Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yoshiko Kanazawa Interview
Narrator: Yoshiko Kanazawa
Interviewer: Diana Emiko Tsuchida
Location: San Jose, California
Date: January 3, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-jamsj-2-15-4

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DT: So, you finally have to leave. And where did you go and what were the conditions like in the assembly center?

YK: Okay, the assembly center that we went to was in Tulare, and it was a fairground. It was right next to Highway 99, and so we could see the cars whizzing by. There was, I remember the fence, because people, my parents and other people told us, "You can't get close to the fence or they're gonna shoot you." So that was a fear that I carried. And when we first got to the assembly center we had to wait in a long line and everyone was given a smallpox and a typhoid fever shot. And of course, having both of them at the same time, I had a reaction and I ran a high fever for a few days. And here we were in this strange place, so that was, I remember that. I remember being very clingy to my mother, I just stayed by her all the time.

DT: And you were living in barracks?

YK: Yes. Fortunately I was in a barrack and not in a horse stall like many families had to live, yeah.

DT: Right, oh my gosh. And so when did you actually leave the assembly center? And then you were heading to...

YK: Okay, that was in September. We went from Tulare to Gila, Arizona. And I remember stopping at the Union Station in Los Angeles. And I knew where that was because whenever my family went from Pasadena to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, we always passed by the Union Station. So I remember wanting to peek -- because we had to keep our shades down on the train -- and I really wanted to peek, but I knew I couldn't because there was a soldier walking back and forth with his rifle, so I didn't dare take a peek. And I can't remember if they fed us, or what they did. I just can't remember any of that.

DT: Well, that must have been really hard to go back towards your home.

YK: That's right.

DT: And then just, you're going through it and you know you can't stop, or look out.

YK: Yes, that was a very traumatic experience for me. And then we got to Phoenix and got off the train, and I can't remember whether we were put on a truck or a bus. But I remember the long ride, and it was desolate; it was a desert. I mean, it's not like Phoenix is today. And so I just didn't know where we were going and neither did my parents. We got to the camp -- it wasn't quite ready -- so what I remember are these ditches with water running through them and they weren't covered yet. So they had planks that you had to walk across in order to get to the bathroom. I was six and a half, to me, it was too frightening to walk across the plank and so I used a little chamber pot in our barrack and didn't go to the, didn't want to go to the bathroom. I had to go take a shower there but my mother held my hand tight, took me across.

DT: Right. And at this point, you had all older sisters?

YK: Yes. Two older sisters and two older brothers.

DT: Oh and two older brother, okay. So were they responsible for looking after you? Or was it mostly your mother that kind of...

YK: You know, at other times, my sister who was very close in age to me, she did a lot for me, but I think I stuck with my mother the most.

DT: Yeah. And did your parents ever tell you what was going on or talk to the kids, even though they were so bewildered? Did they ever say anything to you about...

YK: In the camp itself it was more the idea of shikata ga nai, and the idea that America was at war. And so, their behaving in that kind of, with different ideas than they would if we were not at war. The wouldn't be treating her like this, treating us like that, if we had not been at war with Japan. And so it truly was a shikata ga nai, so just try to endure, gaman. That's what I heard from them. They didn't blame the American government and make us feel hateful towards the government, it was just: "Let's just make the best of this." Yeah.

DT: And that is the common story from so many, especially Issei.

YK: That's right, that's right.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.