Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Minoru J. Shibata Interview
Narrator: Minoru J. Shibata
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: West Los Angeles, California
Date: December 4, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-sminoru-01

<Begin Segment 1>

KL: This is Kristen Luetkemeier speaking, I'm with the Manzanar oral history project. And today is December the 4th, 2013, and we are in the West Los Angeles United Methodist Church for an interview with Minoru James Shibata, Jim. And Whitney Peterson is operating the camera, and Beth, are you Shibata also? Beth Shibata is also in the room and might talk a little or ask questions. And before we begin, I just want to confirm, Jim, that we do have your permission to be talking to you and to record this and make it available to the public.

MS: Yes, absolutely.

KL: Thank you so much.

MS: Thank your interest for this interview.

KL: Yeah, yeah, we've been talking a little bit already and I think, I'm glad we're doing this. So let's start out just to place you kind of in time. Would you tell us where and in what year you were born?

MS: I was born in 1928 in San Francisco, California, of course. And as far as I know, I lived there until I was about six years old, when we moved to Burbank.

KL: I know you know some things about your parents, so I'll back up a little bit in time and start off by talking about them. Would you tell us, let's start with your father, would you tell us his name?

MS: Yes. My father's name is Kiyoshi Shibata, and as I found out, he first came to this country when he was seventeen years old, from Shizuoka Prefecture, Shimizu City, and further, in a town by the name of Orido, O-R-I-D-O. And he was, like I said, seventeen years old when he first came to this country, and his ship took the route of the northern route, so that it came via Canada down to Washington. And I think that's where he entered this country. And after that, as far as I know, his older brother was already in this country in Utah, and I believe he had a sponsor to this country to meet with his older brother in Utah.

KL: So he planned to arrive and go to Utah?

MS: I believe so. I haven't really spoken to him about this, so I'm just guessing that that's where he ended up when he first arrived in Seattle.

KL: Do you think he did go right away to Utah, or did he stay in Seattle or the West Coast?

MS: I don't recall anything that mentioned about being in Seattle. So like I said, this is my assumption.

KL: What do you know about his life growing up in Orido?

MS: Not too much at all. Unfortunately, I never got to really have a good conversation with him, and it's been very unfortunate.

KL: Do you know what his family's business was or what the sort of, what defined Orido or Shimizu as far as occupations?

MS: I'm afraid not.

KL: But you said he had at least one other brother.

MS: Yes. He comes from a family of three brothers and two sisters.

KL: Did others immigrate?

MS: From what I've heard, his older brother was the one who first came to this country, and he's the one who was already in Utah. And then the other person is his younger brother who... oh, correction. His second older brother came to this country also. He later lived with us in Terminal Island, and his younger brother also came to this country.

KL: Are you able to go through the siblings and their names in birth order, or the ones that you know, anyway?

MS: Okay. The oldest... you know, his older brother was Buntaro.

KL: I might ask you spell, I'll definitely ask to you spell Buntaro.

MS: B as in "baker," B-U-N-T-A-R-O.

KL: And he was the oldest?

MS: He's the oldest. The next older brother was Koichiro, K-O-I-C-H-I-R-O. And his younger brother was Hikota, H-I-K-O-T-A. And I don't remember his sisters' names, but he had two sisters.

KL: Was he the youngest brother? Was he the number four child?

MS: No, he was the third male in the family.

KL: So was it Koichiro and Hikota who also came to the United States?

MS: Yes, correct.

KL: Did your dad come alone?

MS: You know, I don't know in which order they all arrived in this country.

KL: Did he ever talk about what his parents thought of his decision or what role they played in this decision?

MS: I'm afraid not.

KL: And we were looking at pictures earlier, and your dad's portrait, really formal portrait, had a book in it. Do you know anything about his... and we talked about his educational background. Would you share what you know of his education?

MS: Yeah. As far as I know, he graduated from high school, and I don't know any more about his background in education. But I do know that from early, when I was, before my teenage year, I knew that he had, he was already speaking English. And he learned it somewhere, I don't know when he learned it, but he was one of the few Issei persons that was quite fluent in English, at least among the people I knew.

KL: You were talking about the Japanese education system, too, and some of the strengths that you think he gained from that. Would you elaborate on that just for the recording?

MS: Yeah. I always felt that the Japanese high school education was equivalent to a junior college education in this country because of their talent and their knowledge of how to organize, how to conduct meetings, how to make speeches, and in general, how to communicate with others to form communities.

KL: Let's move to your mother. What was her name? Oh, actually, first, do you know what year your dad was born, by any chance, or an approximation?

MS: Not at... I would have to check that, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

KL: So moving to your mom, what was her name?

MS: Her name is actually, formal name was Gin. Gin means silver, and I don't know where she picked up the name Yaeko later, but she has always been referred to mostly by her, by the name Yaeko.

KL: Would you spell Gin and Yaeko?

MS: Sure. Y-A-E-K-O.

KL: And Gin?

MS: Gin is G-I-N.

KL: You said it means "silver"?

MS: Uh-huh.

KL: Was that important to her?

MS: Kin is gold, right, and gin is silver.

KL: Do you know why she had that name?

MS: No, I don't.

KL: What was her story? Where was she from?

MS: She was also from the Shizuoka Prefecture in the city of Shimizu, as far as I know.

KL: Do you know what life was like in Shimizu for her or her parents' professions?

MS: No. I think both my father's family and my mother's family were farmers, but I'm not too sure about that.

KL: What do you know about her decision to immigrate, or how they met and decided to marry, or married and then met?

MS: Of course, theirs was a typical Japanese marriage that was arranged by a, what was the term?

KL: I should know it, there's a word...

MS: A go-between.

KL: Baishakunin?

MS: Baishakunin, correct.

KL: Do you know who that person was?

MS: No, I don't.

KL: Or why he matched them or she matched them?

MS: No, but I think there was some of a relationship between my father's family and my mother's family before, because my father's older sister was, became my mother's stepmother when her real mother, I think, passed away during or after the birth of my mother's younger sister. It was sort of complicated, but there was a relationship there, and I'm sure that because of that, the arrangement was made between my father and my mother.

KL: Do you know how old your mother was when her mother died?

MS: No, no I don't.

KL: Did she talk ever about the effect that had on her life?

MS: No, I don't. I wish I had, to understand, you know, what happened later to them.

KL: So do you think your parents knew each other before they married, or what can you tell us about their marriage?

MS: I have no idea. I have no idea.

KL: You think they were married in Japan, is that right?

MS: Pardon me?

KL: Do you know where they were married, was it Japan or the U.S.?

MS: It wasn't in the U.S., I'm pretty sure they got married in Japan. I don't know whether, well, I'm quite confident to say that it had to be in Shizuoka Prefecture, and possibly in Shimizu city.

KL: Do you think it was before your father came to the United States?

MS: No, after his first, or after he came, my father went back to get married and then came back, I don't know whether they came back together or not, or my father came and then my mother came later to this country.

KL: And we were talking before, the three of us, about a possible connection to Angel Island of your mother's? Do you know where they came in when they came back or what do you know about that trip?

MS: Not for sure, but I think all indication is that she ended up in Angel Island.

KL: And Beth was saying, I know, that she may have stayed there for some time, she may have been ill or stayed at the island, so we'll have to look that up and see what we find.

MS: Okay, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

KL: So they came eventually back to the United States, or for your mom's case, to the United States. Do you know about when that was?

MS: Well, it had to have been before 1926 when my sister was born. But I'm also guessing that my father settled in San Francisco because he had decided sometime before that he wasn't going to live in Utah. And I don't know when his older brother returned to Japan. So anyway, that's my assumption, that he decided sometime before he got back after marrying, to live in San Francisco.

KL: Did he go to Utah before? I guess I never pursued that.

MS: Yeah. When he first came to this country, he was seventeen years old. His age was easy to follow because he was born in the year 1900.

KL: Okay.

MS: Okay, so he was seventeen years old, so it had to be 1917. And this is where I believe that he went from Seattle to Utah and stayed with his older brother.

KL: And they came back and thought Utah was not the place to start life?

MS: Yeah.

KL: What was their work in San Francisco?

MS: Where? It was, let's see, very close to Post Street and Van Ness, I don't know exactly what the address is today.

KL: What kind of work did he do?

MS: He did grocery business, I think it was one of those arrangement with a grocery store to take care of their produce. I think he was engaged in that type of work for some grocery store.

KL: He was like a supplier?

MS: Not a supplier, no, not a supplier, but a caretaker of the vegetable and fruit stand of the grocery store.

KL: Did your mother have a job?

MS: That I don't know.

KL: So they were in San Francisco before 1926. Did they move around at all while they were there, or were they always in the same place?

MS: As far as I know, they didn't move around. I can only guess as to what could have happened.

KL: Your sister was born 1926. What was her name?

MS: Her name is Yachiyo, Y-A-C-H-I-Y-O. Middle name is Bessie, B-E-S-S-I-E. And her married name is Iwaoka, I-W-A-O-K-A.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: And then when were you born?

MS: 1928.

KL: Okay, so two years old. Did your parents ever tell you anything about your birth or her pregnancy with you?

MS: Afraid not.

KL: What are your earliest memories?

MS: In San Francisco I don't have much. It seems like my conscience woke up after we moved to Burbank, because I don't remember anything about San Francisco.

KL: When was the move to Burbank?

MS: It had to be... okay, just my guess...

KL: Or how old were you?

MS: About six years old, between five and six. Because when we moved to Terminal Island after that, I think I was about six or six and a half.

KL: Oh, so it wasn't very long in Burbank.

MS: I either started either kindergarten or the first grade in Terminal Island.

KL: What are your memories of Burbank? Are there any that are...

MS: Only where I went with my father early in the morning, early meaning about four-thirty, five o'clock in the morning to buy the produce for the store that he was working for again, taking care of the vegetables and fruits.

KL: What was it like?

MS: All I know is that I was very sleepy but I wanted to go with him, so I did go with him. And only one time I believe. I don't remember any second or third time that I did the same.

KL: Yeah, that's neat that it registered.

MS: One other memory in Burbank was that I got too close to a monkey where... you know, they used to have monkeys perched on top of, I don't know what you would call, one some kind of a t-shaped stand as a pet. However, they had the monkey tied to the post. But I got too close to the monkey and got bit on my knee, and I still have that scar from that experience.

KL: They were just out on the sidewalk or on the street?

MS: It was either in front of a store or in front of a house, but I got curious and I got too close to that monkey, and the monkey jumped on me and bit me. I think it was just on one knee. So anything traumatic like that. [Laughs]

KL: Yeah, that'd be memorable. So you were just in Burbank for a year or a year and a half or so.

MS: Yeah, not too long, as I remember.

KL: Do you know what prompted your folks to move to Terminal Island?

MS: I guess that grocery business that he was engaged in wasn't working out. So for another employment, I guess he must have known something about fishing, so he went to Terminal Island and became a fisherman.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: What are your recollections of Terminal Island?

MS: All kinds, but what in particular...

KL: Yeah, let's start with the house that you lived in. Would you describe for us where you lived and what it looked like?

MS: Okay, Terminal Island was a community, and it was almost like a Japanese village or a town. I believe it was over ninety-five percent of the people who emigrated or immigrated to this country from a prefecture by the name of Wakayama. And I'm assuming that the people from that prefecture, many must have been fishermen, and the early immigrants got engaged in fishing for a living.

KL: How did your folks fit into that being from Shizuoka? Was there any way that separated them, or was that really important?

