Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Hikoji Takeuchi
Narrator: Hikoji Takeuchi
Interviewer: John Allen
Date: November 7, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-thikoji-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

JA: I should have asked you, so I have it on tape. Tell me your name and where you're from.

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: Tell me your name and where you're from.

HT: My name is Hikoji Takeuchi, and I now live in -- do you mean my residence, present residence?

JA: Yes.

HT: In Alhambra.

JA: You were talking about your parents. Do you know why they decided to come to this country in the first place?

HT: That I never asked them. I'm sure they were like any other people from various countries. They came out here to... wanting the American life, I guess.

JA: And do you think they were satisfied that they found it?

HT: In a way, yes, they did. Well, my dad always used to say, "Nothing like America." What he had meant at that time, I was a little kid and I never knew what he meant, and I'm sure he meant what I think of America today. For you to do what you wanted hoping that he would make what he wanted to. [Laughs] But like anything else, it's never enough, I guess.

JA: Was it a struggle for him, do you think?

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: Do you think it was a struggle for him to succeed in the business?

HT: From what I had heard when he first came over here, everything just happened the way he wanted it to happen. What he had meant by that, I don't know, but I guess in a way he found success in a little way that he wanted to call it success.

JA: Did you or your family before the war ever experience any difficulties in the attitudes of Caucasians because of your background?

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: I'm wondering if you or your family ever experienced any difficulties or racist kinds of things from Caucasian Americans because of your Japanese blood?

HT: You mean when I was -- before the war?

JA: Before the war, yeah.

HT: No. As a matter of fact, we used to have customers who were steady customers that came and they took a liking for sushi, I guess. They came in for beer, sake, sushi, and they were like any other customers. Very nice and always joked around in the house. Never asked my dad where he was from or anything. He was there in business like any other people. We never had problem with the people around us because we were Japanese. No, we never did.

JA: That's great. That's good.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

JA: Do you remember December 7, 1941? Do you remember December 7, 1941?

HT: Yes. By that time I was old enough to work around in the restaurant, and I was washing dishes in the back. That's where the kitchen was, in the back. And Smitty, he was one of our steady customers. He came running in and shouted something about, "We've been attacked in Hawaii." That's when I first heard about the war. But even when I heard about the attack, I never believed it, and my mom was there and she never believed anything about a war starting, attack by the Japanese, Japanese planes. No, we, we never believed it.

JA: Why was it hard to believe?

HT: Why is it hard to believe? I was attending Japanese school as a kid, and I also attended the Buddhist Church. Now the instructors in the Japanese school and the priests in the Buddhist Temple, they were all from Japan. When I was a kid I remember what they had told us. Now mind you, these people are from Japan. They were telling us that once born in the country, you are indebted to that country. No matter what happens, don't forget that you are a citizen of that country. Now, we've been told this over and over, this is the way we were taught. It's hard to believe that our teachers who are from that particular country telling us all of this, and they are attacking our shores? No, it is hard for us to believe, because what we were taught, we believed in. And to this very day, what I have been taught still is embedded in me.


JA: How do you think your parents felt about this attack, having been born in the country that was now attacking the country they lived in?

HT: I think my parents... well, by then, my dad was, he passed away before the war. So where's my mother? She's the one who held the family together after my dad passed away, and I was trying to help her. Now, when my mother, she did not believe it. I guess what was in her mind, which she did not even dare let us know; she must have been real worried about the future of the family. But how she had felt, she's a woman... to her, the family came foremost. So the first thing that came to her mind, I guess, is about the family, the welfare of the family. I never asked her how she felt, but knowing Mom, I guess this was her foremost feeling about the family. I don't know.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

JA: Did Pearl Harbor change the way other Americans related to you and your family?

HT: The people that, whom I knew, is that what your question is?

JA: Or other people that you would encounter.

HT: Did they change?

JA: Right, because you were of Japanese blood and Japan had attacked their country, did that affect how anybody related to you?

HT: Related to me? No, no, no. Like I said before, people would come down to our restaurant, they never changed. No, their attitude never changed.

JA: Were there people who didn't know you who didn't treat you well?

HT: Well, when we were, when I was riding in the streetcar, now that you say that, there were a couple of times some derogatory remarks being made by looking at me in the eye. And nothing threatening, no, but vulgar words were used, and they referred to me as a "Jap." Other than that, oh, one time I was coming back from the library. Now, if this had happened -- now, this happened on Main and Fifth because Fifth Street is where the library was, and I was walking home, I was walking home with some book under, in my arm. Now, whether this guy here was drunk or what, that I don't know. But this guy here came from behind, whether he fell on me, I don't know, but he grabbed me. That's the only experience that I had. I just took it for granted that he was drunk because that was wino country there, Fifth and Main. Other than that...

