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

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

<Begin Segment 1>

KL: This is Kristen Luetkemeier for the Manzanar Oral History Project. It's Wednesday, June 26, 2013, and I'm in Manhattan Beach in the home of Kazuko Miyoshi, for an interview with Kazuko and with her sister Yasuko Iseri about their experiences growing up in the Los Angeles area, being removed from the West Coast and sent to Manzanar during World War II, and then their, the rest of their childhoods returning back to Southern California after the war. And Jim Howell is with us, he's also with the National Park Service, and he's operating the video camera. And before we go any further, I just want to document that I do have your permission to ask you questions and to record this interview. We'll keep it at Manzanar in the library, and with your agreement, it'll also be available to the public and researchers and for Park Service employees or other visitors.

YI: Yes.

KM: Yes.

KL: Thank you, thank you for that. I want to start off talking about your parents, because you do have some knowledge of their experiences. So what were their names?


KL: You were telling me your parents' names, you started with your dad.

KM: Right, my father was Frank Shigeyoshi Miyoshi, but like a lot of Issei, he picked up Shigeyoshi, I mean Frank himself.

KL: Oh, he did, he chose...

KM: Yes, he was not born Frank or christened Frank.

KL: What was your mother's name?

KM: Masako Miyoshi. Masako Fujimoto Miyoshi.

KL: Where was she from? Let's talk more about her.

KM: She was born in Honolulu in 1909, and she was left at home in Japan while her parents and siblings went to Hawaii.

KL: Was she born in Hawaii or Japan?

KM: In Hawaii.

YI: Honolulu.

KL: And then did the whole family travel back to Japan together? You said she was left there.

KM: She was born in Honolulu, she came home to Japan, and then her parents and her two siblings came to Honolulu and left my mother in Japan with her grandmother.

KL: Do you know why they left her?

KM: No, I don't know why they left her, but my mother was forever attached to her grandmother.

KL: It was a good relationship?

KM: For her and her grandmother. But she had cousins that lived in the same village, so I don't think it made up for being with your family, but she managed.

KL: What village was it that she was living in?

KM: Hiroshima... I used to know the name, because I used to address the envelope, but I can't remember now.

YI: Aki-gun?

KM: Aki-gun, Aki-Nakano, I can't remember. But that was the village.

KL: You were thinking its name was Aki-gun?

YI: I'm sorry?

KL: You thought the name of the village was Aki-gun?

YI: Aki-gun, I thought, in writing it, but I can't remember the rest of it. There was a lot of little...

KM: To the address.

YI: Yeah, to the address. It wasn't just the little town. So that was part of it, I just remember writing that address.

KM: It wasn't on that thing, was it? That paper that was in there?

YI: Oh, it might be.

KL: So you said she grew up with cousins around? What did she tell you about that, about her life there?

KM: Her older sister was like an older sister, she was bossy. And then her cousin, Sadamu, was a rascal of a child, that he would tease my mother, or he would come looking for my mother to play, so they were close.

KL: How much time were they able to spend together? Those two siblings were in Hawaii while she was in Japan?

KM: Right, they went to school, and then they went to the United States, the oldest one. And I don't know what my aunt did. Do you recall what Obachan did in Hawaii?

YI: Uh-uh.

KM: Anyway, so my oldest uncle went to St. Louis to mechanic school.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

KL: Back in their childhood though, your mother was born in Honolulu and then the whole family traveled to Japan, is that right? Her parents and her siblings and she? How long did they spend on that trip?

KM: I don't know how long they spent. They stayed long enough that the kids went to school.

KL: All three kids.

KM: My mother stayed home. And that's all I recall about her saying that to her mother.

KL: But was she raised with her siblings or was it later in life?

KM: Later that she was with them.

KL: Did she come back to Hawaii?

KM: I believe so. Did she? I don't know. She may not have, she may have finished school in Japan, and my mother went, stayed by, I think, other family members.

KL: Do you know the name of the grandmother that she lived with?

KM: Kimi.

KL: Kimi Fujimoto?

KM: Was it Fujimoto or... what does it say there?

KL: That's okay.

YI: We can look it up.

KL: "I don't know" or "I don't remember," is totally an okay answer if you don't know everything. What did she say about her schooling? Was there a particular subject she's studying or a career?

KM: No, we never talked about that, and I'm sorry that I never interviewed her, you know, that she went to school, what did she like. I know she took, you know, the lady things, flower arrangement and sewing and tea ceremony, what young ladies did in those days. Because they weren't, some of them were trained to go as schoolteachers, but my mother never mentioned a direction that her education went.

KL: Did she have a grandfather who was living at that time?

KM: No, she didn't have a grandfather. She had a father, he liked alcohol, and he went, he worked in Honolulu at one of the better hotels.

KL: Do you know its name by chance?

KM: No, I don't know if it was a famous one or not. But they would all go and work and bring home money and build a better place at home and improve their status.

KL: At home in Japan?

KM: At home.

KL: In Japan? How did he meet his wife?

KM: I believe it was an arranged thing where they say, "I understand you have a daughter that's not married and I have a son who's not married or a family friend," called a baishakunin, which was the marriage broker or something like that.

KL: What were your grandparents' names, your mother's parents?

YI: It's in there.

KM: It's in the book. [Laughs]

KL: Okay, we'll look later.

KM: And that's all I know about that.

KL: What about your father? Where was he from?

KM: Ehime-ken, which is on the island of Shikoku. And he went to school, and I think he didn't get to study because he was a younger son. So in the olden days, primogeniture, you didn't get anything, they kept diluting the size of the land.

KL: So you said he didn't get to study?

KM: No, he wanted to. A lot of the younger men wanted to, but not possible.

KL: His older brother did, though?

KM: Yes, his older brother did go to school. And he was a scholar, but he wasn't a businessman.

KL: Did he have a field?

KM: No, it was probably philosophy or writing or something like that. And they were merchants, and they did trade. And he says he remembers his uncle whose home he lived at on and off, he would trade bear skins. And he said it was real nice and soft to lay down to nap in.

KL: Where did the bear skins come from?

KM: Russia. And they traded because they traded salted fish.

KL: You said that your father's uncle was the trader?

KM: Yes, I don't know his name. Because my father's side is a mystery. We don't know too much.

KL: What about that older brother who was the scholar? Do you know his name?

KM: No. Because we never met them. Never met the grandparents on my father's side.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

KL: When did your father come to the United States?

KM: Around 1919, somewhere in there.

KL: And when was he born?

KM: April...

YI: Twenty-two.

KM: 1899.

YI: 1899.

KL: Do you know what brought him to the United States?

KM: Probably the fact that he had no future, the future was in his older brother's hands, and so he had nothing. So he was going to come here and make his fortune like a lot of Isseis, instead he had five kids. [Laughs] You might call that a fortune.

KL: I think Ichiro mentioned in his interview that he thought your dad jumped ship in San Francisco? Do you have any knowledge of where he came into the...

KM: Not San Francisco, but I'm going to see if a friend of the family remembers when her father and uncle came, what time it was. I don't think it was the same...

YI: They came on the same ship.

KM: I thought it was Seattle that he jumped ship.

YI: Yeah, I think it was Seattle, too. But we are going to talk to them to get this information. Because...

KL: Their family members came with your dad?

YI: Yeah. This woman's father and...

KM: They were friends.

YI: father came from the same place in Japan, same town, and so we're gonna meet with her in July and get the information before, you know, she passes on, because we won't have access to the information.

KM: Her mother, this friend of ours, her mother lived to be a hundred and six.

KL: What are her parents' names, the friend who came with your dad?

KM: Nakahiro is their last name. I don't know his first name. And the brother with whom they were all friends, he was Den-san, they called him.

YI: That wasn't his name.

KM: But I don't know if it was a nickname...

YI: That was not his name.

KL: Whose brother was he?

KM: The Nakahiro brothers.

KL: Oh, so there were two Nakahiro brothers and your dad.

KM: They were friends as young men.

KL: And they all... do you think they all disembarked in Seattle?

KM: I don't know about the Nakahiro family. I understand that's how it went, but I never cleared it up with my dad.

KL: Where did your dad, what did he do in those years right after he came?

KM: Anything he could get. He was a houseboy, and then he was a valet in San Francisco.

YI: A valet.

KM: The correct word is "valet." [Laughs]

KL: In San Francisco, you said?

KM: Yes. And then he lived next door to very wealthy families, and the houseboy was Chinese at the house next door, or something like that, he would dump water on my father if he saw him out in the yard.

KL: Was it malicious or playful?

KM: Malicious, because they were Chinese and my father was Japanese, so, "Get that kid."

KL: Did he tell you any other anecdotes about what it was like to be a Japanese immigrant in San Francisco?

KM: He... what else did he do there? I can't remember...

YI: Did Ich remember any of those? Did Ich remember any more about the dad?

KL: His interview was not very detailed like this, it was an hour and fifteen minutes of four men, and it was just kind of them talking about the camp. So that's why it would be good for us to talk with him more, too, but I wanted to ask you guys about these family things, too.

YI: I don't remember.

KL: You don't remember?

YI: I don't remember because I was younger.

KM: Oh, they used to go gambling in Chinatown.

KL: In San Francisco?

KM: In San Francisco, and he remembers, I guess he made a little money, and so these Filipino guys, Chinese guys, they played there, too. And my father and his brother left, and they came after him, so what he did was he took money out of his pocket and threw it on the street, so that they would stop to pick up money and they could make their getaway.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: I wanted to ask, you mentioned your father's brother would go gambling with him. When did your father's brother come?

KM: They came together, I think.

KL: What was his name, your uncle?

KM: Ojichan?

YI: No, that means "uncle."

KM: Just "uncle."

YI: That's not his name. I think it's in the book here.

KM: His cousins called him Kumaoji, "Uncle Bear."

YI: No, but it's in here, it's in the book. Maybe we'll have to do the research.

KM: He was, he liked how the wealthy lived.

KL: Your uncle did?

KM: He knew Patek Philippe was a good watch, and good clothing. Because the man that he was the valet for was small, and so he would give my uncle castoffs. He had a tuxedo, white... was it morning coat, Sylvia? When the tuxedo is the white jacket and the tails.

KL: What occasions did he wear it for?

KM: Probably crashing parties.

Off camera: Morning coat is different. It has striped pants and a rounded back.

YI: Can I say something?

KL: Uh-huh, yeah.

YI: We benefited from my uncle's love of expensive clothing, because he would have cashmere sport coats made. And there would be just enough for us to get a skirt out of it because we were small and it would take less than a yard, you know, two of us would be less than a yard, practically, to wear a skirt. In those days it was a pencil thin skirt, straight skirt, so all he did was put a zipper and a band on it, and my mother would do that. So we always had nice, no tops, but nice cashmere skirts.

KL: Is this the same uncle that your father was in business with?

YI: Right.

KL: How did they... so they were in San Francisco, but then where did they go from there?

KM: They moved down south. I remember my uncle, father's... another brother, who did work in Santa Maria in the farms around there. And then that uncle went back to Japan carting an Indian motorcycle that he loved, took it back to Japan, and he also took back a 1926 Chevy truck, because they were going to do truck farming like they do in the United States, but they just were not able to pull it off.

KL: Was that a third brother?

KM: Yes. So he came, I think, after my dad did, because there was a cousin that went, too, that came. And he was married, and he worked the farms and then went back to Japan after the war. Because he lived with us for a while after the war.

KL: Where from Santa Maria did he go?

KM: He moved down to, I guess, Oxnard area or somewhere, and then they went to L.A., and then got money somehow, working, I guess. He worked at the farms in the Ojai area and came south. So then he bought, or leased land to work in the L.A. area.

KL: Where was that land?

KM: Culver City, Mar Vista area, and he had... I remember he had hothouses, and he grew lilies, Easter lilies, he grew cucumbers. Because I remember the Easter lilies had pollen in their stem, pistol or whatever you call that part, and you had to pull it out without spilling the yellow pollen on the leaf of the flower.

KL: Did you help with that?

KM: Yeah, I was about four years old.

KL: What do you remember of the... did he sell them then?

KM: To wholesalers, the flowers.

KL: What was his workshop like, or the greenhouse where you would do the work?

KM: Just greenhouses with benches on stilts, and you could... it was up above so you wouldn't get soggy plants, good drainage. Then I guess he did that, and then he eventually went into commercial celery raising, and raised celery, and he did a really good year during pre-World War II, and he cultivated the celery and then World War II came and ruined it all.

KL: Did he still grow flowers while he was growing celery?

KM: I don't recall if he did that or not, because celery took a lot of your time. And their neighbor was the Nishi family, and they did that, too, grew celery, and I think they grew...

YI: They did the gardenias.

KM: Gardenias.

KL: Where was the crop, where did they grow the celery?

KM: In Mar Vista and Venice area, Grandview and Centinela, that area. That's where they were, raised their children.

KL: Where did they live?

KM: They lived on the property.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: I guess we should back up and ask how your mom entered his life in California.

KM: Do you know how they did that?

YI: Well, my mother's sister and my father's brother had a boarding house in Pasadena, and they didn't get along very well, but they did business together. And when my mother came --

KL: Were they a couple or they were business...

YI: Not really.

KM: Yeah, they were a couple.

YI: Well, she says they were a couple.

KM: Fuzzy says.

YI: Another cousin did live there, and I guess that's what he told. But, so they kind of arranged, because it was my father's brother and my mother's sister doing the business. So when my mother came, I think they kind of set it up somewhat so that they would at least meet.

KM: "Have I got a girl for you." [Laughs]

KL: So she didn't come... what brought her back to the United States?

YI: To connect back with her family. All her siblings were here.

KL: In California?

YI: In California.

KM: Yeah, that's true, too, but they, her sister said, "Why don't you come to the United States with us? There's nothing for you here." And her fiance was a Buddhist priest, and he had gotten ill and died. So at the last minute, since my mother was a citizen, she just took her passport out and got it okayed and came to L.A. and then to the boarding house where my aunt lived.

KL: She had a Buddhist priest fiance in Japan who died?

KM: Yeah. "If you didn't want to get married, why didn't you say so?" Anyway, she...

KL: So she didn't come for marriage.

KM: She was betrothed to the man.

YI: She was probably heartbroken, you know, because he passed. So I don't know what the arrangement was, but I think that might have been part of it, to come here and meet someone else.

KL: Were her parents in California?

