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

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

<Begin Segment 1>

KL It's July the 11th, it's 2015, I'm Kristen Luetkemeier here with Sadako Kashiwagi for an oral history interview for the Manzanar National Historic Site. We're in San Francisco today, I'm in my room at the Inn San Francisco, and we're going to be talking some about Sadako's time both confined at Tule Lake and then also her involvement with the site in more recent years, too, with the pilgrimages and commemoration. And I want to confirm before we go any further that I do have your permission today to be talking with you and recording this interview and to make it available to the public.

SK: Yes.

KL: Well, thank you. I'm so glad this has worked out. Let's start off talking about your parents, if you would just tell us both of their names and what year they were born, or approximately? I can give you a guess. I have your dad as 1885 and your mom as 1905?

SK: Okay, yeah. Right.

KL: Well, let's start off with your dad. What was his name and what can you tell us about his background, the family he grew up in?

SK: I don't know too much about him, but his name was Junichi Nimura, and he picked up Fred along, when he came to the United States, obviously. He was Jack of all trades and master of none, you know, and he moved a lot. Very independent spirit and he didn't want to take orders from other people. And we'd be tenant farmers and he didn't get along with the boss and so we'd have to move, so we did a lot of moving. And at one point he went to Mexico and I don't know what he did there or how long he was there, and then he worked in the lumber business. And unfortunately, that's where he learned to chew tobacco because they couldn't smoke. [Laughs] And then he worked also a houseboy, so he did a lot of things. And then he got married, my mother was a "picture bride," and she was one of the last to come over before they closed the immigration. And so they had two girls before my Neesan was born. And both of them died, one died of a milk allergy, and then another one was stillborn. That was before Hisa was born. And Father believed a lot about names and the importance of names, and they named her Hisa, meaning "long life" because they lost two girls earlier.

KL: Yeah, I was gonna ask you about his name, Junichi.

SK: Junichi. Well, it probably was the oldest son, because ichi means "one," the first one.

KL: Oh. I've heard jun defined as "pure." Bill Nishimura talked about this term Jun-Nisei which I had never heard before, like "pure Nisei," like had never been to Japan, as opposed to Kibei-Nisei. So I saw jun and I thought, oh, I wonder if it has to do with purity.

SK: No, it would depend on the character.

KL: Oh, I see, okay.

SK: First time I've heard that expression.

KL: Yeah, I hadn't heard it either.

SK: Okay.

KL: Yeah, there was a lot in... actually, I think Alisa interviewed Bill at the same pilgrimage where Densho interviewed Hiroshi, because it was in 2004 up at the Tule Lake pilgrimage, so it was kind of neat. So do you know where, jumping back again, do you know where in Japan your father grew up or was from?

SK: Oh, he was from Saiki-gun, Japan, province...

KL: Do you know what kind of work his family did or anything about his education?

SK: At one point I think they tried to make him a priest, so he knew quite a bit about Buddhism. And at one point he worked in a bank, I believe.

KL: In Japan?

SK: Uh-huh. You know, he was very good with numbers, and he found a mistake that one of the supervisors made, and he pointed it out because the supervisors over him, they got rid of my father. So that was one of the reasons he came, he left Japan. That's about all I know about his background and why he came to the United States.

KL: He was not interested in becoming a priest?

SK: No. [Laughs] He read a lot. He read a lot. And very definite opinions. He knew quite a bit about the U.S. Constitution, oh, and during bootleg time, he was a bootlegger. In fact, his mother would make sake and he tells the story about the feds coming, and he put kerosene on the top, and the kerosene would float to the top so the feds couldn't find out the sake was on the bottom. [Laughs]

KL: He put it in the bottle? Oh.

SK: No, he put the kerosene on top of the still, and the kerosene would float to the top and the sake would go to the bottom, so they tasted it and said, "Oh, this isn't sake." But then I think he spent some time as a bootlegger, I think he did. And he was quite open about these kinds of things, you know. So, as I say, he did things his way, and he was a "troublemaker." [Laughs]

KL: Let me ask one more question about him and immigration. Do you know why he chose to come to the United States?

SK: Probably because a lot of his fellow citizens were coming to the United States, it was the go-to place.

KL: I've heard it was kind of unusual for the first son to leave. Did he ever say anything about what impact that...

SK: Well, that's another thing that we're not clear on. He was married before he married my mom, and you know, the first son gets everything in Japan, and this one family didn't have a son, and so my father married into that family, took that name. So I'm not even sure that Nimura is really our name. When going through the papers my sister had, there was a whole history of my father's family, but it was all in Japanese. And Hiroshi looked at some of it, so I don't have it with me, but my niece, I think, has it. Sounds like she's going to get all the Tule Lake archives kind of stuff.

KL: That'd be great. It would be wonderful to get that translated.

SK: Yeah. And you know, he was very strict in many way, but he was a very generous spirited person. I remember always... we were a poor family, and it was eight of us or six or whatever, and he always finds somebody who needed more, and he'd bring them home, and we'd share a meal with them. And at one point they lived in Loomis, you know, right near the railroad tracks, and there were a lot of what they called hobos in those days, and he'd invite them in and feed them and provide a sandwich and send them off. I mean, he was just very generous that way. You know, when there was something needed to be done at church, for example, for Obon, the yard needed clearing up, he go and cleaning the yard, trim the trees or whatever, and cart it off all at his own expense. And one time he was going down the road and something fell out, and he got cited for that. It was those, just before where the litter laws were coming into being. And so he went before the judge and says, "Hey, I'm doing this on my own time, my own gas, and I'm going to be, I have to pay this fine." The judge just waived... in other words, he was not afraid of speaking up when he felt it was necessary.

So when we went to camp, and this kind of leads right into it, I was... by the time I got to Tule Lake, I was nine. Left Newcastle when I was eight, nine when I got to Tule Lake. And so to recruit for the army, my father went to the meeting and told the Nisei, "You're fools. Why should you?" And you're like this, you're already considered disloyal, why should you volunteer for the army?" Someone reported him to the FBI and lo and behold, they came to get him one day. I remember it very vividly, we were playing some kind of game between the barracks, and the two FBI agents came and took him off, and we didn't see him for eighteen months. And again, going through my sister's papers, we saw... see, he was sent to Sharp Park, just on the peninsula here, first, and then from Sharp Park to Santa Fe. So... as I say, we didn't see him for eighteen months.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

KL: Let's back up, actually, and talk a little bit more about her background, and then we'll get to the Tule Lake stuff, and we'll talk some about that when we get to that part of it. Same sort of questions as for your dad. Where was she from in Japan and what do you know about her family and her youth?

SK: Right. She was born in Hiroshima city, and she was... she may have been the second oldest.

KL: I didn't ask you her name, I guess. What is her name?

SK: Shizuko Okada.

KL: Would you spell Okada?

SK: O-K-A-D-A. And her sister, older sister, I think it was her older sister, went to Brazil. And then the mom came here, and then there was a younger sister, Shimeno, whom we met after the war. And we're still in close contact with them. I have two cousins who are survivors of the a-bomb. And one of them is a sculptor, and he sculpted the cenotaph. And so, and then there were two children after that, after the war. So there's kind of an artistic kind of background.

KL: And somewhat adventurous.

SK: Right. And then the older one, oldest of the boys, is a businessman, and he always manages to come up with the bust and boom economy of Japan, he always manages to somehow stay afloat. He comes up with different ideas and he just changes it, retunes his factory and keeps it going. And his oldest son has taken over the factory. And his two oldest boys were twins, and one is a French chef, recently opened a beef restaurant, and the other one is running the factory.

KL: Still in Hiroshima?

SK: Yes.

KL: What is your grandmother's name who came to the U.S.? Do you know, Shizuko's mother.

SK: No, I didn't have a grandmother who came to the U.S.

KL: Oh, okay, so Shizuko came to the U.S. and her sister went to Brazil, but your grandmother stayed in Japan, I see.

SK: Right, exactly. She married an Ishimaru, and she was a survivor, and then her two boys were a survivor. And he happened to be out of town that day so he was... but ironically, he died first.

KL: Did Shizuko's sister remain in Brazil long term, and that's where she lived?

SK: Uh-huh. In fact, before my mother died, we had a note from, a letter from Japan saying that the sister in Brazil had died. But we don't know the name or anything, and, but apparently they've done very well, the sons and, you know, they're doctors and things like that. So we do have relatives in Brazil as well.

KL: That's amazing. What do you know about Shizuko's immigration experience?

SK: I know she came to...

KL: Angel Island?

SK: Angel Island, yeah.

KL: Do you know, you said it was very late in the time when immigration was allowed, do you know what year she came, or around when?

SK: She was about nineteen, twenty at the time.

KL: And I often look this up, but I didn't in this case. Do you know when your father first came to the U.S., how old he was?

SK: I think he came in 1903, I think, or even earlier than that.

KL: So he had been here for quite some time.

SK: right, right, and there was about a six to eight year age difference.

KL: Did she ever talk about what her expectations were coming to the U.S. or getting married.

