Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Ko Nishimura Interview
Narrator: Ko Nishimura
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Campbell, California
Date: July 14, 2015
Densho ID: denshovh-nko-01

<Begin Segment 1>

KL: Okay, today is July the 14th, 2015. My name is Kristen Luetkemeier, I'm a park ranger at Manzanar National Historic Site. I'm here for an interview with Ko Nishimura. We're in Ecopia Farms, his operation here in San Jose, California. Larisa Proulx is operating the video camera from the Tule Lake unit, and we'll be talking with Ko about his family background, including his father and his uncle who were very involved in guayule at Manzanar, and also Ko's own experiences at Manzanar and his adult life. That was a long way of getting there, but Ko, do I have your permission to be talking to you today, to record this and make it available to the public?

KN: Of course.

KL: Okay, thanks for having us. Let's start off by talking about the family that your father grew up in. Would you tell us the names of his parents and what you know about their lives?

KN: On my dad's side, they were farmers. They were farmers in Japan, they had a farm in Japan. And actually, my dad came to America about, when he was about six, seven, years old. And they lived on, they farmed at 191st and Van Ness and Gardena. He's a graduate of Venice High School, he went to Berkeley, to the University of California, and his freshman and sophomore year as a (mechanical) engineering major, and he realized that Japanese could never be a white collar worker in those days, and so he transferred to Davis and received a degree in agricultural engineering.

KL: Do you know around when he came to the United States? You said he was about eight? What year was that?

KN: I don't know. I don't know.

KL: Do you know when he was born, approximately?

KN: Let's see... no, I wouldn't know. It must have been in, like, 1910, 1912 or something like that.

KL: And what do you know about his life and his family's life in Japan? Where were they from, what was their work there, what was their economic educational background?

KN: Well, they came from the Yamanashi Prefecture, which is due west of Tokyo. And as a matter of fact, most people are familiar with Mt. Fuji. The ocean side is Shizuoka, and they're known for their tea growing, the back side is Yamanashi. And they have some very pretty areas because the back side of Mt. Fuji, but they almost live at the base of Mt. Fuji, and they farmed. So that was the genesis of... they're not quite sure. I think my grandfather came initially, that grandfather came because the Japanese government sent him to study agriculture. And he decided to stay, so he stayed. And then he called his family over, and that side of it. The other side of the family was also Sendai. And the Sendai side is, turned out they were farmers, and they were big farmers. And they had tremendous acreage, and it turned out that my grandfather was number five son, so by Japanese possession and ownership handed down, number five gets zero, literally, because the oldest gets everything. So he came to America, but before he came, he somehow, the Sendai High School (principal) took a real liking to him and went to my grandfather's father, I guess that would be my great grandfather, and asked him, he wanted to sponsor him into Tohoku University. So he's sort of unusual for a Japanese Issei that came over from Japan. He had a college degree. And when he got here, he started a nursery in Pasadena, California, a pretty big nursery. So that's where (I) was born and raised until the Second World War came along.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

KL: And I just want to confirm, that was your mother's father who attended the university and started the nursery?

KN: Yeah.

KL: Okay. What were their names? What was that family name?

KN: Nishimura.

KL: Okay. So your mom was Nishimura also even before her marriage?

KN: [Nods].

KL: What was the name of the nursery?

KN: Fuji Nursery. It was a fairly large nursery. And, of course, the government confiscated the nursery, actually.

KL: The U.S. government when the war? Uh-huh. You said your grandfather was sent to the U.S. by Japan to study agriculture?

KN: That was the other grandfather.

KL: Did that cause any problems for him, that he decided to stay in the U.S.?

KN: Things get fuzzy in that area because the elders only tell you what's convenient to tell you. And if you start asking questions, usually the answer comes back in Japanese, "Sore wa muzukashiin desu ga," which means, "It's slightly complicated," which means, "Quit asking questions." So you don't ask the next questions, right? So I don't know. [Laughs]

KL: That's good. If I hear that, I'll know what to do. [Laughs]

KN: Yeah, you just say, "It's sort of complicated," muzukashii, to stop the conversation politely, right?

KL: Yeah. Did you ever hear what caused him to decide to remain in the U.S.?

KN: No, that side grandfather didn't say too much. All I can remember seeing him was twice.

KL: And did he farm and grow things also in the U.S.? Was that his profession?

KN: That's the one that lived in Gardena.

KL: Okay. Well, back to the nursery, what are your memories of the nursery? Do you know who... I guess you probably don't have any from before the war because you were not around. But do you know who their customers were, like, in the 1930s or what they grew?

KN: Yeah, the reason I know a little bit about their customers is when my grandfather came back, he landscaped a lot of yards in Pasadena, south Pasadena, San Marino and Flintridge and all these other places. And so they hired him as a gardener. And so all his customers used to call him Fuji because it was Fuji Nursery. And a few of the places that he landscaped he ended up taking care of. So I do have memories of him, but it was after the Second World War.