KM: No. Her mother, her father had died when she was about fifteen, and then her mother was in Japan, but the sister told my mother, "Well, there's no one here, might as well come with us," so she did. And then my aunt was divorced, that was really surprising.

KL: The aunt who ran a boarding house?

KM: Yeah.

KL: Yeah, how did that go over? That was pretty unusual.

KM: It was for that time, even for anybody. People just didn't divorce.

KL: Did that affect the family, or how did that affect her life?

KM: Didn't affect us. May have been affecting them, because they were adults and things were different. But for us, it wasn't anything.

KL: Did you think it was... it was just that she wasn't there.

YI: No, she was so good to us, you know, that I don't remember. She was the one that would take us in the summertime.

KM: Yes, we got to spend it in downtown Pasadena.

YI: Pasadena, on Green Street, which, didn't she have a hotel or something?

KM: That was at the boarding house, too.

KL: Was this before the war?

YI: Before the war. But postwar even, she took very good care of us. They were struggling when they came out, because they had the new baby and no place to go, and no business to come back to.

KL: But before the war, you would go and live with her for the summer?

KM: Not for the summer but at least a week.

YI: Just visit. Yeah, to get away from...

KM: The fresh air of the farming area, it was nice.

YI: It was nice; she was good to us.

KL: What was her name?

KM: Katsuko.

YI: Katsuko.

KL: What last name did she use?

KM: Fujimoto.

YI: Did she?

KM: Didn't she use Fujimoto?

YI: I don't know.

KM: Oh, you could look in the book.

YI: Yeah, it's in the book.

KL: So your mom arrived in California to rejoin the family, and met your dad at their siblings' introduction?

YI: Probably.

KM: My uncle said, "Come to Japan to get brides," and my second uncle, he met, he knew his wife-to-be from, during high school days. So he used to send letters to Yoshiko-san from the United States to Mom to give to his girlfriend.

YI: I don't know any of that part of the family.

KM: You weren't nosy.

KL: How did they decide to get married? Did they ever speak to you about it?

KM: No, I think... must have asked my aunt and my aunt must have asked my mother or grandmother, and I guess she got the proper permissions to get married. It was that end of the family.

KL: Yasuko, you mentioned your dad's adoption, and this is out of order, but would you tell us that, about that?

YI: I don't know all the details, but from what I understand, they needed his name, his sister, who adopted him, to carry on the family name she married to. And so I don't know how long he was adopted, but there are official papers that we have. And then, after a period of time, then he gets, I guess, dis-adopted, and they have someone else that they chose to carry on the name.

KM: Yeah, because my father didn't care.

YI: Yeah, because if he's here, then he can't be their son, and if they had, I think, a firstborn son in the family, then they did not have to serve in the military in Japan, so that was kind of a thing, they wanted to keep the name and then make sure he survived and did not have to serve in the military. I think that was part of it, too. But we do have the official papers that this transpired.

KL: So the name Miyoshi, was that...

YI: That's his sister's married name. I kind of like it. [Laughs]

KM: Well, it was like the British, you know, they're hyphenated, it would have been Seike, but since it was not his legal name, on his passport, I believe, it's Shigeyoshi Seike Miyoshi.

YI: That sounds really good.

KL: How do you spell Seike?

KM: S-E-I-K-E. So I said it's a royal name, because Heike is, I think, a royal name in Japan. So I bought all that.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

KL: I want to hear more about the property, your recollections of your home in the Culver City area before the war. What was that house like? Can you describe it?

KM: It was 12135 Mitchell Avenue, and it had two bedrooms and there were three kids, four kids. Frank was born already, huh? When they bought it, Frank wasn't born. It was the three of us and my mother and father. And I know there was a shack, a shed attached to the house, to the main house, and you walked by that house, past the shed, and my brother and I, Ichiro, would go every morning and grab his shoes and his socks and he would sit down and put his shoes and socks on in the sunshine on the little walkway. And there was a, I guess, a work shed that my father used. He had a bench and he had tools, and so we could make things like, so you could walk on the cans. I guess it's just a tin can that we smashed and put string through it, and then you could walk on it. That and then stilts. We had sticks, and then you attach another stick with a nail, so you had a little stick that had a jiggety jog and you could put your feet on there. I remember playing with that.

KL: Who made those?

KM: Who made those? My father had tools outside, and so that was one of our toys, you could play with them outside.

KL: Did your father make them?

KM: No.

KL: You guys did?

KM: We did. You can make a boat, creative work. And it was just agricultural, so you had regular beans out there, and they grew celery out there. So you could keep yourself amused, even though the property wasn't that large, it was two or three lots together.

KL: Who else was in the neighborhood? You mentioned the Nishis.

KM: The Nishis, the Koros, the Inagakis... do you remember some other names?

YI: Uh-uh.

KL: Were there any other ways that people made their living, or was it all agricultural?

KM: It was all agricultural. The Chikazawas, they were there, the Tanakas were there, I think that's...

YI: Oh, some of these were postwar, Kazy. I think some of them are postwar.

KM: The Kitagawas.

KL: Before the war, was it heavily Japanese families?

KM: Yes.

KL: Were there any other groups who lived in that neighborhood or that area?

YI: Yeah, there were Caucasian families.

KM: Oh, yeah, there were dairies.

YI: We lived where there were residential homes on this side, and then the property, the nursery was on this other side, but there were homes, it was small, it wasn't very large. And those families were good people, I mean, they helped my dad.

KL: In what sense, how did they help him?

KM: Mr...

YI: Waters.

KM: Lived behind us, and Mr.... the guy that worked at Sears.

YI: Oh, I can't remember, Nyberg.

KM: Nyberg, Mr. Nyberg. My mother would need things because when the edict came out that we had to be ready to go in so many days, then she buys this huge bolt of flannel and she starts sewing for the children. She made...

YI: Pajamas.

KM: Pajamas and underwear and things like that, and she put 'em all in a duffel bag. The duffel bag was a rice bag, and she put our names on it, and we had to take care of our own little bag on the way out.

KL: What about before the war? Was it a pretty close-knit neighborhood, or how would you describe it?

KM: Yes, it was like living in a small village, it takes a village to raise children.

YI: Well, there were no fences, so the property ended and you just walked to your neighbor's backyard. And he'd be skinning a rabbit, and we're Japanese, we don't do things like skinning a rabbit. And chicken, remember he'd cut the head off of a chicken. I mean, this is the country, kind of, you know, it's not city. And so we learned a lot. How to skin a rabbit.

KM: We had not skinned a rabbit ever.

YI: [Laughs] Did not.

KM: Even though Kenneth Waters could do it. Out in the country people did that, they raised chickens...

KL: Were there other kids around? Did you have playmates in that street?

KM: Bonnie Race, but she was older.

YI: The kid that became an attorney.

KM: Schnabel. Was that it, Schnabel? Because his brother is a, was an announcer for, DJ for public national radio.

YI: They had the first TV on the block.

KL: The Schnabels?

YI: The Schnabels.

KM: Kings had a TV, too, Mel and Daisy.

YI: But they only watched wrestling and baseball. The Schnabels would watch Hopalong Cassidy, you know. We didn't get to see it all, but I mean, eventually we did get one, but it took a long time.

KL: Was this all before the war?

YI: Postwar.

KM: Before the war we played in the street with other kids, and we'd play Hide and Seek.

YI: Kick the Can.

KL: So it was... let's see. I guess when were the two of you born?

KM: '36 for me and '38 for her.

KL: And who else was living in your household at that time?

KM: Just the core family. And then my father knew this gentleman, I don't know if he's related to us or what, but we called them "grandfather."

YI: Nakano-san?

KM: No.

YI: Ito?

KM: No, Ito was the old man with no teeth. [Laughs]

YI: I know one of them could roll a Bull Durham cigarette in one hand. And I got good at looking at him. [Laughs]

KL: You got good at rolling cigarettes?

YI: Well, my mother didn't know, but I wanted to try it, and he was good at it. He could just roll it like this and lick the thing.

KM: I never learned to do that.

YI: And then you tied both ends, oh, I was watching him all the time because, you know, that was...

KM: In those days you could buy a...

YI: Yeah, a bag of the, Bull Durham bag of raw tobacco, and then roll your own.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

KL: What roles did your parents take on as parents? What was your relationship to each of them?

KM: They were parents. When I was about nine, eight, I called my mother by her given name. She said, "You can't do that, I don't want you to do that. I'm your mother, I am not your friend."

YI: She called her Masako. [Laughs]

KL: Once, right.

YI: Once.

KM: And then in those days, there was the hierarchy, and it maintained itself. It was never anything other than parent and child. I tried to say Masako, but...

KL: Was she home during the day?

KM: Yeah, they worked on the nursery, and so it was on the grounds.

YI: Are you talking prewar?

KL: Yeah.

KM: Watched ourselves, huh?

YI: There were so many kids, I mean, she was busy, and she cooked for all of us plus all the hired people that worked for my dad.

KL: How many hired people were there?

KM: Less than half a dozen.

YI: But you know, hanging up diapers and feeding all these people and feeding your children and sewing clothes, she was busy. A pioneer woman.

KM: Yeah, working out in the sun and cold.

KL: Who were the hired people?

KM: Other Japanese and some Mexican families, and they would do work on the property.

KL: Where did they live?

KM: The old man who ran the boiler because we needed warmth in the hothouses, he lived in a room off of the boiler. Do you remember anybody else there?

YI: I don't remember; I was too young.

KM: There was a Nakano-san, who was, I think, a brother-in-law of my father's, or... brother-in-law or a cousin. And he lived on the property.

KL: Were you guys in school at all before the war?

KM: Uh-huh. I started kindergarten and my brother was in first or second grade. Plus he went to Japanese school. I was too young to go to Japanese school, so I didn't go. But Pearl Harbor happened and we didn't... I don't recall going back to school.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: What are your memories of the attack on Pearl Harbor?

KM: It wasn't of any significance to me, because I was a child. And we didn't know about world history or anything like that.

YI: I remember the curb of the place that we had to meet the bus, and it was on the corner of Venice Boulevard and Lincoln, and it appeared to me that it was really high. I mean, because I kept falling from the street to the curb. I went back there, and I went to high school at Venice High, I went back there and I looked at it and it was just a regular curb, it wasn't, you know, deep like I thought it was as a kid, because I was so short, small. And that was my only memory of meeting after the war. That was where we caught the bus, and that bus took us directly to Manzanar. We didn't have to go to horse stalls or Santa Anita, we were fortunate enough to go directly.

KL: Do you remember news of the attack on Pearl Harbor, or did it register with you?

YI: Uh-uh, we knew nothing.

KM: We were very apolitical in the child-adult relationship.

KL: Yeah, you were little. You don't remember a sense of fear or people being surprised?

KM: No. And then my father had to turn in his brand new...

YI: Model T.

KM: ...shortwave radio. And then he had just got a new car, Chevy panel wagon.

YI: His business was finally starting to bring money in at that time, and so he had a little bit collected, I mean, saved. And unfortunately, we lost everything, pretty much. However --

KM: But as a child --

YI: Kazy, while we were in camp, I don't know what the circumstances were, they had to use this building where a lot of our things were stored. So this man was able to bring my mother the sewing machine and the refrigerator.

KM: And the stove.

YI: And the stove, and we were really fortunate because in Manzanar to have a refrigerator, a stove... was it refrigerator or an ice box?

KM: Refrigerator. Because he could make a big chunk of ice and have shaved ice.

YI: My dad would make shaved ice, so we had snow cones.

KM: We had a lot of friends.

YI: And we had a lot of friends because my mother could store their food in our refrigerator, and she was able to sew clothes for us because we had a sewing machine. And she was really good, she could knit, and so she would order yarn from Montgomery Ward or Sears, and made us, I remember mittens, and they were hooked together so we wouldn't lose 'em, so she had crocheted a chain, and then we would just hold it around our neck.

KL: What was the building where those things were stored back in Southern California? You said someone bought --

YI: It was, I think...

KM: The Japanese school?

YI: The Japanese school building, and they needed it for something else. They asked my mom if they wanted her things, I guess, and this man did bring it to her.

KL: Who was the man?

YI: I don't know. He had a truck, and I don't know. We were lucky, we were one of the few that did have these things, plus we did have a cellar, a basement, so we were like --

KL: I want to get camp because I think you have really good memories, but I do have one other question before that. Kazuko said that your mom would not let you return to school.

KM: Yeah, I have that feeling, but I can't substantiate it. I tried to ask my brother, but he couldn't substantiate it.

KL: Back to the departure, you remembered the curb, what else do you remember about that day?

YI: I just remember that the bus had shades on them, and we couldn't look out, so we didn't know where we were going, you know. It was a long ride, I mean, in those days you probably went about thirty miles an hour maybe, I don't know. You know where Manzanar is, so...

KM: 395, which is wide open.

YI: And now you go eighty miles an hour in comparison, so it was a long ride. That's all I remember.

KL: Did your parents know where you were going?

YI: I don't think.

KM: I don't know, I'm sure they must have told them.

YI: But they didn't know where it was. I think my mother didn't have a clue.

KM: My clue was that the guy liked fruit, because he stopped at the cocktail sign a lot.

YI: [Laughs]

KM: Healthy guy. [Laughs]

KL: Do you have a memory of that from that day?

KM: Yeah, because it took us a day to get there, and I remember...

YI: It did. And only relation is fruit cocktail, right? That's all we know, but this guy's doing something else. So Kazy thought he liked fruit.

KL: He was low on vitamin, you know, C or whatever. Did other people get off the bus at those stops?

YI: Oh, no.

KM: I don't recall anybody getting off with the bus driver.

YI: We couldn't. We could not get off, I remember that, because I think I had to go to the bathroom.

KM: No, they let us off, but not as often as the...

YI: Well, not when I needed to stop. I remember that, I had to go.

KL: What did you do?

YI: Just had to wait. And my mother, you know, said, "Don't do it in your pants," so I had to wait. You remember, where did we stop? There's hardly anything...

KM: One of the cocktail places. [Laughs]

YI: There weren't too many places along the way.

KM: Yeah, there weren't. Because even after we used to go skiing, there's not that many stops along the way.

KL: Do you have a recollection of where you stopped, whether it was just the side of the road or...

KM: One I remembered is a deserty place, and they had like a well, and it said, one of those tourist trappy things, wild rattlesnakes or something like that, baby rattlers. So we go over there, they weren't baby rattlers, it was just desert sand. That's the only one stop off I remember.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 10>

KL: This is tape two of a continuing interview with the Miyoshi sisters in 2013. We had just started talking some about Manzanar. And Kazuko, to back up a little bit about first impressions, you wrote you had some first impressions of the camp. What sticks in your mind, your first impressions?