MS: Not really. But the funny thing I remember is that after we moved to Terminal Island, the kids all picked up on the dialect of the Wakayama people which were spoken by the majority of the residents there. However, since my parents were from Shizuoka, they still maintained their, the way they spoke Japanese. So even today, I feel more comfortable in that dialect than the, more the Tokyo type of dialect that my father and my mother used to speak in.

KL: You're more comfortable with the Wakayama style?

MS: Yeah, because as a youngster I spoke that dialect.

KL: Did your mother speak much English? You said your dad learned...

MS: Not too much, not too much, for whatever reason. She never became fluent in English.

KL: Did she have communication difficulties in Terminal Island because of her different Japanese?

MS: Not really, not really. Of course, at home we spoke nothing but Japanese, and it's only when I went with my friends that, when I spoke to them, I spoke in the dialect that was being used by almost everybody.

KL: That's kind of neat that you had those three different languages or dialects.

MS: Yeah. However, that was... I used to be quite fluent in Japanese until the age of thirteen when the war broke out, and almost everything became English from thereon.

KL: What about the home that you lived in? Would you describe the house and where it was and stuff?

MS: Oh, yeah. Sorry, I forgot about that.

KL: No, no, that was great. I was going to get to there.

MS: The houses were like a barrack-type building. These were built by the canneries for their employees, so the houses were rented from the canneries. And they were lined up like a typical barrack building, in rows, and constructed mostly in wood. And many were shared by more than one family.

KL: Was yours?

MS: Yes. I think we had another family living in the same house.

KL: How many rooms were there?

MS: I think about six. There was a hallway from the front door to the back door, and the rooms were divided on each side of the hall.

KL: Did you share some space with that other family?

MS: No. The families were just, independently used certain rooms. And I think we occupied about one, two, three or four of the six rooms.

KL: Do you know which cannery owned that house?

MS: Pardon me?

KL: Do you know which cannery owned that house?

MS: I'm not too sure which one it was. I think there were, I know there were more than one, but today I don't know what the names were at that time.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

KL: You said your dad was a fisherman. Did he own a boat?

MS: No. He joined the crew of one of the boats. There were basically two types of fishing boats, those that went out for the day, which came back in the evening, and those that went out further to Baja, Mexico, and north to the San Francisco area to fish. And those were the ones that were gone for maybe two or three weeks or a month, and my father used to be on one of those.

KL: Yeah, I didn't realize that until I was, the first time I really talked to somebody from Terminal Island. I was surprised by how far the ships went. So he would be gone for a month or a couple weeks?

MS: Roughly, right. It wasn't one of those boats that went out and came back the same day.

KL: How was that for your family?

MS: You know, I didn't have any reason to feel his absence. I was very comfortable, I think my sister felt the same way. I think it was because of the way the families were reared to behave. In other words, the siblings supported each other, and, of course, the mother took care, basically took care of the kids.

KL: That was another question I kind of had about if there were sometimes, like in my family my mom stayed at home and she cared for us, and my dad was at work, both of them were very nurturing, my brother was littler, he was mellow. What kind of dynamics were at work in your family, like what roles did people play and what were your relationships to each other?

MS: You know, I always remember from way back that my sister always looked after me. Even today she does. [Laughs] And I believe it was the same with all the families in Terminal Island.

KL: That siblings really looked out for each other?

MS: Yeah, the older ones took care of the younger ones.

KL: What about people's relationship with each other? How would you describe the community dynamic on Terminal Island from family to family?

MS: There were, you know, certain friendships that formed, and it wasn't, it's not like a complete community feeling where everybody got along with everybody. It's typical social environment.

KL: How many families were in that community, do you think? Do you have a sense for how, the population census?

MS: You know, I don't know what the population was in Terminal Island.

KL: Who do you remember in particular? Who was your family close to?

MS: It was, the friendships were closer with people who came from the same parts of Japan. And what else? Of course, the kids chose differently, but I don't know what else to say.

KL: We hear sometimes about kenjinkai associations.

MS: Pardon me?

KL: We hear sometimes about kenjinkai associations, like you were mentioning kind of ties to people from similar backgrounds. Was there...

MS: That's true. Different kens or prefecture people, people who came from those prefectures had their social gatherings like picnics.

KL: Did you guys participate in that?

MS: Yes, we participated in the Shizuoka-ken picnic. And I don't know whether we participated in any other kenjinkai's social activities or not.

KL: What were the picnics like? Where were they?

MS: Well, you know, typically they had races for the kids and entertainment, and lot of good food. [Laughs]

KL: Were those on Terminal Island?

MS: No, these were in parks around L.A., Los Angeles.

KL: So the membership was from all over Los Angeles.

MS: Yeah, wherever they were living.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

KL: What was your school on Terminal Island?

MS: Yeah, our school was unique in the way, in the sense that the students were all children from the Japanese families, so they were all Japanese Americans. Except I remember two persons, brother and sister, whose parents were from Russia. However, the son and the daughter who mixed in with the rest of the student body learned to speak Japanese so they could communicate with everybody else in that school.

KL: Did they teach you any Russian?

MS: Pardon?

KL: Did they teach the other kids Russian?

MS: No, I don't think they went the other way. They adapted. So they were just like the other Nisei kids. I don't know what happened to the daughter who was close to my age, and I think she probably was in one or two of my classes, same classes.

KL: That's interesting. I hadn't heard that before.

MS: Yeah, I don't know what happened to her after the evacuation.

KL: Do you know how their family got to Terminal Island or why, or how it was?

MS: No, I never inquired into that.

KL: Yeah. Did you meet their parents ever?

MS: No.

KL: But everybody else was Japanese American?

MS: Yeah.

KL: What was the school's name?

MS: It was... I don't know what the original name was, but the name I remember is a woman's name, Mildred Obarr, O-B-A-R-R, Walitzer, W-A-L-I-T-Z-E-R, I believe.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: Were there more than one elementary schools on Terminal Island?

MS: No, just one. But there were two Japanese schools. One was conducted by the Christian church, and the other was by the Buddhist church.

KL: And were you part of one of those?

MS: The Buddhist church Japanese school.

KL: What was its name?

MS: I can't remember. Somehow this name Souka Gakuen comes in. But I'm not too sure that was the name. Gakuen means it's a school system, and Souka must be, I don't know what the characters that are used, so I don't know the meaning of that word.

KL: Was school fun for you, or what do you remember about both of those schools and your time there? Were there teachers that stood out or subjects you liked or things you didn't like?

MS: Well, as a matter of fact, I used to like both schools, no problems there. I learned a lot of ethics in the Japanese school system because it was tied in with the church also. And I do remember taking lessons, or it was, I think, an extra class that the minister or the priest conducted called shuushin, that means ethics or, well, basically ethics training.

KL: What were important ethics in that?

MS: How to behave, like the Christian basic teaching, or Jewish, or what most religions teach is about ethics.

KL: And what was that for that school or for Buddhism in that time and place? Could you give a description of what, how you were supposed to treat other people?

MS: Oh, yeah. Well, for example, behavior like don't be tardy for any kind of a meeting or whatever, all the basic courtesies to practice socially. I can't think of the words to describe. Anyway, it sort of taught you how to behave among, in society. I still remember that because I don't see it happening today with many kids. The kids are just behaving very obnoxiously compared to what we learned, how to behave as children and as adults.

KL: Was Japanese school every day or was it once a week?

MS: No, it was only once or twice a week. And I remember it became a burden when we entered middle school, what was called junior high school at that time, because we started getting more homework in our regular school, so that became a drag going in, going to Japanese school and keeping up with that.

KL: Did you have homework for Japanese school, too?

MS: Always, yeah. We had homework. As a matter of fact, when we started going to junior high school, all the kids were packing books back for homework, so I remember carrying books every day to school, because we would bring back those books for homework. Also we walked to our junior high school, which was, I don't know what distance, what would you guess? Over a mile anyway, we used to walk, walk to and back from school. Not only that, from Terminal Island, now the middle school or the junior high school was in San Pedro, so therefore we had to cross a channel by boat at that time, before the bridge was built now. So we had to cross the channel and then walk to school and then on the return we had to do the reverse.

KL: That sounded so exotic to me when I first read that, as someone who just rode a school bus, you know, through streets. Was that fun or was it a drag?

MS: No, we just felt it was something you had to do, so it just became our routine.

KL: Were you guys part of a Buddhist congregation on Terminal Island?

MS: We went to the church but we didn't really belong in the sense that we participated in all the activities that went on there. Only the celebrations or whatever that took place at the church.

KL: Did Buddhism have a role in your home life, your domestic life?

MS: Not to the extent where, you know, we prayed before dinner and things. I wasn't like the Christian discipline. Whatever was taught by the church was taken seriously, but you know, it just became part of the cultural behavior in families, which included what they taught in the churches.

KL: Did you guys have an altar in your home? Did you have an altar in your home? I know part of, a lot of people's practice relates to family and ancestors.

MS: Yeah, altar in the sense that, yeah, in a typical Buddhist home, yes, that type of altar. But not an elaborate whatever.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

KL: What else were you involved with in terms of community life, activities or organizations or anything?

MS: I do remember that I never was able to join a Boy Scout group. I think it existed more on, sponsored by the Christian church, I believe it was. However, it never happened, I never had the opportunity to join that. I say that only because I've heard of such an organization where a lot of other kids were involved in.

KL: You heard about it as a kid?

MS: Uh-huh. But otherwise it was, my social activity was mostly with the neighborhood kids that we got together and played with.

KL: What did you do, what would you play?

MS: All kinds of things, you know. If there were a gymnastics bar or something, we would try to do whatever we could with that. We used to play with the horses, what do you call the...

KL: Gymnastics horses?

MS: Yeah, horses, and played with that. We would play what we call samurai games, you know, taking a wooden sword and going through the samurai battles, play acting that.

KL: What did you know about samurais or how did you learn about them?

MS: At the movies, from the movies. What you see in the movie is what we call chanbara, just random cutting, it's not real sword, use of the sword. It's just random cutting. All kind of marbles, tops, flipping milk bottle tops, which is waxed to make it heavy and stable. I don't know what the game was called, but the object was to slide your top underneath the other person's top on the ground. Things like that, all kinds of games that used to exist at that time.

KL: Was there a movie theater on Terminal Island?

MS: No.

KL: Where did you see samurai movies?

MS: When it came around, they used to have it in a hall. But these were Japanese movies, samurai movies and other drama movies. They used to come very infrequently. But whoever sponsored those just brought everything, the projectors and the film to that place and showed the movie, everybody gathered.

KL: What was the hall?

MS: It was just a meeting, big meeting hall that there used to be. It wasn't at the church, it was a different... I guess it used to be a community hall that they used.

KL: Was it pretty important other times? What else was it used for?

MS: I think different meetings of different groups. It was large enough to have a movie.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

KL: Going back to your dad's work as a fisherman, did you spend time ever on his boat or other people's boats?

MS: My neighbor's boat which was a different type of a boat, it was a small boat which was manned by one or two persons, and they fished for barracudas and occasionally they would catch bonito, and they would go out for a day and come back with whatever they caught. And one, I think it was summertime, one summer I was invited by my neighbor who owned one of these little boats, and I went out with him several times in these real small, I don't know the name of this particular type of fishing boat. But it was quite enjoyable.

KL: Did you get to help at all, did you have tasks, or were you along for the ride? Did you get to help out, did they assign you tasks?

MS: Oh, yeah. See, what type of fishing they did was they would drag a line with a... what's the name of the hook that they used that has the shape of an insect or...

