Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Pearl Yoshikawa Interview
Narrator: Pearl Yoshikawa
Interviewer: Carolyn Nayematsu
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ypearl-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

CN: Meanwhile, you and your family spent how many, how long were you at the fairgrounds before you were sent to Minidoka?

PY: We were evacuated in May and then we were sent to Minidoka in about August I believe it was. And that trip was really something else, it was right in the middle of the night and they pulled all the shades down and we were in these little trains with fringes, those old time trains that they had put in reserves.

CN: Minidoka is in Idaho?

PY: Middle of, just a little north of Twin Falls, Idaho, I guess.

CN: It's kind of a desert area, a high desert.

PY: Oh, it was. Very much. It was all sagebrush and rocks and so, but we saw the beautiful mountains in the distance. And now you go back there, we visited the monument there. It's all farmland over there now, it's amazing. I guess they knew that, once you clear off the land and you give it some water you could...

CN: Grow something there.

PY: Right.

CN: So what did your, what was life... now, your family spent how many years in Minidoka?

PY: From '43 to... no, '42 to '46, or so.

CN: What was life, how did they cope?

PY: Well, my father always volunteered to go out and work on the potatoes and the sugar beet farm, and so he was out quite a bit. And my mother, she volunteered for a nurse's aide so she was working in the hospital most of the time. But prior to that, well, she had me assigned in all these craft classes and I, with all the older ladies, to me they were older, you know, and I didn't care for that but I think I'm glad I did take some of those, like flower arrangement and embroidery and dressmaking and all those classes she made me take, and so I'm glad she did.

CN: You were about, now you were sixteen, seventeen years old in camp, and when you were growing up in Vancouver you were, you around only about sixteen or so Japanese children, so what was it like being all of a sudden to be in a big Japanese camp?

PY: [Laughs] Well, I thought I was going to a party -- no, you know, it was fun meeting all these different people, to tell you the truth, and yet in the back of your mind you didn't know what your future was going to be. And so there's kind of a mixed feeling but I did enjoy meeting a lot of Japanese...

CN: How were your parents? Because before they only had three or four Japanese families but now they had lots?

PY: Well, I really don't know how they felt. I think everyone tried to make the best of the situation and not knowing what their future was going to be you know. And in that respect, as I say, they made the best of it.

CN: And then you said that Miyo, your grandmother and your great-grandmother were in the same camp.

PY: Not great-grandmother, she passed away before, but grandmother. One of my grandparents, the Ochidas, they didn't stay in camp very long. They volunteered to go out to eastern Oregon and start a farm there. So they left quite early. But my grandparents, I don't know what they did, the Takaki side, I didn't keep track of them at all.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.