JA: Tell me about the streetcar. I think you had mentioned an experience where someone, where you had to give up your seat or something?

HT: Oh, yeah, yeah. It isn't that I had to, I just walked away.

JA: Tell me what happened, what caused that?

HT: Well, what the heck happened now? You know, these things that happened so long ago, I've got to think about what...

JA: Think all you want.

HT: What the heck was that? I believe that at that time, it came to me, and I just blurted it out, yeah. What the heck happened? You know, these things happened, it just comes and goes.

JA: Alisa remembers what you told her. See if this helps you. Did he say something about "why should a Jap have a seat"?

HT: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

JA: Tell me about that.

HT: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He blurted out -- I was sitting down, yes, yes, and he made some remark about "a Jap is sitting down," and he doesn't have a seat. Something like that, and so there again, I said, well, what's the use of talking with a guy like this, so I just up and got off. Yeah, that did happen. Well, yeah, yeah, other than that...

JA: Not a lot, huh?

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

JA: Tell me about, did official people ever come around, say, to your store?

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: Did official people come around to your store?

HT: Oh, yeah, three of 'em. [Laughs] They were big bruisers, came in. This is after the war broke out, right? When I was a little kid, I used to help out at the store, washing dishes, mopping the floors, and the people who came around, the patrons, they looked at me and said, "Oh, you're helping out, you're helping out your dad and mom? You're a nice boy. Here's a nickel, keep it up." Or, "Here's a dime." And whenever the customer finishes, I would go up and gather up the dishes and take it to be, to be washed. So the customer said, "Here, Hiko, here's a dime for you, good boy. Keep it up." I saved all my dimes, nickels, whatever the customers used to give me as a tip, if you want to call it a tip, and I saved up enough, I've always wanted a short-wave radio. Oh, how I wanted a short-wave radio. My friends had it. I'm the only one who doesn't have it. Well, after years, I finally saved up enough, I thought. So I asked my dad if I could have a short wave-radio. This was when my dad was still alive. We went to the store, and we found a short-wave, but what little money I had was not enough to cover the expense. So my dad said, "Okay, I'll hoof what we don't have." So he bought it for me. And this is the short-wave radio that I've been waiting for and wanting for. So when he brought it home, my dad, you know, with the short-wave radio, we needed an antenna. So he went out and got two bamboos and the roof, built the antenna, and I was able to listen to the short-wave. Now, by then Dad was gone, and these three tall big men came, came in and flashed... you know they took it out, they flashed... and they said, "FBI." And they just stomped right into the back, back of the store, and they found my radio. "This is a receiver," and they hauled it off. Why they wanted to haul off a receiver, I don't know, but anyway they did, and I insisted that they give me a receipt for it, but they never did. And at the same time, they found my what-do-you-call-it, Kodak camera, and they hauled that off, too. Those, those three guys are the only ones that came in that I can recollect right now.

JA: Why did they want those particular things?

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: Why did they want those particular things? A camera and a receiver?

HT: That I don't know, but they hauled it off. They, like I say, after all, it's just a mere receiver. why they wanted to haul it off, I don't know. That I don't know. They just came in and hauled it off.

JA: Do you think they might have thought you were a spy?

HT: [Laughs] You mean I was that smart? [Laughs] Nah, I don't know why.

JA: How'd it make you feel?

HT: Mad. After all these years waiting, and now I had my short-wave radio. Those were the things in those days, short-wave. And then after years of waiting, here these guys just walk in and haul it off. Mad, you bet I was hopping mad, but what can I do? Nothing.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

JA: Tell me about the evacuation notice.

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: Do you remember the evacuation notice?

HT: Yes.

JA: Did you have an experience with that in your store?

HT: No, no insurance, no nothing. Well, talking about store, just before the war, my mom decided that the refrigerator and the stove and the floorings were wearing out, and she said, "Hikoji, I think what we need in this store, we have to get new things in." And I told her, "Well, maybe that's so." So anyway, we decided that we should have new refrigerator, stove, linoleum put in. Paint the place and freshen it up a bit. That was before the war. So with us, at that time, the money that we put in at that time, to us, was huge. And when the war broke out, we couldn't sell anything. The evacuation, we had to start packing up, and packing up we did. And my dad, because of being in the sushi business, he used to have great big platters. I don't know if you've seen 'em or what, big platters.


JA: I'm sorry I interrupted you. You had nice plates.

HT: Yeah, my dad used to have these great big plates. It was decorated in gold and silver and red because of his business. He had numbers, a number of plates, and we had packed them. We got lumber, and I made boxes and we put 'em in for storage. And of course there were people coming around. By this time we were not in business anymore, but these guys had come around looking for -- I like to call them the scavengers -- to see what they can find. And my mom, she was trying to get, see if she can sell 'em, but no way. The guy who came in just looked at it and started laughing. Now, I guess it is funny to him, anyway. But my mom got mad and she just picked up the big plates. She used to treasure it. She just smashed it right on the floor, every damn one of them. I guess with every smash, smashing of the big platter, it just broke her heart because it was something that, she knew that my dad had worked with it. I guess that's the first time she died. Now that we talk about Mom, ever since the war, I guess she died a million deaths. I feel sorry for Mom.