KM: How big and tall the Sierras were. When you're a little kid and you're looking up, it's just enormous. And then I remember telling my mother, "We're going to go up to the mountain there." And she goes, "Okay, you do that." And, of course, after a block or two, you're tired. So we came back, but that's what I remember. That, and a lot of Japanese in camp, so I didn't know if we were in Japan, or where we were. Those two things struck my mind, is the vastness of the mountain and being that little in camp. I don't know what we were doing, must be in Japan.

KL: What were your impressions of the mountains? Sounds like they made you curious, Kazuko.

YI: You know, I thought they were huge, too, but I remember a man died painting, the painter guy or somebody, he went up in those mountains. After that, I didn't want to go to the mountains, 'cause I thought that, I related it to death. But I remember, and he was an artist, and I guess he stayed too late, and you know, you're not supposed to be leaving the camp. So he must have snuck out and I remember they found him, and he was gone. So I didn't want to see those mountains again. That was my memory of those.

KL: What about the climate? What are your memories of the climate?

KM: Hot and freezing, yeah. In the summertime everybody would be roasting hot, and my brother and his other friends would go out into the, outside the gate and go swimming, because they would dam up the creek, Bairs Creek, and cool off.

KL: Did you go there?

KM: Yeah, we went. But the guys were always swimming, and it wasn't very deep, they just... how wide can it be, but you could dam it up. And then in the winter it was... we weren't accustomed to snow at all, so that was fun. And they had a... those rings that the gymnasts used, they had one set, I think, of the rings, and then next to it, that was like a slide, and they packed it with snow and we could slide down this thing. And it looks so high, but when we look back at the pictures, they're not high, they just seemed that way to a kid.

KL: Where was that slide?

KM: It was in the middle of a block.

YI: In the middle.

KM: In Block 8.

YI: Yeah, in Block 8. They had kind of like these, you know, like that, and then a thing going across, and there were rings hanging, and there was the place where they did the slide, and I think they had a rope that they could exercise.

KM: Merry-go-round, not merry-go-round, I guess it is merry-go-round, you could go round and around, someone would push you.

YI: Oh, I don't remember that. But I remember that tall thing, and then they made this slide into a snow slide so in the winter... but you know, in the summertime, we were lucky, because my father made that shaved ice. And he had made, in a piece of wood, he made a blade, and he would just take that ice and go back and forth, and underneath, he'd have a bowl. And my mother had syrup --

KL: Where'd he get the ice?

KM: He made it.

YI: You had a refrigerator, and you don't put the ice cube tray in, you leave that out, and you've got a chunk of ice, and we were popular, needless to say. And I don't know where my mother got the syrup, must have got... she brought it, because we did have it when we were home here.

KM: She made beans.

YI: Beans, the azuki beans, and they call it kintoki.

KL: She did that in Manzanar?

YI: Uh-huh.

KL: Did she do that in your barrack, in your apartment?

YI: Yeah.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KM: My father built a little sink.

YI: A burner like.

KL: He built a sink in your apartment?

KM: Just material, metal material, I don't know if... sheet metal or some kind. Anything grand, and then you could wash dishes there, and she got a hot plate so she could...

YI: Where did you get the water?

KM: He directed it from the outside, because in front of each barrack...

YI: Oh, that's right, there was a faucet.

KM: The first apartment had the faucet. If you wanted the faucet and lived in the other apartments, you had to come out there.

KL: But he wired it into your apartment?

YI: Yeah, he plumbed it into...

KM: He plumbed it so that it would come into our house.

YI: Because ours was the first one, we were Apartment 1, so we had ready access, actually, because it was first. It wasn't like he had to do a lot of plumbing.

KM: Like I said, he was very good with his hands, and he could do all kinds of stuff.

KL: What happened when other neighbors wanted to use it?

KM: They could still use it.

YI: They could still use it, he just piped into it.

KL: Was it underground?

YI: I don't think so. I think it was all on the outside of the barrack.

KL: Was that typical? Do you remember other friends having that setup?

KM: I guess if their father was good at plumbing.

YI: We were fortunate, I mean, we kind of had a class A apartment, I mean, in comparison. It was still small for six of us.

KL: What else was in your apartment for the recording? We were talking earlier...

KM: Well, like I said, we had a stove, and we had a little pantry that my dad built out of shelves, covered with that fabric, so they could hide the food you're not showing all your stuff, cereal.

YI: It's an empty room, you know what I mean? It's no privacy, nothing, so any kind of partition would be like a wire, and then they would hang a bedspread or something over it to kind of some privacy from your sleeping area. But I don't remember exactly the set up, so Kazy probably remembers better.

KM: Like I told you, the corner had the stove...

YI: Well, I kind of remember that, in the front of the building.

KM: And Daddy made the chair, the two-seater, the Adirondack chair, and then mom put a futon on it so it wasn't hard-hard.

KL: Where was the chair?

KM: Two chairs were on the side of the stove, heater, whatever. And then I can't remember where the chair, the long one, but there was a long chair, I think. There was really not much room.

KL: So there was the Adirondack-style two-seater and then two other chairs?

KM: One chair for sure. I can't remember where the other chair was.

KL: Where did that other chair come from, the third chair?

KM: He may have made it or ordered it.

YI: In the pictures, he worked in the carpenter shop, so he had access to scraps of wood that were gonna be thrown out anyway. So I think he had a lot of material to do that.

KL: What did he do for his work in the carpenter shop?

KM: He built things and repaired things.

YI: Wherever it was needed, probably, within the camp, like in the mess hall, those benches and tables, I think those were all made by those, the workers in that shop.

KM: If you look at the Eastern Museum, you can see where they worked and had access to wood. That was his job. And then he was good with his hands, so he, Mr. Merritt was the administrator of the camp, and he wanted a cabinet or something and Dad made it for him. He was happy with that, so he got a bottle of whisky. My father didn't drink.

KL: What'd he do with it?

KM: I guess he gave it to his friend or somebody. We had no ice, cocktail ice.

KL: There wasn't a bar in your apartment?

KM: No. [Laughs] That was one of the luxuries we gave up.

YI: I was gonna say, those pictures that they show of, like, Toyo Miyatake's apartment, that's not the way it was. His was a special apartment. I mean, he had carpeting in there, he had real furniture, that's not... it was an empty room. And you were lucky, like we had a chair, chairs to sit in. I mean, it was nothing, it was just beds.

KM: Yeah, I don't remember the table and chairs.

YI: No, we didn't. I don't remember that. I know we had chairs, because we had to sit to put our shoes on, or times when you had to sit down.

KM: Yasuko here was a losing battle with shoe strings. She would try to take them off, and she would be going good, and then she'd give a yank, and there would be a knot.

YI: Knot, it would get a knot.

KM: So, of course, what did she use to undo the knot? Her teeth, which made it wet.

YI: Saliva. So now they're wet and tight.

KM: And she's really mad.

YI: So that picture that we took all standing in front of the mountain? That day was the crucial day, because we had to wear high top shoes because all that sand is blowing.

KM: Mom had a funny sense of style.

YI: No, everybody wore those high top shoes, those brown Sears-Roebuck high top shoes. Anyway, I could not get the knot out. [Laughs]

KL: Probably had to rely on your older sister.

YI: Oh, she wasn't really helpful because she's just laughing at me because I'm struggling.

KM: What a cruel person.

YI: Yeah, I think my mom finally had to do it. I don't remember her helping me. But anyway, that was one of the struggles in camp.

KM: But it made you a better person.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: Tell us about the beds in your apartment.

KM: The beds? There was a bed against one wall, the back wall that we shared with the neighbors, that wall, and then Ichiro had one wall, and that's where the bunkbeds. Do you remember where the bunkbeds were?

YI: Did we have to share a bed, you and I?

KM: Maybe.

YI: I mean, I don't remember six bunks. There were not, so we must have had to share.

KM: Where would we get room for a double bed? Because Mom and Pop had a double bed.

YI: They did?

KM: Yeah.

YI: I don't remember. I just remember single beds.

KM: Single beds we had were the straw mattress beds.

YI: Yeah.

KM: And then Ichiro had the upper, because I remember his airplane...

YI: Well, Frank must have slept with Mom and Dad.

KM: No, I think he had a single...

YI: Crib? Small bed?

KM: Yeah, I think he had a crib or a junior bed, or a small bed. And then Ichiro had the top, and he had those Wheaties, made model airplanes.

YI: Paper.

KM: The Russian yaks and Messerschmitt and things like that.

YI: They put a penny in it to make the weight in the front of the plane. That was part of it.

KM: And then you put a string in a certain place and then stick it up on your ceiling.

KL: How many did he have?

KM: Quite a bit, probably five or six. And I guess the people in the mess hall would save them for the kids, so he had several. And then like she said, my dad made toys. He made a wagon out of wood, painted it, and the wagon had the wooden wheels, and then around the wooden wheels was metal, so that it was shown in the museum how Pop had made this.

KL: In the Eastern California museum?

KM: No, this was in camp. And then I guess they were showing the handicrafts you could use to make toys for the kids. And I don't recall having a doll, do you? I know we must have.

YI: I know we had Shirley Temple and the kewpie dolls, but I don't know whether that was postwar, or was it before the war?

KM: We had lots of presents before the war.

YI: I think this nice auntie, the Pasadena auntie, I think she bought us those. And I know my mean brother cut that string and dismembered them all, too.

KM: She's been traumatized since.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

KL: Tell us about the basement.

YI: That was nice.

KM: Nice, it was cool in the summertime. And Mama would iron down there, and it was cool, so comfortable.

YI: And the scorpions.

KL: How tall was the basement?

KM: Probably six foot.

KL: Serious. So an adult could stand?

KM: Japanese adult.

YI: Well, she's short, five-footer.

KM: Because we're short. So he and the neighbor, Mr. Iwamasa, dug it out. And Sylvia wanted to know how they got the dirt out from under the building. And I said Mr. Iwamasa had access to a truck.

YI: He worked for the motor pool

KM: He would borrow one, they would dig it out, the boys and two men, and they would take it out and pile it into the truck. So Sylvia says, "You mean they didn't go down there and stuff their trousers full of dirt, and then when they get out, rub their feet on the..."

KL: It's probably less efficient.

YI: Stalag 17, the movie?

KM: She's seen too many war movies. So that's how they got rid of the dirt.

KL: Did you guys play down there?

KM: Yeah.

KL: What would you do down there?

YI: Eat our shaved ice. [Laughs] But they did have scorpions, and so they were there, they could get in, and I remember that.

KL: We had no pets, but one day a skunk came to visit. And my mother went down and she was ironing, and she could hear this scratching noise. What is that? Listened again, and it turned out that a skunk was scratching around the boxes in there. So she went upstairs, closed the door, and waited for my dad to get home, and told him and Mr. Iwamasa that she'd had a visitor that day. So I don't know how they got that critter out, but they managed to get him out without smelling up the place.

YI: They had a basement also.

KM: They were our neighbors.

YI: Our neighbor, yeah, they had, we were back to back, they dug it out at the same time, so they had half and we had half.

KM: They were Building 9, Apartment 2?

YI: Right behind, yeah. Eight.

KM: They took the skunk out to drop him off somewhere.

KL: Yeah, that's a feat to get it out of there and not have it spray.

KM: Because I don't remember smelling skunk.

YI: I don't remember, or we would have had to leave. I mean, if that thing had sprayed, we would have not been able to stay. I don't think, we were not the only ones that had that, though. Other people, come to find out, had basements or cellars that they had dug out.

KL: Yeah, I've heard of a couple others. Was there a wall between your half of the basement and the Iwamasa's?

YI: Must have been.

KM: Yes, there was.

KL: Was there an open -- I know the foundations are raised, of the barracks. How did you access the basement?

KM: The stairwell on the side of the house.

KL: Was it outside or inside?

KM: It was inside. And then it was just...

YI: The depression is there. Have you seen it?

KL: Yeah, I'm going to think of you now every time I walk out of there.

YI: Yeah. And my youngest brother, who wasn't in camp, knows where we lived.

KL: So was it open when you take this basement, was there a gap? I mean, when you would take the stairs, was there a gap of about a foot, or was there some kind of enclosure? I'm not asking this very clearly.

YI: Yeah, but you're inside, so the steps go right in. There was no foundation on the inside, do you know what I mean?

KL: So there was only, was it open to the air for that eight inches, or whatever?

YI: No, no, because you're inside the building, okay, and the foundation is on the outside, so there's nothing here but the dirt. You go straight down the step, and then they took the dirt out, and so it's open. There's no concrete or anything, because it's all on the outside foundation.

KL: So there was like a lining or something around the foundation of the building? Because I think some people put up trellises or something to block, keep animals from getting down there and stuff.

YI: I'm sure they did.

KL: But I think other people, I mean, the government, I don't believe, did, it was just open.

YI: No.

KL: It was cinder block, cinder block, gap there and...

YI: It was the bare bones.

KL: But there was something blocking.

YI: Must have been, yeah, barriers.

KM: But they did get flooded.

YI: Oh, yeah.

KM: In winter. Rained and rained and rained.

YI: Ruined a lot of...

KM: Came into the basement where my mother had stored things.

YI: They were on a pallet somewhat, but not high enough, when the water's going to collect in the basement. So we did lose a lot of things that she would like to have kept.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KM: My grandmother had sent us dolls...

YI: Girls Day things.

KM: Girls Day things and Boys Day things.

KL: She sent those to Manzanar?

KM: No, before the war.

YI: We had had them, and we took them into camp, because my mother wanted to keep them.

KM: And so he had this white stallion that my grandmother had sent, and that was my brother's, and he had a samurai helmet, and they were really nicely made.

YI: In those times.

KM: And my sister and I got the royal court for Girls Day.

KL: How did you use those in Manzanar?

KM: When we were outside, my father would make us shelves, about two or three tiers. And then he would cover it with red cloth, and then he put the emperor and empress in there.

YI: It was a ceremonial thing, you know, they would be tiered.

KM: Dolls, and they had had miniature bowls and bottles, couple of nice things that my grandmother had saved.

KL: Was that unusual? I mean, most of the stories I hear are of people destroying things like Girls Day dolls and samurai stuff.