KL: And then did your mother come with her parents to the U.S.?

KN: Yes.

KL: Do you know around when they came, or how old she was?

KN: I don't know when they came, but I do know, I can give you an interesting story. I somehow, coincidentally, had a English teacher, Ms. Sharp, that taught my mother. She was in junior high school.

KL: Did she say anything about what your mother was like as a student?

KN: Well, she, obviously she was a very obedient, good student, because she used to reprimand me all the time. She says, "Your mother would be very embarrassed of your performance, and she'd wear a bag over her head if she knew how well you did. [Laughs] I think she just did that to try to make me do better.

KL: Did it work?

KN: No. [Laughs] It didn't work. I looked at her and said, "Okay." And it was always a threat kind of a thing that she would tell the whole class what a wonderful, well-behaved student my mother was. Of course, they get a big laugh out of the class. She's trying to embarrass me, that's all.

KL: Do you know if your grandparents did anything to sort of, how they educated themselves about different growing conditions in California? Were they part of any agricultural organizations or any continuing education?

KN: I don't think so. As you know, the Isseis were very resourceful. And so when my grandfather started the nursery, he figured out how to grow things. Of course, he knew how to grow things, because he was a farmer's kid. My uncle was pretty interested in plants, too, so, even though he was a physicist. [Laughs]

KL: Yeah. Tell us his name, this uncle.

KN: His name is Shimpei Nishimura.

KL: And your father's name?

KN: Joe.

KL: And your mother's name?

KN: Kyoko.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

KL: And aside from growing things, what can you tell us about your grandparents' lives? Like what were their interests, what were their values that you remember?

KN: Well, it turns out that my grandfather was very community-oriented. So he organized... he had great foresight actually, tremendous foresight, he was a pretty bright guy. And he started the Japanese community center in Pasadena, and had enough foresight, he bought land for that place, and he built on it.

KL: Was this you maternal or your paternal grandfather?

KN: That's my maternal grandfather. And, of course, he built a large nursery, but besides that, I'm pretty sure he's the founder of the Southern California Gardeners Association. My grandmother used to go to every one of those annual meetings and dinners after he passed away. He also started a credit union.

KL: Were the credit unions and the growers association intercultural, or was it all Japanese immigrants?

KN: All Japanese. Because Japanese couldn't borrow money. And the other thing he did was, there was a big move on by, I think, it was the AFL or CIO, to organize the gardeners. They thought it was going to be a cinch. And it turned out that my grandfather was a gardener, and the association strategy... and of course the unions were stunned at that time, you could read the stories on it. They were stunned that they got voted down. So the gardeners never got organized.

KL: Was that in the 1930s? I don't know anything about that.

KN: No, that was in the '50s after the war.

KL: I see.

KN: The things I'm talking about are after the war.

KL: Oh, the credit unions and the growers association?

KN: The community center was before the war, but the gardeners association, credit union, was after the war.

KL: I see.

KN: So anyway, he had a pretty good strategic mind, I remember. That was my grandfather.

KL: What was his wife like?

KN: My grandmother? She's the one that raised myself and Gary Hata. Gary Hata's father also worked on guayule, his name is Tomoichi. I think Frank Kageyama's stories refer to him as "Green Thumbs." Gary and I never heard of that. Nobody ever, we never called him Green Thumbs. Maybe that's what Frank called him. Because Mr. and Mrs. Hata worked for my grandfather, Fuji Nursery, that's where they learned horticulture.

KL: Were they immigrants also?

KN: Yes. Mr. Hata is... I think you should talk to his son Gary, I could tell you a couple of... because I was very close to Mr. Hata, he was like an uncle to me. And my grandmother, he'd be really puzzled on Veterans Day, because Mr. Hata served in the United States army, very proud of it, and when they had the parade, he always wears his uniform and went downtown, marched. So he was a veteran of the First World War, and that's how he got his citizenship.

KL: That's interesting.

KN: Another thing, then, Mr. Hata used to laugh all the time after I was grown up, is apparently when I was young, he said, what does my mother call me, he asked me. I said, "Urusai." Urusai means "you're noisy." [Laughs] That's what he used to tell me. "Your mom used to call you urusai." So he was a very close member affiliated with the Nishimura family.

KL: Yeah. And you said your grandmother was the one who did a lot of the raising for you?

KN: Yeah, he raised both Gary Hata and his son. As a matter of fact, when my grandmother passed away, Gary missed her more than I did. So that's how close Gary is.

KL: Are there other things you wanted to tell us or could tell us about your paternal grandparents how, other than growing things, what they were like?

