Densho Digital Archive
Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann Collection
Title: Nobu Shimokochi Interview
Narrator: Nobu Shimokochi
Interviewer: Raechel Donahue
Date: 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-snobu_2-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

NS: My name is Nobu Shimokochi, spelled N-O-B-U, S-H-I-M-O-K-O-C-H-I. And I was born in Los Angeles, and both my parents are from Hiroshima, Japan.

RD: Okay, where did you go to school?

NS: I went to grade school at the Euclid Avenue grade school, elementary school, in Los Angeles.


RD: So you were taken right out of high school? Tell me about the day that you found out you were going to camp.

NS: Well, we heard that everybody of Japanese ancestry had to leave the West Coast. And people were being shocked by the short time they had, like six days of warning to pack up and leave. So my parents sold their store at a big loss, we got rid of everything. I think we had... my sister had a piano, and there was a young man that wanted that piano, and he was going to pay twenty-five dollars for it. But he didn't have the money, so he said he was gonna borrow some money from his relatives. Well, it turned out that he couldn't get any more money, so he got the piano for ten dollars. And that's kind of the way the story went as far as losing all our other belongings.

RD: What was your father's store? Tell me where it was and what it was.

NS: My father's store was called the Sun Market on 2311 Central Avenue. And it was a mom and pop grocery store, and they worked at it real hard just to earn a meager living.

RD: What kind of neighborhood was that then?

NS: It was almost all black.

RD: Huh, still is. And so did you have any problems with being Japanese and being in that neighborhood at all that you recall?

NS: After Pearl Harbor, after Pearl Harbor.

RD: "After Pearl Harbor we had..."

NS: Well, after Pearl Harbor we'd be walking to school and we'd get a lot of nasty remarks. That's kind of a typical attitude of the whole community. All of a sudden we were saboteurs. And we never understood why we were considered saboteurs, but that's how the whole country was led to believe.

RD: And were you getting those remarks from both white people and black people in your neighborhood?

NS: Probably more from the whites. But I don't remember real clearly.

RD: What did your parents tell you about why you were going to go away? I know that you know that they were going to be evacuated, what did they say about it? How did they react? What were they like?

NS: Well, my parents, they didn't say much about why we were being persecuted. It was... well, we pretty much read it in the papers that we were... what do you call it, a national security risk and that's why we were leaving, that we were being concentrated into these camps.

RD: Did your parents become citizens again?

NS: My parents were not permitted to become naturalized citizens, and consequently they were not able to purchase property. And we had to purchase the store by using the name of a friend's eldest son.

RD: Now why were they not allowed to become naturalized citizens?

NS: Well, the Japanese... well, America was very racist and they were... it was a white country. And there was a lot of prejudice against non-whites, the blacks and the Asians particularly. And, well, beginning from the gold strike in California, the Chinese came over to take part in the search for gold, and they were forbidden to be a part of that. And they also cut them off. They were no longer allowed to come over, and the ones that were over were restricted in their work, their employment. So for the most part, all the Asians had to either go into farming or open up their own business, or do menial jobs like domestic or gardening.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.