KM: They had given some to the Waters, I know the stallion went to the Waters.

YI: We couldn't take a sword. I mean, even at...

KM: No, not the sword, but they took the horse and the helmet. Looked nice.

YI: Yeah, postwar I got one for my son when he was (born), my mother and father (gave it to him), but it wasn't made near as nice, you know, this is postwar, and of course things are not well in Japan either. So you could tell the original one in comparison to something made postwar.

KL: Did you have formal...

KM: Kimonos?

KL: Well, I was gonna ask, like celebrations of Girls Day in Manzanar? Did those holidays persist?

YI: Uh-uh.

KM: I don't think so.

YI: I don't remember. We only celebrated Christmas and New Year's, no Easter, no Halloween, nothing.

KM: We did Easter after camp.

KL: But in camp?

YI: No, we did not have... I remember the Christian families in Independence and those places came and gave us little boxes of candy, and somebody dressed up like Santa, and so we had Christmas candy and an orange or something, do you remember? And that was, and we sang Christmas carols.

KL: You had a Christmas memory that you wrote about.

KM: I got a book of paper dolls?

YI: Oh, from the family?

KM: Coloring book. And you know, children donated to the "poor unfortunate kids in camp." And I tell my mother, "I don't want this, somebody colored in here." "Shh, just say thank you."

YI: It was a used book.

KL: Were the people there, the donors were there or whatever?

KM: No, I don't know if they were there or not... but I never had used, that was...

KL: Did your family exchange family gifts in the camp?

YI: There was no money for gifts.

KM: We exchanged things we made in school.

YI: Oh, I don't remember that. But you know, when you're there, you're a child, this is fun. There was nothing traumatic, nothing to make you unhappy.

KM: Yeah, the kid who colored my book. [Laughs]

YI: Yeah, I just remember it being a fun time. You know that flagpole that sits behind your building in there in Manzanar? We used to roller skate, you know how close we lived, and somebody had skates. But we only had one, because you had to share with whoever had the other one. So you're only going on one skate like a skateboard. And if you're lucky, somebody would give you theirs for a few minutes. And it's funny where that ticket place is, I couldn't see it. I couldn't even hardly reach it when I was there, and now I came back and I walked out there and I looked at it, it's still the original wood, that ticket booth where the window is, I couldn't believe that was the same window. It was kind of nostalgic to see that.

KL: What are your memories of the auditorium building? What were you looking for tickets for?

YI: Movies, we went to see movies.

KM: Yeah, and I remember they had a special program on FDR done.

KL: What was the program?

KM: It was a tribute to Roosevelt, and everybody was welcome to come and join the tribute they had for the man.

KL: Did you go?

KM: Yeah, because we were right there, you know, we just walked over.

YI: For us, that was another place to be, because it was so close, we could just walk.

KM: Then we went to the movies in...

KL: You guys were little, but do you have a feel for how Roosevelt was received in Manzanar, among the Manzanar population?

KM: It was just that he was a good man, but nothing political that I remember. Our parents were apolitical.

YI: Yeah, and I think they chose that rather than to be one side or the other, do you know what I mean? They seemed like they never talked about it, like it didn't exist. And so it made it comfortable for us because we didn't know any better as children. And only after we came out of camp, then you felt the prejudice, or I did, like I said, lining up to go to class and other minorities, really, picking on us.

KM: I never felt picked on.

YI: At Betsy Ross? Lining up to go into class?

KM: Lining up to go into class was the normal way you went to class.

YI: No, but being pushed to the back of the line? You don't remember.

KM: I guess I was pushier.

YI: Well you were bigger than I was. I think because she was bigger than I was, too, she could handle it better. But I just, I didn't care if they were gonna push me back, they were gonna do it. I can't fight.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

KL: You showed me a membership certificate from when your mom joined the Japanese American Citizens League.

YI: Uh-huh.

KL: Do you know anything about her decision to join, or had she been a member before 1942?

KM: I don't know, but I think she joined because her cousin or somebody must have told her, "It'd be a good idea if you signed up for this."

YI: Uncle Roy?

KM: I don't know who would tell her. I don't think he would, because he went home to Japan during the war. But I'm sure somebody... maybe one of the guys that were proselytizing and encouraging membership, saying, "Why don't you join this group, 'cause they're pro-America," or whatever.

KL: So you think she was... do you think she was affiliated with the group before 1942?

KM: No.

YI: She just was a member. I don't think she was active.

KM: Yeah, she never went to meetings or anything.

YI: She did it because she thought it was the right thing to do, I think the cousin or whoever it was probably talked her into it, I mean, telling her that it would be a good thing to do.

KM: She wasn't a joiner.

YI: Well, she went to ikebana, flower arranging.

KM: Arranging flowers is not the same as volunteering.

YI: Those kind of things, but she didn't do political things. But she said that this was the safest place for us to be in Manzanar, because had we stayed on the outside, she felt that we might be in danger. So this was, even though the guns were pointed inward, she felt it was safer for us to be there.

KL: Do you have a sense for where those feelings came from, any particular experiences?

YI: I don't think there was an experience, I just think she felt that. Because she told me, she said it would not be safe for us to be out.

KL: Well, you had that sense that she took you out of school.

KM: Yeah, because she didn't know what the reaction would be. She didn't want harm to come to the kids, just for insurance, keep them out and safe. That's my only sense of the whole thing, was safety of children. Because they didn't do anything that I can recall that was in any way political. So I have to think the generation that promoted the redress, they took it on themselves to help the Issei cause.

YI: And my father did not live to see that day; he passed before they did the redress. Kind of would have wished he could have seen that, that it was recognized as a mistake. But he was never bitter, do you remember?

KM: No. He should have been bitter, he had four kids...

YI: One in the basket...

KL: How did he reconcile that, do you think?

YI: I don't know.

KL: Being forced out of his home.

KM: Because it had to be traumatic for the younger people, adults. Here you are, a bona fide citizen of these United States...

KL: But he didn't really express anything about it?

YI: But he was never bitter about it, it was just an experience we had to live through. And so consequently we don't feel it either. I mean, you know, if I'd have heard it in the house, I'm sure I might have some feelings about it, but we didn't.

KL: How did... you've talked about a couple ways your parents spent their time in camp, your dad with the wood shop. Would you tell us more about the classes they enrolled in or what they did with their time there?

KM: Yeah, they did go to classes. My mother went to craft classes, and my dad went to English class.

KL: How was their English before coming into Manzanar?

KM: My mother had been voluntarily "ghettoized." She chose to not learn... she did go to English classes, but my father had to learn because he was in business, but he wasn't that proficient.

YI: But he read a lot. He just... I think a lot of them were English, Japanese translated ones, I mean, that he could read English books, do you know what I mean? And it would be in Japanese...

KL: So he read English?

YI: No, he would read it in Japanese, because I know some of the...

KM: Translated.

YI: Yeah. And, but unfortunately, we didn't really get to know him until after he passed. It's sad to say that...

KL: What do you mean by that?

YI: Well, because he was very literate, and we didn't communicate then. And I would see him in there doing his calligraphy, and I'd just walk by the room, I'm a kid, I don't... I have a life with friends and so forth. And now, I'm doing calligraphy, and it's a struggle. It's not easy, you know. And he could do the... what do you call that real small one? They're like prayers, and you do the calligraphy really small. And it would just be page and page. Not only that, though she picked only some sketches she did, I have a couple of framed pictures that he made postwar as he got older. And I'm thinking, "This was all still in this man?" I mean, we had no appreciation of his abilities. She said, yeah, he made furniture, my mother bought a table, he made the end tables to match at night school at the high school, with beautiful walnut...

KM: Yeah, he didn't have the tools.

YI: ...wood to match that table, because they couldn't afford...

KM: The wood shop teacher knew him.

YI: Yeah. And art, and just so many things. And ashamed that... I think some of my brothers maybe had his artistic thing.

KM: At this point our cousin says, "And did he walk on water next?"

YI: [Laughs] Well, you know why? Because we didn't appreciate him.

KL: When did he die?

KM: 1986.

YI: Yeah, it's too bad, because he was doing all that, and then every year at New Year's, he would braid the bamboo and make... for the door.

KM: Not bamboo, it was rice, the rice that he grew.

YI: Anyway, and make a wreath, and then have the orange and green, whatever they were. And we didn't even save any one of those, we just threw 'em out. I mean, I'd love to have one right now.


KM: He would gather rice and plant it, but these were sterile plants, because it didn't have any meat on the branch. So he would grow it and harvest it and makes one of these wreaths. [Shows wreath] So it's got a fern, pine.

YI: His was a little more ornate and bigger.

KM: And he would grow it. He carved a lion head, you know like they do in the Chinese parade.

YI: Yes, he did walk on water. [Laughs]

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: That reminds me that you mentioned the library. Tell me what your memories of the library at Manzanar.

KM: It was in, I think it was Block 16 or 36. You could go there, you'd walk over there and he'd check out books. They had a book club, and I signed up for it because there was an organ grinder with a monkey, and it was a picture, and then these balloons came off of it. Every time you finished a book, you flew your balloon. And my mother would go to the Japanese language library and she would get stories to read to us. So we had some cultural infusion of Japanese things, and that was good. So we enjoyed that. And she would read to us.

KL: Were there favorite stories, favorite children's stories of yours from that time?

KM: There were children's stories, and as I recall...

YI: Momotaro-san.

KM: Peach Boy.

YI: The Peach Boy.

KM: Susume no Gakkou.

YI: And I remember songs, she would sing --

KL: What's Susume no Gakkou?

KM: Susume is a bird.

YI: And school, gakkou.

KM: That kind of a bird, and they would go to school like a Disney character would. And so they would do lessons and things. And then Peach Boy is about the old couple who find this peach, and inside this peach is a little boy. And so their life is happy because this child comes down into their lives. These are classic Japanese tales, I guess. A lot of them were sad.

KL: What about songs?

YI: Yeah. Haru ga Kita.

KM: Those are songs.

YI: Yeah, well, she asked me. What was the... see, if you don't write it down? [Laughs]

KL: I know, ask you directly. What is Haru ga Kita?

YI: Haru ga Kita? Spring is Here. What were some of the others?

KL: How did you know the songs?

YI: My mother.

KM: What about the record you had about the kids?

YI: Children's, Toshiba Angels, it was an album of children's songs. And I played it because it was nostalgic to remember camp.

KL: There's a Momotaro song, too, isn't there?

KM: Probably. It was nice to have...

KL: Did you know the Momotaro song?

KM: Yeah, we used to know it.

YI: But you know, if you don't sing it, you don't use it, you can forget them. You forget the... like my kids, I feel sad that I can't teach them what my mother did. I mean, it's gone. And, of course, they won't be experiencing camp, I don't want them to do that. So it was fun for kids, for sure.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

KL: What about other places in camp? You mentioned you guys have, each of you have just an amazing memory for places.

KM: The park.

KL: Which park?

KM: There was a park at the end of the camp, and they had a garden.

KL: On the north or the south?

KM: North.

YI: West. On the west?

KL: On the north is Pleasure Park, Merritt Park, and then there was also kind of like a grill, a picnic area.

YI: Was there a creek?

KL: There was a creek that ran through the corner of the camp on the southwest on the way to Lone Pine, Bairs Creek, where you were talking about the swimming hole.

YI: Because I remember, that's where we got those mint leaves that we wrapped the chewed-up flavorless gum in and made, like chlorophyll gum. It was really sticky, it stuck to your teeth, because that mint combination with the gum just... but it was better than nothing. So I remember doing that.

KM: They had a Japanese park, and there was kind of like a nature park with a couple of birds and a wild rabbit, and not very many things.

KL: What did you do in the, you mentioned the Japanese park, what did you, what are your memories of it?

KM: We used to walk there and just enjoy the waterfall and the little creek that ran through there. I think we could get lunch, a picnic lunch from the place. There was my youngest brother who was very innovative, he and his friends would go wandering. And then when it was lunch, they would go to the nearest mess hall.

KL: When did this wandering start? Was it when he was a toddler or when he was a little older?

KM: Pre-school.

YI: He was like three, I think. Well, three when he went in? Eighteen months? So he was young when he went in, but...

KM: Adventuresome.

YI: He got, they got picked up by the police because they scrambled underneath the barbed wire.

KL: The little kids?

YI: Well, he was a little older by then, he was probably about five, maybe. Anyway, they crawled under the fence and the police had to bring him back.

KM: They were marching down 395 with the MPs coming from the camp to Manzanar. "Hey, what are you kids doing?" So they had four or five little boys going, "Wah."

YI: Crying.

KL: Was he unusual in that?

KM: He was very independent.

YI: I guess, I don't know. He was just a kid, I think they just had nothing better to do.

KL: Well, I mean, some people said they felt, and their parents felt that it was very secure in the camp. There was a perimeter fence, and they knew a lot of people.

KM: Snakes, rattlesnakes. I worried about those things.

YI: I remember finding those flintstones, the Indians had left there, and gosh, I wish I had saved those. I mean, we had 'em for a long time, but every time you move you lose a few.

KL: What was your awareness as kids of Indians or anyone else who lived there? Did you talk about people who had lived in Manzanar before, have ideas about them?

YI: All we knew was that the Indians had left them behind, and that was it. And they were nice, they were black and looked like a flint. It was too bad that we didn't save them.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

KL: What about, tell us about school? What grades were you guys in school there?

KM: I was there from first grade, because I spent K here in town.

YI: Before your mother took you out.

KM: Yeah. And then you started preschool?

YI: Something like that, yeah.

KM: I think it was preschool. And I went from first grade on until fourth grade when we came home, then I went to Betsy Ross from the age of eight, nine.

KL: But in Manzanar, what was the school like inside? Do you remember your classrooms?

YI: I don't remember.

KM: Yeah, there were little children-sized chairs and little tables.

YI: Was Nancy in your class?

KM: You know, I don't see her in any of my classes, or Chiharu. These are two women that I knew from before the war in Mar Vista. I don't recall her being in any of my classes, and I was in the beginning of fourth grade. But it was just regular, Mrs. Sandridge, they lived in a separate compound.

KL: The teachers?

KM: Uh-huh.

KL: What do you remember about Mrs. Sandridge? What was her personality?

KM: She was a very kindly lady and she was attentive to the children. She had a son named Sandy.

YI: Sandy Sandridge?

KM: And he was, he went to school there, but I thought they had a separate school. He came to our school.

KL: Was he your age?