SK: No. And I'm sorry I didn't ask. You know, the day to day struggle was kind of overwhelming. And so we didn't talk about things like that. And my sister sent her to Japan, and neither one talked about, they didn't talk about surviving the bomb, and my mother, they didn't ask about the struggles here. But they were able to make connections, I guess, through the Red Cross after the war, and so, again, my folks, you know, sent them things, and my cousins remember that. In fact, Hiroshi's cousins, too, remember that. That these care packages from the United States were real treasures. And they remember this, one of the things that they sent was pencils. And he said, "To this day, I remember the smell of pencils." I remember they used to send coffee and whatever we could afford, and old clothes. And as I say, we weren't rich by any means, but they did it. They need it more than we do, kind of thing.

KL: Yeah, especially if they were still in a city, I'm sure they really valued that.

SK: And another thing is there was a big earthquake in 1921 or something like that in Tokyo. And we had a record of my father donating thirty-five dollars to do that. And in those days, that was a lot of money for the relief effort.

KL: Do you know anything about your mom's time at Angel Island, if she was detained there at all?

SK: We had had a pilgrimage to Angel Island last October, and we didn't get upstairs to where the Japanese stayed, we saw where the Chinese stayed and all that, poetry which had been painted over eight times, you know. That was nearly torn down.

KL: Yeah, I know it's kind of amazing that it's survived and it's there and that it's visible and stuff.

SK: A friend of ours heard about it, his name was George Araki, Dr. George Araki at SF State. And he was the one who spearheaded the effort to save it.

KL: I'm glad. It's a really powerful place. Well, so you said that your father moved around a lot in this country. Did that continue after he was married?

SK: Oh, yes, yes.

KL: Do you know any of the places that they were? You mentioned Mexico, and then he worked in the lumber industry?

SK: Right, but that, I think, before he got married. Once he got married, then I know my memory is... I was born in the Sacramento area, Sacramento, and then we were, moved to Red Bluff, and he rented a laundry there, that's where my sister, who was four years younger, she was born there in Red Bluff.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: Backing up a little bit before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entering the war, you mentioned a bull in Placer County that you walked by and stuff. For those of us who are too young to have been there or haven't read much about that part of the state, what was Placer County like, what kind of work did people do who lived there?

SK: Okay, well, Placer County... let's see. There were Portuguese families that I know of, and, of course, the white population. I don't know where they came from originally. So it was rural of course, orchards, pears, plums, peaches. At one time, Placer County was 30 acres of pears and orchards, not any more. It's being, you know, apparently the economics, college teacher said that this is going to be a bedroom community one of these days, that was in Auburn. Well, that's coming true. But it is kind of reviving itself. The mandarins are good from there, mandarin orchards. But my brother took us by the ranch, 20 acre ranch we lived on, our orchard, and we had pears and plums and oranges, not commercial, for home use, and persimmons, again, for home use, although it became commercial. But anyway, all that is gone, all of it is gone, and they're building million dollar homes and they're making it a gated community. And the only thing they couldn't get rid of -- and I chortled about this -- is a bamboo patch. They attempted to get rid of it, but it's coming back. And I saw that and I said, "Good." [Laughs]

KL: Was that your family's?

SK: Oh, I remember that bamboo because I remember having to go and get the bamboo. Oh, yeah, I remember that.

KL: What was it for?

SK: The bamboo patch? Well, you know, you could eat bamboo shoots. And we had bamboo shoots in sukiyaki, rice or whatever, you know. In fact, my brother has some bamboo, so this trip, I was up there recently, and he gave me some bamboo. In fact, we're having it tonight.

KL: That's night.

SK: Fresh bamboo.

KL: Oh, that's really neat. I've never eaten it, I'll have to try it sometime.

SK: You've never eaten bamboo period? Oh, that's interesting.

KL: No, I think of it as like a hedge or decorative or division. So were your folks then working that orchard, that's what they were doing for work there?

SK: Uh-huh, tenant farmers, of course, because they weren't allowed to own land. That's when the war broke out, we went from there to Arboga first and then from there to Tule Lake.

KL: What caused the move to Newcastle?

SK: Who knows? Because we moved from Red Bluff to Newcastle.

KL: Okay. So Newcastle is where you had the orchard, where you were working on the orchard and stuff.

SK: Right, right.

KL: Okay. And you mentioned there were Portuguese people and maybe sort of longer term white families who were living there?

SK: Right.

KL: Did people, was it a pretty integrated community or was there a lot of racism?

SK: It's one of the most racist and the most conservative communities in California.

KL: What form did that take for you as a kid or for your parents as adults?

SK: Well, of course we didn't... you know, these, in Japantowns and so forth springing up, it became a matter of necessity because they couldn't shop in these stores because they weren't accepted. And so they had to create their own stores or things like that. So at one point there were about forty Japantowns up and down the coast, and now there's only four. One was created recently in Sawtelle, Los Angeles, but the four being San Francisco, San Jose, and two in Los Angeles.

KL: So there was a little Japantown where you were living that had...

SK: Uh-huh, Penryn.

KL: Could you describe it? What was there?

SK: There was one short street, and then it depends on what area you came in. But anyway, there was a Buddhist church, and a hall, and then there were a barber. And these two grocery stores, Gotos and Mikawa, and... what else was there? That's pretty much what existed. Maybe there was a third grocery store, but my father used to go there, he did the driving, of course, and get his groceries at Gotos. And oh, and in those days, there was this family, a couple who had Japanese movies, and they'd go church to church to show it. And my mother used to get so excited about that. So that was one of the social outlets at the time. And we lived out in the country, so it was hard for us to get in, but we didn't get into town very often. And for us to go, in those days to go to Sacramento was a big treat, you know. And we'd go up to Auburn from where we were.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: Okay, so we're back after just a quick break. And you mentioned that your parents couldn't buy any property. Who owned the ranch that you were on, do you know?

SK: Oh, Mrs. Fountain did, she lived in Sacramento. So we went to school in Auburn, and one of the things I vividly remembered --

KL: That other water is for you, too.

SK: Thank you. We were lined up after recess, this was after the war had broken out, or the bombing, and an airplane happened to fly over the schoolyard. And some child made some comment about it, and Mr. Welty was a huge man, and he just went out and picked that kid up like a football and just took him off to his office. But I remember that very vividly, and I was about eight years old at the time.

KL: What did the kid say?

SK: I don't remember. But I do remember the principal doing that. Then shortly after that, we left, in fact, I left school in March.

KL: What was the name of the school?

SK: Auburn elementary school.

KL: And you said Mr. Wealthy was the principal?

SK: Welty, I think it was.

KL: Welty.

SK: He was a huge man. He would have been a football player, you know, that kind of deal.

KL: What was Auburn elementary like? Did you like school or was it difficult?

SK: I guess we were one of a few Asians in the school. I know the Masaki family, probably the only Asian, other Asians in there. Oh, and the Morimoto family in Auburn. So very few Asians. Oh, the Yamasakis who were nursery people. The Yamasaki family, the nursery people, and they were lucky because one of the lawyers in town kept their property for them during the war. And so when they came back, they had a place to return. So as I say, we...

KL: Do you know the lawyer's name by chance?

SK: My best friend's sister married him.

KL: If you think of it later, just say it, or later you can just send me a note and we can include it. And that was the Yamasaki family with the nursery?

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: So what was your treatment like in school from the other students or from the principal or the teachers? I assume the teachers and staff were all white.

SK: Uh-huh, they were, they were. I guess we kind of, you know, birds of a feather flocked together kind of thing, so we weren't much aware of what was going on. You know, when to school, got back on the bus, and went home, and we didn't cause any problems. In those days, no one spoke Japanese or spoke English, you know.

KL: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about language. Did your parents learn English or any other languages, Portuguese?

SK: My father did, and he knew... but my mother never learned. I mean, she understood more than she... so then Japanese, of course, was spoken in the home, but my sister, the one who died --

KL: Hisa?

SK -- Hisa, was very strict about us learning correct English. She'd correct our English, we remembered to pronounce our Rs and our Ss, putting Ss on words. And so the rest of us had it easier because we had that modeling. But for the older ones, they're speaking in Japanese primarily. But having heard the Japanese, when I speak Japanese, it sounds, I mean, pretty good, you know, compared to someone who didn't speak it at all. But having heard it, it really makes a difference. And I made a point after the war to learn it.

KL: You were kind of unusual in that.

SK: Yeah, well, see, Father's child or something like that, he said, "Japan has lost the war, but," he says, "it's going to be important for you to know the language. So then I got married to Hiroshi and, of course, his background is Asian languages, or in those days, Oriental languages. So that I made a point of learning the language, so my Japanese is pretty good, if I say so myself. [Laughs] I can read very minimally and write it minimally, but my speaking it, you know, spoken language is pretty good.

KL: Yeah, that's a real gift to have that.

SK: It's really hard. It's really funny because I go to the senior center, and there's this cute little Chinese woman, and she'd trying to learn Japanese. So she came up to me one time when we were talking and she says to me, "Jama da." And I said, "Jama da," and I says, "You're telling me I'm in your way." And she said, "Oh." And then I pronounced it, "You should say, 'Ja mata,'" meaning, "Okay, we'll meet again," kind of thing. It's so important. [Laughs]

KL: Oh, wow, that's neat.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

KL: What about your parents' reaction to the U.S. entering the war and to Japan's bombing?