KL: Oh, like a fly?

MS: Fly, yeah, that has a fly on the end, and what you do is drag it behind the boat and sort of move it around, and that would attract the barracuda. And then when you caught one, you could feel it because of the drag, and you pull the barracuda onboard and really knock it loose from the hook and go for the next one. That's the way they fished for barracuda. But once in a while a bonito would get caught, and you could feel it right away because it's...

KL: They're big, right, bonito?

MS: No, not in length, but they're more powerful as a swimmer. They're harder to maintain and you really have to pull the line and drag it in.

KL: So you were doing that, you were actually fishing, hauling in...

MS: Actually, yeah, I participated in that. So in a way it was kind of exciting to see how many you could catch. So it wasn't a big haul that they were after, but I guess a good day is when you caught about ten or twenty of those.

KL: And you said you went out a couple times maybe? One summer you went out a few times?

MS: A few times, yeah.

KL: Do you recall the name of, did that boat have a name?

MS: They did but I don't recall.

KL: Yeah, that would be exciting.

MS: Yeah, my mother would pack a lunch for me because it was an all-day thing. And I experienced first how large or big the waves were after you leave the breakwater, and it's almost like when you're in the, not the crest but the...

KL: The valley, the low part?

MS: Yeah, valley. You can't see beyond that, the waves are real huge.

KL: Well, Terminal Island is unusual being so universally fishing based almost. I mean, in my mind there would be even, did you sense any kind of cultural significance, was it kind of exciting that way, too, to be participating in that as a young kid, or was it really, was it really part of identity?

MS: Yeah, it didn't add that much to your identity as a fisherman, but it was what was happening, what everybody was doing, so you just kind of blend in.

KL: Who were those neighbors? What was their name?

MS: You got me. [Laughs]

KL: That's okay. Were you ever on the boat that your father worked on?

MS: No.

KL: How big of a crew was it?

MS: Gee, I don't even know. The crew must have been, my guess is eight or less, but the crew wasn't that large. The difference about the ships that my father was on in the other daily ships were that the one that used to go out for a day used nets for catching their sardines and mackerels. However, the ship that my father was on, they used poles to catch the tunas. And I don't think they carried nets, so they had their own refrigeration which was ice at that time to preserve the fish until they returned.

KL: Yeah, and tuna is large. Yeah, so it's very different to catch these bigger fish.

MS: Caught one at a time and just threw it aboard.

KL: You said that those longer term ships would go up toward Canada and down toward Mexico. Did your dad --

MS: Yeah, I don't know whether they went as far as Canada or not, but I know they went down towards Baja if I recall.

KL: Did he always go toward Baja or did he have a particular route that his ship followed?

MS: I don't know, I don't know that.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

KL: So we're in tape two of an interview with Jim Shibata on December 4, 2013. And we were talking about your dad's work as a fisherman, and I wonder if your mom had any work for income on Terminal Island?

MS: Yes, the womenfolks in Terminal Island usually went to work at the canneries, and when they went to work is when they heard the whistle of the canneries. But when they were ready after the fishing boats would come with their haul, and unload it to the cannery, so the fishes had to be processed, so they needed workers. So when the whistle blew, that's when the womenfolks went to work at the canneries processing those fishes.

KL: Was it most every day? How often?

MS: Yes. Well, those boats that used to go out on a daily basis, they would come back with the haul, so the cannery had to process those when they came in. So it wasn't a continuous working at the cannery, only when the fishes came in, they had something to process. [Laughs]

KL: What time of day was that? It sounds like...

MS: It was during the day, it wasn't in the... it could be early in the morning, but it took place all during the day. It didn't usually run into the night. By nighttime all the boats were already back.

KL: Did she talk ever or did you ever observe what the atmosphere was like where she worked?

MS: No, I've seen the movies of it, it's cutting up the fish and gutting up the fish and ready to be canned, it's that type of work. So they would have a little bucket with tools that they need, and they would carry that work and do whatever at the cannery and come back after the work was done.

KL: Do you have a sense if it was pretty communal, if there were lots of... how many women would respond when the whistle would go?

MS: I think most every family's mothers and wives were involved in that, unless they had other things that they had to do. And I'm sure that they weren't required, I mean, it was voluntary, it's voluntary work.

KL: Do you have a sense for what she thought of her salary or her supervision or the work itself, the tasks?

MS: I haven't heard any big complaints or anything, so I assume it was all right.

KL: What was her personality? What was important to her or what did she...

MS: I believe in Japan, after high school or during high school she went through what is called a finishing school. So she was sort of refined in that way. And whether the work was a downgrade or not, I don't know, but at least I haven't heard her complaining about it.

KL: But she kept that sort of refinement when you knew her?

MS: Well, yeah, in her manners and in her relationship with other people.

KL: What about your dad? What was his personality?

MS: He was... I don't know what to say besides very efficient at whatever he did. Oh, by the way, I didn't mention that his older brother, my uncle, was living with us in Terminal Island in one of the rooms that we rented. And he came to this country by himself, left his family in Japan for the reason of, for employment in this country. So he used to send back the supporting funds to support his family in Japan.

KL: Like he had a wife and children?

MS: Wife and children. Let's see, he had... well, I can't remember how many children he had. They're supposed to be my cousins but... two or three.

KL: Is this Koichiro?

MS: Yes, Koichiro.

KL: So he left Utah and joined you in Terminal Island?

MS: No. Let's see... yeah, I don't know whether he was ever in Utah. But all I know is from the time that he started living with us in Terminal Island... unfortunately, he was not able to return to Japan until World War II ended. So for about thirty years he lived in this country by himself and supported his family in Japan.

KL: Do you think his plan was to return to Japan to live?

MS: I think so, yes. I mean, after all, that's where his family was. And I don't know, I guess he didn't have the opportunity to go back in between.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: Did you ever visit Japan when you were living on Terminal Island, when you were growing up?

MS: Terminal Island, not in Terminal Island. When I returned with my -- not returned, when I went to Japan with my mother when my grandfather passed away, that was the only time up to that time.

KL: And when was that?

MS: When I was four years old, so about 1932.

KL: Do you have memories of that trip at all? You were little.

MS: [Laughs] Beth is laughing because I told her many times. On the Japanese ships, the baths were like Japanese baths, big, big tubs. And while I was taking a bath with my mother at that time, I think my sister was there, too, I fell overboard into the water, into the bath. And I do remember floating around. It was a good feeling, as a matter of fact. But what shocked me was I was fished out, because everybody was worried that I was drowning. [Laughs] But I do remember. But while I was in the water, I was feeling good. Well, so I suppose I wasn't trying to breathe or anything. I think babies and kids naturally hold their breath when they're underwater, and I must have been doing that because it didn't bother me at all. I wasn't choking or anything when I came up.

KL: Just floating in your own little ocean?

MS: But everybody was worried and making a fuss, so that's when I started crying to join the excitement. [Laughs] That's what I remember about that trip. And I think that was when we were going to Japan.

KL: And you said you took the trip because your mother's father had died and she wanted to be part of...

MS: She wanted to go back so she took Bessie, my sister, and I with her.

KL: Do you know what your activities were on that trip or how it was for her? That sounds like maybe it was kind of emotional.

MS: I don't even remember attending any funeral or anything. But another thing I do remember about that trip is that I saw one, what is it, somebody dressed up to be something that really scared me in a store or somewhere where my mother took me. So something exciting or unusual is the only thing I remember about my trip.

KL: How long did you remain?

MS: It was maybe a month, I don't know. Oh, one other thing was I was told that I used to poke holes in the shoji screens that Japanese had, even the doors. I was told I did that while I was in Japan. Because out here we don't use or have shoji screens. [Laughs] I'm not sure if I would have done the same if we had it out here.

KL: What did your mother do during that trip?

MS: I think she went basically to visit relatives and attend the funeral.

KL: After she came back, while you were living in Terminal Island, did your folks communicate with their families or did they keep up with events in Japan?

MS: Yes, they did. Because like I said, my father was very responsible in maintaining contact with all the relatives in Japan.

KL: What were their thoughts as Japan and the United States started to be more confrontational toward each other? How did they react to that or what was their response?

MS: I didn't feel any kind of a strong expression one way or the other from my parents or my uncle. It's one of those things that said, "Oh, okay, it happened, shou ga nai." Have you heard that term before? Shou ga nai. And that type of an attitude sort of was contagious to some of us kids also. When something happens, you can't do anything about it, you just say, oh, you can't do anything about it so go on your way to other things, and you have to do whatever you have to at that time.

KL: There's a man who was important in events at Manzanar who was on Terminal Island, and I wonder if you ever knew him or knew anything about him, Joseph Kurihara? Joe Kurihara?

MS: I'm afraid I don't know him.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

KL: Are there any other people who stand out from your time on Terminal Island that didn't come up that you wanted to, either leaders or friends?

MS: Well, the people I do remember that was the priest who ran the school and the church that I attended. And a couple of his instructors at that school who used to tell real good stories to the kids.

KL: What kind of stories?

MS: Oh, it could be scary stories or just, just stories. I do remember one time one of the teachers told a story that really scared me about something to do with the ocean.

KL: Would you share it, do you recall it?

MS: I still remember what scared me was some creature or some, I don't know, bad person or bad thing trying to dump water into your skiff or boat that you're in to sink your boat or something like that. So I think about that every time I go on a small boat on the ocean, just remember that story that scared me at that time. But of course, now, I think something like that's impossible, but at that time, yeah. I do remember the teacher's face and the story he told.

KL: Any other stories that you remember?

MS: Not really.

KL: Do you recall the names of any of those people, the priests or the teachers?

MS: I think the head priest was Ikeda, I think. But the other teacher's name I've forgotten.

KL: Before we get to the attack on Pearl Harbor and changes, are there things you wanted to ask about from Terminal Island?

WP: I just have one question. Did you guys ever watch American movies on Terminal Island?

MS: Yes, we had to go to San Pedro where the theaters were. And the theaters that we went, the theater, one, that I used to go to I think is the current Strand Theater in San Pedro.

KL: Warner Grand, Beth is saying?

MS: Yeah, that one. It still exists, I think they refurbished or remodeled that theater, and they do have significant events there. But yeah, I remember, I think the movies used to be for ten cents, and we used to take a quarter and spend another five cents on a hot dog on the way home. But we did have to cross the channel again on the boat, and then go to the movie and then come back the same way.

WP: Do you remember any of the films that you saw?

MS: Not the names.

KL: That reminded me of something I wanted to ask about. People talk about Terminal Island and San Pedro together a lot. Would you elaborate on the relationship between those places?

MS: Only in the sense that the people in Terminal Island did their major shopping in San Pedro, like for clothes, department stores, and so on and so forth, because Terminal Island didn't have a large department store. They had just a few grocery stores and stores that carried other goods, but not basically clothing. They did have just a few restaurants also, but most people didn't go to San Pedro to eat at a restaurant or anything like that, but basically just shopped for clothing and other merchandise or other kitchen goods or whatever. Also, all the kids had to go to San Pedro to finish their education. The junior high school that I went to, which was called Dana, Richard Henry Dana, Richard Henry Dana at that time, junior high school today, middle school, and then on to San Pedro High School. I never get to, I got to the high school, but my sister was in high school when we evacuated.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

KL: How did Richard Henry Dana junior high school differ from school on Terminal Island?

MS: Well, Terminal Island was just an elementary school. The school itself, the structure again was just a, other than a barracks building, Terminal Island was again, the schools were also barracks buildings. But the classes were excellent as far as I'm concerned.