KM: Yes. Who else was there?

KL: You mentioned Mrs. Dill.

KM: Oh, yeah, Dill, D-I-L-L. She had a little club for us, and she invited us to her home for lunch, and she had soup and a sandwich.

KL: Outside of camp?

KM: No, she lived in the white compound. But once again, kind ladies who wanted to show us life outside of camp was there somewhere, and we'd be leaving one day. She was an elderly lady.

KL: Mrs. Dill?

KM: Uh-huh.

KL: When you say elderly...

KM: She was in her fifties, probably. The others were younger. I remember that's where I had my first gingerbread cake. It was pink frosting with gingerbread flavor, and gingerbread colored cake. And then there was a Japanese teacher named Miss... her brother was a dentist, Sakaguchi was her name.

KL: What do you remember about her?

KM: She wasn't very, she was nice, but she wasn't timid. She was, for an Asian woman, she was more forthright. Those are the teachers I remember. Oh, Mrs. Hill, she was middle-aged, she was probably thirty-five. [Laughs] And she was another nice lady, second or third grade.

KL: Was school hard or easy or interesting?

KM: I had no comparison, because I only went to school in camp. But I thought it was interesting, and we learned things. I remember studying the Indians in third grade.

KL: Why do you remember that in particular?

KM: Because I got a little prize for painting an Indian boy, and he was brown. His leather outfit was brown, and he was brown. I got a star for him or something. That's my Indian recollection, but learned about hogans and the East Coast Indians, and different Indian cultures. So I paid attention in school. [Laughs]

KL: What about you, Yasuko?

YI: I don't remember a lot about it, because it was at preschool and then kindergarten and first grade. I think I did second grade when I came out, so I don't remember. I don't remember first grade, I don't remember the teachers.

KL: Did you guys walk to school together?

KM: We must have, huh? Because the school was in Block 16.

YI: How far was it? I'm sure your mother made you take me, because certainly you weren't dragging me along. I told you she was always ditching me. [Laughs]

KM: Well, not on the way to school.

YI: I don't know.

KM: It was my job to ditch you, Yasuko.

YI: But everybody had the same age siblings, pretty much, so her friend's sister was usually my friend, and so...

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

KL: Who else do you... you've mentioned Mr. Iwamasa. Who else do you have strong memories of from Block 8?

YI: Friends. The Takeshitas (from Block 9).

KM: Yamamotos?

YI: Yamasakis.

KM: Yamasakis. They had a lot of kids.

YI: And then the Sumis, but they were not our friend-friends. I mean, I knew them, but...

KM: They were Mom's friends.

YI: Missus was probably my mom's friend, but we didn't see the... we knew who they were, but we weren't real close friends.

KL: Well, they moved to Block 8 from Block 9.

YI: Uh-huh, with the Terminal Island people.

KL: What distinguished Block 8? I mean, if you had to define Block 8 or say what was unique about it or what characterized it, how would you do that?

KM: I don't think there was anything in particular. They had the fish market, they had a general store.

KL: Tell us your memories of those places, what they looked like, what they smelled like, who was there.

KM: They sold M&Ms. I liked M&Ms. And then they had the Nabisco cookie with the marshmallow on it. I'm very food-oriented. [Laughs] They had, they sold Cokes and ice creams there. Like I said, the fish market was there. You could buy your family, if they had money, different kinds of Japanese food. I wish we had more beef.

YI: We did have mochi in camp, because I choked on it. That's my good memory of New Year's Day at the Tayenakas. And I remember my dad having to pull it out of my...

KM: Throat.

YI: Yeah, but I don't know where they made it at. I don't remember them doing...

KM: They made it in the mess hall.

YI: Oh, at the mess hall? And I know that we did have it. That's why I say I remember them celebrating New Year's, 'cause my father would go from house to house with his friend. And so we must have had some foods, Japanese ceremonial foods that you have on New Year's day. But I just remember that when I went -- what you did was they put it in a soup, it's called ozoni, yeah, and they put the mochi in there. Makes it very soft, and if you didn't chew it real good, you could choke on it.

KM: Because it wouldn't break up into pieces.

YI: Very gummy, but it was good.

KL: So people continued that tradition on New Year's in Manzanar? Was that every year?

YI: Uh-huh, we still do it. I'm trying to give it up, but nobody wants to give it up. It's a lot of cooking.

KM: Well, we cut back.

KL: Were the Tayenakas neighbors?

YI: Uh-huh, across the way. But I don't where my dad... where did he know him from? Before the war?

KM: Tayenaka, I'm trying to put the face...

YI: they lived across, not same side that we were on, I remember it was across on the other side.

KM: But not... between barracks.

YI: Yeah, right.

KM: Wasn't he the one who played tennis?

YI: I don't remember.

KM: They played a lot of mahjong, too.

KL: The adults in your area?

KM: Yeah. I guess they had...

YI: Had to kill time, you know, things to do. And go, you know what go is? They played a lot of go.

KL: We've said, another ranger and I have said that we should set up... it's very infrequent that there's a rainy day at Manzanar, but that we should set up a go board and just kind of learn it and have visitors play it or teach us or whatever.

YI: Contribute, yeah. And Hana, the cards, you know.

KL: I don't know Hana. Tell me about that.

YI: Oh, I don't know, because I was a kid, but I liked the cards. They were pretty flowers, hana is "flower," and they had flowers on them.

KM: You matched them.

YI: I don't know how they played.

KM: We used to play.

YI: We did?

KM: Yeah. We learned all the games that --

YI: Marbles, yeah, we got really good at marbles.

KL: Oh, girls played?

YI: Well, you had to if you had a brother. And what else did we do?

KM: We played all those Kick the Can and Hide and Go Seek, that kind of stuff.

KL: You said your mother was a friend of the Sumis?

YI: I think so. Well, I don't know from where in the camp that she would know them. And then the Iidas, that's where they met Terminal Island people. They were kind of, yeah, rough at first, I guess. That was their reputation. And so I don't know, they were just regular people to us. Yeah, I mean, I didn't see anything as a kid. Anyway, that was the fun times.

KM: Terrible to say that about a wartime.

YI: But as a child, because we don't have any political issues...

KL: It sounds like your parents were a real stable force.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: This is tape three, we're continuing an interview with the Miyoshi sisters in 2013. And I wanted to ask you a couple questions about your mother that things you've said have reminded me of. She was born in Hawaii and then went to Japan for many years and had school and married. Did she ever share with you any thoughts about the Kibei community at Manzanar, or did she think there was one? Was she part of it, did she have any thoughts about that?

KM: No, she wasn't part of it, huh? She was a loner.

YI: She didn't consider herself a Kibei, I don't think. She just was born... at that time, a lot of Japanese did that, go over there to deliver their child and then take them back to Japan to be raised. And so I think she didn't think anything of it, and I don't recall her ever mentioning being a Kibei.

KM: Not a member of a club or anything. And their cousins, they didn't do that either. But the cousin, the one that used to play with her, he told his brothers and cousin to, "Let's go home." And my dad told him, "No, you shouldn't go back to Japan, there's nothing there now." War went through there, and they're missing a lot of things. But they wouldn't listen, and so they went back. And my mother, of course, stayed here with her children. But I don't think she entertained any, like I said, very political ideas or anything.

KL: You were talking about traditions from your mother especially that you kept up. And I wanted to ask about how Buddhism was a part of your life in Manzanar, or if it was.

KM: I remember going to Buddhist school with friends.

KL: In Manzanar?

KM: Yeah. And I went to catechism with my friends. I think they were the Tayenakas. And I went to Protestant Sunday school with other friends, just very open, even though my parents were practicing Buddhists. But I was free to come and go as I wanted to.

KL: What drew you to those other places? Was it...

KM: Because my friend went, classmate or whatever. I was curious to know what catechism was. The Methodists were there, so I checked them out.

YI: I think I just went to a Christian, whatever that was in camp, the Christian Sunday school.

KM: That was the Methodist.

YI: Was it Methodist?

KL: That West Los Angeles Methodist community seems to have been, a lot of those people seem to have organized congregations or been involved in religious life at Manzanar.

YI: I just know it was a Christian one, and that was all I remember.

KM: Well, after camp I went to the Baptist Church with the Waters family.

YI: Did you go to the Four Square church, too?

KM: Yeah, I went with Chiharu.

YI: Wherever she wanted. [Laughs]

KM: Voodoo worshipper? Yes, I am, I'll go with you. [Laughs]

KL: I'll sample, learn about it. What branch of Buddhism or what congregation were your parents part of?

KM: Well, my father was Zen.

YI: Mom was Hongwanjii.

KM: Hongwanjii? Not Koyasan?

YI: Oh, maybe. I can't remember.

KL: Were they accepting of each other's differences?

KM: Oh, Buddhism is a very tolerant religion.

YI: My father, he helped collect and build that church in Venice for the Buddhists, and he's Zen. But he donated to the Zen, too, that was his church.

KM: He was a cool dad, he was Zen.

YI: Yeah, he really, he was very active in the community. I don't want to keep saying nice things about him, but it's true. [Laughs] He was. Everybody liked him, he was very well-liked in the community. My mother said he should stay home more, because he was helping everybody. That's the kind of person he was.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

KL: Were there any other organized groups or regular activities that you guys were part of in Manzanar?

KM: Well, they went to the kenjinkai, the Ehime Kenjinkai...

KL: In Manzanar?

KM: No.

YI: Not in camp.

KM: They didn't have those, they weren't encouraged to...

YI: Gather for any kind of organization, it was discouraged.

KM: But they did things like kendo.

YI: Well, but that's the physical things, the softball...

KL: Yeah, what do you remember about kendo?

KM: I remember going to see my brother.

YI: He did it.

KM: He could do the sticks and go, "Omen, odou."

KL: What was the, do you remember what the dojo was like, what it looked like?

KM: I think it was just two apartments opened up. I don't recall. I remember going to see him, but I couldn't tell you where it was.

KL: It's kind of a mystery of Manzanar. I mean, there's not a lot of visual documentation of that.

KM: I don't think. I know my brother did it because we had the gear, all the stuff that he wore, and the stick. But other than that, I don't remember.

YI: Didn't he say he had it, the equipment?

KL: I think we do, because he brought it out of the interview and it looked like what we have in a temporary display case, and I didn't expect that at all. And so I was like, oh, I walk by that every day.

YI: Yeah. He did, I remember he did.

KL: There's a quote on one of our signs about kendo practice, and I guess the Manzanar, I think it's in the Manzanar Free Press says that when the contingent left for Tule Lake, interest in kendo just died away. And I wondered if you had any thoughts on kendo's timeline or how it was received.

KM: I don't even know what time spent... just the kids that participated.

KL: But it looked to you, or in your memory at least, it's like the inside of a barrack building.

KM: Yeah. It's just, I guess, barracks with this room here to that window.

YI: Maybe, yeah. Probably.

KL: Were you in it, too?

YI: Yeah, I went, but I don't remember it. It's just a blur. I can remember being there, though, because my brother was doing it that day or whatever it was.

KM: I think Papa taught there, too, I'm not sure.

KL: Your dad?

KM: Yeah. There was definite teachers, that they had to know the drill.

KL: Had he studied kendo before?

KM: I don't know. Like I said, nothing is that clear.

KL: Were there... do you remember mats or cushioning or any kind of furnishing or decoration?

KM: If there was anything, it'd be mats on the floor.

YI: No, because they didn't really fall on the floor, they were, you know, like dueling. I don't think you'd need a mat. In fact, because you shuffle your feet, it'd be better if it was the floor. I don't remember a mat. Maybe if you were doing sumo wrestling or something you might, but not kendo.

KM: Did they do wrestling?

YI: I don't remember anybody doing. My brother did it after the war.

KL: He did wrestling?

YI: Yeah, he did the... well, actually judo.

KL: Yeah, I hear judo was big.

YI: Uh-huh, postwar.

KL: Did you guys ever go to matches at Manzanar for entertainment or anything?

KM: I don't recall.

YI: I don't remember them doing it, yeah. Because if you had a participant in your family, you would probably go, but we didn't.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

KL: You said your mom was ill a couple of times at Manzanar or had some injuries.

KM: Yeah, she had gallbladder surgery, and her sister came from Poston.

YI: Oh, I thought it was appendix, no? It was gallbladder?

KM: She had gallbladder that I know of. Maybe she had appendix, too. And she had to come take care of us kids, because I don't know how sick she was.

KL: Your aunt came to take care of you?

KM: Uh-huh.

YI: From Gila Bend, Poston? Where was she?

KM: One of those two.

YI: One of those camps in Arizona.

KM: She went where our cousins went, Pasadena. We didn't have to go anyplace once we got there.

KL: How long did she stay with you? Do you have a feel for that?

YI: I don't remember.

KM: Not very long. Because she came by train, I remember, and she brought candy.

KL: What was it like to see her?

YI: See? Candy, she remembered candy, Auntie brought candy. [Laughs]

KM: She was so good to us.

YI: She really was, she was a good auntie to us.

KL: Did you visit your mother in the hospital at all, were you in the hospital ever?

KM: I remember seeing her from the outside.

YI: I don't think they let children in, in the building itself. I think we had to...

KL: You saw her outside, like through a window?

KM: Yeah, you could stand out in the yard and wave to your mother. Because they were more strict about visiting.

KL: She didn't... I mean, obviously she didn't, I wouldn't think she would want to go in and have surgery or have that treatment, but did she... what did she think about the hospital?

KM: She said that it was, when she had surgery, that the anesthesia wasn't working well, that it was painful. So I don't know how real it was, but if it hurt, maybe it happened.

KL: Did she feel pretty confident about the hospital's capability, or did she...

KM: I think she had no choice. I don't know if the doctors were army or what.

YI: I think they were Japanese, weren't they? Weren't they from within camp?

KL: Largely, but there were Caucasian administrators.

YI: Also.

KL: But one of the things that I've heard about the hospital is that it was kind of a transitional time for medicine, transitioning from being very private and in a person's home to being very public in a hospital, or comparatively public. So I think people had very different thinkings about that, and, of course, the hospital evolved like everything else at the camp, it started off that the facilities were pretty primitive, and ended up with much better equipment and stuff. So I'm always curious to hear what people or their family members thought of the hospital, if they thought it was well-staffed, well-equipped, or...

KM: All I remember is my mother saying it was painful.

KL: Do you know when she had those procedures in years?

KM: No. I used to know that, too. Offhand I couldn't tell you.

