to take these pictures, that's why I'm not included in there.

WH: What's the net...

ES: Catch butterflies, I think, there are some nature study people.

This is one of the parades that the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls coming to the administrative building. This is Mr. and Mrs. Naku, farewell to Heart Mountain. He and Mrs. Naku is a very busy person, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. So they're going to meet them there at the bus station down at the foot of the hill.

WH: Where were they going?

ES: They relocated for some position, I do not know. But I met Mr. and Mrs. Naku in Montebello, Los Angeles, after they returned, and told them our experience together, and they had very vivid memories of what happened in Heart Mountain. Of course, they're both gone now.

WH: Who's that?

ES: Mr. Naku, scout leader. There's a Girl Scout leader, helper, and there's Mr. and Mrs. Naku. The leader of the band is James Akiya, he lives out in Sunnyvale. It's farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Naku. Here after they bid them farewell at the station, now they're trekking up the hill. It's hard to see the camp from below, but you got to climb up the hill, and then you see the camp.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

WH: Did you take a trip?

ES: Yes. The administration gave us an opportunity to go to Yellowstone, and this is the road through Shoshone National Forest to Yellowstone. Here are the Girls Scouts, Campfire Girls and Cub Scouts. Here's Akiya, trumpet call. There was a little camp building there called Nez Perce Creek, which was used by the CCC boys, and then before the war. So these Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Campfire Girls were able to get out there in the open and enjoy a wonderful, outdoor life. So they had to chop wood for the fireplace. I think these girls are going to take a bath. There was a hot spring, that hot spring flows into another pool and makes a very nice bathtub. This is one of the ladies from Wyoming. She just volunteered to help out on arts and craft, so they're making clothes hangers in wood.

This is the Nez Perce River. The barrack is no longer there, but this river's still here, and I think some of the evacuees going to Yellowstone, they visited this area. I think they're coming back after they had a nice, warm bath.

WH: Did you have warm baths in camp?

ES: Yes, we did, but temperature's so cold, we come out of the bath, we got our wet towels, and the towel, we can crack it open, or break it on our knees before we get to the door. The doorknobs were just frozen. Water we take from the laundry room to our room in a bucket, top was all frozen time we get to our unit.

Some of these scout leaders, I think this is evening bugle, lowering the American flag.

This is a picture of the group.

WH: Did you use this opportunity to buy film?

ES: Yes, very much so, because Yellowstone National Park at that particular time, due to gas rationing and everything, there were no tourist. So you visit these stores, and there are just oodles of Eastman Kodak films. And here I'm only earning top wages of eighteen dollars plus $3.75 a month, and the film cost, I forgot how much, but can't buy 'em, because I haven't got enough money. So I borrowed money from my brothers and family and my friends to get the film, and I'm still itching to get some more film.

This is Mr. Jones, who took us on the truck. These are some of the geysers in Yellowstone National Park, you can see the steam blowing. Now they got the fence all around it so you can't fall in. These were open, in other words, you can fall in. But without the fence around, it's a beautiful scene. This is hot water streaming down the hill, cascade. This is Yellowstone Falls. In order to get to the bottom of it, you had four hundred and some odd steps to climb down. Climbing down is all right, but climbing up was a terrific job for me.

This one afternoon, this coyote was so hungry, wanted to have some food, so we tried to tame the coyote, but no luck. It was autumn already, the trees began to turn color.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

WH: How long were you in Yellowstone?

ES: Well, all depends upon which group I was with. If I was with the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Campfire group, I think I stayed almost a week. But if I was with the block manager, this group here, now, I think, it was a matter of only two days. Because we had to get back, and we were sort of councilmen for the camp.

WH: Was this trip a surprise for you?

ES: No, the surprise trip was when agriculture chief and assistant chief says to me, "You reserve..." Fourth of July, that was in 1942, and, "be ready to go someplace." We had no idea, that secret was kept. Fourth of July day, he said, "Meet me here," and had all the passengers and everything drive down the road. We headed for Shoshone National Park. "We're taking you to Yellowstone. Have you ever been there?" We said, "No," and it was the most delightful trip and most compassionate way they were showing appreciation to us, that they really think of us, that we're doing our best to make this agriculture a success.

This is the camp itself, where I stayed the second time with the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Yeah, Yellowstone's a beautiful park. Here our group, chairmen of the block managers on the hill, picture to be taken. That's me on the end, next to the, on the end was Mr. Sakamoto.

This is Yellowstone Falls, the stairway is on the right there, you can see. It was four hundred and some-odd steps going down. That shoots out hot water.

Oh, that's a fish story. He caught one that big.

WH: So they took you on these big trucks?

ES: Yes. That's the means that the government used, the truck. No buses. Here's the hungry coyote again, hoping to get some food. There's Mr. Otamura trying to give him food.

This scene is taken through windshield going downhill.

WH: How far away was Yellowstone from Heart Mountain camp?

ES: Oh, edge of Yellowstone park, I don't think there's, no more than 20 miles. Because from Cody to Shoshone River, Shoshone park was distant, then from there on, all the rest was Yellowstone National Forest. This is at east entrance to Yellowstone, east entrance. They're saying goodbye to me. I'm the last one to get on.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

ES: This is some of the activities in camp. They had a class making paper flowers, and some were so beautiful, so realistic, that you couldn't tell from the actual true one and an artificial one. There's a bonsai class, and these were made by paper. They're beautiful.

WH: For the first time, did the Isseis have some time on their hands to do these things?

ES: Well, after they settled, got their apartments fixed and arranged, because we had only potbelly stove and an iron bed and a mattress and blanket. So we had to get shades, make shades, make provisions for a chair or something, and scrounge around for lumber to make our furniture. After that was all settled, then they became interested in some activities or something to do. This is the Heart Mountain swimming hole. Here's my dad, hobby, carving rocks. This is my garden again.