JA: Did that man offer her anything?

HT: No. He just laughed, you know. "You trying to sell it?" We couldn't sell anything. Well, in a way I cannot blame the people. What the heck, we had to leave things behind anyway. We couldn't take it with us.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

JA: How did you dispose of the business?

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: What did you do about the restaurant?

HT: It was not a matter of doing; we just had to close up. We couldn't sell anything. We just padlocked it and got out.

JA: Was it still there when you came back after camp?

HT: Years later we went -- the store was there, but whether the things were in there or not, that I don't know because I never even answered.

JA: How about your home?

HT: Home? We never did have a home. We were in an apartment-like, it was in the same building, and it was called the Allen Hotel. That was where it happened, when the war came. 232-1/2 East Second Street. I still remember it.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

JA: Tell me about the incident when someone brought an evacuation notice into your store?

HT: Oh, yes, yes, yes. Well, they put that thing against the wall --

JA: Tell me that a little more. What happened? Somebody came in with something?

HT: Just walked in and plastered it.

JA: And what was it?

HT: It was the evacuation notice telling us that we have to evacuate. They were putting it on the telephone pole, on the outside, naturally out in the street, and they came in and plastered it against the wall. Right at the entrance there on the left-hand side and just plastered it.

JA: Right in the restaurant?

HT: Right in the restaurant.

JA: Why there?

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: Why would they put it there?

HT: Why? There's a million whys that happened at that time, I guess. Why? To this very day, there's so many whys, questions that I myself do have. But I guess if anybody was in the right, normal sense instead of being follow-the-sheep and had to use more common sense, I guess there would not have been a million whys, I guess. Yeah, why?

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

JA: Tell me about the day you left for Manzanar. What do you remember about that?

HT: Oh, yes. There again you know, when things are bad -- my mom used to be a firm believer that maybe, she used to say, there's an old Japanese proverb that says "there may be gods that throw you away, but there will always be gods who will pick you up." She was a firm believer, and she always, no matter what happened, how bad things got, she would always remind me with that phrase. And on that morning, when we left, we had all our suitcases out in the front by the street, because that is what we were supposed to do. All our belongings in front of the store, that was when God threw us. When we had to go out there with our suitcase, and then these people in a car came down and they were Christian priests, man and wife, they came down and said, "We're going to take you to where you're supposed to board the train." So immediately they told us to board and board the car that they had brought in. Mom picked up the suitcase, and the priest and his wife told my (mom) to let go of the suitcase and told her, told Mom to go into the car. They insisted that she go into the car because they would be taking care of the suitcases for her. And that's exactly what she did. She went in the car and the same thing with me. They insisted that we go in, and they would take care of the luggage. This is when I thought, "This is the God that picks us up," what Mom had always preached to me, this is it. I saw that.

You know, a lot of things that I don't like happened, but a lot of things made me open my eyes and my heart, a lot of things happened. They were so nice. So when we went down to the train, my mom had... what do you call it, the coins, rolls of coins, and she tried to offer it to the priest. She wanted to say thank you to him and his wife. But you know, he refused. He says, "This is not what we are here for," and I'll never forget it. And what burns me up is that I was never, I was so darn stupid, is that I did not ask for his name or what church he was from. To this very day, I regret the fact. I really appreciated what he did for us on that day, and I never got the chance to say "thank you" to him. This is one thing that I regret, that I did not ask for his identity.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

JA: Alisa mentioned something about a teacher that had taught you about being American.

HT: Oh, yes.

JA: Tell me.

HT: You know, the grammar school that I had attended used to be called the Amelia Street School. It was down by Alameda, by the gas tank building. Those old days we had two big huge gas tank, and it used to be by the gas tank there. And our teachers were real dedicated people that cared about kids. They used to bring in cheese, various type of cheese, and taught us the various types of cheese. This is the way it tastes; this is how it should be handled. She taught us a lot of things besides the three Rs. She taught us how to be human, and one thing that still is embedded in my head is she said, "One of the reasons why America, our country America is so strong is because no matter where the people had come from, they had one thought in mind. Though the faces and the colors may be different, in those days they never had to use the word 'minority.'" Mrs. McDougall, she used to be all white [gestures to hair] and glasses, she never raised her voice, but she knew... but we knew that she was the boss. She had control over the whole class at anytime. Never raised her voice, but very stern, but very kind. Said, "One thing that you must never forget, is this is the reason why America is so strong, because the people had, all had the same idea." She used to tell us that all the time. And the three Rs, she had a marvelous way of teaching things, too. She always taught in a way so that we kids can understand rather than 2 x 2 is 4, bang, bang, bang. No, she showed us why 2 and 2 is 4. She was one of those.