KL: Your dad knew Ralph Merritt. Did he say anything about his impressions of Ralph Merritt?

KM: No. Like I said, they never discussed politics with kids. So we knew who Ralph Merritt was, but...

KL: Do you think most kids, how did you know who Ralph Merritt was? From your dad?

KM: Yeah, because he got extra gifts, Christmas...

YI: He got the whiskey. [Laughs]

KM: The Christmas tree, wasn't he lucky to get that?

KL: What was the Christmas tree?

KM: Well, not everybody got a Christmas tree. The Christmas tree lived in the mess hall.

YI: One tree for each block.

KM: And the mess hall for everybody. I remember my mother buying a Christmas angel at Sears, and the bottom tube was like a toilet paper role, and it would go on top of the tree

YI: Like a cone.

KL: So you had one in your apartment?

KM: So we were lucky in that way.

YI: My father liked children. I hate to keep saying all these nice things, but he did. We always had Fourth of July, he'd buy sparklers. This is not camp, but I'm just saying that this is the kind of man he was. Easter, we always had Easter baskets, we had new clothes and shoes, and we didn't even go to church. We got these new clothes...

KM: Had to show 'em off in the mess hall.

KL: Just walk up and down the street, yeah.

YI: And you know, at Christmas we always had something. Yeah, it was good memories. Like even in camp, he would do those, making the toys and things like that, to make every kid something.

KL: Did your mom participate in that? Did she like having lots of kids around? You said she kind of kept to herself.

YI: She was busy...

KM: Yeah, she was private, more private.

YI: But I don't think she was unique in that way. I feel like a lot of the mothers were like Ma-chan, don't you? To themselves, look at Mrs. Kuwaro... they kind of, well, they came, a lot of them came to be married, you know what I mean? Not always arranged, but...

KM: It wasn't arranged, but was it? It was arranged.

YI: Pretty much. And so I can even see amongst my friends that their parents, the mother kind of were to themselves. The men were more dominant for sure. They were the boss. And I don't know. I feel like a lot of the mothers were like my mom. I don't feel like... can you picture anybody else that was different?

KM: No, they were all pretty much alike.

YI: Yeah. I think that that was kind of like Kazy and I being the ones that had to do the dishes. [Laughs]

KM: Which was so hard.

YI: The guys, they just sat down and ate dinner, you know. We had three brothers, and they could just sit down and eat dinner.

KM: That was their job. Our job was to clean up.

YI: Yeah. We had to work. Well it was, growing up times when everybody else was at the beach, you know, or my group anyway, they would be at the beach, and I'd have to stay home and watch my brother because he was a baby.

KM: He was a baby.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

KL: Would you tell us about the telegrams that you were showing me earlier that you received in camp?

YI: Oh, from my grandmother? Well, the first one was, she wrote it, my grandmother in Hiroshima? It's from Tokyo. But she lived in Hiroshima, and wanting to know if we were okay, and not to worry about her, she was okay. And then that was through the Red Cross. And we didn't get it right away, somehow it got misdirected. And then the second she replied because my mother had replied to her that we were okay. And in that second one she says that she was glad to hear that everybody was all right. So that was kind of nice to have, for us to have it in the book. I didn't even know about it, did you?

KM: Yeah, because I saw... I had all the documents.

YI: Oh, you had it? She didn't share. [Laughs]

KM: I did, she doesn't remember.

KL: Do you have any memories of the atomic bombs, news of the atomic bombs being dropped?

KM: No, it wasn't... we were that innocent. But once the deed was done, then we knew what it was. But the enormity, the magnitude of the bomb was really hard to comprehend, even as a kid.

YI: Well, even, because my mother's from Hiroshima, you know what I mean? So there was family, there was... I think, some grave sites, I don't know, affected by that.

KL: Do you remember anything about her reaction to the news of those bombs?

KM: No, but I'm sure it was very hard. Because her family was from there. And her aunt, Yamamoto Bachan, she had lost a daughter, but that was not known until later. And then I learned about it when I went to visit her in Japan in the '70s and she told me then. (She told me that I was like her daughter. That she had come back.) But they all survived.

KL: Your family members?

KM: Uh-huh. I guess where their home was, they didn't come down with any cancers or anything like that. But they had members who died, because in a city that size, you're bound to lose some people. And then went to the memorial and saw the thousand cranes, they show you in the museum what it was like, nothing would grow there for a hundred years. And it did grow, came back.

KL: What was that visit like for you, as someone from the United States who has Japanese ancestry also?

KM: It was sad to know that this kind of thing could be created and dropped. But you know, I looked at it from the United States' point of view. But as a wartime thing, it was just enormously bad. Everybody survived anyway, but it would be difficult if you lived there and this happened to you and your family. What could you think? But that's the way the war went, and everybody did the best they could to survive and not hate too much. But I could see where you would be angry and resent such a terrible deed.

YI: The other side is the people that survived Pearl Harbor, you know, you could say the same thing, that how many people, how many lives. So you know, retaliation, that's what it was.

KM: So it was just really sad, like going to Anne Frank house. It was only one girl, but it affected so many people, one evil man, one evil people. But that was my reaction, was golly, so enormous, affecting everybody, my family.

KL: That was, of course, the end of the war. Is there anything you guys wanted to add about Manzanar, or any questions you had about Manzanar before we move to leaving?


KL: We were talking about the Miyatake portraits, and it sounds like you guys don't have a memory really of Toyo Miyatake?

KM: All I know is we took a lot of family portraits.

YI: Yeah. I think a lot of Block 8 people did take that same shot in front of the mountain, with the mountain in the back.

KL: And you said that was when you had trouble getting your shoelaces tied. Are there any other memories of that portrait shoot or that photography session?

YI: No. I think I didn't have my belt, either, if you look close. Maybe Baachan found it, I don't know.

KM: She always dressed us alike.

YI: Yeah, she wanted us to -- they were different colors, but they were the same pattern, the clothes. If she made clothes, she made 'em the same. But she did knit.

KL: You mentioned sewing classes from Mrs. Ninomiya?

KM: Knitting classes.

KL: Oh, knitting, okay.

KM: I guess my mother thought I would calm down if I could knit. [Laughs] Didn't quite turn out that way.

KL: What are your memories of Mrs. Ninomiya?

KM: She was a nice lady, older lady, and I was telling Sylvia, I think her two daughters were nuns... no, they were the Catholic family, big Catholic family, but I don't think the daughters were nuns. There were nuns in camp.

KL: Do you have memories of the nuns?

KM: No, because I didn't have any interaction, they just were there. I don't know if they were teaching or doing God's work, or what they were doing.

YI: Did they have a Catholic church, too?

KM: They must have. They had Maryknolls, who were missionary-type.

KL: Did you have anything you wanted to bring up about Manzanar that I didn't ask about before we leave that topic?

YI: The hozuki, the little tomatillos.

KL: Oh, yeah, yeah.

YI: I forgot.

KL: Yeah, please do tell about those.


YI: Well, first of all, this man would come every day about three o'clock after school, and he had this burlap sack. And all of us would line up, and he would hand us one of these... they were not this large. And you take the skin off, and through this little hole here where the stem is, you take a toothpick. Of course, you massaged it 'til it was really soft, and you take a toothpick, without breaking the rim, and you take every one of those seeds out. Now, this is like a two-hour job, and parents loved it because the kids were so good for two hours. Anyway, with a toothpick you labored to take those out, and then when it's hollow, the ones we had were very small, of course, because I'm a small kids, and they were round, totally round. And you would put them in your mouth like this without the seed, and you only have the skin. And you suck air in, and then you press down on it, and it makes a noise like you're passing gas. And it was the thrill of doing all this work. And every night you would set it in a jar of water to preserve so you could use it the next day, because god forbid you've have to go through that two-hour job again. So my mother would have glasses full of these things floating around at night. But it was one of the things that I remember doing in camp.

KL: We need that in the exhibit room, I think. [Laughs]

YI: Yeah, it was fun. Kazy doesn't remember as vividly as I do, but...

KM: It wasn't as much fun.

YI: That man was really... you know, you could see him coming for a long ways, because you're waiting, and everything's open in camp. So it was fun.

KL: Did he make other stops, other deliveries?

YI: I'm sure he did. Because if you ask any of the kids... well, I don't know if they remember, but this was the highlight of the day.

KL: Did he come to your barrack? Where did he drop them off?

YI: No, he came to a central point and then everybody would line up and get theirs. And it has a good feeling to me to go to the market and see this skin, this thing here. I just like looking at it. And now, of course, these are called tomatillos, and everybody has, I guess, their own version.

KL: How would you spell hozuki?

YI: H-O-Z-U-K-I, hozuki?

KM: It would be hodzuki, H-O-D-Z?

YI: No, hozuki. H-O-Z-U-K-I, hozuki. Because you know when you ask people from Japan and they were kids and they did this? They would remember it. I remember Mrs. Matsumoto, Larry's mom, she said, "Oh, we did that, too." So it wasn't like it was just in camp.

KL: So you would preserve them in water.

YI: In water, because otherwise it would get like this. They didn't last forever because eventually that little rim part would break. And if it broke, you didn't get that sound.

KM: No, because the air would leak out.

YI: I think my mother demonstrated it first, she's the one that taught us how to do it.

KM: Yeah, like there's a game using the glass wafers, and we had to draw a line and then click it, and then the one you clicked away, you'd pick it up. Kind of like jacks. And then what other games?

YI: I don't have my list, I can't remember. But this was one of the fun ones, for sure.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

KL: How did you leave Manzanar? What were the circumstances?

KM: War ended in August. And my father left and went to work for Mr. Nishi. Once he was settled...

KL: Was this your neighbor from before the war?

KM: Yes. They came back to the same property because they had a friend who watched over it for them. And so he came... he didn't come back, he waited in L.A. and we came out.

KL: Your dad?

KM: Yeah. And he picked us up and we went to Mar Vista again.

KL: How much before you did your dad leave?

KM: Not very long, like two weeks.

KL: Three months?

KM: Probably weeks, not months. And Mr. Nishi gave him a job, so we worked for him.

KL: Do you have his first name, Mr. Nishi?

YI: Kazuo.

KM: And then he went to work for Dan Campbell at my father's old place. And then he worked for Campbell until Campbell sold, and Dad went to work as a gardener.

KL: When did you leave Manzanar?

KM: September.

YI: September of '45.

KL: How had the... where did you live when you came out?

KM: In Mar Vista, on Grandview. Mr. Nishi was doing gardenia and celery.

YI: Tell her that's where we came to the, the cow incident.

KM: That was the place where the cow came.

KL: That was on Grandview?

YI: Yeah.

KM: It scared us because being not cowgirls. [Laughs] We yelled.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

KL: So this is the same neighborhood you had been in before the war. How had it changed, either in terms of how it looked or who was living there or both.

KM: It didn't look much different, because it was still agricultural. Then we had the dairy on one side of the field, and then on the east side of Grandview there was a nursery. There were a couple of empty lots or bean fields.

YI: Some of the old neighbors were still there.

KL: What was their response to your return?

YI: They were kind. They were good people. We didn't have any... even before the war they were nice people. We had good neighbors.

KM: Except the Mandemakers.

YI: Who?

KM: The Mandemakers, the Dutch dairy, Holland Dairy on the west side of Grandview, next door to the Rondos.

YI: Rondos? Oh, I don't remember them.

KM: Well, their son died during World War II in the Pacific, and of course they were very upset and sad and didn't like Japanese anymore.

KL: That was a change from before the war?

KM: Yeah. Because it was a little farming community.

YI: But on Mitchell Avenue, those neighbors were still really good, and they always inquired about our parents. They were really nice people, and we didn't have any... I didn't feel it, anyway.

KM: Complications.

YI: Yeah. Only my memory was at school. And after that, it was fine, it did work its way out. But just the very beginning was the prejudice.

KM: The only person who called me "Jap" was Ellen Rodemeister.

YI: Oh, really?

KL: Who was that?

KM: She was a girl in my fourth grade.

KL: You chuckled when you said that. How did you respond to her calling you "Jap"?

KM: I probably hit her. [Laughs]

YI: It's kind of like the N-word, you know, you just don't say that. And it would hurt feelings, for sure. And for somebody to say it, especially postwar, and we just came back out of the camp.

KM: I can see that, evil feelings. It's hard on the family. Somebody like Ellen, maybe her uncle died, or somebody like that. So my father was kind of a pacifist, so he tried to tell us to be good and not be hateful.

YI: He never discussed politics, so you really didn't know how he felt politically. I've always felt that he was liberal, I don't think he was conservative.

KM: I remember he was fond of whoever was in the office, Nixon.

YI: Well, he was respectful, that was the President of the United States.

KL: What, how did your mother feel? Was she similar to him in terms of being pacifist or trying to see behind people's comments, or did she have a different philosophy?

KM: She had a different philosophy in that we didn't know what it was, what she would base it on, or just go the opposite of her husband. But she never voiced an opinion that I ever heard. We all screamed and yelled about things, kids.

YI: I think those, like I said before, the women of that time pretty much followed whatever the husband said or did, because that was why they were here, to have children. But in the Asian home, the men dominated at that time. I'm not talking about today, but at that time it was...

KL: What was your home right after the war? Can you tell us where you lived?

KM: We lived in Mar Vista again. Went to school at...

KL: You said that Mr. Nishi had a former chicken coop?

KM: Oh, yeah. We had...

YI: That's where the cow came, that same building.

KM: The house that was got was a house that had been taken over by the chickens, and so it had to be cleaned thoroughly before we could move in. And it was just a chicken coop, I guess, that had been converted.

YI: That's why my father left early, so he could get it ready, and they had to spray it.

KL: So he did the cleaning.

YI: Yeah, getting it ready for us and painted it so we could move in. But we weren't the only family, there were two or three others, right? Shindens and the Yoshimuras.

KM: Waki.

YI: Wakis later. So whoever worked for Mr. Nishi usually...

KM: I don't know, I think so.

YI: ...usually ended up there.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

KM: What school did you enroll in?

YI: Betsy Ross. It's not there anymore.

KL: You've mentioned, I don't know how much of it has been recorded formally, so would you tell us your memories of going to school at Betsy Ross right after internment?

YI: Well, aside from being pushed to the back of the line, I have good memories. I don't remember anything where... in fact, I still see my classmates, we get together, from Betsy Ross, third grade. Yeah, in fact, every year we get together in February, a lot of the classmates that we went to grammar school at Betsy Ross, and then we went all the way through high school together.