SK: Of course we didn't believe it, and Father didn't think the Nisei would be taken, that, "You're U.S. citizens after all."

KL: Was he worried about his own security or your mother's, or how that would play out for the family?

SK: Well, he knew what was going to happen. So shikata ga nai, you know.

KL: You mentioned him burning the books and your family putting everything into storage. Were there other things that stand out about those several months before you guys had to leave.

SK: I remember, again, I don't know how we got... I guess we drove ourselves to Newcastle, and I remember getting on buses from there.

KL: Did the teachers or the principal ever say anything in school about...

SK: [Shakes head]

KL: Nothing, just kind of same. Did the other students' treatment of you change in the wake of the war?

SK: No, except for that one kid.

KL: Who said something about the plane?

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: But you don't remember if it was something that was derogatory?

SK: Probably was, because Mr. Welty was so angry.

KL: Yeah. So you guys had a car you think you drove to Newcastle?

SK: I think we did, yeah.

KL: Can you walk us through the departing Newcastle, what you saw, what you felt, what was going on around you?

SK: No, it was all a blur, just lots of people with lots of luggage, various size and shapes. And my brother points out that we could take only what we could carry, and he remembers my sister Tomiye... oh, back up a little bit, Mrs. Fountain had given us Raggedy Ann dolls for Christmas, and this was the first individual dolls we had, 'cause we didn't have toys. And so Taka remembers Tomiye wanting to take that doll with her, and she knew she couldn't, so she kept running back and forth to the house, putting it down and coming back with it and then bringing it back in and putting it down, and ultimately she left it. But he remembers that, and I remember him telling them about that. So we went to Newcastle and we were placed on buses, and then we went to Arboga, and that's when we first saw the guard towers and met our neighbors and had barracks. My first experience with asthma because my neighbor had had an asthmatic attack because it was so dusty. That's what I remember most about Arboga.

KL: The asthma attack and the dust?

SK: Yeah, uh-huh. Oh, and another thing... it's funny to remember, just in about in those days, two pieces of clothing was coming into... we wore dresses. So I thought I wanted to be like everyone else, so I took one of my dresses and cut it in half. [Laughs]

KL: To make, like, pants?

SK: No, to make a two-piece outfit.

KL: What was your mother's reaction to that?

SK: It was probably more around my father's, but I remember that. Then, before we know it, we're being taken off to Tule Lake.

KL: Well, especially somebody for somebody who was used to a rural life before, 20 acres, to be in Arboga, I mean, can you say anything more about what that was like, the quarters and having so many people around and what it was like to see the towers?

SK: You're eight years old, and you're just all confused. You don't know what's going on. But at one point I said to my father, "Papa kaerou yo," meaning, "Papa, let's go home." I was told that I said that. But, of course, we didn't.

KL: Were you scared? Did you have any interaction with the military presence, or were you aware?

SK: At that point, no, we just saw the guard towers. Of course, when we got on the... well, we did have military interaction when we got on the buses, got in on the buses. And then when we got on and off the trains, there was a military presence. Then my sister got lost the first day we were... my sister Tomiye got lost. At that time, the mess hall was not ready in our block, so we had to go across the firebreak to another mess hall, and then coming back, she got lost.

KL: This was at Tule Lake?

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: How long were you in Arboga? When did you go there?

SK: Let's see, we left Newcastle, I think...

KL: I think it was only there for about six weeks.

SK: Probably, because we were there mid-April, I think we left Newcastle, and then we went to Arboga, and then from Arboga we went to Tule Lake. Shinobu was born August 28th.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

KL: Can you describe where you lived in Arboga, what the quarters were like?

SK: Barracks. I mean, I guess we moved so much I didn't, I wasn't too concerned as long as we had a roof over our head. And again, I was just confused, what's happening, why? I remember before we went to camp, I remember sitting on the floor between two beds, and Papa in the living room going on with what he was doing. And at that point, I was in the third grade, so we were just learning about the pilgrims. And for some reason, that really resonated with me. And I had made a pilgrim couple or something like that, and I was sitting between the beds looking at the pilgrim couple. And this is going on... again, why?

KL: Did anyone ever talk about with you about why?

SK: See, that's something that Sansei and those outside the community have a hard time understanding. You were raised to do... you did what you were told, you didn't question. So that was why it was easy to herd us all like that.

KL: Well, and, I mean, when you're faced with something that you don't understand, or that... I mean, I think sometimes it's hard to, it's hard to respond without some reflection, and maybe without years of refection, it's hard to make sense of a situation or to decide how to respond to it.

SK: Well, let me ask you a question.

KL: Okay.

SK: How do you think you would have responded?

KL: You know, when I started working at Manzanar, the thing that I thought I would never understand was how people could accept or volunteer for military service out of those conditions. My thinking has changed. I do think I understand why and how some people did that or could. But I remember when I started Manzanar, working there, thinking that I would never be able to make sense of that or understand that. So I think I probably would have been angry, I think I would have at least mentally thought that resisting it was the right course of action. Yeah, I don't know what I would have done on a day-to-day level, I mean, I think that depends on your age, too. My family was very tight when I was growing up, and so I think if we were still together, kind of as a kid, I would have just gone to school.

SK: Right, right. And then I think with your military background, too, that makes a difference, right?

KL: With my thinking about military service, or just kind of being flexible as far as moving and stuff? Yeah, I mean, we moved more than some people, but not as much as other military kids. So, yeah, I'm not sure how that would have taken. You know, when I was younger I was a lot more, sort of, I just followed things a lot more and was a lot more...

SK: You didn't question.

KL: Oh, no, I think I did, like in my twenties I think I was much more politically oriented.

SK: Oh, no, like when you were eight.

KL: When I was kid, no, I didn't.

SK: Yeah, exactly. See?

KL: I liked to read, I liked to play with my friends. But you do see things differently in different times of life. I mean, if it happened to me when I was twenty-five, I probably would have tried to recruit other people to raise a stink about it and been very vocal. But I think about that in terms of people who were in the camps teaching, and other things on the staff, too, you know, if you think that this is wrong, do you have nothing to do with it, or do you try to go and lend your skills? Or how do you respond to something you think is wrong? But yeah, I mean, it sounds like at home, too, Hisa was kind of a mentor and a tutor to you guys, too.

SK: Oh, yes, absolutely.

KL: And she was sixteen or so, seventeen...

SK: Right, she was eight years older than I was.

KL: ...when this happened? What was her response to Arboga and to Tule Lake?

SK: Again, it's the same thing.

KL: Same as you?

SK: Yeah, same as him. We did what we were told to you. The whole attitude was shikata ga nai, that's what we were taught.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: Well, we're back with tape two with Sadako Kashiwagi, it's July 11, 2015, and we were starting to talk a little bit about Tule Lake, so let's just back up and I'll ask you if you remember traveling to Tule Lake and what your arrival there was like.

SK: Okay, I remember going on a train, and Mother was in a Pullman car because she was pregnant. I remember going, you know, with shades drawn. That's just about all I remember about the train ride, and getting to Tule Lake and again getting in another truck and being taken to our quarters. And when we got there, it was with the cot beds and the stove in the center. My father was very handy, so he built a separate, there was a living room area, and then the bedroom area was for them. Then we had two rooms, because we were eight of us, so he cut a door, connecting door to the other room, and that's where my sibs and us, we were in that part. Although he didn't build any walls there, he did, you know, the famous rope with the sheets, and then I guess he built a closet in one corner because I remember later on when we had the military coming through during the riots, I remember that closet.

KL: Do you remember your address?

SK: It was Block 45, 16-A and B I think it was, Barrack 16 A and B.

KL: And were you in the same place the whole time your family was in Tule Lake?

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: So shortly after you arrived -- well, I'll just ask, a lot of things happened during those first couple of months. Can you walk us through those first few months at Tule Lake?

SK: Turns out we had the same neighbors we had at Arboga. We're running out, oh, same neighbor, Fujimotos. Again... let's see, when did we get there? August. So the first, again, I don't remember, it's a big blank to me.

KL: Yeah. The roster says it was June 28th of 1942, but sometimes they're wrong, the rosters are wrong. But you think it was later that you got there?

SK: And then Shinobu was born...

KL: August 28th. And she was born in Tule Lake. Do you know if she was born in a hospital?

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: Did you ever hear anything about that, what that was like, from your mother, what her care was like or how it was?

SK: Well, I just say the nurses immediately gave her an American name, Jeanie. And I guess it was later that Naito-Sensei named her.

KL: Later what?

SK: Later, because... well, anyway, I don't know, exactly remember the chronological order of that. And, well, got into the routine of the mess bells would ring and we'd get up and go to breakfast, lunch and dinner, you know. I don't even remember how soon school started. At one point we were in the barracks and then they had built the largest school, you know, the Jefferson Center that you have in Manzanar? Right next to it, there was that same kind of building in Tule Lake. And then right next to it they built the schools. And so because the camp was so large, half of us went, half the camp went in the morning... I mean, a split session, in other words.