WH: What was your dad's name?

ES: Yuwakichi Sakauye.

WH: And your mom?

ES: Tamaye Sakauye. These are some Oriental poppies, that's some zinnias, some more zinnias. This is one of my friends at the end of my barrack, he has got some coffee for his mother. His mother was quite old. These are the girls that went by. This is my dad. He had a slight stroke, so he retired from work. These, on the right is my girlfriend, and my sister. Here they come back from a little walk. My oldest sister on the left, her friend, and my other sister on the right. Of course, they're all no longer with us anymore. Well, this is one of the scenes that I have to take. She ran that way, no, no, she says. [Laughs]

WH: Was it a fun time for boys and girls?

ES: Well, there were fun times in there. Within the block, we'd do, chat a little bit and get together. This is, shows that second year, our flowers grew clear to the roof, especially the morning glory. We had, here's a bumble bee now. People requested flowers for the funeral service and we supplied them. Not commercially, but as a friend.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

ES: I believe this is 'Welcome to Heart Mountain' from Jerome. See, Jerome was the last camp, and they closed up first, and as they closed, they sent the people to other relocation center, and group of 'em came to Heart Mountain.

WH: So it would be 1945?

ES: '44. Camp closed in '45, so it's '44. Here comes the train.

WH: What was the mood like in 1944?

ES: Well, the general feeling or mood in camp in 1944 was that with our men in service, some returned, some were not able to return, there was a mixed feeling, what is going to become of this. Because we were not yet able to express my rights, our rights as American citizen, except those who have left the camp for employment or relocation east of the Rocky Mountains. But we were not permitted to return to California, except very few that were able to. This is Tule Lake, excuse me, because I know some of the people in the picture.

So, they were next in line, 'cause they were getting up in age, and no employment, no place to return in case the coast was open. It was very difficult to plan anything. Of course, my dad wanted to always come home, so I always wrote letter to my friends. My friends on the Pacific coast said, "You'll be all right, you'll be returning pretty soon, because your boys are doing a wonderful job showing the patriotism in the theater of war." So I was just hoping, and finally I got my permission to return, fifteen days before the coast was announced open. And that was, coast was announced open January 2, 1945, and here I was here December 15, 1944. This shows a picture of segregation, Tule Lake people just coming in and the Heart Mountainers are going back to Tule Lake. They wanted to go back to Japan, or they were "no-no" boys, undecided what to do. They gathered at the high school, and here they are leaving to board the train to head back to Tule Lake. It was sad to depart under those circumstances.

WH: Did some of your friends leave?

ES: Oh, yes, good many of 'em, and I made a good many more friends there, too, and they left. But they were not repatriates, they wanted to keep their families together. Some in the family did not serve in the army because of, the rights of American citizen and privilege were denied. If the rights and privileges were given to them, they would serve in the United States Army, and would not permit themselves to go to Tule Lake. So Tule Lake was thought of as a "segregation camp." Of course, Tule Lake was one of the largest camps, about 20,000, I understand.

WH: Do you remember what year this was?

ES: It was the year 1944.

WH: This was when the feelings were running highest.

ES: Well, I think that's because the United States government's questionnaire.

WH: What did that do?

ES: Well, that made them decide whether they were going to serve in the United States Army or not, or they're going to be loyal to the Japanese government or not. And those questions came in to us as a surprise. 'Cause if we were given the rights of any other citizen, we would have thought differently. But we were denied these rights and privileges that everyone else of different descent had enjoyed. And just because we're Japanese descent and lived on the Pacific coast, that we were not able to return to our homes on the Pacific coast, so we were denied the rights to return on the Pacific coast, but we were, had the rights to move or travel east of the Rocky Mountains.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

ES: This is one of the Japanese custom festivals, Obon odori, Japanese dances. The Buddhist group usually sponsors this dance.

WH: Remember any of the music?

ES: Yes, I do, but I wish I had known the title to that music, and I could have very well fit into it. But I didn't want to fit in the music that would not fit with their steps. That would be terrible.

WH: Was your family Buddhist?

ES: Part of it; we're mixed.

WH: Did even non-Buddhists do Obon odori?

ES: Oh, yeah. To learn the art and recreation. Just like the festival they have in San Jose Buddhist Church, people of all sorts of background now come in for practice, and they actually dance at the program. And it has no reflection as to what religion or what background.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

ES: This is some of the talents that were in camp that came to Heart Mountain. This is called shibai, and they performed this one evening, and I was able to take this picture. Some of these people are professional peoples.

WH: Was this a real treat for the Isseis especially?

ES: Oh, yes. Very much a treat for the Isseis, Kibeis. I think the younger people enjoyed it, too, because here we are, behind barbed wire fence, and we see these different activities. And to me, it was very good to have these activities, because it keeps them out of mischief, learned the culture of Japanese people, and why it is important to keep these cultures.

WH: Did you have to pay to attend these performances?

ES: No, all the performance and activities are open to the public.

WH: Do you think the Caucasian administrators worried that all of this Japanese activity was happening?

ES: Well, that's one thing under our Heart Mountain government constitution, in other words, we, persons of Japanese ancestry, had got up the constitution telling the Caucasian personnel what we'd like to do and what we were going to do. And they seemed to not object to what we did. I think we had a very understanding group of persons, Caucasian personnel, that really understood our predicament. And all I find, all along through my association with the Caucasian personnel, they were very compassionate and understanding because all the ones that were not compassionate were discharged or left their duties. They just couldn't work with us.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.