JA: What did she mean by all Americans having the same idea? What idea? Did she explain that?

HT: With me, this is the way I took it. She said that people had come from the foreign country and migrated to America, and it started off with the pilgrims. They hated what they had over there so they came over here, so we were taught, and they wanted to exercise what they believed in. No matter what happens, we may voice our opinion in a different way, but eventually, when you get to the nucleus of the subject, they all have the same idea, that they wanted to practice what they believed in. This is what I've always thought, that this is what she was trying to tell us: "Don't be worried about different colors and faces; we all have that one thought." She always said, "We were born over here, and we're all Americans. Don't ever forget that." This is Mrs. McDougall.

JA: And have you believed that ever since?

HT: Well, let's put it this way: if one is going to school, one goes to school to be taught, to be educated, so that no matter what it is, what your teacher tells you, the instructor tells you when you're a little kid, this is God speaking, this is what she wants you to believe. And when one is constantly told about these things, I think one will go on believing it, too. This is all we knew. And when you go to, when you go home, the folks, if you didn't behave and if you didn't learn anything in school, oh God, you're in trouble. The first thing they tell you is, "Why are you going to school for?" That's, we believed, we believed in what Mrs. McDougall was trying to teach us. This is all we knew. We didn't know anything else.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

JA: How do you or how did you look at what she was teaching you once you had the experience of being evacuated and going to Manzanar? Did that change your sense of what it meant to be an American?

HT: To be an American?

JA: As she had defined it.

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: She had defined for you a sense of what it meant to be American, and you believed in it. Did you continue to believe in it throughout your Manzanar experience?

HT: Once we entered it... see, when we were evacuated into Manzanar, number one, we were told the reason why we are being evacuated from the West Coast is to protect us.

JA: I'm going to ask you to tell me that once more because there was a loud plane noise.

HT: The reason why we were evacuated is we were told that we are being evacuated so that the government can protect us. And when I reached Manzanar, and I realized that there were barbed fence, and what struck me was not the barbed fence, but the tower. And the first thing that I had observed was that they had armaments, not facing out, but facing in. Now, what was the armaments facing in when they are supposed to be protecting us? This is the first thing that had come to my mind. I think anyone who saw how the armaments were placed could really see where they want to be having control over. But it makes you doubt, number one, why is the armaments facing inside where we are supposed to be? [Pauses] But when you're, when you're going to a place like that, you can't argue. You just have to live with it.

JA: But you can reevaluate things in your mind.

HT: Yes, certainly does. But even then, you know, in spite of everything that I had seen, I still believed in what Mrs. McDougall had constantly told us. You know when you're a kid, I don't know no other things other than why, what I am experiencing right there and then as a child. I don't know any other things. So to this very day, Mrs. McDougall is still embedded in me.

JA: That's great.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

JA: What do you remember about the train ride to Manzanar?

HT: Oh, that was my first train ride, for once. I thought I was going to enjoy it. [Laughs] But what a joke that turned out to be. All the blinds were drawn down, and the train was packed. We were not allowed to raise the blind nor raise the window. That was one thing. It was very uncomfortable. And other than that riding the, riding the train was my first, first-time experience, I didn't feel anything other than that except for the fact that they had two MPs on each side, one on each end. And that's another thing, and they had bayonets on the thing. Why they had bayonets, I'll never know, but they did. But the MPs, they were strict. If we even tried to raise the darn blind, oh, they'd be on us right away. No raising the blind nor the window. So it was very stuffy. The MPs, other than being strict, I think they were nice. I guess having the bayonet on their rifle was just an order and they are just following order. But from our eyes, you know, it's why? There again, why?

JA: Once you got to Lone Pine on the train, then did you go by bus, or how did you get to Manzanar from Lone Pine?

HT: We got, we boarded a truck and I believe some, they had a bus there, too. That's not in my memory. But I know I had to get on a truck. We got off the train, got in the truck. We were all standing up, and from there we went to Manzanar.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

JA: Tell me about your first night in the camp.

HT: [Laughs] You know, the first night is something else, you know? Me being born on First and Pedro, other than sandlot playing field, all I knew was sidewalks, cement, and at night, we'll have streetlights. And I never thought about looking up into the sky, but the first night, all of a sudden I realized that my God, there is holes in the roof. There was knotholes. When we went in, they didn't have the drywall in the inside, and a lot of the places were not completely finished yet so we had knotholes all over the thing. I look up, and I see the sky, and I see stars, which I'd never enjoyed before. I thought, "My God, it's so beautiful." That is the sky, the first night sky that I experienced in Manzanar. So I guess no matter how bad things get, you know, there are good things happening, too. That's the beauty, beauty of nature, that's one thing that no one can take away, I guess. Experiencing the beauty of nature. Yeah.