KL: And you think that early animosity, the being pushed to the back of the line was in response to World War II and the prejudice?

YI: Yeah, and I think the minority kids had somebody else worse than they were, so they could push me into the back. I felt that was their reason. I didn't sound like it was so much the prejudice, I think it was just finally they could be ahead of me, somebody else would be behind them. That's the way I felt, because they were just... aside from using the bad word, call me.

KL: Did they call you...

YI: Yeah, they called me a "Jap." And that was okay, that was their way of getting what they wanted, but I felt like I made up for it in class, because I was ahead of them, so it was okay.

KL: When did that dynamic shift to be more friendly?

YI: Oh, I just think after you prove yourself in class, and they could see that I wasn't gonna kill them, and I was not the enemy. And all through school, I didn't have any other problems like that. I mean, I went to junior high in Palms.

KM: You went directly into Palms?

YI: I went to Palms. Kazy went to...

KM: Venice, which was a six-year school. We went from seventh to senior. That was a very large campus.

KL: Venice?

KM: Uh-huh. And then they changed it over to, where you were in eighth grade, ninth grade on, was high school.

KL: Did you, in the '50s, or junior high or high school or even college, did you have any thoughts or interactions, intentions around people's different responses to that so-called "loyalty questionnaire?"

KM: We didn't even know about it for a while.

YI: Yeah, we didn't know about it until...

KM: It felt like we were just left out of the loop.

YI: Even the shooting in Manzanar itself, it was just by word of mouth. We never really knew because we're kids...

KM: Unaware kids.

YI: We just knew there was a shooting and somebody did get killed.

KL: Are you talking about during the Manzanar riot in December of '42?

YI: Uh-huh.

KL: Do you remember groups of people going by your barracks, one night that was wilder or anything?

KM: No.

YI: I don't think we were involved. I mean, our block. I don't remember anybody...

KL: When did you become aware that being in Manzanar was a big difference between your experience and people who did not have Japanese ancestry's experience? Was that sort of a gradual thing, or was there a time in college or some time when you realized this was really different?

YI: You know, I had so much fun that I don't recall any... you know what I mean?

KM: Hardship.

YI: Hardship or bad feelings or anything. I mean, my dad did a good job. [Laughs] He wanted us to accept what it was, in Japanese you say, "Shikata ga nai." It means, "it can't be helped, it is what it is." So that was kind of the way... and like my mother said, we were safer to be inside. I know they do the pilgrimage and all those things, but as a child, I don't have any bad feelings of any kind. Yeah, it just isn't there. So I mean, I know it was hard on my parents, I know my father lost everything. But we weren't the only ones.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

KL: What were your... I just want to hear kind of highlights from what you guys have done with the rest of your lives as far as education, and start with Kazuko.

KM: Well, I went to Venice High, well, started at Betsy Ross, Palms junior high, Venice, and I attended UCLA. And then I went to become a lab tech, and I worked for that business for many a year. And then I retired from UCLA, I worked there as a lab tech.

KL: Oh, that's where you worked for your career?

KM: Until I retired. And then I worked for Sylvia for a while, too.

KL: Who is Sylvia, for the people who will watch this in later years and not be present?

KM: That one over there. And then my brother-in-law, Joe, he worked for Sylvia. And we used to have such a good time at work, but a friend of ours said, "You know, the best years of my life were working at that hospital." Not UCLA, but where Sylvia was, which was...

KL: Why was it so good? What made it so good?

KM: Because we had Joe.

YI: They picked on my husband.

KM: And became one of the girls. We'd make him do all kinds of funny things. We just enjoyed one another. So Gloria says, "God, those were the best years of my life as far as work when." Then she went to Kaiser, I went to UCLA because they kept buying and selling the hospital. And then we all retired and had a good time. And then I got my condition, which was not a good time. It was not a good time, but that's the way the cookie went. And here I am, telling my tale of my past.

KL: I'm so glad you are.

KM: With my wonderful family and my sister and my three brothers. And I've got my brother-in-law Joe.

KL: Oh, yeah, your littlest brother, when was he born, and tell us his name on tape.

KM: His name is Kunio Carl Miyoshi. See, my father was Frank Shigeyoshi, and then my middle brother is Frank Tatsuoki Miyoshi, and then my brother Ichiro Miyoshi and my baby brother Kunio Carl. He never went by his American name.

KL: What does he think about your Manzanar experiences?

KM: He's very aware, and he instilled in his children -- he's got three girls -- to be aware of this background.

YI: I think he's more excited about it than we are. I mean, he really, he's been there several times, and he takes the girls, they're adults, and he just marvels at that depression in the ground, that we lived there, the four of us, the family. And he does appreciate the hardship and what my parents went through.

KL: Could you kind of, just like Kazuko did, just fill us in on your education, career, family stuff that you've experienced?

YI: Oh, me? Well, I went to Venice High, and then I just went a year to Santa Monica City College. And then I did several things that I won't mention. [Laughs] Then I met Joe through Kazy, they were going to UCLA.

KL: It's all my fault, I brought her home, brought him home.

YI: And then we got married. And I did work for the railroad as a hearing reporter, for discipline, and that was Southern Pacific Railroad. And, in fact, I retired from there. I went there after my kids were a little grown, so I didn't go there 'til, I think, '77. And I retired when I was fifty-seven years old, and Joe retired, my husband retired just before me, two years. And we had three kids. Well, I was thinking of my girls, the four grandchildren, and very happy, can't complain. Good retirement.

KL: What are your kids' and your grandchildren's awareness and thoughts about Manzanar?

YI: My daughter, my son works for Huntington Beach police department as a mechanic. My daughter is a schoolteacher in Long Beach.

KL: What are their names?

YI: Oh, Karen, Kenny, and then Karen is a schoolteacher, and Robin is in insurance, she's an VP, but I don't want to say what her title is. And they have, Kenny has none, Karen has two girls, one going to be twenty-one and one in Europe right now, sixteen, and then Robin has two girls, one gonna go to college at Dominguez, she'll be a junior, and then the second one is just graduating high school, gonna go to Fullerton. So I've got 'em all on the road. They're good kids.

KL: What are... I guess, first Joe, and this is another one of those weird questions like with Sylvia because I know the answer to this, but for others watching the tape, what were Joe's thoughts about your Manzanar experience?

YI: Well, because he was in Heart Mountain, they had it more difficult. Because he sees pictures of Manzanar, and it's grass, we have gardens, harsh, harsh where he was. I mean, they barely had enough water, they couldn't have a garden, certainly, you know, where they were. And he says it was not, you know, we had a refrigerator, we had some nice things compared to what they had. So I think that he thinks we kind of had it soft.

KM: We did.

KL: Do you see generational differences, or how do your kids think about your Manzanar experiences?

YI: My son is really into it. He thinks that we need to pay the respect and so forth and so on. The other two, I don't think Robin's been there. Karen has, Karen's been there a couple of times. But it was just where Grandma was. I don't think they feel it yet. But the one that really feels what Manzanar was all about was Kuni, my youngest brother. He really, he thinks that... and it was his daughter that put this book together. That we could have lived there, that this had happened to us, and did they think like my parents were passive because they went? There was no choice. This was law, you know. It wasn't like we want to go to camp, I mean, it was something dictated by law. We had no choice.

KM: There were some dissenters around, Korematsu, one of the more famous.

KL: Have you guys had encounters with any of those people, Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi?

YI: No, but I respect him for doing it. I mean, he had a point, and he was a citizen. How can you put a citizen in incarceration for being a citizen? But like my mother's view, that's how I think, too, that we were safer inside the camp. So it had to be.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

KL: You guys, did you guys have any involvement with redress?

YI: No, sorry, I didn't.

KM: Yeah, I did not.

YI: In fact, I didn't even know it was going on for a long time until JACL and...

KM: When she got the check.

YI: No, before that.

KL: How did you learn about it?

YI: Through the news and through the Japanese paper. The Rafu Shimpo had articles about them going to Washington.

KM: Younger Sansei kids that really put it further, helping the Nisei.

KL: How did you hear about it?

KM: Just the same way as she did, in the paper.

YI: The Japanese paper?

KM: Not being very active.

KL: What were your thoughts when you first heard about it? Did you think it was feasible or crazy or worthwhile?

KM: I didn't think that it would pass.

KL: I'm sorry?

YI: You didn't think it would pass?

KM: I didn't think it would ever, they would never pay it.

YI: But I think that it was good that they did it, but I thought that they were going to collect money to, say, make a museum so that people know. I didn't think that individually the... certainly it doesn't repay. No amount of money would pay for what we had to go through, and especially the parents. But it was good that they acknowledged that it was a mistake of great proportion, affected how many lives, generations, actually. So it was what it was.

KL: I know you said your father was not living by that time. What do you think he would have thought of the apology and of the letter, and there actually was some funding set aside for educational efforts, too.

YI: I think he would have been okay with it. Along with the fact that it had to be what it was, I think that he would have accepted it and he would be okay with an apology. That's the kind of person he was, he wouldn't have been negative about any of it.

KL: Did your mother outlive him? I'm sorry, I can't remember -- was she living when the apology was issued?

KM: Yes.

KL: Did she say anything to you or respond?

YI: She gave half to Kuni. [Laughs]

KM: No, she was philosophical about it.

YI: She gave her half to Kuni because he was not eligible for the redress, because he was born outside.

KM: After.

YI: We got out in September and he was born in December.

KL: Why do you think she did that? Did she say, did she tell him?

YI: I think she just felt bad that he didn't get, you know, anything.

KM: The rest of us did.

YI: Yeah, and we all did.

KM: But he was almost born there.

YI: More than half.

KL: He has roots.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

KL: Have you been, tell me about your visits back to Manzanar. When did you first return to Manzanar?

KM: We used to pass it on the way to Mammoth when we skied. And then one year when it was open to the public, Sylvia and I were coming back from Mammoth, not skiing, but by then we found out it was cold in the winter where we skied. So we had gone up for, to visit friends, and we decided to stop there. And the road is very bumpy and rough, and I had a Buick, which is not your best car to take in there, not being four wheel drive and all. And so we took that self-guided tour by ourselves. It was nothing... we just had to say, I think this was block so and so, this and that.

KL: What year was that? Do you have any idea?

KM: In the '90s.

Off camera: First time we went there was no road. There were a lot of rocks, and it was not a self-guided tour.

KL: It was earlier than the '90s?

Off camera: Oh, yeah, it was like in the '70s. And the only thing that was there, we went back to find the obelisk at the cemetery.

YI: I don't remember when I first went back. Ask Joe. [Laughs]

KM: Papa went.

KL: Joe, do you have a memory of... did you guys go back there together?

Joe: I think we first started going to Mammoth in the '70s. Only thing there, we stopped at the guardhouse.

Off camera: The guardhouse.

YI: Yeah, that's all that was there.


YI: In the '70s... well, we've been back several times, and of course, we got that archaeological report for our cellar, what was left.

KL: Oh, you did?

YI: Yeah, Richard.

KL: Richard Potashin?

YI: Yeah, he and the person that was in charge of the dig itself...

KL: It was probably Jeff Burton.

YI: Yes. They made a report, what they found, and mostly, of course, it was just broken toys and pieces of pottery and stuff like that that was left behind. But they had to fill that void that was in the ground, so there may be other things in there, too. But yeah, it's kind of the only place that I can see... Kuni says, my brother sees the porch part, but I don't see that.

KM: Yeah, I didn't see that.

YI: And then there's a tree there.

KM: That was his spot.

YI: So people in Heart Mountain think that Manzanar was, Manzanar was... compared to what they had. And I don't know about people in, like, Gila Bend or Poston. They had it harsh, too.

KM: The attorney, I mean, the judge, Lance Ito, his father said that it was really a hardship in Heart Mountain, that they hardly had enough food to eat. I don't know how true that is. Is that true, Joe, there wasn't enough food?

Joe: There was enough food. Maybe he didn't like to eat.

YI: [Laughs] Maybe he didn't like the food. They said there was plenty.

KL: Maybe he was tired of mutton and apple butter.

YI: I think there was plenty, because it's a camp. I mean, they can't not feed you.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

KL: We're back in, I think this is tape number four at this point with the Miyoshi sisters here in 2013. And when we stopped the tape we were talking a little bit about some different camps, and you have a Tule Lake connection possibly, too. Have you talked with other people? I just wanted to continue along those lines a little bit of comparing the different ten WRA camps. Did you have close friends who were in places other than Heart Mountain or Manzanar?

KM: Yeah, my friend Haru, they went there.

KL: To Tule Lake?

KM: To Tule Lake. If I recall, she didn't have anything good to say in particular. But then it's really way out in the countryside.

YI: They all were.

KM: We drove past it in one of our vacations.

KL: What about in modern days or even in any of the years after World War II? Tule Lake is different. Was that ever a part of your consciousness, a difference about Tule Lake?

KM: I knew about it, but I couldn't tell you anything in particular, discussing it.

YI: Originally it was a regular camp, and then they made it a camp for those that chose to go back to Japan. So my (mother's cousin) chose to go back, so he went to Tule Lake, the family.

KM: That and there was that other camp in Texas.

YI: Crystal City? Well, when they went back to Japan, the hardship was far greater than what we were having. At least we had food and something over our head. And my dad being who he was was sending food, I mean, sugar.

KM: He told them not to go.

YI: Yeah, and clothing and stuff like that, and they said that they really appreciated it because they couldn't have survived without some of the help my dad gave them. But we didn't have a lot, you know.

KL: Did they stay in Japan?

YI: They did. They came back eventually.

KM: Keiko was about twenty-something.

YI: But it was difficult for them because they chose to go back and...

KM: My father helped his brothers in Japan, sending food and clothing.

YI: In fact, there's a letter, one of the letters where the brother wrote and said the same thing, they could not have survived without the help, the food. I mean, we didn't have it easy either, my mother was struggling to feed all of us, and here's my dad sending...

KM: "Here's our food, you eat it."

KL: That would make me tense.

YI: That's my dad, that's the way he was.

KM: We weren't starving like these people were, actually not having enough food.

YI: I think we kind of, I don't know, we just kind of grew up, Kazy and I...

KM: Fat, dumb and happy.

YI: Yes, we can't complain. We try to think about...

KM: What is real life?

YI: ...what is hardship? I mean, it was hard, but we didn't know it was hard. You know what I mean? Everybody was struggling at the same time.