KL: Yeah, you said you were nine when you arrived. I think that's usually third grade, and the you turn ten in fourth.

SK: Yeah. So we had white teachers, and some Nisei teachers, too. But mine... I think her name was Mrs. Smith. But we went out to play, and played this game, last couple out. And you choose your partner and line up behind each other, and so we were the last couple out. The person who was it says, "Last couple out," so we're supposed to split and supposed to come around we're supposed to tag each other. But the person who was tags one of us and that person is it, they become, you know. Well, Ruth and I were couple, was a couple. And the last couple out was circling around and I went to reach for her hand, and my hand went through a window. So I have a scar to this day.

KL: Wow. Did you have to go to the hospital? That's deep?

SK: Oh, yes.

KL: That looks like a big wound.

SK: Yes.

KL: Wow.

SK: And so, again, this is military contact, because it was a military ambulance. And there was a fence between the hospital area and the camp itself, so we had to go through a sentry there to get to the hospital. And then this was taken care of. Quite a few stitches, I think, at least ten.

KL: Yeah, I would think so. How were your interactions with people in the hospital? Were they kind to you?

SK: Yeah. It's interesting how medicine's changed, because I was confined at home for a week, I think. But then I remember also that my sister, Tomiye, I think it was, got the measles, so we were quarantined. And then Shinobu got eczema, her eczema was so severe she had to be hospitalized.

KL: When she was an infant?

SK: An infant. Then my sister, Neesan, again, worked as an aide in the hospital. And so did, actually Hiroshi, my husband, was an aid in the hospital at one point. I don't know if they knew each other at that point.

KL: So that was your sister's first... was that your sister's first, sort of, independent job with a salary and stuff?

SK: Probably. She worked in the mess hall as well. Those were the jobs that were available to them, you were working in the mess hall or the hospital.

KL: What about your parents? Did your parents have jobs?

SK: Well, he says he was handy. He went around finishing the house because when we got there, it was just the studs and the tarpaper. And so the sheetrock came, so my father went around putting up the sheetrock. And so when he left, or was taken away, he was the primary source of income at that point. So my sister, who was sixteen and still in high school, quit school so she could get a job to replace the money my father was earning. So subsequently she got her GED after she was married, so that was about four or five years after camp. She went to Los Angeles and she was a housemate to this family, and she'd come back and talked about these celebrities who would come because he was a dentist, I think.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

KL: And you think that your father was taken out of Tule Lake pretty soon after Shinobu was born, like in 1942 that same year?

SK: Whenever they started coming, came into, started recruiting for the army.

KL: For the military?

SK: Yeah. And again...

KL: Did he have to answer the questionnaire, was he still there at that time?

SK: He probably did. And probably said no, because especially about the emperor and all that, because he was very strong and pro-Japan.

KL: Was that a change since being forced into Tule Lake, or do you think he was always supportive of Japan?

SK: No, he was always supportive of Japan. So he was, when Japan lost the war, he was crushed.

KL: Did your parents ever talk to you, or have you seen copies of their responses to the questionnaire, do you know what that was like for them?

SK: No. At one point, the whole family was almost deported.

KL: When you were in Tule Lake?

SK: Yeah. But they consulted with my Neesan, Nobu, the older ones, and they said no, so we didn't go.

KL: Was that after the war had ended, or before?

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: After.

SK: And then they almost deported my father, but they decided not to. And he was amazed because he knew he was a bad boy. [Laughs] And so he was amazed that they let him join the family.

KL: Yeah. So what was it like when he was taken away? I was just gonna look and see, sometimes it tells if someone renounced their U.S. citizenship on the roster.

SK: Well, he didn't have his citizenship to renounce.

KL: Oh, that's true. Yeah, I'm sorry, I forgot.

SK: Yeah, he was an Issei.

KL: Yeah, okay.

SK: And it's interesting, when you hear people talk about Santa Fe, they talk about that most of them were citizens. Not true, my father wasn't a citizen.

KL: Did he say what that was like to be kind of in the minority?

SK: No, but, again, I'm sure he was just defined as... he thought he was right, he'll never back down.

KL: What do you remember about, sort of, his activities in Tule Lake? Like was it mostly in big block meetings that he would speak out, or were people in your barracks talking about his questions?

SK: Probably at the block meeting or whatever he went to. After the war, he started working for the Japanese school system. And so apparently he did very well, because again, in my sister's papers, we saw these two letters of commendation that he did very well for this school thing.

KL: Was the school in California or in Japan?

SK: No, there was a Japanese school in camp.

KL: Oh, I see.

SK: So we went to Japanese school in the afternoon with American school in the morning, Japanese school in the afternoon, Japanese school on Saturday, and Sunday we went to Sunday school.

KL: Yeah, I was going to... okay, I should start taking notes. So did he want to go to Japan when the war ended, do you think? I mean like in 1943 or so, about halfway through the time at Tule Lake, what do you think his plans were for after the war?

SK: As I said, he was almost deported, but I think if they said, he probably would have gone. The authorities decided, well, he had family here, so...

KL: What did your mother want?

SK: She didn't say. Again, being the obedient wife kind of thing...

KL: She stayed quiet?

SK: Right, pretty much.

KL: Just followed along.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

SK: Although when my father was taken off, two of her friends, Mrs. Shimizu and Mrs... and my mom, created this kamaboko industry. [Laughs]

KL: What is that?

SK: You know the mounded fish cakes that you see? You haven't seen those?

KL: I don't think so.

SK: You should ask Alisa about it.

KL: Would you spell it?

SK: Ka-ma-bo-ko. And right now they're white and red, but during the season they get really colorful. And so don't ask me how or where, but we had a refrigerator, which is unusual. And so that was in one corner of the room, my father partitioned it off, and then he's handy, as I said, so he built these steamers. And so the three ladies would make this kamaboko and use the cold stove, and they used to sell this. And so Mom saved that, and that's what we lived on after we came out of camp. Because we didn't have money. And then another thing she did was she made sake and sold it to, by the cupful, and that's how she, again, she saved that money for camp. She did what she had to do.

KL: Do you know how she got the ingredients?

SK: I remember having to go after the fish. I went blocks and blocks and blocks to this central location and bought the fish, and I somehow had a red wagon, I remember, and pulling it and pulling it home. And yeah, I remember making kamaboko.

KL: Did she make sake in your apartment, too?

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: And did people come to your barrack to buy both things?

SK: Uh-huh, by the cupful. We didn't have bottles.

KL: How did she respond when your father was taken out of Tule Lake? Did she stay calm, or do you remember?

SK: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, what could she do? Again, this whole business of shikata ga nai, there was nothing she could do.

KL: Yeah. And you kids were a pretty wide age range, I mean, she had a baby and then she had an almost adult.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KL: Do you remember Tule Lake changing over time as it became a segregation center and as the extra fencing went up?

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: What can you tell us about how that was to watch?

SK: We heard about the certain section that was, those who came in from the other camps, and so we were told that they were the real gung-ho Japanese, pro-Japan group. And then during the height of the war, we were going to Japanese school, and we couldn't speak English. I remember someone coming around and checking that we didn't speak English on the playground, during recess, rather.

KL: Like a staff teacher or someone at the school?

SK: No, I think it was somebody from the headquarters, Japanese school headquarters, and check on that. And we'd go up to do the daily exercise, calisthenics, and again, what you hear and what actually happened was different. Because it was just this one group who would tie the thing around their head and go around, "Wasshoi, wasshoi," we did it because it was part of our school. We got up real early, went out and did our exercises, and then we had to run with the hachimaki, and, "Wasshoi, wasshoi." And another thing that I remember is that before we started exercise, we turned to the east, supposedly Japan, and we'd have to bow. And I remembered the military coming and watching us. See, amazing how much I remember.

KL: Yeah. So that was with other kids from Japanese school who would go do the calisthenics?

SK: Yeah.

KL: And it was pretty much everybody in Japanese school?

SK: Yeah, it was required. And if you were a child with either the American school or Japanese school, you had no choice. One in the afternoon and one in the morning depending on what section of the camp you were in. And went to Sunday school, there were the Buddhist churches and there were the Methodist churches.

KL: Did you go to Japanese school right from the start at Tule Lake, or was that something that started later?

SK: No, that was established later.

KL: And you were attending both schools at the end?

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: Did you think that you were going to Japan?

SK: We weren't sure. We were preparing ourselves for any eventuality.

KL: What did you think about that possibility?

SK: Again, what is... it is what it is, kind of attitude.

KL: Do you remember, there were a couple big... there was a driver who died bringing the truck home? What do you remember about that?

SK: I remember that it happened, but I don't remember specifics because, again, it was not my age, he was older. And so Hiroshi knows more about that. But I do remember the riots.

KL: What can you tell me about that?