JA: What did you observe about the place the next morning in daylight?

HT: Well, I never realized that a wide open space like Manzanar could suddenly be engulfed in smoke. All of a sudden it's gone, and you realize, that's not smoke. It's sandstorm, and it's just like smoke. You couldn't see the outside. It's just like smoke, it's like trying to see through smoke. So we made sure that the windows and the doors were shut real tight. And my mom says, "Hikoji, I think the storm is gone." I said, "No, no, no." So Mom opens the window and sure enough, the outside, outside is clear again. The sun is shining, but the inside, we're still having the sandstorm going. All the sands had entered through the cracks, through the windows and the knotholes and things. The outside is clear already, but the inside, we're still having a sandstorm. Dust. Sand dust is it? Is that what you call it? What a difference between the night stars and that.

JA: How did your mom adjust to life in camp? The kind of quarters you had and the style of daily life?

HT: She kept everything to herself. I think she never complained, but she kept, I know she just kept blaming herself for a lot of the things that had happened, and it was killing her inside. There again, going through her million death, she kept telling us, "It'll be over," but I know it was just killing her. Every day it was killing her. She tried to make the best of it, yes.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

JA: How many of you were there in the one apartment?

HT: Mom, me and my kid sister. Three of us.

JA: What was that apartment like?

HT: Like I say, I like to say it was a holy place, knotholes. I can joke about it now. [Laughs] I think we were given one rafter for each person, so since there were three of us, we had three, three of those rafters. I don't know what you call that? What would you call that?

JA: Those would be rafters.

HT: Rafters. Very barren. Of course, later on, that's when the drywalls came in, and we started putting the drywall up inside. We had no chair. We had no table. It was very barren. The only thing that we had that we could use to sit on was the cot. And my mom, she didn't have any -- anything to sit on. I felt sorry for her.

JA: Sure. What did your daily life become like?

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: What was daily life like once you got settled in there? For you?

HT: Daily life, my mom just kept telling me, "Make the best of it," and that's what we were trying to do: make the best of it. As days went on, we realized what family is where and our social life started to pick up, or at least tried to pick up as time went on. [Interruption] Yeah, once we got settled down eventually, we found out what family is where and especially the womenfolk, they started visiting one another's apartment. And by them being able to talk to one another as mothers talking to one another, they, they became more... they were so, when we first entered there, they were so uptight, and then eventually, they, they became more relaxed. But for mothers, I guess they had worries about the family, about what's going to happen.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

JA: Where were we? We were talking about families getting to know each other?

HT: Yeah, yeah, uh-huh, yes.

JA: Tell me how that developed into -- did the place develop into a community? I mean initially, there were a lot of people who didn't know each other.

HT: Right, right, right. And as days progressed, we got to know our next-door neighbor, and we got to eventually, we got to know the people who lived in the next barrack, and then we found people who needed or wanted, must have, and we all pitched in and helped each other. So there again, you know, it's, people are very nice. As we talked to each other, we realized what one is lacking and what they are lacking or what we are lacking, we tried to help each other. We supported one another. And a lot of the mothers, I guess they all, mothers are mothers no matter where you go. They worry about the family. It seems like no matter how much the social life gets better, then they start to worry about their next phase. It's like peeling a dry onion. Peel one, and they find another one. That's mothers, and it was the mothers who held everybody together. As for the men, they tried to make their living a little more comfortable than what we had.

Like for instance, when we first went in there, we had the restroom for women and a restroom for the men. As for the men, we can stand a lot of things that the women cannot. Say for instance, the potties, they have no stall. You saw who was sitting next door to you, the left or the right. For the girls, I think, that was very unfair. As for the men, we can bear it, I guess. So eventually, we got what we can find, we became scavengers. We never threw anything away. We found cardboard, pick it up, and we store it in a certain part of the latrine, and when we get enough, we would utilize that cardboard and made stalls for the women. It was like this, whatever it was. We helped one another. It was very nice, in a way. We learned how to live together in harmony. And as for the women, they got together and they discussed a lot of things. I know as for my mother, she worried that having nothing to do at times, we became a bore. We had nothing to think about, and my mom was worried that my kid sister, who was younger, younger than me, she wasn't able to think, so my mother said. It was like a stray dog. No responsibility, although they eventually opened up a school for the younger kids.

JA: How old was your sister?

HT: My sister was six years younger than I, so she was about twelve or thirteen then. All the mothers were worried about their daughters and their kids. That is one of the reasons, I guess, why the priests eventually was able to start up a church of all denominations. We had Buddhists, we had Christians. Name it, and we had people there. And the church held us up pretty well, I think.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

JA: Tell me about the physical things that people did to improve the place. You mentioned that you fixed the stalls...

