Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Sadako Nimura Kashiwagi Interview
Narrator: Sadako Nimura Kashiwagi
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: July 11, 2015
Densho ID: denshovh-ksadako-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

KL: Let me ask you to go through and list your siblings in birth order, and where the family was living at that time.

SK: Let's see. Neesan, we were in Sacramento or Florin. So she was born there, Nobu was born in Sacramento area, and Taka was born there and so was I. And then the fifth child was Tomiye and she was born in Newcastle -- not Newcastle, but in Red Bluff. And then the sixth surviving child was born in Tule Lake.

KL: Yeah, I noticed that, about two months after you guys arrived.

SK: In fact, he was the only one who had an English name to begin with, and the nurses named her Ginny. They said, "Oh, no, no, no Japanese names, kind of thing. Because you heard the story of how in Florin, but the teachers had lined up the Nisei kids and says, "You children have impossible names," and all gave them American names. That wouldn't be allowed nowadays. [Laughs]

KL: You said names were very important to your dad?

SK: Oh, yeah.

KL: Well, I was just gonna ask you about yourself, but what are the stories of your other siblings' names?

SK: One of the ones, the oldest one who died, her name was Hideko. And he named her after Hideyoshi, you know, the shogun, and he was a powerful shogun. So she died, and so my father said, "Namae ni maketa," he said, "she lost to the name," that's why we lost her. And then my brother was named Nobuya, again after... there was a shogun named... something, anyway, again. And then Taku not so much, and then I don't know my name so much, and then Sadako was... I don't know. But the English equivalent would be Mary, it would mean the same as Mary. Then Tomiye, you know, it's just amazing how names fit the person. Tomiye means "wealthy," and of all of us, she's the most wealthy. [Laughs]

KL: It is interesting. You wonder if it's the way people are treated or expectations or what.

SK: Yeah. And then Shinobu's name was given to her by a priest, because we were in camp, and my father by that time had been carted off to...

KL: Sharp Park?

SK: Yeah.

KL: Wow, that was pretty immediate, then. So he wasn't in Tule Lake for very long at all before he was taken away.

SK: Yeah. But the timing there doesn't seem to fit. But anyway, she was named by this Buddhist priest, and she was named Shinobu, means to "endure." And she isn't that type of person at all, do you know what I mean? She doesn't live up to that name. [Laughs]

KL: That's interesting. I'll have to go back and look, but I'm pretty sure that Reverend Nagatomi's daughter that was born in camp was also named Shinobu.

SK: Oh.

KL: And then her middle name or her English name is Jean, or Jeannie.

SK: Shinobu Jean?

KL: Uh-huh.

SK: Isn't that interesting? My sister's name is Jean as well. The nurses named her Jean.

KL: Oh, yeah, your sister is Shinobu Jean. Yeah, I'm not sure what the Nagatomis' daughter, if she had a middle name or anything, but Shinobu, I think, was the youngest of those three sisters, who was born in Manzanar. I'll have to double check and make sure I'm right about that, but... hmm, so what are some of your earliest memories?

SK: Of what?

KL: Just of life, but being in Sacramento or in Red Bluff.

SK: I don't remember too much about Red Bluff because I was only about four. I guess my earliest memories would be going to Placer County and going to kindergarten, first grade or something like that. And the teacher commented on the fact that I was coloring within the lines, that somehow impressed her for some reason. Then I remember falling a lot and scraping my knees, and at one point they were worried about a child molester, so we walked to and from school, there were no buses, and so we used to walk home in groups because of that. And they'd have the older ones -- and this is like a one-room schoolhouse. And so I remember that.

KL: Yeah, that'd be scary.

SK: Yeah. And then we used to walk by this pasture that had a bull in it, and we would run by, you know. [Laughs] And then we moved to Newcastle, and it was from Newcastle that we went to camp. I don't remember the exact Sunday, but I do remember things going on about me, but didn't really connect at the time. But looking back on it now, because I was only seven or eight, and my father had a friend in Sacramento when the war broke out, and he was considered a bachelor. And so he was concerned about him, so he went looking for him. Well, he didn't come home, 'cause he was violating curfew and the mileage. And so I remember Mom being worried about him and everything. Then we came home from school, and there was a car, and we were feeling really relieved because then I knew that Father was home. So I remember that, and then another thing I remember was that, you know, there's all these rumors about you can't have materials with Japanese and things like that. And as I said, my father read a lot so I remember him pitching his books in the fireplace. We lived in an old, old house that had square nails, and it had a fireplace. And so I remember him doing that.

KL: Do you remember his demeanor as he was doing that, or what that was like for him?

SK: I don't, because I see these books flying into the fireplace. But it must have been really hard, as I say, because he liked to read. And what else? Oh, having to get rid of sharp knives and cameras, none of this we were allowed to take with us. And there was one room, I don't know, even smaller than this room, where we stored our things thinking that when we got back, it'll be there. When we got back, it was all gone except for one table, old table, which my brother has, and the ofuro, that was the only thing left.

KL: You stored them in the house that you'd been living in?

SK: Yeah, uh-huh, but everything else was gone.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.