SK: The soldiers came through the barracks and inspected the barracks, and one soldier... and I mentioned the closet earlier, that's significant. Because he was nailing and going through the papers, and he came across... my father wasn't there. He came across these papers with Japanese on it. And he looked at my mother, you know, and my mother didn't know English. And so she kept going like this, and they were Buddhist scriptures. So my brother Nobu, who was watching all this, explained to them what they were, and he put 'em away. He didn't confiscate it or anything. So that I remember, and then I remember the fire that burned down that auditorium, what was the interpretive center, I remember that fire. You know, patrolling, I remember that. And I remember dances that the older kids had, and the movies, we saw movies, B-movies for five dollars in the mess hall, for five cents rather, and the A-movies were ten cents at the auditorium.

KL: Did you ever get Japanese movies in Tule Lake? I remember you said you said your mom had really liked seeing those in Placer County.

SK: No, no, it was always American movies, yeah. I remember seeing Going My Way, for example.

KL: There was also the manager of the co-op who was found dead in 1944, in the summer.

SK: I don't remember that.

KL: Do you remember that happening?

SK: No, no. Because it might have been in another co-op, there are several co-ops throughout the camp. And then we did a lot of catalog ordering.

KL: You did, your family did?

SK: Yeah. And I was talking to my sister Shinobu the other day, and I says, "I still do a lot of catalog ordering," and I think it's just from that time.

KL: How did your family deal with their finances? Do know if your family had a bank account, or if they just saved cash?

SK: Saved cash, yeah.

KL: People ask that sometimes, visitors to Manzanar, they wondered how that worked. You mentioned dances that the older kids had. Did you ever get to go?

SK: No, I didn't, because I was so young. But I remember the movies, that was a big deal.

KL: And they were in the mess hall?

SK: They were in the mess hall and we had to sit on the floor. I don't know how often we had those, but we had Bon Odori.

KL: Tell me about Bon Odori in Tule Lake.

SK: We did it... there was one, the ladies' bathroom, and then there was, they set up a basketball court, so we did it in that court.

KL: Would everybody in Tule Lake come to one location?

SK: No, no, it would be individual blocks, as I recall. Nothing like it is now.

KL: Much smaller scale?

SK: Oh, yeah. Bon Odori's a big thing now, and Soji laughs about it because it's a Buddhist festival. But in Los Angeles, Bon Odori is so, so popular that the Christian churches have taken it on and every occasion, they have... but they can't call it Bon Odori, they have to call it... [laughs].

KL: Spring festival or something?

SK: They call it, they had to call it odori, but they can't call it Bon Odori, because it has a religious connotation to it.

KL: What else do you remember about Buddhist community or Buddhist life in Tule Lake?

SK: Just that... and going to church on Sundays.

KL: Do you remember who the leaders were or what the services were like, how did they compare?

SK: They were pretty much like... in fact, a lot of, now people come in and says, "Well, this is like a Presbyterian thing." But a lot of it was adapted for survival, you know what I mean?

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: Yeah, I remember when you and Alisa and I were walking around together, you were talking some about the history of Buddhist Churches of America, and I wanted to ask you if you would repeat that for the recording.

SK: Well, for example, our church doesn't look like a church unless you look up, you know. And they purposely made it, in fact, the Catholic church across the street looks more like a temple than ours. And that was kind of a camouflage, not to make ourselves too obvious, conspicuous. And much of the pews and choirs and things like that was adapted for survival sake. Didn't want to be too different.

KL: Do you think that started before the U.S. entered the war, or do you think that's something that happened after World War II ended.

SK: Probably started before, but it really intensified after the war.

KL: Were Buddhist services in Tule Lake very similar to what you remember Buddhist services like in 1947 or '48 after you came out?

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: They were very similar?

SK: Ones that we did, the chants we did was called juunira, and did that in camp.

KL: What is its meaning?

SK: Twelve... juuni is twelve.

KL: I always think those ministers were in a hard position to be having to provide guidance and encouragement in those circumstances. Do you remember anything that your minister said or did?

SK: Uh-uh. I remember one minister, Naito-sensei was in our block, and he was the one who named my sister Shinobu. In fact, his daughter lives over in Japantown. But he was separated from his family, so he was in a bachelor quarters.

KL: What was he like, his personality or his values or his demeanor?

SK: He was always a nice man, I remember, yeah, very gentle.

KL: Are there any other Buddhist leaders or ministers from Tule Lake that stand out?

SK: I remember... I want to say Fujimoto, but no, it isn't. Nagafuji, Nagafuji.

KL: What do you remember about him?

SK: Again, very gentle, softspoken.

KL: Why was Reverend Naito asked to name Shinobu?

SK: Again, probably when my father asked her, and again, the importance of our environment, he wanted that reflected in her name. And so Shinobu means to endure. But as I say, she may have endured for a while, but not anymore, she's very outspoken. [Laughs]

KL: She made it. Well, that's a means of affecting your environment.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

KL: Are there other parts of... we've talked a little bit about your barrack and a little bit about school and your accident. Are there other parts of Tule Lake that you remember outside of Block 45 or outside of the school? Like was there a park or anyplace that you spent extra time?

SK: No, there were firebreaks, and shell jewelry was really, really big, so we'd dig up the firebreaks and get the shells and take it to people who were creative and made shells. And then there was, baseball, of course, was big. In fact, there's a book called Baseball Saved Us, you know that book? So I don't remember, there was a certain amount of basketball, but I remember baseball.

KL: Did you have a team that you followed or anything?

SK: Well, my brothers were on baseball teams. My younger brother Taku was a catcher for the younger team, and then my older brother, I think he was an outfielder. Interesting enough, his grandsons are really into baseball. And, in fact, one grandson was, this was over in Lafayette, and he made all-league, and he made all-league MVP. So they're real big on baseball. Hiroshi's brother was real big on baseball. He could have probably played pro in Japan.

KL: How many people would go to the baseball games?

SK: It was a big event, I mean, everybody would, you know. It was the same with the firebreaks, they had leagues. Pacer... Pacers, I think, Block 45 Pacers or something like that. So they would be the blocks or whatever, but yeah, baseball was huge.

KL: Did you ever attend judo events or tournaments, or was judo a big deal?

SK: No, no. To this day I'm not interested in judo. Although my father was a judoist.

KL: Did he study it in Tule Lake or teach at all?

SK: [Shakes head].

KL: How else did you spend your time? Were you part of any clubs?

SK: Well, we played a lot of card games, Go Fish, checkers, Annie-Annie-Over, do you know that game?

LK: I've heard other kids, or people who were kids in the camps talk about it.

SK: Oh, and cat's cradle. I learned to embroider in camp, in fact, I still have the embroidery thread I got from the catalog. I'll probably donate to Tule Lake.

KL: Who taught you?

SK: I don't remember. I don't remember learning. Oh, and another thing, when packages came, I was the one who went to get it at the central post office, and that was miles and miles away. And again, contact with the military, because they went through it, take anything, confiscate anything. So I remember that.

KL: So your mail had been looked through, and your remember that it had been opened?

SK: Yeah. Well, in fact, he'd open it when I went to pick up the package. They'd open it right there and go through, make sure none of it was... and I think letters that came from my father.

KL: What do you remember about him returning? What was it like to have him back?

SK: Of course, we were very happy. But he behaved himself. [Laughs]

KL: Oh, really? His demeanor was different when he came back?

SK: Yeah. And he used to walk around with a stick, and he didn't tell us until later that he did it for... apparently if he had to, he would have fought with it, and having Jiro, too.

KL: Who was he worried about?

SK: Different elements in camp. Those who were pro-Japanese and those who were anti-Japanese. And so he was just protecting his back.

KL: Yeah. What about in Santa Fe? Did he ever talk about the threat of violence in Santa Fe?

SK: Well, he talked about it, but again, I'm really sorry I didn't ask him about it, but he used to talk to my brother-in-law about it. My brother-in-law was a Kibei, Neesan's husband was a Kibei, and so he was already in the army when the war broke out. And so he got basic training, and he was sent to Florida and he was to be deployed to Europe. And someone knew of his Japanese background, so he was sent to Fort Snelling to teach Japanese.

KL: Oh.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KL: So are there other things that you want to include, other memories from your time at Tule Lake?

SK: Oh, having climbed Castle Rock...

KL: You did?

SK: Oh, yeah. So when we go on these pilgrimages, that doesn't appeal to me. People ask me, "Are you going to go to Castle Rock?" I says, "Been there, done that." [Laughs]

KL: Did you go up there repeatedly?

SK: Well, we had to have special permission, we couldn't just go. I remember going at least three times in groups.

KL: One thing I've heard Larisa ask people about Tule Lake that just reminded me, is how you adjusted to a different climate. Did the climate make an impression on you at all?

SK: Well, saw snow for the first time. But interesting thing about it, there were no trees for it to accumulate, and it didn't snow that hard. So I remember sometimes when it did snow and we had to go to the bathroom, so we'd wear geta, so the snow would get caught between the prongs. I remember that.

KL: What did you think of the landscape? You mentioned Castle Rock...

SK: Oh, then, of course, what we used to call Abalone Mountain -- have you been to Tule Lake? Yeah, okay.