KL: On Terminal Island?

MS: On Terminal Island, yeah, they had good teachers, and today I wonder what motivated them to teach in a school where all the kids were Japanese Americans, speaking Japanese all over the place, except in class. [Laughs] We had to convert to English. During recess or everything, all the conversation turned to Japanese. And I think it sort of bothered some teachers that we weren't really learning English well enough. And as a matter of fact, we didn't learn how to speak English well, because you'll find that most interviews like mine, okay, when we speak, we're very inarticulate mostly. You'll find that when you hear people from, who grew up in Terminal Island, try to speak or explain anything. Because most of the time, unless they learn after junior high school to learn how to articulate and make good speeches, they maintained a habit of what we did in Terminal Island. You know, I was trying to find a DVD that was made called Furusato, which means "home," you know of that? Okay, and you listen to those people, and also if you listen to the people on the DVD about the 442 and the MIS, you'll find that many of those people are the same way. Their articulation and what they talk about is very bad, same with mine. And I think that comes from speaking, kind of mixing Japanese, and also we grew up under the training of not to be aggressively... what's the word I want? Anyway, it doesn't encourage you to be... what's the word I want? I can't think of the word.

KL: Something about holding onto traditions or integrating?

MS: Not trying to hold on, it was just a habit that formed as you grew up. In Terminal Island, if you could have listened to a conversation, it was half Japanese, half English, that the Nisei people spoke. As a matter of fact, not too long ago, I heard one, this is a company person at the place where we're teaching aikido right now, and he's in one of the classes. And he came on the phone asking another person, said, "Are you aikido-ing today?" [Laughs] Are you practicing aikido, right? Aikido is a Japanese word, add an I-N-G, that means, okay, are you participating, are you practicing aikido today? So I burst out laughing when I heard that. That's the way we spoke, all the Nisei people.

KL: Combined grammar and vocabulary.

MS: Exactly, yeah. We mixed to languages. So that's the habit we formed.

KL: Who were the teachers then in the Terminal Island school?

MS: The schools were... I don't recall any male teachers, they were all women teachers, and the teachers I had, I liked every one of them, even when they were a little strict. [Laughs] Like I was speaking too much Japanese all the time. But I still remember Mrs. Davis, who was my sixth grade teacher, Miss Burbank, who became Mrs. Mangoney after she married, I recall these teachers because they were so nice and so caring about what we learned.

KL: Where did they live?

MS: I don't know. I don't know where they commuted from to teach in Terminal Island.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

KL: And when you went to junior high school, as far as ethnicities and backgrounds, was it a more diverse school than Terminal Island?

MS: Oh, yes, okay.

KL: How was that?

MS: It was interesting because we started meeting people from European countries, if their parents were, immigrated from you name it, from Europe.

KL: Were there similarities or differences that you picked up on between their and your family's experience?

MS: No, only by physical appearance is all. All of a sudden we started seeing a lot of blondes, you know, blond all over, right? Eyebrows and all. And yeah, different people from different ethnic groups. So it was interesting.

KL: Did friendships, were friendships bounded by ethnic groups, or was it more you found a personality?

MS: It was all mixed, yeah, it's all mixed. Just like when I was in the army, we all were, had the same purpose of being in the army. Of course, you formed more friendships with certain people, but we didn't run into too many obnoxious type people who didn't want to be friends with you. Only one incident I remember is one guy who happened to be a Filipino, had a bad experience with the Japanese from Japan, well, during the war. So he was going to take it out on me, okay. And started to get aggressive about me, and I felt it immediately. But otherwise, everybody got along?

KL: What was your response to that person?

MS: I didn't respond, I just got angry inside. But I suppose I could've just responded by challenging him to engage in a fight or whatever.

KL: Yeah, I always think it's interesting when the people who left a particular society get attacked for that society's...

MS: Oh, yeah. And I could understand their feeling, because they went through a terrible experience under the Japanese army. So it's understandable, yet they should realize that they're not dealing with the same people just because we look the same. That's the only thing I had against that person. And the funny thing later that happened was that when I started meeting more people from the Philippines as a civilian later, they asked me, am I from the Philippines, because I must have some features of Filipinos. And when I say no, they're surprised, but no hostile feeling. They had good experiences otherwise with the Japanese people from Japan, so they were very friendly. And more than one person from more than quite a few came to me and asked me whether I was from the Philippines.

KL: That experience with that junior high school student, you said that was the only time you really felt race-based animosity?

MS: That was in the army, not at the junior high school.

KL: But were there any other experiences in junior high school where you felt any animosity based on your background?

MS: No, no. As a matter of fact, at the junior high school -- I should say middle school, I can't get into the habit of saying middle school -- I was chosen to be the homeroom leader. The homeroom leader's to make sure that in any assembly, to make sure that your homeroom students were in the proper place and behaving properly. So the people from Terminal Island, the Japanese people, had a pretty good reputation school-wise.

KL: Beth, are there things you think I should be asking about from this prewar period and Terminal Island and their stories?

Off camera: Did you have a friend who was a, became a dentist from Terminal Island?

KL: A friend who became a dentist from Terminal Island?

MS: Oh, yeah, yeah. I met him after I moved to Southern California and found out that he was practicing in Long Beach. His name was Katsumi Izumi, Dr. Izumi.

Off camera: They lived nearby, they're from Terminal Island?

MS: Oh, yeah, yeah. And he was in my class in Terminal Island. So anyway, that's when I started going to him for my dental work. But he retired years ago, I think something happened to him physically, so he retired. I thought it was earlier than normal, normal being because they want to retire. And the last I know is that he was living in Long Beach. Yeah, I'm sorry.

KL: There was, was there something else I should ask about that?

Off camera: Well, the great skiff story. Going out on a skiff with a buddy?

MS: The which?

Off camera: When you're going out beyond the breakwaters on a skiff with one of your friends?

MS: I thought I mentioned the, yeah.

KL: He did talk about the waves.

Off camera: I thought that was in... never mind, that was in a different context.

KL: You were showing us a yearbook from Manzanar, too, that you said a friend from Terminal Island collected. Who was that friend?

MS: His name is listed in your book at Manzanar. Last name is Murata, M-U-R-A-T-A, and first name is quite long, Takehiko, everybody called him just Tak. And he was my childhood, younger days, way up to the time of the evacuation, my close buddy. And we became quite close when we started getting interested in gymnastics in junior high school, middle school. And he was able, well, he ended up in Manzanar, and he was able to continue his interest in gymnastics and became quite good at it. I went to what is equivalent to middle school and high school in Ogden, Utah. And those schools didn't have any equipment or any programs in gymnastics, and I was very disappointed because I couldn't continue in the same way.

KL: Did San Pedro have a team or a trainer or anything?

MS: Well, in the grades that we were in, they used to have a tumbling class aside from regular gym. And we both were in the same class. And also outside they used to have a high bar, and we used to play on that before class and all that. So we used to communicate mail-wise when he was in Manzanar and I was in Utah.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: So I guess it's time to move to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. I wonder what you recall of that day.

MS: You know, it was just like something that just happened suddenly. Hardly anybody talked about it or even mentioned the possibility. So one day it happened, and we had to go to school the following Monday. Let's see, December 7th was a weekend, right?

KL: It was a Sunday.

MS: Sunday, okay. And the next day we had to go to school, and we were wondering what to do. And I don't know whether we ended up going to school at that time or not. But I remember hesitating and wondering what to do. But later, I don't know whether it was the same day or not, we ended up going to school, and everything was okay. It was safe to do so, and no one was really trying to attack us or anything like that.

KL: Was that your hesitation, you were worried that you would be targeted, or was it something different?

MS: You know, I didn't even feel that way. I didn't feel any hostility from anybody. And even after we went to school, the worst was the silence, but no one was aggressively trying to avoid us or to attack us verbally or anything.

KL: You said the worst was the silence. Can you elaborate on the silence what happenings did change?

MS: Well, silence on our part as well as I suppose the other people kept silent because they didn't know what to say or how to address this issue. I think so. I'm just saying silence because there wasn't really any kind of a communication going on as to how we should act or what to do or anything like that.

KL: Was it different for you as a Japanese American than it was for other people? I'm curious about whether this was like a general, nobody knew how to react to being at war, or whether there was identity issues going on with you as a Japanese American?

MS: I really don't know what the other people were feeling, and I don't know whether their parents were aware that something was going to happen, because politically, I mean, you know, there were a lot of indications of possible war with Japan. And especially when Japan was behaving like Germany. They were aggressively declaring war on other countries.

KL: Sometimes in the months after Pearl Harbor immediately afterwards, people in other schools, L.A. schools, have told me that, like, the principal called an assembly and made an announcement about how we're gonna treat Japanese Americans. When I've heard it, it's usually been sympathetic that these people are colleagues and we're gonna treat them well. Was there any mention made at school of how to behave or any corporate response?

MS: I don't recall any kind of assembly that I've attended or that was called, either in Terminal Island or in San Pedro, the schools. I don't know what my sister experienced, because she was in high school. But no, I didn't experience any kind of hostility at that time before we left Terminal Island.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

KL: How else was life different based on that attack?

MS: Life was different because we were put in a different environment. When we had to leave, like it was mentioned that my father had already been taken in.

KL: Tell us about that. What happened?

MS: Okay. On that day, when the war began, my father was out on a boat on a fishing trip. And I don't know what happened, I guess these boats were commanded to return to Terminal Island, I guess, wherever they were usually had the boats parked or whatever. And all I remember is that my father arriving home with, I don't know how many FBI agents, I'm assuming it was FBI agents, just packing his clothes and leaving with them, that's all. And it wasn't a very long time, he wasn't able to do anything else, prepare anything for the family or anything. Just pack his own clothes and leave with those people who was waiting for him.

KL: You were at home when that occurred?

MS: Yes.

KL: Did he speak to your family members?

MS: He didn't explain anything. And I don't know what he may have told my mother, but hardly any conversation.

KL: How did he seem, his state of mind?

MS: No expression of anger or anything, he was just trying to obey what had to be done.

KL: Did the agents interact with you?

MS: They were... I can't say they were rude or anything like that, you know, I think they were just doing their duty. And it wasn't picking on anybody or whatever. So the event was uneventful in that way, that my father just packed and just left. Which left, I guess it must have happened to most of the families in Terminal Island, so therefore it left all the womenfolks to take care of everything and prepare for evacuation. So it really created a burden for all the wives and other family members to prepare.

KL: What were conversations like, like for your family later that night? Do you recall your mom talking to people trying to figure out, or know more about what had happened?

MS: Yeah, I can't recall anything outstanding about any conversation that went on. It was just preparing to burn whatever we thought was not necessary to have, and decide what to do... well, my mother had to decide what to do with the furniture or whatever we had belonging to us.

KL: What information did you have or did you think about where your father was going?

MS: We had no information, we just found out after the fact where he ended up.

KL: How much later was it?

MS: To me, it was... let's see. All I knew was he was away. I didn't even know where he was or where he went to until really much, much later.

KL: Were you still on Terminal Island?

MS: No, no, not when I found out. As a matter of fact, even when he returned, I didn't know what he was returning from. That was in Utah. And when he returned, I think I was told. Because as a matter of fact, recently, that he was able to return because he was sponsored by the same people who sponsored our stay in Utah, the Utah farm.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

KL: When was your next communication with your dad?