HT: Yes.

JA: ...that you put drywall in the house. What about the outside, the outside environment?

HT: Well, for number one, the Japanese people appreciate nature. I guess that's their nature, I guess. They love nature. They love gardens, they love trees. So in between rows of barracks, we eventually got seeds, and we made lawns, we made gardens out in -- let's face it, Manzanar was a barren desert, no grass growing. So eventually, the people got together and put in lawns and gardens...


HT: Well, lawns went up and gardens were put in. In some of the blocks they even put in lakes, small lakes, and put bridges, small bridges. They tried to make it look homey. Rather than seeing nothing but sand, it's so nice to see greenery. And then as for, as for the farmers, you know, they started raising watermelon, cantaloupe. Oh, the watermelon that grew, that they grew in Manzanar, it is so sweet. I can still taste that. We'd go to the, we go to the cafeteria, and the first thing we'd ask, as for the kids anyway, did they have watermelon? They said, we'd ask, "Is this ours or where?" And if it's ours, it doesn't stay there for very long, and cantaloupe's the same thing. And eventually as time went on, every camp was raising their own agricultural things. So Manzanar was sent to Poston, Poston was sent to Manzanar and so forth, I guess.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

JA: Tell me about your experience when you were shot.

HT: Well, yeah. You know, these are, my experience of being shot...

JA: What were you doing that day?

HT: You know, until I met Alisa, I never spoke to my kids about my experience of being shot. And that's a very, it's just... it hurts. It hurts. And I guess they say you can't run away from a problem, but I guess this is one of my problems because I was trying to run away, and I never even spoke about it. It was a very bad experience. Here again, why? And it leaves a big no reason and because of the happening, I started doubting, thinking about what Mrs. McDougall used to tell us. You know, to start off with, you know, it's a, it's a, like I said before, our barracks, apartment, whatever you want to call it, we had nothing to sit on except for the cot. That is what I used to grieve at that point. I believed that my mom deserved better. I started thinking, the least that she can do is to have something to sit on. This is what drove me and wanted to go out and see if I can, here again, become a scavenger for loose lumber and maybe I can make a chair or a stool for Mom. And that is what made me go out looking for lumber scraps. We went over there, the barracks, some of the barracks were still being made, in progress, so there were a lot of scrap.

And on that morning when I went out looking for scrap woods, I spotted a pile of lumber, scrap lumber. So I started walking towards that huge pile of scrap wood. And I came across, as I walked towards the scrap pile, there was an MP walking there. So I hailed him, and I said, "Can I go over there and get some of that scrap wood?" He said, "Sure." Now, there were no fence. If there was a fence there, I knew that would be the boundary. And in the mess hall, that's where all the various announcements used to be made, and we used to have a bulletin board there with any information regarding to rules or regulation or whatever. It was announced. It was never announced that we cannot go on that side. There was no fence. Now, I came across this MP, and he said sure, I can go across. So I started heading towards the lumber pile, and the MP went this way and I went that way, and I was picking up some of the lumber. So how long would it take for me to look for -- the piles were no more than 2 feet, most of 'em. So I was picking up the lumber. So how long would that take me? Started looking. Two, at the most five minutes, I had it in my arm. Then I heard this MP, he was going like this, "Come on back." So from the pile, I started heading back. Now, the MP was on my right-hand -- left-hand side as I was approaching him, and all of a sudden, he levels his rifle. I thought, "What the devil is he doing? He's leveling off at me." Then all of a sudden, the shot rings out. That's when I had my leather jacket on, and I picked myself up realizing that I had been shot, and I was bloodied all over, and I started running towards camp. You know, to this very day, I cannot remember which block it was that I had gone to. But anyway, I started telling myself, well, I got to get aid, and I started running and then I came across these couple that was walking by. And they stopped the truck, threw me on the truck, and they took me to the hospital. And made one shot. Now, from what I understand, the MPs carry shotguns, and I used to do a little hunting myself, so I more or less can understand how pellets travel. Well, I was shot one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, seven pellets were in me. That's what they took out. And I must have been pretty lucky that he didn't hit me in vital spots.

JA: What do you think he thought he was doing?

HT: What did I think?

JA: Yeah.

HT: I don't know. There's no reason. He told me to come back, and I came back. I had no weapon with me other than the lumber that I'd just picked up. I was not running away nor was I running towards him. I was just walking. What was he trying to prove?

JA: Was he ever brought to account for that?

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: Was he ever brought to account for that by his superiors?

