Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Kazuko Miyoshi - Yasuko Miyoshi Iseri Interview
Narrators: Kazuko Miyoshi, Yasuko Miyoshi Iseri
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Manhattan Beach, California
Date: June 26, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-mkazuko_g-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

KL: What about your... is there anything else from your trip that you...

YI: No, that's the only memory I have.

KM: I think it was dusk by the time we got to the camp. I know we ate, so they must have given us a box lunch or something.

KL: You ate on the bus?

KM: Yeah, they gave you a sandwich and an apple. We didn't have bottled water then, something to drink, fruit juice, maybe. But that's all I remember as far as eating went. And then we got to camp and then got in line, got our IDs, and then got assigned barracks, your address, and we got 8-9-1, and then...

KL: Where did you get those assignments, do you remember?

KM: There was, Block 2 was the office that day, and that's, we were assigned the building.

KL: Was it inside a barrack where you received those assignments?

KM: It was the front, first building, first office, it would be where our apartment was, it would be 2-1-1.

KL: How did you find your apartment?

KM: They directed you, and I think they may have taken you by truck or something, because they didn't make you walk to the end of camp, to Block 36 or one of the far away ones.

KL: But you guys were close?

YI: Uh-huh.

KM: And then we got assigned those and then we got the straw mattresses, and that was exciting because it was like, gee, camp.

KL: For you.

KM: We didn't know any better, yeah.

KL: That was a novelty, for sure. What was the night like?

KM: Dark, very dark, because except for the lights that were on the corner, they had searchlights, they had... not much. And then so you just had these nice dark nights with lots of stars. That's all I remember about nighttime in camp.

YI: I remember we couldn't go to the... you know how they had a central bathroom in all the barracks like this, and in the central... so my mother had a chamber pot in the house. We were little, and however, when we were little, my dad made these wooden clogs like, they had a piece of wood, and then they had a thing for your feet, for your toes to go through like this. And you would, at first we would run to go to the bathroom earlier...

KM: Because there were wild animals ready to eat you.

YI: Yeah, and it's dusk, and you'd skin your other ankle with that heavy wood thing, and it'd be bleeding. Not only do you have to pee, but now you're cut, you know, your foot, because you had to remember I'm little, and got to go, and going really fast. And both sides, I probably clipped both, I remember that, my ankle bones would have a little abrasion on each side.

KL: Were the latrines complete in your block when you moved in?

YI: It was just a room.

KM: I think so. It was huge, and then you had a bank of toilets.

YI: No stalls, no stalls.

KM: And then you had the washbasins, or a place where you could wash your hands, and then I guess that was it. And we had one room that was a shower, and you had the little barrels you could use as a tub, and then eventually people built a Japanese-style bath.

KL: Was there one in Block 8?

KM: Yeah.

YI: Where was that? I don't remember.

KM: They were barrels first.

KL: An ofuro? I'm sorry, did you guys ever use an ofuro in camp?

KM: Uh-huh. They were in the bath room.

YI: Oh, I don't remember them.

KM: And then Frank would go to the bath room and bathe with Mr. Takeshita, and he'd go, "Oi, Takeshita, let's go to the bath."

KL: This is your little brother?

KM: My little brother.


YI: Because she described it earlier, but what it was was there was a float, a wood float. It was like a float, and the tub would be like pretty high. And on the outside was a little bench, and you actually washed yourself with warm water in a pan and cleaned yourself off. Then if you were the first person to come that day, you would ride that float down. It'd be hotter than heck, because it was really hot, and you would rinse off and relax. But you never went in there dirty, you had to wash on the outside. And that was the big thing was to be the first guy in, because you could go down on that piece of wood that was, oh, kind of like latticework, so the water would go through, but you wouldn't burn yourself on the bottom. That protected you from getting hurt. So that was my memory of that nice furo my father built. And we had several families using it postwar, there were three families in the back that lived near us, and we kind of, it was kind of like a long building, and each one kind of was separated, and those families would use it also. But our bathroom was on the outside of this building. It was connected, but it was on another part of the building. And one day Kazy and I go to the bathroom, we're kids, and we hear this big loud moo. The dairy --

KM: Across the street on Grandview was the dairy, two of them.

YI: And the cow got out, and here's the two of us screaming because the cow got out. [Laughs]

KM: So Papa comes down and starts laughing, because we were scared to death of a cow.

YI: That was my big memory of that toilet outside. It was not an outhouse, it was connected, but it was a distance from where we lived.

KL: Did it have walls?

YI: It had walls.

KL: So the cow was outside?

YI: Yeah, and the cow's outside. And we leave the door open because we're afraid if we close the door, somebody could get us. Stupid, but we leave the door open because then they could hear us. She remembers it, too, because we were scared.

KM: We didn't know from wild animals.

KL: There was a cow that came onto Manzanar one day and was walking through Block 14.

KM: Regular cattle cattle.

KL: Yeah, from across the street.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.