MS: Personally, I didn't have any communication. I don't know whether my mother was in communication with him or not. After we moved to Utah, we ended up, the families ended up -- oh, by the way, when we went to Utah, I also found out later, after the fact, that... not this part. We were invited by my uncle, my father's younger brother, uncle, who was in Los Angeles, and he was running a small hotel in Los Angeles. And he invited us to move in with him temporarily, because Terminal Island had to be evacuated immediately. So we moved to his hotel, and he also took charge as to what, where we should go. And his original plan was a default plan to go to Manzanar. However, later, very shortly later, he got an invitation from the person in Utah who happens to be from the same, I think, prefecture in Japan, and they were acquainted before the war. And the person in Utah invited us to come to his farm to live, and it ended up that we decided to take up the invitation to live there and sharecrop on the farm. So anyway, when we moved to Utah, both my uncle's family and my mother and my sisters and I, and one other person who was living with my uncle who was my cousin from, who was the son of my father's oldest brother. So we had to, the person who invited us out to the farm, offered us what used to be some kind of a shed, storage shed. And two families and my other cousin lived in the same space, so it was no different than going to Manzanar and sharing one of the barracks with more than one family. So our partitions were just like Manzanar, blankets and sheets separated sections. And we shared a common little space that was a kitchen, and that's how we lived and sharecropped with the family that invited us.

That caused hardships on everybody who were not used to farming, because Utah farming is every hard work, and most of the work is done during the summer months. In the winter months they could relax and do other things, but they were, the work was from about five in the morning to about eight, eight-thirty in the evening, with breaks for lunch and everything else. But just imagine anybody going from California doing other than farming, suddenly doing Utah farming, which was hard, really hard work, especially the womenfolks. The kids sort of adapted to it like kids adapt to almost anything, because there were other kids they became friends with there.

KL: Who was that person who invited you?

MS: It was one of the... his name was Gensaku Miyagishima.

KL: Okay, you have to spell that.

MS: G-E-N-S-A-K-U, Miya is M-I-Y-A, gishima is G... either I or E. I think it's... okay, it's going to be I or E, then S-H-I-M-A. They usually use the name Miya for short, just the first four letters. You heard a lot of "Miyas," they're really Miyagishimas, and there was a bunch of them from Shizuoka Prefecture.

KL: That's the same number of letters as my last name. [Laughs]

MS: Really? [Laughs]

KL: So I understand the desire to shorten.

MS: Anyway, he was the father of the family, and very generous in that sense. But maybe he just ignored the hard work that people are not used to that hard work, who lived in California, non-farming. And it was hard work.

KL: Do you have recollections of the time that you spent with, it's Hikota, right, the younger brother?

MS: Yeah, Hikota Ojisan, yeah.

KL: That hotel in Los Angeles, do you know its name or where in Los Angeles it was?

MS: No, I don't remember. Roughly, let's say it was near Figueroa, and I don't know which street it was on. I kind of recall Tenth Avenue for some reason, Tenth and near Figueroa. But that wasn't the address now, okay, it's somewhere close to there. And we stayed there for roughly five weeks and had to go wherever, move, that's where we departed for Utah.

KL: What were conditions like during those five weeks?

MS: Personally I attended the Maryknoll school where the other, my cousins were going. My sister attended, I think it was Belmont, Belmont High School? Was there such a high school?

KL: There is.

MS: Okay. I think she attended there for that period, for that short period before leaving for Utah.

KL: How would you categorize your life during those five weeks?

MS: Interesting. [Laughs] Suddenly I'm behaving like a Catholic and dressing like... the kids wore sort of a uniform, same kind of clothes, men and women, or boys and girls. My sister was otherwise, she was going to a regular high school. And then I sort of got introduced to nuns and priests, but mostly nuns, which were basically, they were nice people, right, they were very supportive and really tried to help you in any way. So it was a good experience, but very, very different from what I was used to.

KL: What about for your mother?

MS: You know, I can't say how she was feeling through all that. I think she probably was trying her best to get along with whatever was happening. Because she wasn't working anymore, right, and I imagine she tried to help out in whatever way she could. So since I really wasn't talking to her about important things right now, I don't know what her feelings were.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

KL: How did you learn that you would have to leave Terminal Island? I've seen printouts of, you know, a notice that was delivered at people's houses.

MS: Houses? I don't know whether it was... I don't recall receiving any kind of a notice like that, and I didn't see any posters like that either. So it was by hearing what my mother was hearing from other people as to what was happening that I learned what had to be done.

KL: It was a very short time. What do you remember of what happened on those days? You've mentioned burning things and deciding about furniture.

MS: Yeah. Well, of course, it was all my mother had to do because I didn't know anything about selling things or whatever. Maybe I should have known at age thirteen, but anyway, she was involved in taking care of everything. And she probably talked to neighbors or whoever knew what had to be done. Because they had to close bank accounts and almost everything and get rid of whatever belonged to us furniture-wise. Which included a refrigerator I think we had only for about a year, and it was a gas refrigerator, I remember, that being unusual. Yeah, pack all their dishes and whatever. So we weren't that much of a help to her because she had to take charge of everything.

KL: How was that for her? Do you have a sense for how that affected her?

MS: Later on I could assume certain things that affected her eventually ending up... I can't think of the word... it's called schizophrenic.

KL: She had problems...

MS: Well, by the time I returned back from the army, she already had the effects of schizophrenia. I didn't know it at that time, and we didn't know what it was at that time. All we knew at that time was she was having mental problems. But I'm sure that all the stress probably had something to do with it, or increasing the possibility and bring it up as early as that. And the other stressful thing was living under the same room with more than one family. You know what happens there, two families were living under one roof, and the work.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: This is tape three of a December 4, 2013, interview with Jim Shibata. And we left off kind of bouncing back and forth between Utah and Terminal Island departure. And you said your uncle got an invitation to go to Utah, and I'm curious about what his default had been to remain and get sent to Manzanar. Why did your family decide to go to Utah?

MS: It's actually my uncle who decided that we all go to Utah.

KL: What was his thinking, his rationale?

MS: I really wasn't thinking at that time. We just followed whatever had to be done, decision which was made by my uncle.

KL: How did you get there? What do you recall of the trip out?

MS: We went there by train from the Union Station in Los Angeles. All I can recall from that trip is waking up the following morning when it was snowing in Ogden, Utah, that's where the train ended. And I guess that was the first city that I was in that snowed. And I also recall the trip to the farm from there in almost complete darkness. Because in the farm area at that time, nothing else was around, and it's almost pitch dark.

KL: That's different for...

MS: Yeah. Where you live in areas where it's lit, all the streets are lit and you have a lot of lights, if you go out in the farm way out where it's really dark, it's pitch dark. So I do remember that. I guess we were in one or two, must have been two cars. But for whatever reason, I just remember that pitch darkness.

KL: Was it attractive to you, or scary, what did you think of it?

MS: Not scary or anything, it was just noticeable that there was a different experience.

KL: So it was early April 1942 probably, you left Terminal Island and then five weeks...

MS: Something like that, right. Yeah, the schools were still going on, so it had to be before June.

KL: So you said you arrived at the Ogden train station, and then drove out into the country. What area did you...

MS: Yeah, the area is called Roy, R-O-Y, Utah. It's a farm area.

KL: And what was the first day in Roy like? What were your activities?

MS: Mainly moving in and just looking over where we were. A farm area is, well, you know, the roads were, at the time, were still gravel roads that you traveled on the cars. So you could, well, it's very noticeable because you could hear all the rocks hitting the fenders of the car. And I don't know whether it's still that way or not, probably not. However, it wasn't really isolated because there were the farms, there were many farms around, and not too distantly separated. Anyway, it was just the new environment and just getting used to that. Plus suddenly, at that time, no indoor plumbing, and outhouses at that time, which was improved not too, shortly afterwards. But the outhouses remained for quite a long time.

KL: How did you adjust to that, is it difficult, or just another new thing for a thirteen year old?

MS: Yeah, just the inconvenience, that's about it.

KL: Did you have expectations before you arrived of what you would find in Utah?

MS: None at all. Didn't know what it will be, what the environment would be like.

KL: How did you approach it? Were you excited or were you dragging your feet to leave California?

MS: No, I wasn't really resisting anything. It was just wondering what next or what it will be like. Had no idea.

KL: Tell us about the farm, like what crops did they grow, what other buildings were there, how was it set up.

MS: Basically what you grow during the spring and summer, our crops were tomatoes, peas, sugar beets also. But sugar beets were harvested around October, so it's already wintertime when you harvest sugar beets. And they also grew hay, but that was one of the, basically for the horses. And what else? Not too many... these are the commercial crops that they grew. That's about all I could remember.

KL: Did they have a kitchen garden too, domestic stuff?

MS: Kitchen garden?

KL: You said those were the commercial crops. Did they have their own private plots?

MS: Not that I knew. Well, maybe, you know, onions and other small vegetables that they grew on the side. But our work was not taking care of those, but cultivating the main crops that were the commercial crops.

KL: Were there other helpers or hired people on the farm when you arrived or when you lived there?

MS: Not at the place where we were. But the farms in the area did use, I think these were basically people from the Philippines that came during the harvesting season.

KL: Had the farm where you were, hired people in the past?

MS: Pardon me?

KL: Had the farm where you guys were, had they used, it sounds like there were migratory workers, laborers?

MS: I don't know if they did or not. They had a, the family consisted of two girls and three brothers.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

KL: Were there other Japanese Americans in that area?

MS: Oh, yeah, quite a few. There were quite a few Miyagishima families with the same name. That means that they came from the same prefecture in Japan. Quite a few, surprisingly more than I expected, farming in different areas around there. Not everybody in Roy, but a place called Clearfield, Utah, there were many farmers in that area in a place called Layton, I believe. Can't remember many of these names anymore.

KL: How did they receive you guys?

MS: Pardon me?

KL: How did those other Japanese American people receive you coming into that area?

MS: Just fine. I guess all those farmers got along with each other. I suppose they had many social get-togethers with other farmers. Of course, Japanese farmers were not the only farmers around. There were other Caucasian farmers. Most of them were very friendly, they had friendly relationships, helping each other and getting along well. They were just not crop farmers, some farmers were, raised... or milk farmers, and what else? Cows, okay... anyway, there were other animals around in other farmers. The farm that we ended up in, as animals, they just had horses that they used for farming.

KL: Were there other Japanese Americans who came into that community as a result of Executive Order 9066 and removal, or was it...

MS: A few. We found out later that, yeah, there were others who were under the same situation that we were, we got into.

KL: But it was a minority of people?

MS: Yeah, very few, very few.

KL: What was your school?

MS: First when I arrived there I ended up in a, what I call a farm school. I was in the eighth grade at that time, so I finished my eighth grade attending that school. And that school was, their schedule was oriented more for farmers, because when the farmers, when it got busy in the farm, kids were excused to do the work on the farm. And I guess they were not penalized for their absence, things like that. But anyway, I went to a school in the eighth grade there and finished the eighth grade. But then by my next school year, my father had already come back from his camp and joined us and we moved to Ogden, Utah. So my next school was in Ogden, Utah.

KL: So your dad came back in the summer of 1942?

MS: Sometime in the summer before my next school year.

KL: Do you recall the name of the middle school?

MS: No, I don't. It could have just been Roy school or something like that. The name doesn't... I just can't recall.

KL: How were relationships there between the established kids and you coming in?

MS: There were no problems there. One of the daughters of the families that invited us was... I think she was either in the same grade or anyway, same school, she helped me introduce myself to the new class, and no problems. Basically no problems there.

KL: And then you said when your dad returned, you moved to Ogden?