HT: As far as I know, no. As a matter of fact, after I'd gotten out of the hospital and months later, one day all of a sudden the MP jeep pulls up in front of our, our barrack, and I'm hauled off to the administration building over there, and I'm being interrogated. There again, I see these MPs coming after me with submachine guns and fixed bayonets. I get in the room, and there's this major, one guard out in front of the office and one inside guarding the door, and the major, and he started interrogating me. And he was asking me all kinds of various, various questions. And towards the end, what bothered me was that he was trying to treat me like a third grader. I'm no Einstein, but I do know what one yard is. And it ticked me off so bad, I told the man, I said, "I don't know why you are asking me these questions, but as far as I know, in Europe, it's the metric system, but here in America it's not. So I will answer it in inches and foot." And in third grade, we learned 12 inches to a foot, 36 for a yard. He was trying to treat me like, as though if I was, if I was a moron. He wanted to know which is my left, which is my right. How do I know that he, it was he that had leveled the gun, when there was only one MP standing there. [Pauses] You know, sometimes I wonder, it's a... if he wanted to warn me, all he had to do was just shoot it in the air, that's all. That's my opinion, but I don't know how the other people think. If there had been a sign, a warning sign or anything stating that we cannot go from here to there or a fence there, I would have never gone there.

JA: Another why.

HT: Yes, another why.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

JA: Tell me what you remember about the riot situation that happened. Do you remember that at all?

HT: I have no knowledge about that riot. I heard about it. My mom came home and told me that they had a riot the other night. That's what I heard. That's all I know. I have no idea.

JA: Then tell me about the "loyalty questions."

HT: I beg your pardon?

JA: Tell me about the "loyalty questions."

HT: Oh, yes.

JA: What were they, and how did that play out?

HT: Well, number one, as far as I'm concerned, whoever thought of those questions did not know the Niseis, how they were brought up. The questions, as far as I'm concerned, the question is if they are questioning, then that means there is doubt. As far as I'm concerned, even in our judicial system, one is not found guilty, one is not guilty unless he was found guilty. Coming around and saying... who was -- what was question now, something about loyalty now. What was the question? I have forgotten.

JA: Yeah, what were the "loyalty questions" that they asked?

HT: Yeah, it's a -- "would you be loyal to the Japanese emperor" or something like that, wasn't it?

JA: I think it was "would you forswear loyalty."

HT: To the emperor or something like that?

JA: Yes, and also, "are you loyal to the United States? Will you serve for the United States?"

HT: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's right, that's right. Now, how can one swear loyalty to a foreign country that you do not know? Now, we don't even know, we don't even know what the emperor was until that question came up. Loyal to the emperor? Why should one be loyal to something that one does not know, how can he know? That's one stupid one. And the other one is serve, serve in the army. To serve in the army, one has to be trusted. If one does not know anything else besides the country that he was born in, he was educated here, born here, educated here, and played here, and being taught all the time. Not for just flag raising, flag waving, but what we should be doing as a human being, as a person, as a citizen. He doesn't know anything else beside American. Are you willing to serve? We are willing to serve.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

JA: Do you remember how you answered those questions?

HT: I answered 'no' for serving, and as for the emperor stuff, I said 'no.' I'm not going to swear loyalty to an emperor that I don't even know what he stands for and if the government is going to doubt me and tell me "serve in the forces," if I'm not going to be trusted, then I cannot. You know, let me go back a little bit on this one over here, you know. I go back before the evacuation, when the war broke out. I had two cousins, we were one year apart. We were brought up like brothers. On First, Second Street and Broadway, I think it is, there used to be a recruiting station there. We went in there, the three of us, Tosh, Ted, and myself, we volunteered. We went in, and we wanted to volunteer. You know what? We were thrown out of the office. We were told, "We don't want Japs."


JA: So what did they tell you when you tried to volunteer?

HT: "We don't want Japs." So that was the end of that. As for Tosh, the oldest of the three of us, he turned right around and he volunteered for a pilot, for the Air Force. Took the test, flying colors, entered, was there for a while, then they threw him out. The reason being Japanese, Japanese blood. Then right away he turned around and this time he volunteered for a bombardier, and it was okay, he was accepted. Then he was thrown out again, the reason being, was Japanese extract. Now, this is Tosh. Tosh eventually wound up as a doggie, and he died over, over in Europe. And Ted, he died a year after Tosh, and his mother, who is my aunt, it was too much for her to handle, and it just broke her up, physically and mentally. You see, a lot of these things; people don't know what actually happened.

JA: Now these were your cousins, both of them?

HT: Yeah.

JA: Were they in the 442nd?

HT: 442nd, yes. 442nd and 100th. If you go down to the West L.A. cemetery there, there's only one that I know of that has two, two stones side-by-side. They're still together. Now, I always go down there, my kid loves that. He says, "Dad, you're the only one that's talking to a stone." I keep telling the stone, I said, "You guys are still together, huh?" They are the only ones that's together yet.