KM: There were other people who were well-off, too.

YI: Yeah, I'm sure there were, but for the most part, the people that we knew postwar were struggling the same way we were. So I didn't feel like we were any less or any more than anybody else that went through the camps. I'm sure that... well, Nancy, the Nishis always had, I mean, they didn't want for anything.

KM: She had braces when nobody had braces.

YI: But God gave us straight teeth, you see. Because my mother said we had a full head of hair and teeth, because we couldn't afford anything else, so this was it.

KL: When did your dad's cousin return to the United States?

KM: It was my mother's cousins. They returned in the... Keiko is fifty? Sixty? They came back when she was twenty.

YI: Fifteen?

KM: Fifty.

YI: No, I'm thinking how old was she when she came.

KL: Oh, I meant after, I'm sorry, I meant after the war. You said that that family returned to the United States.

YI: Japan, yeah, and they came back, but I can't remember, was she still high school?

KM: Yeah, she may have been in her senior year or something. She didn't go to high school much longer.

KL: Was that in the 1950s?

KM: No, no, '70s. How old is Frank?

YI: Your brother?

KM: He's four years my junior.

YI: He's two years younger than I am, and I'm going to be seventy-five --

KL: He was born in 1940, so...

KM: She was about the same age is he is.

YI: No, but we're trying to figure out when they came, though, came back. But they're doing real well now.

KL: You said it was difficult for them when they came back.

YI: Yeah, because they had no place to live and they had to, you know, get someplace to live.

KM: This is here or Japan?

YI: Here. And then remember they lived under that house over on Grandview, underneath?

KM: Where the Hiroshiges lived?

YI: No. No, by where the lumberyard is. Anyway, and she was, they had to both work really hard and make it, and they did really well.

KM: He got a good gardening route.

KL: What was her name, your mother's cousin?

KM: He was Sadamu Ueki.

YI: U-E-K-I.

KM: And his wife is Harue.

KL: So it was hard because they had to establish themselves?

YI: Right.

KM: It was hard when they went back to Japan, like have enough food. But he got a job with the Australian army, then he was able to eat. But when they first went back, it was very difficult.

KL: How do you see their kind of responses to their part of Japanese American removal? Are they pretty different than yours?

KM: They must have been, because they answered the question "no-no" on the...

YI: Questionnaire. That was their choice, you know. He felt that he was gonna...

KM: It's like buying confederate war bonds.

YI: I think it's something he regret later. I've never heard him say those words, but because of what he had to put his children and his wife through...

KM: Some people remained embittered until they died.

KL: Well, and I just have heard from people who have those Tule Lake connections that it was difficult, it was difficult even here in the United States.

YI: After they came back?

KL: ...within many communities, within the broader community or smaller Japanese American communities, too, it can be difficult.

YI: I think it was. It was difficult for everybody to some respect. It wasn't always the same degree, but somewhere along the way, I don't think anybody could say they left camp and it was easy. It just wasn't. Even people that had money and a place to go, they still had to reestablish themselves.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

KL: You mentioned one other question, you mentioned the Maryknoll reunion on the phone. Would you elaborate about that?

YI: That was kind of fun, because Chiharu, our friend...

KM: That was the first time we talked about it as a group.

YI: The three of us... I see her a lot now, because my sister was the same age and close friends, but then we had children at the same time, she and I, this friend.

KM: In Mar Vista together, same high school.

YI: Anyway, so it was fun to go back. But then we didn't have a lot in common.

KM: Yeah, I didn't remember her camp.

YI: Yeah, because she was in another block far away.

KM: Block 36.

YI: But we knew them before the war. But to have her live so far away, camp-wise, and then to see her again at Maryknoll, I mean, we see her at least once or twice a month, Joe and I. But to see her in that setting, being asked questions... but Kazy remembers the most, and I don't know if she can even remember that far back. But even living over prewar, she has some good memories.

KL: Yasuko, I don't know if you remember, but we actually met at Manzanar about, a little more than a year ago, when you were there...

YI: Did you have a uniform on?

KL: ...with a group of cousins?

YI: Okay, okay. Yeah, well, that's Joe's cousins.

KL: Oh. Oh, yeah. So would you tell that story, just because I... it's a fine memory.

YI: Well, you should tell it, meeting Joy at Manzanar. And (Kristen) was the one in the uniform at the desk, and then we told her what happened.

KL: We did talk briefly, I'd forgotten.

YI: Well, anyway, short story...

KL: You've got the microphone, so just tell what you remember of it.

YI: Okay. We happened to be there, and we're walking around, and... did you spot her? I don't know.

Joe: We were trying to find the ledger.

YI: Oh, that's right. On the wall, with the names on it. And lo and behold, his cousin doesn't recognize him, but he recognized her, and then we started talking. And there was another cousin there, Junior, and we hadn't seen them in I don't know how many years. And we just shared our lunch, we had packed a lunch to go on up to Reno, but we were going to stop at Manzanar, that was going to be our lunch place. So we just shared lunch with them, and it just happened that...was she in Manzanar? I don't know whether they were or not.

KL: So you actually encountered each other in the visitor center in front of the list of names.

YI: Yeah. Didn't plan it, it just was a shock that they were there. I think Joy was in Manzanar. Anyway, so that was kind of a...

KL: You showed me a picture of you and some of your family members, too. Would you tell that part of the story for the tape?

YI: With the one that's...

KL: Block 8.

YI: ...that's right there in the entry? Yeah, well, my brother Frank and I are sitting in the front row. And every time I come, I look for that picture. I don't know, someday they will change it, I'm sure. And Kazy's there, she in the...

KM: Second or third row.

YI: ...second or third row.

KM: Me and Terry.

YI: And Terry. And then my mom is right at the cutoff, right on the side, but my dad isn't there and my brother Ich, is he there?

KM: He was there. He's on the edge, too.

YI: We didn't see him. But anyway, so, yeah, that's when I talked to you? Well, see, that's how I talked to Richard, was I was telling him, "That's me in that picture," and he goes, "Oh, you were here?" And then I told him, and then he told me about the depression, that was where he knew my address, when I said 8-9-1. And then he pointed it out and said that's where, "You'll be able to tell exactly where your apartment was." So that was kind of nice to know that they had done it, and then subsequent to that, he sent me a copy of the report, so that was nice.

KL: Yeah, those kind of connections are very much a part, I think, of both visitors' and employees' experiences at Manzanar. So I kind of wanted to have that be part of our conversation.

YI: Yeah, that was nice.

KM: Coincidences.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

KL: What do you think about... how do you think that places like Manzanar and Heart Mountain and Crystal City and any of these sites should be treated? Do you think there's a role for those places in people's memories?

YI: I think it's really important. Because while we were standing there, these people said, "We never knew this happened." And these kids, their children were there, we were at the mess hall, you know, they had the actual reproduction, and they said, "Were you here?" and I said, "Yes, I lived this." And they said it wasn't in their history books. I think they were from Texas, and so they knew nothing about it, and they marveled, I mean, that they had lived their lives... they were adults and not had heard of it even. So it was really nice. And then we went to San Jose? Joe, what was that museum?

KL: Japanese American Museum of San Jose?

YI: Yes. I want everybody to see that quilt. Had you seen it?

KL: I don't think I did see it.

YI: Oh, my gosh. It's about camp, internment, and it has it in segments. And I wanted your museum to get this quilt and exhibit it. It's outstanding, I mean, it just gave me goosebumps to see it, it was done so well. And it's pretty big, it's like a floor to ceiling kind of thing.

KL: What is the content? You said it's in sections?

YI: Yeah. And what it was was a teacher in, where, Joe, Kansas? Someplace...

Joe: It was Ohio or somewhere.

YI: Someplace in the Midwest, knew nothing about, and then they studied it, and then they made this quilt, and it was really impressive. I think that a lot of people would really enjoy seeing this because it's done so well. And to think it's children, it's kids.

Joe: There's the names of the 100th Battalion on there, too.

YI: Yeah, everything pertaining to the Japanese involvement in World War II is pretty much on there.

KM: Joe's brother George, the barracks reproduction is in the museum in L.A., and there's a little block with a story about George, who, you guys were going to Heart Mountain, and they said you can pack whatever is precious to you, so he ran home and got his baseball mitt, because that was precious to him. And he was 442 also.

YI: He actually worked on that, bringing plank by plank from Heart Mountain, that original barrack that was in...

KL: George did?

YI: ...the museum here, yeah, in L.A. He actually worked on that, dismantling the one up there in Heart Mountain to bring it here.

KM: So he should be interviewed, too.

YI: Are you doing all of them?

KL: All the ten thousand people?

YI: No, all of the different camps?

KL: Oh, the camps? Yes. And another story that I think is important to include is the people who left the West Coast without going into the camps, who went to, relocated to Utah or whatever, or some cases Japan. I mean, I talked to one man whose father took their family to Japan in 1940 on one of the last ships out because he had a feeling that things were gonne be bad and he moved them to Japan.

YI: Well, yeah, there were a lot of those that believed that Japan was gonna win the war.

KL: More stories, or the military story, anybody who was affected by Japanese American removal in a significant way is part of the context and the story. So yeah, we do interview people from other camps or other closely related experiences. And people, you know, it's an Owens Valley story, too, it's the story of what happened locally. And so we interviewed people who have connections locally both to the camp or to the Paiute story of that place, or the story of the orchard community that was there from 1905 on, or the L.A. story, the story of the water is significant to the site of Manzanar even.

KM: Well, they're finally returning some of that water to the Owens Valley, because they took it, Mulholland.

KL: So it's a broader collection than just Manzanar Relocation Center stories, but that certainly is why it's a National Historic Site and what the bulk of the collection is. My last question, and then I'll kind of let you go, and if you have other questions for me or Jim, you can ask them. But you think it's an important thing to remember, and I'm curious what you think we gain by remembering, why is it important to remember, and also if there's anything to be gained by forgetting, or by not talking about it. So why is it important to remember Manzanar?

YI: So it doesn't happen again.

KM: But also it's part of the story of the valley, Owens Valley. From Paiutes on to us. It's a history, and we should never forget history.

KL: Why not?

YI: I just hope it's still, they do get it in the history books --

KM: Why not? So they don't repeat their mistakes --

YI: -- so that kids...

KM: I like history; I think it's important for your progeny to not repeat and do more damage.

YI: How many stories have you had?

KL: Close to four hundred. We've recorded close to four hundred interviews, and we have some written recollections from other people, too. But through this oral history program there have been close to four hundred interviews done. Yeah, and some of them have been with groups, there's a really wild one from the group of people who worked in the hospital. So it's kind of been... different people have worked with it, and different theories over the years. Some of them are more free-flowing conversations, some of them more structured.

YI: Did you ever hear about this from somebody else?

KL: I haven't, but I've only been working there for about a year and a half.

YI: Oh, okay.

KL: So I've interviewed... I've been interviewed in the last, say, close to forty interviews in one way or the other.

KM: Who's that famous said, "Nisei are people who know that camp doesn't mean tents and fishing." We go through a whole list of what camp was. Because my friend Eleanor is from Buffalo, New York, and Sylvia from the East Coast and Florida, they never knew.

Off camera: We didn't know anything about it.

KM: And so Eleanor says, "Why did Kazy's mother send her to camp in December?" [Laughs]

KL: How did that, what were their responses when you answered that question? What have been the responses of significant people in your life you didn't know?

KM: That they had never heard of it. They were worried about Germans, because they were on the East Coast. The Japanese didn't mean anything.

Off camera: Also nobody had heard... we didn't know about it, nobody ever said that these camps existed. So when my family comes from Florida, I drag 'em out to Manzanar so they'll know.

KL: Sylvia was saying she grew up in Florida and she had never heard about this. And so when her family comes to visit, she drags them up and shows them Manzanar so they'll know.

KM: And then they learn something new, and they share. Their friends come out and they go out to look at it, too. Because I remember the goon box, I mean, the sentry building, the sentry house.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

KL: Ah, thank you, I meant to ask you about that, because Ichiro had some memories and I thought you might, too. What do you remember about the sentry, the towers?

KM: One time we passed by that -- that I don't remember, but the sentry towers.

KL: The rock buildings at the entrance?

KM: Yeah. I remember the soldiers used to read comic books, and they would trade with the kids. Because they were just kids, too.

YI: But we had a tower with a round, was that oil or water?

KM: That was oil.

YI: Oil: I remember climbing that.

KL: Where was that?

YI: In the block. There's a big round tower... well, container was on this tower.

KM: You went there to get your oil for the stove, to keep yourselves warm during the winter.

KL: And you climbed it?

YI: Yeah, I remember going up there.

KM: There was a ladder that goes up the side of the tower. It's not very high.

YI: It was high when you're only two feet tall. It was pretty tall for somebody short. It was, it was off the ground pretty high.

KM: It was about 15 feet, not much higher.

KL: What did you call the sentry post?

KM: Sentry house was the "goon box."

YI: The what?

KM: Goon box. That's what World War II people called their sentry towers in the movies.

YI: Oh.

KL: Did you say you did not have memories of the guard towers, really?

KM: No, I didn't.

YI: Well, they were there.

KM: What's her name, the artist? Judy... I have her book. She drew pictures of that, and some other artists.

KL: Judy Sugita?

KM: I don't know her... I can't remember her last name. Do you remember Judy's last name?

Off camera: It's like a Portuguese name.

KL: It's okay. That's the end of my questions. Are there things you wanted to add that we didn't touch on?

KM: No. This is my third interview, second interview.

KL: Where have the others been with?

KM: The one at the Maryknoll church, and I thought somebody asked me some questions at the Eastern Museum, but I don't think so. But I do remember you from being at Manzanar.

YI: Well, I think you guys are doing a good job.

KL: Thank you very much for participating. Thank you so much.

YI: It's important.

KL: I think it is, too, so I'm glad you shared it. You both have really a lot of memories, so thank you for sharing.

KM: Maybe that's so (slanted) because we were kids.

YI: Yeah, it's not really...

KM: Historical.

KL: Yeah, but everybody's (slanted). Everybody has their... and that's, I think, the power of oral history is you can see what sticks out to people, and what they think about experiences in their lives. I think it's a whole another way of looking at things that should be there along with the government documents and the journal entries from the 1940s. Any kind of documents of people's memories are what we know, or what we think we know about these significant events. So it's worth hearing, I think.

YI: Well, thank you.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.