KL: I went to one pilgrimage in 2012, so I've been up on Castle Rock.

SK: Oh. Well, you know, dusty, cold. When we go now, it's, of course, during the summers so it's hot and dusty.

KL: Do you have memories attached to nighttime at Tule Lake, or what was night like there?

SK: We kept in sight pretty much, except when we went to the movies. Or we played cards inside, and then we did have a radio. One of the things that we listened to regularly was the Saturday Night Hit Parade. So songs like you've got to "Accentuate the Positive" and "Don't Fence Me In." And I tell people, when I hear that song, it has a different meaning for us. What other song was popular at that time? Oh, "White Christmas."

KL: Was Japanese music a big part of your time in Tule Lake when you were in Japanese school and just in your home, or your barrack?

SK: I don't remember anybody having records, because those kinds of things were left behind or destroyed. So it was afterwards. Some people, I guess, had stored them and had them. A very popular singer was this women called Misora Hibari.

KL: Could you spell her name?

SK: Misora, M-I, sora, S-O-R-A, Hibari, H-I-B-A-R-I, Hibari. During the war, when Tokyo was being bombed, she'd go into the bomb shelters with her family. And she was still a child about my age, and she'd sing to them to keep their spirits up. And when everything was all clear and the war was finally over, they were able to come back up and see the sky, the mother would say something about, "Oh, look at the beautiful sky." And that's how she got this name Misora Hibari, because sora is "sky," and hibari is "skylark." So that's actually not her given name, but her professional name.

KL: Yeah.

SK: And he was very popular, she would go and entertain the troops, the U.S. troops, as well as Japanese people. And she came to the United States to cheer people up, and she went to Hawaii and she did a big concert, three concerts, and donated all her money to the 442nd.

KL: So she was Japanese, though, she was in Japan during the war?

SK: Uh-huh. And she had a very sad life, and I compare her life to Judy Garland, you know, really sad. But she really cheered people up. And recently the Grateful Crane did a show featuring the songs she used to sing. They showed... let's see, they did it in Torrance with a five-hundred seat, sold in two weeks.

KL: Wow, she's still popular.

SK: Yeah. They're coming to San Francisco to do that show on November 21st.

KL: Your mentioning Japan reminded me that I should ask you -- this is another sad topic -- but do you remember learning the news that the U.S. had dropped atomic bombs on Japan where your mother's family was?

SK: Oh, yeah.

KL: What do you remember about that?

SK: They were really concerned, and they were wondering how they could find out about, I guess, again through the Red Cross they found, that's how they found out that they were okay. They couldn't believe it, they were just shaking their heads.

KL: Are there other things related to living at Tule Lake that you wanted to talk about before we move on into the next part?

SK: Well, I think that pretty much covers it.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

KL: I know some of your siblings left before you did. Would you just walk me through your family's departure from Tule Lake, what you remember of it or what you've learned since?

SK: Well, my sister went to Beverly Hills and worked for a doctor's family. I'm trying to remember how long she was gone.

KL: The roster's hard to read. It looks kind of like she left... oh, I didn't write it down. It looks like she left in 1945, maybe kind of late in the year, middle of the year. But she went to work for a doctor's family?

SK: Uh-huh. Oh, no, I think she stayed with a friend for a while until she found a...

KL: Why did she choose Los Angeles?

SK: A friend. A friend recommended Los Angeles, that's how she worked. And Nobu came to San Francisco, and he was enrolled in City College San Francisco. But he was called home to help with the... we were moving to a ranch or something, and he was needed at home, so that was the end of his career as a student, he never finished. So my two older sibs never made it to college because they were called on to help the family finances. After the... are we ready to move on now?

KL: Yeah, yeah, I am if you are.

SK: Yeah, well, after we left camp, we had no place to go, so we went to Penryn, and we lived in, the Gotos had a hostel and we stayed there for a while. And then we stayed at the church social hall for a while until my father was released. And then things were really tough, and so we used to get the Nichi Bei Times, and there was an ad in the Nichi Bei Times for what they used to call schoolgirl, domestic, in San Mateo. And I was only fourteen at the time, so I came to San Mateo, I was kept in... and I worked in San Mateo for two years as a schoolgirl. And then...

KL: What was that like, to leave your family and go work and live in someone else's home?

SK: You just knew. Again, it's something that you help your family out, and that was one less person to feed, one less person to clothe, that kind of thing. And so then I went to the San Mateo High School and graduated from San Mateo High School.

KL: Who was the family that you worked for?

SK: Coppage, C-O-P-P-A-G-E.

KL: And what kind of work did you do?

SK: Well, a housemaid, you know, cooked or helped with the cooking, did the laundry, cleaned the house, and I had to do it every day, that kind of stuff, and got room and board and fifty dollars a month, and that was a lot of money in those days. And then I took a bus to school, then I went to the San Mateo Buddhist church.

KL: Yeah, I'll have to think of you when I'm there.

SK: Pardon me?

KL: I'll have to think of you, I'll think of you when I'm there.

SK: Then I started in junior college. Meanwhile, my original family moved to Palo Alto, so I had to find a new family. And I went to one family and it didn't work out, so I went to a third family. My father heard what was going on, and he says, "Come home." So I went home, and so I went to junior college from home, but there again, I worked for... I guess she was the vice principal of the junior college, I worked and cleaned her... see, we went by bus, and we couldn't just come home once classes were over. So until the buses left, I used to clean her apartment. And that's how I worked my way through college, and after that, I worked at Sacramento State College, I mean, went to Sacramento State College, again, worked in a private home near the campus and worked to the campus that way. Then I got tired of that and borrowed money and moved in with a bunch of, near campus, and this boarding house, or rooming house, because we couldn't do our own cooking and everything. So I did that for a year, and graduated from college, I was the first to graduate from college in the family. So that pretty much sums things up. And then I went from there to, see, I was a... went from there to Berkeley, and got a job in a continuation high school and taught for three years, got my tenure, and then got married. I guess I got pregnant, so anyway, when it was time to go back, I said, "No, I'm going to stay home and take of you." And I did that for, stay home for, until our youngest was in kindergarten.

KL: Okay.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: And how many kids do you have?

SK: Three, all boys. The oldest, he has problems. He has mental issues, so whenever the shootings go on and they say it was a mentally ill person, I just shake my head, and I really felt sorry for these families. Because you can't imagine what it's like living with a mentally ill person. It is really tough; it is really, really tough. And for me, I mean, I could not have survived it if Hiroshi did not step up and do his part of it.

KL: Your son was born with mental issues?

SK: No, he was born early, but he had all kinds of problems, and he was teased and bullied in school, so that, and really poor self image, and when eighteen, he turned eighteen, he started having... and then on top of that, just about the same time, he started hearing voices, he was in a bicycle accident and had a head injury. I didn't know it at the time, but years later, years later, found out that his impulse control was damaged.

KL: With the injury?

SK: Yeah, with the injury. But, I mean, that's a horror story in itself, because at that time, mental... I can't say it's the best now, but at least he's willing to take his meds, and he has a caregiver. And our youngest son lives in Sacramento as well, so he does his share. In fact, he's the one who bought an apartment in this gated community and Tosh pays him rent from what he gets. But then it doesn't cover what he's paying. Anyway, it just happened that he started going to the handicapped center in San Francisco, which is real close to our house, and he met this family and he really hit it off. And John and Joe and Cathy, Cathy wasn't going there in the head injury program, and Joe was a client there because he had a football injury, and then John was taking care of him. But anyway, he got real close with that family. So when they moved to Sacramento, they knew that we were looking for a place for Tosh. And so they brought him to Sacramento with them. At first he moved in with them, but that didn't sit well with the county, so then he had to have his own place. And, you know, people really praised him and everything. I said he discontinued that mental hospital, which was a good thing, but they didn't put anything in its place. So to this day, there's this mental health, and then when was it? One of the shootings, psychiatry -- you know, how they do all this talk on the television -- says, well, it's a mental health issue. But she said there's, there are very strict guidelines. Unless the patient is a danger to himself or to others, the police can't do anything, their hands are tied. Well, by the time he is a danger to somebody, thirteen, twenty-six kids are killed, this kind of stuff. And she says there isn't a good mental health system in place, and I'd sit there and yeah, this is true. My neighbor who had a friend who had a son with the same kind of... he wouldn't take his medicine. This friend was so afraid to stay at home after he retired, that she would go to the Y and stay practically all day. I mean it is a -- I mean, you can't even begin to imagine what it's like. So we survived it.

KL: And he's your oldest?

SK: He's our oldest. And we've been lucky because he takes his medicine. He lived with us for over twenty years, it got to a point where our age and everything, I told him, "Tosh, we're not kicking you out, but we're not getting any younger either. We need to put you somewhere before there's a big crisis."

KL: You know that it's resolved and your other sons know that it's resolved.

SK: Yeah.

KL: So I know a little bit about Soji just because of Grateful Crane, but what about your other two kids?

