Densho Digital Archive
Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann Collection
Title: Ann Fujikawa Interview
Narrator: Ann Fujikawa
Interviewer: Raechel Donahue
Date: 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-fann-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

RD: Where were you born?

AF: Berkeley, California.


RD: And where did you go to school?

AF: In Berkeley, Longfellow school. I went to Longfellow school in Berkeley.

RD: And what was your life like? Berkeley, wow, that was a pretty hip city then, huh? So what was your life like in Berkeley before you went away?

AF: What was it like?

RD: Well, was it like an American life? Some people lived, like in Penryn they had an all-Japanese community, but you were in Berkeley. You were an average kid?

AF: Yes. I was an average kid. We played out in the street and played Kick the Can and Tag and things like that.

RD: And do you remember when you heard about the war starting?

AF: Yes. I remember when the war started, I was at a movie that day.

RD: Were you scared?

AF: No.

RD: Why weren't you scared?

AF: I guess it just didn't dawn on me what was going on.

RD: And then when did you... how did you find out that you were going to go away?


AF: I don't remember how I learned about being sent to camp.

RD: And do you remember when you were, did you get on a bus or a train?

AF: Oh, we went on a bus. It came to our house, we were picked up. Because my younger siblings, they were sick with, I think it was chicken pox. And so we were, when we went to camp, we were placed in a, placed in quarantine.

RD: Boy, that's double prison.

AF: Yeah, with a rope around our area. We were roped off.

RD: Where did you go first?

AF: We went to Tanforan.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

RD: Oh, you're our first Tanforan. So you went to Tanforan race track, so tell me about Tanforan race track.

AF: We went to Tanforan race track, and we were in the quarantined area. We were one of the... I think we were the first family there. Could have been the first family there in the quarantined area. So we were in the new barracks.

RD: So you didn't have to stay in the stables.

AF: No, no. But before we were, before we left Tanforan, we had to move to the stable area.

RD: So you weren't in Tanforan for very long?

AF: No, it was just a few months. I don't remember exactly how long it was.

RD: Is Tanforan, would it have been Bay Meadows or Golden Gate Fields?

AF: Tanforan is now a shopping center.

RD: But isn't it by one of the tracks that exists now? Where is it? I'll find it, that's not your job.

AF: It's in San Bruno.

RD: It's in San Bruno, okay, because it was already gone by the time I came to San Francisco. But everybody I knew in San Francisco had gone to Tanforan.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RD: And then after Tanforan, what happened to you?

AF: Oh, then we went to Utah. We went to Utah by train, to Topaz, which is close to Delta.

RD: And do you know what the differences and the reasons people went to different camps?

AF: Well, I think everybody in Tanforan probably went to Topaz.

RD: Just about everybody but Shig, because he ended up going to, he was San Francisco and he ended up going to Santa Anita. He felt like he got on the wrong train.

AF: So when you got, were there guards at Topaz when you got there?

RD: Oh, yes, there were guards there.

AF: Were you afraid?

RD: No, because I didn't know any better, I guess. I wasn't afraid because I remember one of the mothers that was there in our area would talk to the guards, and they seemed to be having a friendly conversation.

AF: So it was a barracks very much like this one?

RD: Wait a minute. When I say... I'm talking about Tanforan. I'm getting things mixed up.

AF: That's okay. Were the barracks in Topaz similar to what was here?

RD: Maybe a little smaller, I don't remember exactly, what the exact size was. But the windows, I don't think it had the wood divisions there.

AF: Almost everybody thinks they were much smaller. Because, well, you had more people in 'em, too. And how different was it? How ugly was this?

RD: It was a barren, cold... well, it was a desert. We weren't used to the climate there, because we were from the Bay Area and it was a big change weather-wise. And of course, the barrack was... oh, we had straw-filled mattresses and we had the potbelly stove.

AF: Everybody remembers the straw-filled mattresses. So was there a community there yet or was it just barracks in Topaz?

RD: It was barren.

AF: It's funny because some of... the camps were very different. The kids at Heart Mountain were, they at least spent some time trying to make it into, it was like a town. They had churches, do you remember if they had... so you went to school?

RD: Yes. Yes, I went to school in Topaz. So when you came out, how old were you, do you remember, when you came out of camp?

AF: I must have been fifteen. I went to high school when I got, came out.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RD: And how was it when you came out? Did you go back home?

AF: We went to Berkeley, we stayed at a church, and we there for a number of months, and then we went to the housing area, Richmond housing area in Richmond, California.

RD: So I didn't know there had been... oh, was it like a halfway house in Richmond?

AF: We lived in the church in Berkeley for a while and then we went to the... it was a housing for the ship workers. So that's where we went to.

RD: Oh, right. Some people went to Hunter's Point, and some people... so that's why they put them in the shipyards.

AF: The housing.

RD: And how many members were in your family?

AF: There were six besides our parents.

RD: Oh, then you were all in one room?

AF: Uh-huh.

RD: Wow. And did your parents, were they renters or did they own anything? Did they lose anything?

AF: No, we were renting, the home was being rented in Berkeley, so we didn't have a home to come back to. And so when we stayed at the church, we stayed there for a while and then went to the housing in Richmond and stayed there for a few years.

RD: And, you know, everybody had to give away their radios and everything.

AF: Yes, uh-huh.

RD: Did you have to give anything up?

AF: Oh, my father, my parents just left things there in the house. I don't remember... my father had a car and I don't remember what happened.

RD: Some people actually drove their cars to Santa Anita voluntarily.

AF: That's what I understand, yes.

RD: And the government burned them?

AF: I don't know what happened to all our belongings.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RD: And so after... when you left camp in Topaz, were you happy? Do you remember the day that you left?

AF: It was kind of a, I'm not sure that it was happy or what, because glad we were leaving camp, but then still, we didn't know what the future was going to be like. No job, our parents didn't have a job, so it was just...

RD: Did your parents ever talk to you about what happened?

AF: No, because actually I pretty much remember things.

RD: Well, a lot of people said that they were, their parents wouldn't talk about it at all afterwards, and that they were afraid to ask.

AF: Well, like myself, I didn't talk about it. I didn't ask.

RD: Yeah, you weren't supposed to. Okay, now, here's the kicker. This wasn't in the history books in my school or his school, and we only know about it because both of us lived near camps. And we know that a lot of people, not just our generation, but the next generation aren't aware of this. So why do you think it's important that, say, that the Yonsei know about this.

AF: Well, it's something that should not have happened to us, definitely, but it did.

RD: Do you think that... because it was illegal, what happened. It was illegal, you can't do that to American citizens, you can't do that. And it was illegal and it was, a lot of people say that it was like a concentration camp. But when you think that it would be important for people to know, because it can happen.

AF: It's true.

RD: Do you think that maybe people could have protested harder?

AF: Well, Japanese race isn't one to complain that much. And so the younger folks, I think, would have complained more than the few that did complain about being sent to camp.

RD: They just got sent some hard words. Usually if they complained they got sent some hard words, didn't they? So what do you think would happen now if they tried to round up a bunch of Japanese people?

AF: I think there would be an uprising today.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.