JA: For, in case there's anybody in our audience who doesn't know what the 442nd is, could you tell what that was? Tell me what the 442nd was.

HT: You know, I'm not too familiar with that, so I prefer not. My knowledge of that is very shallow. As for the technicality and all that, I do not know enough, so I don't think I have, I should be talking about it.

JA: Okay, that's fine.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

JA: When you were at camp, a number of -- well, I'm getting ahead of myself. Were there any consequences of your answering 'no-no'? What was the response?

HT: Yes, eventually we were sent, there again we were segregated in Manzanar, and we were sent -- those group were sent to Tule Lake, the family was sent to Tule Lake. And then as the war progressed, I was -- my mom and my kid sister remained in Tule Lake, and I was sent over to Bismarck. So we were separated.

JA: And all this was because you answered 'no' and 'no'?

HT: Right.

JA: So you never went back to Manzanar?

HT: During the war?

JA: After you went to Tule Lake and then Bismarck, you didn't see Manzanar any more?

HT: No, no, until way later.

JA: Where did you go from Bismarck?

HT: From Bismarck, we were sent to Japan. Yeah.

JA: How did you feel about that?

HT: I didn't like it. I always felt that it was very unfair because of my belief.

JA: When were you allowed to return to the United States?

HT: Oh, years later.


JA: You were talking about your ability to speak Japanese.

HT: Yeah. I served as an interpreter for the forces in Japan. So while I was over in Japan, I had a good job, cushy job.

JA: So how long were you there?

HT: I was out there for about six years, I guess.


HT: After I came back? Yeah, yeah. Well, I've always took interest in history and as I read books and so forth, I realized history and costuming went hand and hand. I found it that way anyway, and I liked that and I fell into it.

JA: So what did you do? What was the nature of bringing those together?

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: What kind of work were you actually doing then?

HT: Well, so I was in the costume line, costume end.

JA: For theater or --

HT: Yeah, yeah, uh-huh. For the studio, and there again, in spite of all the happenings that had happened to me, I keep meeting people who are so nice. I've met so many nice people. I've been very fortunate.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

JA: How did you feel when the government decided to make redress, and the President made an apology?

HT: It took a long time, but I think that they made the right move. I think that was the move that they should have made. I'm sorry that it didn't happen 'til way later.

JA: Did it make up for what happened to you?

HT: What happened to me, no. All of a sudden, as to what has happened to me, everything that I believed in as a child and until all this has happened to me, it was dashed to the ground, and it took me so long to come out of the shell. You know, it's funny, you know how, how it plays -- a thing like this plays on your mind, mind and in here. [Gestures to heart] They go in hand and hand. It hurts. Number one, it hurts to be doubted. But as far as the whatchamacallit, the government coming out with this apology, I think it took a lot of guts, took a lot of chance, and it's like during the war, you know, it's so many people were against the Japanese civilians, and it's just like when the government made the apology, they didn't know how it was going to end up, I don't think. They did the right thing. But as for whether it made up for everything? No.

JA: How do you feel about this country? I notice you have a voting pin on?

HT: Beg your pardon?

JA: I notice you're wearing a pin, that you voted?

HT: Oh, this was yesterday.

JA: That's fine. That says something about how you feel about this country to me.

HT: Well, I've never went without it. I never went without it. I made sure I went, and I voted. My kids are the same way. I made sure that the kids got the same education that I had gotten, although with me, I couldn't get the education that I wanted to. But as for my kids, at least they got what they wanted, what I wanted, and I'm just hoping and praying that they learn how to think for themselves.

JA: Are you back to believing what Mrs. McDougall said?

HT: Yes, yes, I am. As a matter of fact, it was just the other day I was talking to my daughter and somehow we fell into elementary school. My daughter is in, in the educational system, and I told her, "I wish you'd become a Mrs. McDougall." She's trying. All my kids are trying.

JA: That's good. How do you feel about the United States today?

HT: There's no other place; there's no other place that can compare to it. Although our differences may be there, but like Mrs. McDougall says, the nucleus is there. We are so proud, and we always will, at least my kids will, I know they will. Because some of the things that I've gone through, I wouldn't want them to go through. It's unfair, and it's not right. Perhaps some people will say, "Well, he brought it on himself." That's fine and dandy, but I firmly believe in what Mrs. McDougall says, and I always will. That'll never change. That will never change. It's sixty years, sixty years. [Laughs] And there's a lot of people who doesn't even know what had happened at that time, you know. That's the pitiful part of it, and I just hope and pray that with this program here that you have going, even if it touches one person, it's worth it.

JA: What should it teach them?

HT: Learn how to think. Don't be a sheep. Just because someone says this, don't all follow him. Learn how to think and learn how to get involved. That's my firm belief, and I know my kids will always keep trying.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.