SK: They're a blessing, you know what I mean? I had a friend who had one child and she had a very hard... in fact, she was my colleague, severe heart problem, and she was going to have this surgery, and luckily everything worked out fine. But I said to Hiroshi, I said, "I'm glad we had both Soji and Hiroshi." Because if it was just one child and something happened to that one child, it would have been really tough, I mean, tougher than it was already. And because Soji and Hiroshi, you know, they missed out on a lot, because of him, they couldn't even invite their friends to the house. But you know, they really stepped up and I think they're more compassionate people because of it. But we don't talk about it, but I think that's one of the reasons Soji and Keiko don't have kids, because there's that family thing. And my sister Tomiye had mental health issues and she's the one right below me, four years younger. So you know, there's a family history. So then she had some health issues on her side, so I think that's one of the reasons they don't have kids. And it's just as well because they're real busy with what they're doing.


KL: So we're back, this is tape three with Sadako Kashiwagi, and we had started talking a little bit about Soji and then kind of ran out of time on the tape.

SK: Well, as you know, he's involved with the Grateful Crane, and then been in it now for almost fourteen years. And I'm really, really proud of the work they're doing, and they really work hard, let me tell you, they work hard. Everyone works hard. And they're going -- did you see "Nihonmachi"?

KL: No, I've never seen any of their shows, I've heard some CDs, but I've never seen them perform.

SK: Well, "Nihonmachi" is about the '40s Nihonmachi that no longer existed. And in the beginning, Nihonmachi used to have manju, the confection, Japanese confection shops, and so this story is based around how the Japanese community's life kind of revolved around, that was one of the main, the fish market and the manju shop were very important in Japantown. So when San Francisco celebrated its hundredth year Japantown, Paul Osaki, who's the director, suggested that he write something about Japantown because they had done Camp Dance. So he went around interviewing people and interviewing the owner of Fugetsu-Do down in L.A., and did a show around that. And the show went around and it was quite popular and came to San Francisco and it went to Sacramento. And the reason I want to mention this is that that show saved their, the confection shop.

KL: Oh, really?

SK: It was about ready to close down. And they did the show there and people starting coming to the shop, and they've been able to maintain and sustain.

KL: Wow.

SK: So you know, it's really nice to hear that, that they're making that kind of a difference.

KL: Well, what's neat, I think, too, about that company, the Grateful Crane, is that they seem really committed to just an ethic of appreciation.

SK: Uh-huh, uh-huh. And so they came to San Francisco last year, and a lot of my friends from the senior center went, and maybe one or two were Japanese, interested in any kind of Japanese. And a lot of, about forty percent of the songs were Japanese, but that didn't bother people because they appreciated the spirit in which it was done. And this "Nihonmachi" was done recently, about four or five years ago maybe in L.A. And Soji says it's a much better show because the actors are now more mature, they bring that to their parts. And then the consul general saw it down in L.A., he really liked it, and then he was assigned to Portland, and he got the Portland people excited about it. So Portland is sponsoring them on November the 9th this year. And they got an educational grant, and so it's going to be during the day, on a Monday. And they're inviting the local schools to send their kids, and then in the evening it's going to be open to the public.

KL: Oh, that's neat. There's a person I know up there who's helped organize an oral history trip before, and she loves cultural events. I'll have to make sure she knows about it.

SK: Right, November the 9th, the Grateful Crane, and the show is "Nihonmachi."

KL: I wanted to ask you too about your, the rest of your parents' lives. What were their lives like after leaving Tule Lake.

SK: Oh, okay, but can I mention our other son?

KL: Yeah, yeah, please do.

SK: Hiroshi works for the U.S. government in the Energy Department. He doesn't like his job, but he volunteers a lot for the community. And so he's really... he complains, complains, complains, but he's really very soft-hearted, he really is. And he helps our son, helps in whatever way he can, he volunteers at the Placer Buddhist church for the bazaar, he volunteers for, he's coming here for this bazaar, and he volunteers for the Sacramento bazaar.

KL: It sounds like your dad in some ways.

SK: Well, yeah. Very...

KL: Being so involved?

SK: Uh-huh. So I pat myself on the back, I said, "We did a pretty good job with our kids." [Laughs]

KL: Yeah.

SK: As I say, their brother being like that, I think it was hard on them, but they're better people because of it.

KL: Yeah, I wonder if it teaches you not to judge people so quickly.

SK: Right, exactly.

KL: That you don't know everything that's going on.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

SK: Okay, now, what life was like at...

KL: Yeah, the rest of your parents' lives. I mean, we talked about their background and their time in Tule Lake.

SK: Okay. We returned to Placer County, and then we were at this one place, and Mrs. Fountain heard that we were back. So she came looking for us and asked us to move back to her ranch. And my father, oh, he's so funny, he thought of one condition. In those days we didn't have running water inside? I guess we did have running water, but we didn't have electricity. He says, "We'll go back if you put electricity," and she says okay. And that was a huge, huge concession, because from the main road, the county road, up to the house, it must have been about two miles. And so, but she had electricity put in, and on that condition, we moved back to that ranch. [Laughs] And that's the place where I say they're building their million dollars homes now.

KL: Yeah. Why did she want them to come back? Because they were good workers or because they had a friendly relationship?

SK: Right, right. She already knew...

KL: So they went back there.

SK: So we went back there. And then when I went to San Mateo, I left from there.

KL: And you moved back there, did your parents live there the rest of their lives?

SK: No. Then I don't know when, but she sold the property to this retiree teacher, and I don't know what, you don't know what you're getting yourself into. But anyway, and then so they moved from there to Penryn, and from Penryn to Loomis. And so that's where they spent their... oh, and then my brother Taku had a house built, after he came back from the army and got a job, and he was the second one who graduated from college. He went to the University of Illinois. But anyway, he became a librarian as well. He had built the house in Roseville and then he moved my mother there. By then my father had passed away.

KL: Did your father remain really active in kind of the world around him, or was that different after he left Tule Lake?

SK: Very interesting. He got really, really sick and he didn't know what was causing it. And he went to L.A. to learn jou-rei. You've heard of reiki? Well, this is a variation of reiki. Instead of hands-on, you keep your hand above the person. And he learned that, and that's what cured him. And we were on this ranch again in Loomis, and he had to spray the crops and I think that that was what was making him sick.

KL: Did either of your parents ever become U.S. citizens?

SK: No, no.

KL: No interest. Did they ever go visit Japan?

SK: My mother did, but my father never made it to Japan. And, in fact, my father, when he came, after the war, and came out of camp, Japan had lost the war, he couldn't be a U.S. citizen at that time, and he says, "I'm an American Indian."

KL: He did? He told people that?

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: He's not the only one.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

KL: Well, how then did you become involved with the Tule Lake pilgrimages and with the site again?

SK: Well, because as Hiroshi explains, that the young people came and asked him to talk about it, and the connection.

KL: If someone watches this in fifty years and they've never been to Tule Lake, would you describe what the pilgrimages are like?

SK: They're much better now, I think. At first it was people getting, feeling each other out, and it was like talking to the choir. But there's been a lot of healing going on at the same time, because people who didn't want to talk about it before are now, feel comfortable talking about it, so that's a good thing. And another good thing I think is that there's more non-Nikkei who are attending. A lot of educators, a lot of young people. Before, it was all the former internees, so as I say, it was like talking to the choir. So I think those are good things.

KL: Yeah, I know in both the interview that Alisa did with Bill Nishimura, and The Cats of Mirikitani movie, both of those guys talked about the healing they experienced, and the opening, Bill especially talked about.

SK: Uh-huh, yeah. I mean, Bill says after Tule Lake, he says, I'm not angry anymore." And then Mirikitani, I was talking to...

KL: I knew you were going to say that. I can't come up with the name, the filmmaker of The Cats of Mirikitani.

SK: She said that that was --

KL: Linda.

SK: That was a very, feeling for him, and he no longer put himself in these pictures.

KL: Oh, interesting. Are there people that stick out in your memory associated with those pilgrimages? Are there individuals that you can tell us?

SK: With the committee, of course.

KL: Yeah, who were the significant players in the Tule Lake pilgrimage and Tule Lake Committee?

SK: Yeah, Molly Kitajima, she was a real trouper, we'll really miss her. Fortunately, this...

KL: What do you miss about Molly? Tell us about her.

SK: She had such energy, such energy. And she was the one who decided that we were going to have mochitsuki, and do you know how much work that is? Do you have any idea how much hard work that is? She'd bring everything, and I used to help her. She'd bring the usu, and that's a big, heavy... and the steamer and the goodies that go with it. Oh my goodness, she provided everything. Amazing woman, just amazing. And then, of course, she did the taiko, you know, yeah, she was just amazing.

KL: I was out in the, kind of the lobby when she left the pilgrimage that I attended, and I remember the whole area, that whole lobby area was like, "Bye, Molly." So the mochitsuki was her thing.

SK: Oh, yeah.

KL: You were starting to mention somebody else, too, before I asked you to say more about Molly.

SK: Well, of course, Jimi and Eiko, they're really involved. And Hiroshi Shimizu.

KL: Did they have anything that was kind of their thing, like the mochi was for Molly? Or what stands out about Jimi and Eiko?