MS: Yeah, after he returned, I think he had to satisfy certain obligations for being invited to stay with the same sponsor that sponsored us to his farm. And I guess the obligation was to... as I recall, it wasn't to work on his farm, but at least be engaged in an activity that satisfied. But they had to satisfied according to the people from the camp, or of the camp.

KL: What was that? What did he do for work?

MS: I remember, okay, he ended up working in a cannery in Ogden, Utah.

KL: When he came back, did you notice any differences in him?

MS: Uh-huh. He gained a lot of weight. While he was a fisherman, that's a lot of exercise, you know, being a fisherman. So I guess in the camp he gained weight. But he lost that almost immediately after he started working.

KL: Did he say anything about what days had been like?

MS: Didn't get an opportunity to really have a conversation or maybe I wasn't even interested to find out anything that I couldn't understand.

KL: I was pretty self-absorbed when I was that age. You know now, though, where he was, right? Would you tell us where he was?

MS: Yes, he ended up in a camp in North Dakota. I think the name was mentioned by your notes what the name was.

KL: Yeah, Bismarck was a big Department of Justice...

MS: Right. And I didn't know where he had ended up for a long time.

KL: So he was just gone and then back?

MS: Yes.

KL: What was it like to see him again?

MS: Formal at first, like greeting him back and everything else like that. But the absence really didn't make much difference in our relationship.

KL: Do you think the same was true for his, for your mother and him? Did they just kind of pick back up, or was it changed?

MS: I think so. No, I think my mother was very glad to have him back. Because previous to then, my father had all the control of what went on in the family, and the wives were obedient to whatever the father or the head of the family controlled or whatever. Like almost any other Japanese family.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

KL: How were you received in the school in Ogden?

MS: Okay, very well. No problem that I encountered there. It was just adjusting to a school that felt a little different than what I was used to, that's about it.

KL: How was it different?

MS: Well, okay, different in what was available in the curriculum. Not the subject that you study, but the other, more gym activities, things like that that was different, which were not available, that has been always available in the California schools. In particular, gymnastics and other... what's the, I can't think of the thing to use.

KL: Like extracurricular?

MS: Extracurricular activities that the schools have in California.

KL: Your sister must have... did she graduate from that school, too?

MS: Yeah, she must have. She had to graduate from Ogden High School to finish up her high school.

KL: What did she do after high school graduation?

MS: Let's see. I don't know whether she went to work or not. For whatever reason, she didn't go to college after that. I'm embarrassed again to say that I don't know what she chose to do.

KL: Did she still live with you?

MS: Oh, yeah. Okay, we were living as a family in Utah.

KL: Did people in Ogden, in your school or wherever, did they demonstrate much awareness of the West Coast situation and the removal?

MS: If they did, they didn't talk about it or question anything about it.

KL: They just pretty much accepted you in and didn't...

MS: Yeah. Or, you know, some of the Japanese Americans who ended up in Ogden and went to the same high school, they were from different areas in California. We didn't discuss anything about the evacuation, we just went on with what was there, the situation there at that time.

KL: Did you guys band together at all, or everybody was just kind of...

MS: Yeah, yeah, we had a certain group that always played together, participated in the same activities.

KL: A Japanese American group?

MS: Yeah, mostly that, right. In that sense it was not mixed, it was kind of what was available to the Japanese Americans as whatever activity that were as simple as basketball teams that you could join and so forth.

KL: Was there a Buddhist church in Ogden?

MS: Ogden, yes, it was. My sister went there. I don't know whether I attended any other services or not. There were also a Buddhist church with an English-speaking minister there, which you didn't see too frequently during those years.

KL: Were there two churches, or was it the same church?

MS: There was, I don't know whether there was more than one Buddhist church, but at least there was one. And, of course, there were many other Christian churches.

KL: Did your mother have a job in Ogden?

MS: I think she did some domestic work, if I'm not mistaken.

KL: Your father's job was in a cannery, you said?

MS: Yeah.

KL: Did it have a connection to the farm? You said he needed to satisfy an obligation to the sponsor. Do you know what the connection was?

MS: It could have been the cannery that the farm was associated with, where they took the produce, the produce that had to be canned, like tomatoes. It could have been.

KL: Do you know the name of the cannery?

MS: I forgot already.

KL: I'm going to ask you all these specifics. [Laughs] It's okay.

MS: All I know is that cannery produced ketchup like Del Monte ketchup, a really good ketchup. I think it was called Pierce ketchup at that time, and it tasted just like Del Monte. Or is it Del Monte that we buy all the time?

KL: That's Pittsburgh, I know. She says Heinz.

MS: Oh, Heinz? Oh, Heinz. I'm sorry, yeah, it's not Del Monte, right, it's Heinz. What am I thinking of? I'm a ketchup person. [Laughs]

KL: Could you judge anything about how he liked that job compared to being a fisherman or being a grocer?

MS: No, he didn't complain too much. It was very typical of him. Even after he had to do gardening, he wasn't complaining about that. I suppose they got used to doing what was available, and they didn't complain much about that. At least I haven't heard him complain.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

KL: So you... oh. Did you ever go to any of the camps, the WRA camps like Manzanar?

MS: Uh-uh, I didn't visit any, no.

KL: But you were communicating with your friend in Manzanar?

MS: Yes, uh-huh.

KL: What were your impressions of Manzanar based on what you heard from other people, or what did you hear from your friend?

MS: All the kids weren't suffering. I think the adults were the ones who suffered in the inconvenience or suddenly become part of a huge community where they had to share restrooms and... not cafeteria, but dining, mess hall as it's called in the army. But the kids, I think, adjusted because they usually associated or spent time with other kids, their friends. That's the impression I got of camp. I'm pretty sure... I'm probably quite certain that I would have done the same thing. However, that tended to break up the family, and I think that bothered a lot of parents.

KL: Did he have any particular pursuits or teachers or crushes or people that he, people or places that he mentioned that were important to him in Manzanar?

MS: That he didn't mention, yeah. All I know is that he wasn't really complaining about life in the camp. Of course, he was enjoying continuing his gymnastics, and I have a picture of him doing a very difficult giant with the rings. And apparently they had a very good social activity going there too, because they learned all the latest dances and everything else like that.

KL: Yeah, it sounds like it. I've seen pictures of gymnastics equipment and people, it sounds like it was a very social place for the teenagers in particular.

MS: Uh-huh, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

KL: What am I missing from your time in Utah? I want to hear about what you did after high school graduation. But before that, what am I leaving out?

MS: Okay. I ended up finishing... I started in what might be called a middle school. I think it was called Central High or something like that. And that was the nine and ten? Must be. Okay, I finished eighth grade on the farm, so ninth and tenth was in Ogden, but it was not Ogden High School because Ogden High School was just eleven and twelfth grades. So the ninth and tenth grades were uneventful because I can't recall anything that was exciting or unusual or different. But then I entered Ogden High School where I finished up high school. But before I really completed finishing up, I joined the army one month before. And that was mainly, one reason was that the draft was still on, but I was expected to be drafted sometime after graduation. So therefore I wanted to get that out of the way, that's why I volunteered my services at that time, which happened to be the smartest thing, one of the smartest things I did. Because I ended up between two wars, two big wars, so I didn't have to engage in any wars.

KL: Because when did you graduate?

MS: '46.

KL: Like in May or June in '46?

MS: It was May. Yeah, May. Before graduation, I joined up. I had enough credits to receive my diploma, I found out later. But...

KL: You said it was this interwar period. I should probably ask you what you remember of milestones like Victory in Europe Day, the Japanese surrender, the dropping of the atomic bombs.

MS: Well, okay, the war ended in '45, right, World War II ended in '45. So I'm joining in '46.

KL: But I mean, even as just a teenager, what do you recollect?

MS: Oh, about...

KL: Yeah. Or do you? I'm curious especially about the Japanese surrender with your parents having some family ties to Japan still and wondering how that affected them if it did, and especially what people thought of the first atomic bombs being used at the time.

MS: Yeah. Well, I think about what was most critical, it's the loss of communication with the people in Japan. I don't know how much it bothered my father or not, but there wasn't anything that he could do about that. But hearing about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was a terrible thing, but you didn't know what to feel about that, whether Japan asked for that, or that was unnecessary. No way to evaluate, for us to evaluate, because we don't know what the decision was that made Truman to decide on dropping those bombs. I didn't feel any kind of a... I didn't know what to feel about such events. I knew it was completely terrible, but also that the war had to be ended to end all the killing that's been, that will keep going on. And I haven't discussed the issue with anybody else, neither did anybody else bring up the subject.

KL: When it happened, you mean?

MS: When it happened, or even after it happened.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

KL: Well, thank you for backtracking. You were talking about deciding to join the army because you knew you were going to be drafted.

MS: So by doing that, it was right after War II had ended, so I didn't have to participate in that. And I got out just before Korea happened, 1950. As a matter of fact, after I was discharged and got home, was home, I receive a telegram calling me back in. I had the orders to report back in, so I was preparing to have to go back in. However, I got another telegram saying forget about that, because the air force had enough people already volunteering, so that they didn't need more people. So I just lucked out period, so I didn't have to engage in the Korean War.

KL: I want to hear some more details about your time in military. So where did you, things like where did you report first?

MS: Yeah, I was in Utah, right, and it was Fort Douglas where I reported in when I joined. And from there, for basic training, I went to San Antonio, Texas. And during peacetime, the basic training was very short, about six weeks for the air force. The army probably had a longer period.

KL: Were you already called the Air Force in 1946?

MS: No, it wasn't. It was the Army Air Corps.

KL: But it was its own thing, so it was...

MS: Yes, uh-huh, it was sort of separated from the regular army, the infantry, for example.

KL: So you had Army Air Corps basic training.

MS: Yeah, yeah. It was sort of on the soft side compared to people who had to prepare for infantry. And after basic training, they give you a choice of what occupational specialty you want to get into, and I chose radar technicians training. So I got that and was sent to Florida, Boca Raton.

KL: What made you choose that specialty?

MS: I was always interested, during high school I took a course in radio, and I did well in that, and I wanted to continue anything connected with electronics, so I chose that and got my choice and was sent to Florida, Boca Raton, for the training. The training lasted, I think it was eight months. Then I was drafted to become an instructor in one of the classes, and so I taught one or two classes and asked for a transfer. And as my choice, I had all the different theaters, European Theater or the Pacific Theater and whatever other theater there were. And I chose the Pacific Theater which included Japan. However, I didn't realize that I could have ended up in one of those small islands in between, that's the Pacific Theater, right? But luckily I got Japan, and that's how I ended up in Japan.

KL: What made you choose the Pacific Theater?

MS: As opposed to the European Theater. That was it. I was assuming, okay, Pacific Theater, they'll send you to Japan. Later on I said, oh, gee whiz, they could have sent me to any one of those islands, Johnson, Kwajalein, Guam. [Laughs] But anyway...

KL: Why did you want to get to Japan?

MS: I didn't really have any good reason except it was... I guess because of my relative or because being a Japanese, I was hoping to get there, no other reason, because I didn't know what to expect. This was in late '47, '48.

KL: And so you were doing radar work in Japan?

MS: Yes, technicians work. What that involved was that to be part of a crew doing maintenance on a unit called the ground controlled system radar, which is the radar which is used to guide planes in in bad weather. It doesn't exist anymore, because they had more sophisticated radar that they used to guide planes in in bad weather. However, that's what I got my assignment in, in Japan.

KL: Did you have interactions with your family while you were there? Were you able to connect with them?