SK: Well, Jimi, of course, the thing is the stockade. He was really involved in all the building and things like that, so he knows a lot about that. Hiroshi Shimizu, he's a real nice man. Do you know Hiroshi Shimizu?

KL: I know who he is, but I don't know him well at all.

SK: Yeah, he's a real nice man. And he works really hard. He and my Hiroshi are really good friends. In fact, they went to the ballgame together just this past Wednesday. Another very generous person, very generous person.

KL: And he does taiko, too, right?

SK: No, he doesn't do taiko. Who else? Couple other people. Oh, of course, Barbara Takei. You know, she really knows about all the legal and all the background about Tule Lake, she's... wow, encyclopedia. And then there's Satsuki Ina and her perspective as a psychologist is very important. We have a good committee and we have a good committee, and we have a good pilgrimage. Last time it sold out in two weeks, we barely made it.

KL: Yeah, I was amazed by it. I thought it was remarkably organized and very effective.

SK: Uh-huh.

KL: And you know Satsuki Ina was the keynote speaker at this year's Manzanar pilgrimage, and I know a lot of people were really eager to see her and appreciated what she had to say.

SK: How did that go?

KL: It was great. One person who visited Manzanar more recently told me that he was... and he was a very young child there if I'm remember right. He told me it was the first time he had really heard someone voicing what she was saying, and he appreciated hearing that.

SK: Yeah.

KL: What's it like to do that with your husband?

SK: [Laughs] It has its points. This past one, every other year, so next one is the sixteenth?

KL: Yeah.

SK: Well, the fourteenth, my niece from Tacoma was there, and she was a professor of English. Anyway, she was the moderator within our separate group, you know how we break off, and she did a very good job. And so those sessions are very, very important. And, let's see, both of us, yeah, we were what they called resource people, having been there. And so we had several educators in the group. Do you know the Mary Matsumoto, Ray Matsumoto's story? If you get a chance to see her movie, see it.

KL: What's it called? I can ask around. It's about Ray Matsumoto?

SK: Ray Matsumoto, yeah. Interesting family. Yeah, Bainbridge Island. Well, that's where she is now, but the father lived to be a hundred, and he died recently.

KL: That was Ray?

SK: Uh-huh. And the mother... oh, I know what I wanted to mention. Her father didn't talk... like Nisei, didn't talk much about camp, right? And so she took this class, and the instructor handed her a book called The Raiders Marauders, do you know that book? Says, "There's someone named Ray Matsumoto in this book. Do you know anything about it?" Turned out it was her father. And he was part of the MIS, and of course, the MIS were not allowed to talk about what they did for years, you know. It was only within the last ten years that they have been allowed to talk, maybe even less than that. And the story that he tells is amazing. It's amazing.

Talks about his father or grandfather having been a photographer and taking these panoramic pictures of his time in the U.S. and his time in Japan. And they had ultimately moved back to Japan and he set up a shop, a photography shop in Hiroshima. But when the war broke out, he couldn't continue because all that became military necessity items, and he didn't have the equipment, the supplies to continue. So toward the end of, as the war progressed, he moved the whole family with his photos out of Hiroshima. And so when Hiroshima was bombed, he was okay. Thing of it is, Ray Matsumoto was in the U.S. Army as an MIS, and his two brothers happened to be over there, and so they were in the Japanese army, and they eventually meet up. And he finds out through a friend that his family in Hiroshima are okay. But to get back to those photos, the daughter, Mary, wants to do a film about her father, so she needs pictures. Well, so, you know, research and finds out that there are ten thousand pictures her grandfather had taken.

KL: Oh, wow.

SK: And they all survived because her grandfather had left Hiroshima. Meanwhile, those photos have been donated to the Peace Museum in Hiroshima, and they're digitizing them. But can you imagine that many? I mean, these are panoramic photos of life here in the United States and in Japan.

KL: Wow.

SK: Yeah, those discoveries are incredible. You should...

KL: Yeah, I'll look into that. That MIS story is really a pretty incredible one, I think.

SK: Uh-huh, and that's an untold story. And we've heard a lot about the 442nd, but the MIS, there's a lot there, too.

KL: Do you remember at all, during the redress movement, the public hearings when people testified?

SK: Uh-huh, I remember Hiroshi going. And I was working and taking care of the family, so I didn't go to that. I'm kind of sorry I missed it, but I remember the controversy about it, what a shame, they were too ashamed to ask for it and that kind of stuff. And then that went back and forth.

KL: What did you think about it, the movement?

SK: At that point, as I say, I was so involved of taking care... and then our son was at home and dealing with his day-to-day. I mean, I can't even begin to describe the kinds of things that went on.

KL: Didn't have the space to think about it.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

KL: Well, I want to respect your time and get you home sort of at a decent hour. So just a few more questions, one is, Tule Lake is now a unit of the National Park Service, has been for the last seven years I guess. Do you know any of the background of how that decision was made, to include it in the National Park Service?

SK: No, I don't. You'll have to ask Larisa, she probably knows better than I do.

KL: What did you think when you heard that news?

SK: Great. I mean, well, on one level you should say, you know, you say the past should remain the past, because that's what a lot of Nisei have been saying, "Oh, it happened a long time ago, don't talk about it." On the other hand, it should be recorded, because it could happen again.

KL: What do you want... so the National Park Service has been having a lot of public meetings, I went to one of the conferences in Seattle to try to take people's input on how the site will develop and what stories it will tell and how. What would you like to see at Tule Lake in twenty years?

SK: I'd like to see an interpretive center like Manzanar has, and a barrack, at the minimum. Of course, they are, right now, concentrating on that stockade, which is an important part, too, but I think in addition to that, there should be an interpretive center.

KL: And a barrack replica?

SK: Oh, and some kind of obelisk to remember those who died there. Because you remember that vast area? I think it was that year that, 2012 that we went, and you know how when you go there you can take any bus you want? And so the ladies behind me, we get there and she says, "But there's nothing there."

KL: At the cemetery you're talking about?

SK: Yeah. Or what was the cemetery. So there should be some kind of memorial for that.

KL: What do you want people to take away from these hypothetical visitors in twenty years? What do you want them to understand about Tule Lake? You said there should be a visitor center, what should be included in that or what do you think are the really important... what's the important legacy of Tule Lake, I guess is a good way to phrase that.

SK: Well, the country made a huge mistake, but it also acknowledged it. People think that the acknowledgement was nothing, but it was huge. People felt free after that, freer and more comfortable about talking about it. Because there was so much shame attached to it. So the fact that there was redress, that there was a letter of apology, that kind of thing, is important to point out. Because I know a lot of people who wouldn't talk about it, some still don't want to talk about it.

KL: We were talking during a break, and during my last visit to San Francisco, about the legacy of the process of segregation and that questionnaire, and I do want to record your take on that.

SK: That's been very harsh and very difficult. As I say, he expected a certain hostility from the non-Nikkei, but when it came from the Nikkei, that's really hurtful because they're being too judgmental, not knowing why people made the decisions that they make. For example, in my case, our case, we were too young. My sister, well, she was just old enough, she was sixteen at the time, so by the time it came, of course... where were we to go? We had no place to go. We stayed there because of a decision my father made. What were we to do? So we remained in Tule Lake. And it's like the recent comment by Trump saying all people from Mexico are criminals, you're putting, generalizing, over-generalizing, and I think that's dangerous in any case. And I think one of the things that I've learned from it is not to be too judgmental, you don't know what's going on in other people's lives.

KL: Well, maybe that's actually part of the answer to the last sort of big question that I had. And you mentioned current events and Donald Trump's media statements. In the last year, there's been, I think, in some cases, a pretty public, even in the last several weeks, conversation about race and the legacy of racism. Do you see any advice or any lessons from you own life or from your observation of the 20th century Japanese American history that are relevant to the country's ongoing issues with race? What are those?

SK: Live and let live. Each of us wants to live to his potential. Each of us wants to raise our families in a peaceful, accepting environment, regardless of who we are. And to judge people because of what they look like or their general preferences are, uh-uh, that doesn't sit well with me, no. People say, "Gays are fine, I have a good friend who is, I have several good friends who are gay." And I have one friend who was gay from Boston, and he was one of my best friends. And his life was ruined because it was used against him. And that kind of thing shouldn't happen.

KL: Are there other things that you expected to talk about or wanted to talk about?

SK: I think we've covered it pretty much. [Laughs] Something would come up, but yeah.

KL: Well, I hope we'll stay in touch, and if things do come up that you want included just in this record, please let me know, and thank you so much.

SK: You're welcome.

KL: We've been hoping that this could happen for the last several years at least, so I'm really glad we had this time together today.

SK: So I'm glad you're going to share it with Larisa, because I don't know if I could do it again. [Laughs] I certainly would forget some of the things I've said.

KL: Well, I think these oral history interviews, too, are one way of, like you say, showing how individual people's time was and people's motives and effects were. So anyway, on behalf of the Nation Park Service, both Manzanar and Tule Lake, and selfishly myself, thank you for agreeing to this.

SK: You're very welcome.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.