MS: No, but they connected with me. "They" meaning my uncle who had already returned to Japan, found out that I was in Japan, and he found out a way to get in contact with the base I was in, which was called Itami Air Base. That's the same air base that MacArthur landed in when he went to Japan for his duty as a supreme commander. And Itami Air Base was near Osaka, Japan. I forgot how long I was there until I was transferred to another air base, Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, Japan, with the same duties.

KL: Do you have any kind of an overview for what it was like to be part of the occupation and sort of reconstruction and redirecting of Japan?

MS: You know...

KL: It's a big, broad question, but is there anything that stands out in your...

MS: No. Actually, I was on the air base more than in the local environment otherwise. But what I saw was really a bad situation, condition of Japan at that time in 1948. Everything was torn down yet, and there were people practically begging or finding how to earn their next keep or whatever to maintain their living or family. Things like young people picking up butts from the street so they can smoke it, all the terrible scenes that happens after a war in any city or country. And you see many bombed out buildings, that's what the environment was like outside the base.

KL: What was sort of the feel or the culture inside the base? I saw you have lots of pictures of that time and of individual people. Can you just talk about what the culture was like of being part of the air force in Japan in the late '40s?

MS: Nothing. Almost everybody got along, and they chose who to associate with or who to go out of the camp, when they want to, quote, "visit" anywhere. I didn't experience any big problems or situations where they would be memorable or that is outstanding. So in general, it was pleasant and an okay situation, nothing unsatisfactory or outstanding.

KL: And how long were you in?

MS: All together? Four years.

KL: And when you returned to the United States, your family was still in Utah?

MS: No. While I was in Japan, they decided to go back to California. And by that time, I guess my sister was, must have been associating with her future husband who used to, before the war, used to live somewhere in the area of Salinas. So when my father or my family decided to move out, they chose San Mateo for I don't know what reason. It's close to Salinas, but that area, but they ended up in San Mateo.

KL: So they all three came back together?

MS: Yes. And in the meantime, also before I returned, because I had extended one year from a three year enlistment, I wasn't going to return when they were expecting me to return. So therefore my sister and her future husband got married and not wait for me, which was the proper thing. So they got married before I returned.

KL: Had you met him before?

MS: No, I haven't. I hadn't. When I did return, I stayed with them in a rented house for I don't know how long it was, before my parents, who were living with... there's a name for... they were living in an apartment of the owners who hired them to do their housework. So they were living in a temporary apartment, so when I returned, they decided it's time for them to buy a house. And I was living with my sister after I got out of the service, and after my parents bought the house I joined, I moved into that house.

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

<Begin Segment 26>

KL: If you don't want to talk about this, I understand, but you said your mom had developed schizophrenia in your absence. And I wonder sort of how she coped with that and how others coped with that, how that changed things for you?

MS: Yeah. What was terrible about that besides getting into that condition was that my father, even talking with talking with acquaintances, couldn't find a doctor who spoke Japanese. And so that we took a long time before we understood what her condition was. And, well, I think that if she could have spoken to the doctor, or the doctor could have interrogated her and made a more precise diagnosis, we would have known what her condition was to begin with. Because I didn't know what schizophrenia was and how people, how it affected people. So that it was a terrible thing going through her symptoms or whatever, you know, and not knowing what's really causing it, it would drive anybody crazy just to be around and not understanding why that person was acting that way.

KL: Would you be willing to tell us how she changed, what her behavior...

MS: Oh, yeah, schizophrenia people hear voices accusing them of something, or something very negative. So the tendency is to yell back at them as if it's a real voice that they're hearing. And afterwards, way afterwards, after I found out what that condition was and what the cause is, I hear a lot of people with that, showing the same symptom. Even when I was working at Hughes, when I was sitting in the bathroom, and here comes somebody in yelling and screaming. Otherwise, the person's technically competent. And I used to see people walking down the street yelling and something like that, back at somebody. Otherwise, they're fine.

KL: And people still struggle with it, I think, in the medical community, diagnosing it and how to treat it.

MS: Yeah. Well, the thing is, I don't know how they treat, the specialists treat people with schizophrenia. I still don't know. But I'm sure that, okay, when I think about that, I'm sure that there were other people going through the same experience or otherwise among the evacuees. Having gone through some kind of stress, or maybe it was just a natural occurrence with some people, I don't know, who have the same condition, but they're not talking about it. Because we as a family at that time also felt shame in having someone in your family getting into that kind of a condition. So you don't talk about it to your relatives or anybody, only the people who knows about it directly, just knows it and don't talk about it. And same thing with me, I didn't know what the condition was, and I thought it was uncurable, a permanent situation.

KL: Were you ever able to get any treatment for it or any...

MS: Not that I know of. Because I think the condition lasted through her dying days.

KL: I think you're, there's not been a lot written about psychological effects on people after the camps closed and after the war ended and the removal order was lifted, and that's why I'm pushing you on it. I appreciate your being able to talk about some of this. It's got to be really difficult, I think it is important to try to record some.

MS: No, that's okay. Because I think that others have probably gone through it. Because no one talks about it, you don't know what kind of, what stress might cause. Or maybe some people just, without stress will get into that condition. But at least if you know what it is, you will find the proper person who might be able to, not correct, but to treat or ease that situation. But like I said, nowadays, I recognize other people with that condition and they're all over.

KL: What else has been important to you in your adult life?

MS: Let's see...

KL: Maybe either career history or family life, one and then the other?

MS: Oh, yeah. Being, getting a very satisfactory occupation or job. You know, this equal opportunity stuff still exists. And then it was much stronger when I got into the workforce, and you keep running into one company after another, and it seems like even today, there's no ideal company. Maybe you have. [Laughs]

KL: The National Park Service is fantastic, but even it is not perfect or ideal all the time. [Laughs] I haven't had experience with the perfect...

MS: That I would consider which was completely unsatisfactory. Also finding schools in higher education was very disappointing with the schools I went to. I expected great professors and great universities, but that's not necessarily true. And what really triggered my anger was that you are paying for this education now, it's not a public given education. And you're paying for crap. That's what really upset me.

KL: What did you try to study?

MS: I started with trying to become an engineering major. And then I switched to physics, then I changed to math, and I graduated as a major in math and I didn't go any further.

KL: Where did you graduate from?

MS: USC. And even if I wanted to continue with graduate work, then I would have to make up a lot of deficiencies, so I just quit there. But that experience was very disappointing. I think that the same quality of education that I started with at a junior college, San Mateo junior college -- well, it's not called junior college any more, right? It's a community college, San Mateo community college.

KL: But it was good quality?

MS: Yeah, but I didn't complete, you know, I just had maybe one and a half years of that and then I transferred to a bigger university.

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

<Begin Segment 27>

KL: Tape four, continuing an interview today with Jim Shibata on December 4, 2013. And we were just talking about your education after being in the Air Force and adult life. And one thing we talked about before the interview started that I wanted to hear more about on the tape was your involvement with aikido. And I wonder if you could tell me how that started and just more about that.

MS: It all started when I attended the demonstration of aikido. However, it wasn't the demonstration that impressed me so much. They had a little write up of what aikido was about. This goes back to way before I started. However, what was written on that piece of paper really kind of triggered my interest that, hey, this is something that's going to be what I would really like to train in. And before that I had a little, just a little bit of judo training in Japan. But I didn't go very far, I didn't get very far in it. But this, for some deep reason, was something that I just remembered, that I'm interested in this and I may look into this. But it didn't happen until 1968.

KL: When was the demonstration?

MS: The demonstration was way before... I can't remember the year, but it was a number of years before I actually sought a place to train in.

KL: What was it that grabbed you about what you read?

MS: It talked about something besides just competition, and I can't remember the exact word that triggered my interest, but at least I remembered that I was interested in it and I was going to look for a place to train. So in 1968, which was years after, I can't remember the number of years, but years after I got interested in, I looked for a place, and I could only find one place in this whole L.A. area that had aikido training, and that place still exists today. It is called the L.A. Aikikai, or Los Angeles Aikikai. And so I started there. And while I was there, one of the instructors there... there were several instructors that taught the classes, there were many classes there. And one of the instructors I found out had another club at the Torrance high school, it's called West High School in Torrance, that he was conducting another class of aikido in. And I found out that his class was close to where I was living, so therefore... and then I didn't, I wasn't too satisfied with the L.A. Aikikai, so therefore I transferred to the other aikido class at the West High School.

And there I continued for a long time with that class, whose instructor had another class going in the L.A. area, more central to L.A., which was more his headquarters class. So I became, so I started training at West High School as well as his other class, and I trained with him for quite a long time until about 19'... okay, it was about 1986. I said I started in '86, but it was actually '68 that I started, 1968. By 1986, I decided, okay, this training is not getting me to where I should be going, getting to. So therefore I was going to look for another class that would satisfy my own expectations, or go independent and do my own research.

And just at that time, one other person who was originally from Japan, invited another master instructor from Japan to conduct a seminar in the Los Angeles area. And so anyway, I decided after I met this master instructor, I decided I'm very interested in this training, because I was impressed with his character when I met him, and I'll tell you why afterwards. And so I decided, okay, I'm going to... okay. And the person who invited this master instructor asked me if I were interested in supporting his seminars in this country or in the L.A. area, and I said yes, I will be. And so later after that, about five of our, five groups of aikido practitioners, decided that they would like to join in a group that would be invited to his seminars.

But to make the story short, what I wanted to do was to dedicate the training to the master instructors, master instructor's training. However, the rest of the people, except one person who was the original person who invited him to this country, was interested in dedicating or completely dedicating our training to this master instructor. Because they wanted to keep associating with their old group and inviting other instructors for seminars. So I just ended up with another person as a group to continue inviting the so-called master instructors, instructor. And so that this went on for roughly thirteen, fourteen years.

And before I go on, let me tell you why I was very impressed with this person, which I still am, however, he's already passed away in 2005. He showed what I later found out what the training, this aikido training is all about. And this aikido training I'm referring to is the aikido training from the founder of this aikido that many people are trying to study. He kind of fitted the description of what this training was about, in other words, a true character transformation of that person, of each person, in order to really understand what aikido training is about. So somehow I realized that, okay, this person had that already, this person, because of his transformation of character, he was... he influenced me. And indeed, about thirteen years later, I realized I was correct, because his training methodology follows his founder's philosophy and what this aikido training is about. However, hardly anybody understood what the philosophy of the founder was as he stated it. However, this other person, other master instructor I'm referring to, knew how to express that better than that founder. And that's my impression, and I think others have found it the same, the same thing. So that it follows that if you could master, several master instructors' lesson training methods, then you should be able to approach the founder's aikido. This is how I continued to train with him for thirteen, fourteen years, and I'm still mentally going over his methodology of training.


MS: Okay, so the challenge now is to prove that I have found the right way to train, to approach the original founder's aikido.

KL: And you were talking before we started the interview about, you gave a really just eloquent sort of description of the philosophy of aikido, and you said earlier in the tape that it wasn't about competition, but I wonder if you would say what it is about.

MS: It's about this character transformation that a person has to go through to understand what the founder was talking about. And that character transformation is to return to the universe and return to the divine. In other words, the universe that I'm describing is the universal... well, universal complete... okay, what I'm describing is the universal harmony which is actually the universe, how things happen, and to be in harmony with how things happen. For example, how much of the universe do we really know? Scientists are discovering new things about the universe every day, but this aikido is to be able to harmonize with that changing universe. So that if you are able to do that, it is that divine station that is identical to that divine, that's how I interpret it, okay. In other words, that is God, the universe is God, who knows exactly what the universe is about. So if you could get into that, become that, if you could become that, then you will really understand and be able to do what the founder did physically. That's where the demonstration of the techniques come in. It's almost like the experiments which proves the philosophy or the theory. So that's where I want to be. So far, nobody has reached that point, or caught up with the founder. And the founder said, "After you catch up with me, there's more. You have to keep going," because the universe is changing, so that there's more. Just catching up with him is getting to where he got, and you have to keep going. So that's why I say it's the same as the divine.

KL: Who is the founder?

MS: His name is Morihei Ueshiba.

KL: And this instructor that you had is still...

MS: His name is... what's his first name? Shoji Nishio. Well, that's how my memory's going right now, bang, bang, bang. That's why he's been so important to me, and unfortunately, can you believe it, he was just one year older than I, and he passed away in 2005. That's why it was kind of, really, really too early, because I could have learned, everybody could have learned much more from him. So he really kind of assured me that, okay, we're on the right path towards the founder. Many of what's going on, I've been outspoken again about this, that many of what's going on labeled aikido is not on the same path, because you could just tell by what the technique demonstration shows. So it's very important. It's like you're just enjoying the conflicts and the violence that's going on, yeah, the violence that goes on today. If you don't enjoy that, you have to get on the other path, osensei's path. Osensei is the name we use -- osensei means the great teacher or the unique teacher. That's what we call the founder.

KL: What is your group called, or your practice?

MS: Well, we have our name, our practice is the Venice Aikido Club, which is sponsored by the Venice (...) Community Center. And so we as a club follow this teaching, which also, what I'm implying here is that other clubs may or may not be following the same teaching. So this is why, when you want to study aikido, you have to make sure you want to study, which is on the right path.

KL: Yeah, it sounds like it's been very hard.

MS: But the members of other groups will tell you differently. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 28>

KL: So back to things related to the Japanese American World War II experience, I wanted to ask you about the redress movement in the 1980s, there was this movement for redress. I wrote to you, that you guys were kind of in a unique vantage point for that movement, and I'm curious to know your thoughts on the movement for redress and on the outcome, were you involved at all or what you thought of it.

MS: Yeah. The movement was... it's political, and it was monetarily beneficial to the recipients. But money itself is not going to make up for just the physical loss, loss that way in that sense. It's more important that, again, the character transformation of everyone, all citizens, which is more important, but that's almost impossible.

KL: Yeah, I was going to ask you how that made you --

MS: But something is better than nothing, and the amount is not trivial, so that's okay, too.

KL: Did you guys receive any aspect of the finances or the presidential apology, or did your father?

MS: I received, my sister did, but I did, too. But unfortunately, my father and mother, they were the ones who should have received it. But that's the way it goes, anyway. So I don't have too much more to say about that issue. Was there other issues that were presented by other people?

KL: Everybody's response is different to that question. Some people, I know one guy who refused the payment when he was younger in camp and he eventually... the redress had kind of three parts, the payment, the apology, and then there was money set aside for educational efforts, and that's still going on. Some people thought it was inappropriate to attach a monetary part. Some people thought it was, and then like one woman said that she had a conversation with the doctor, she was going to refuse the payment and he said there are elderly patients who... whether the amount or the money at all is appropriate, they can use this money to pay medical bills that they need to pay and wouldn't be able to otherwise. And so that caused her to think differently. Some people took the money and bought a car, some people think the apology was the important part and they're glad that that happened. A lot of people, like you say, "I wish my parents could have seen any of this," because they had already died. One man in our film says, "It lifted a weight off my shoulders, I'd always felt like a second class citizen, and having that acknowledgement did change things for me personally." It's a spectrum, everybody thinks differently about it.

MS: Yeah, I guess so.

KL: What about Terminal Island? This is a weird -- like many of the questions are weird to ask if I know the answers, but have you returned to Terminal Island?

MS: Two or three times. But the place is so physically empty now that it doesn't give you any idea of the history of the area. Just recently I thought it'd sure be nice to build a real estate community, you know, build more houses so that people could form a community there again, but I'll never happen. Because it wasn't such a bad area to live in. But if you go back there now, prison's there, the navy bases there, but what else of significance is there?

KL: Were you involved in the monument that's there at all?

MS: I know where it is, but no, I wasn't involved in that at all.

KL: What about the, there's an organization the Terminal Islander's Club. Have you had any involvement with them or been to any of their events ever?

MS: No, basically I haven't been interested in any kind of a get-together, even high school or any schools or any clubs or anything like that. So that's been my habit.

KL: We were talking during the break from recording about your visits back to Manzanar National Historic Site and how you've kind of become involved in Manzanar. When did you first visit Manzanar National Historic Site?

MS: (At one of the) Fukuhara workshops with Beth. Did we go there before?

KL: Beth said before it was open officially, on a trip to Mammoth you made a stop there.

MS: Oh, did we? Okay, I forgot about that then.

KL: We won't talk about that one. [Laughs] Tell us about the Fukuhara workshop. What is it and what's it like?

MS: Okay, I can't tell you too much because I'm just going with Beth and just enjoying the area and visiting Manzanar, visiting and kind of knowing, starting to know more about Manzanar and people who were there.

KL: What's your response to either Manzanar just as a place, or to the National Park Service presence there or the exhibits? What do you think about Manzanar?

MS: I think it's great. Everybody, the people there, and you folks are monitoring or managing the place, I think it's really serving a real great purpose.

KL: Why do you think it's important?

MS: Well, I suppose so that people will not forget ourselves, what we are like unless you remember these things. It helps, I guess, to convert people to become a better person. And if you just forget about this, it's gonna repeat, which it has been in other countries.

KL: Has there been any time in your life when you see a similar dynamic to what it was like after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor politically or socially? Has any later time reminded you of your family's experience in the '40s? Do you worry that this... I mean, it sounds like you think it's possible, people are capable of whatever and we could do something similar again as a society? Have you ever sensed that danger?

MS: Yeah, I think, again, it goes back to what I talk about in aikido training, that things will keep repeating until people themselves change. And I suppose that's the big issue, how to do that. It's almost the same as with my aikido training, how do we, or how do I do it, and what do I teach so that people will get on this founder's path. And it's not a trivial problem. Somehow, like one of the rituals that we try to follow, which is a ritual telling ourselves that, calm your spirit, calm your soul, and return to the divine, we practice this ritual. It's telling you somehow you left the ability to do so, get back there and start over. And so it's something we try to remember to practice and kind of pass on to other people. You have to change, every individual has to change, and that's a big order. That's why, I guess that's why parenting is so important.

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

<Begin Segment 29>

KL: I can't think of a better way to wrap up this conversation then what you just said. Are there things that you wanted to share that you expected to talk about or still would like to talk about, stuff I've left out?

MS: I don't think you left out anything. [Laughs]

KL: What did I leave out, do you think I left out anything? Because as I'm watching, I think of questions that I want to hear.

WP: I have a couple of questions if you don't mind.

MS: Okay, no, I don't mind at all.

WP: Okay. Did your parents ever become citizens?

MS: No, no. By that time, I guess they were not interested in it because it wasn't a big handicap to them, I suppose, not being a citizen. Because everything else, I guess for the kids and everything else was okay. And I guess it didn't really bother them that much that they weren't a citizen by that time. I suppose it would have been different if they were younger.

WP: What was the ethnicity generally of the people that you worked with when you were in Japan in the military?

MS: In the military?

WP: Yeah.

MS: Ethnicity meaning... oh, funny thing is that, okay, I was a Japanese American, right, but I look like an ordinary Japanese. And I'm working, most of my activities were in the base. However, in Japan, in the bases, they hired other regular Japanese to work on the base, right? So the ordinary American soldiers would many times look at me, and in our fatigue clothes, we looked just like the regular Japanese who were hired to work in the base. And they think, they would assume me to be one of the "gooks." Have you heard that term, "gooks"? [Laughs] So that was kind of funny in a way that they would do that. But during... that's the feeling they had, Japanese were still "gooks" to them, so therefore anybody who looked like them were "gooks." So they just assume I was one of them right in the base, although I was a soldier, American soldier. So that used to be... that was if anything like that is what you meant by what the ethnicity in the base was.

WP: Did you work with other Japanese Americans?

KL: Did you work with other Japanese Americans?

MS: In the base? There weren't that many, but I wouldn't have had any problem with others if they were on the base. I don't quite get the question.

WP: I was just wondering if any of the other people that you worked with were Japanese Americans and if they had similar experiences like you were just talking about.

MS: There were just very few where I was who were Japanese Americans. Yeah, that's funny, I didn't even think about that. Oh, I had, when I was in the first base near Osaka, Itami Air Base, I had a real good buddy who was a Kibei himself who had returned to the U.S. and joined the army air corps, and he became a good buddy, he and I became good buddies. And if that is an example, there weren't any other problems, any kind of friction or other Japanese Americans with true Japanese American or many Japanese Americans in the same base, at least I didn't think so.

WP: Did you use your Japanese a lot while you were there?

MS: Not too much. Because by that time, I'd lost quite a bit of my fluency in Japanese. And as I was pointing out, that when I get together with other Japanese Americans who were in Terminal Island, we all spoke a certain dialect. And when I start speaking with them, somehow, everything starts coming back. But with other Japanese people or people speaking Japanese to me, I cannot communicate too well with them in Japanese. I don't know why that happens, but it's that way. So right now, I have trouble in aikido with communicating with Japanese instructors in Japanese, because all the training in this country in aikido is in English, so I've been teaching in English. Occasionally I would throw in Japanese words because the names of the techniques are in Japanese, things like that.

WP: I have one more question for you.

MS: Sure. No, I don't mind.

WP: I think you mentioned that you had done judo when you were in Japan?

MS: Little bit, just a little bit.

WP: Can you tell me about that and where you did that?

MS: Okay, that was in the first base I was in. They used to instruct Japanese judo instructors into the base to conduct the side activities for the soldiers. And one was a judo class, so I attended a few of those classes, that's it. I didn't get too far in my training because it was such a short period.

Off camera: I guess, well, the one that that -- I'm not sure why it's come up, but the one person that you had in your barracks, a guy from New York, the one who had an interesting interpretation of your name?

MS: She wanted to hear about a guy in your barracks from New York who had an interesting interpretation of your name? Was this in the Air Force?

Off camera: I don't know if it was in Japan or if it was in, where it was, but there was the guy from New York who called you "Menorah Shabbat?"

KL: Oh, he called you -- I got the second half of it. Someone called you "Menorah Shabbat?" I have a guess as to his religious or cultural background.

Off camera: New Yorker.

MS: I think it was, yeah, my first base, this guy, yeah. He was living with his wife, who was with him, off the base. And he invited me to dinner one time at his place, and he remarked about my name being a nice Jewish name. [Laughs] "Menorah Shabbat." So I have a perfect Jewish name. Yeah, that was funny.

KL: My dad's retired from the Air Force, and that is one of the, you know, they're kind of cultural experience was being together with these people from all over the United States and all different backgrounds, and I think they valued that. I think that was kind of a neat exchange of traditions and places.

MS: You know, actually I found -- and probably your parents would say the same thing, that the army, the military was surprisingly equal opportunity. If you want to do something, they're not like the general impression that you just obey the shouted order or things like that. They always have their own way. They consider, okay, what do you want to do and try to help you get there. So I think most people have the wrong impression about military life. During the wartime it's going to be different when you have to enter a battle. I mean, you better do what the commander says or else you could die yourself.

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