KN: Well, I didn't know them very well, like I said. All I remember was I know I went to visit them one time and he was on the floor. He had a crutch next to him, and he had a cast on his leg, looked like he broke his leg. That's what I remember. So we went to visit him just because he broke his leg. But other than that, they lived in Gardena, and before the Second World War, Gardena was a long ways off from Pasadena. There were no freeways, there were no Pasadena freeway, no Harbor freeways. So very difficult to get down there.

KL: How did your folks meet?

KN: I think there was an arranged marriage just like everybody else in those days.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

KL: So your dad grew up in Gardena?

KN: Yeah, that's right. Then eventually the war, so...

KL: Who else was in your father's family when he was a child? There was him and Shimpei, were there any other siblings?

KN: Where at?

KL: When your dad was growing up, did he have brothers and sisters besides Shimpei?

KN: Not my father. My father came from the other side. He came to the Nishimura family. So there were only two, a brother and a sister, Kyoko and Shimpei in the Nishimura family.

KL: I see, okay.

KN: There was a third son, but he passed away when he was an infant in Japan. His name was Tadashi.

KL: And then was your dad an only child?

KN: Who?

KL: Your father.

KN: No, there were five in his family. Four sons and one daughter.

KL: Okay, yeah, that makes sense. I'm sorry I didn't pick up on that. So Kyoko and Shimpei grew up together as siblings, and then...

KN: My dad had three other brothers and a sister.

KL: Okay. Well, then what kind of stories did you hear from Kyoko and Shimpei about what they were like as kids? Like were they involved in the nursery?

KN: No, you didn't hear too much from them because they were... like Shimpei before the war was never home. He was at Berkeley. And even after he graduated, he spent time there as a graduate student and a researcher. My mother went off to Woodbury, then she worked in the nursery, too. In those days, you, they worked very hard to make a living. So Grandmother tended to both Gary Hata and I.

KL: Because your mom was working?

KN: Yeah, they were all working in the nursery. So not much, all I remember is... I do know that they're very hardworking people, very good work ethics, they worked hard to, I guess you might call it scratch out a living, you know.

KL: What was your mom studying in Woodbury? What was she doing?

KN: Oh, she got a business to create. Like typically it was... I think she was good at shorthand, I don't know which one, Gregg or another one. But most of them went on to be secretaries or something, she never did that because she couldn't get a job. The only place she could get a job was downtown in Los Angeles working for a Japanese American company. She stayed home and worked at home.

KL: And do you know if Shimpei contributed to the nursery operations, too, as a teenager?

KN: Obviously he did. He had interest in growing, so he was very knowledgeable in plants, because he's a scientist. And so, of course, he learned all that at the nursery, didn't he?

KL: I would guess so. I mean, usually it was kind of a family operation.

KN: And he really loved plants. At the nursery, it was a big laboratory for him.

KL: Yeah, I was always curious about that, if he had an interest in plants before being involved in guayule.

KN: Yeah, he always did. He always had an interest in plants.

KL: This is another one of those questions, it's weird, 'cause I know the answer, but for the recording, tell us about his education and his field of study and his work.

KN: Nobody's ever told me he had a PhD, but if you read the newspaper and everything, they'd always address him as Dr. Nishimura. So apparently he had a PhD, and Japanese are modest, they're not going to tell you they have a PhD. I do know he was a brilliant man. And the other thing that used to amuse me was I used to think when I used to look at him, he had the biggest head in the world.

KL: Physically?

KN: Physically he had a big head, and that became obvious, no wonder he's so damn smart. Because he was a brilliant man, actually.

KL: That's the impression I get.

KN: Very bright man. And people have sent me articles like when he was going to junior college, he wrote in the mathematical journals, so he was quite academic. Somebody asked him for, they were asking for a solution to a math problem, so he submitted it and he published it.

KL: But you said he was pretty modest?

KN: Yeah, he never talked about himself.

KL: What was his field of study when he was associated with Berkeley before the war?

KN: He talked fondly of some of the Nobel prize winners. He was affiliated with students, and they were together as they worked on labs. And so you could always tell, he's quite academic, because he ended up in Illinois after the war, with Robert Emerson, his colleague. And I wrote him a letter, it came back all marked up in red. I never wrote him another letter. [Laughs]

KL: Yeah, that's a little intimidating.

KN: Matter of fact, he diagrammed some of the letters, some of the sentences to show me how incorrectly it was constructed.

KL: So he, after he finished his degrees, he was still at Berkeley?

KN: Yeah.

KL: Do you know what his work there was, if he was doing research or teaching?

KN: I have no idea. Because don't forget, that was between when I was born and when I was three, so you're not too aware.

KL: You weren't concerned with his career or physics when you were two? Yeah, okay.

KN: It was fortunate that I recognized that he existed at that age.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

KL: And what about your dad? He grew up around growers, and I assume he worked in Fuji Nursery?

KN: He actually worked, he lived on a farm in Gardena. And then he went to high school, (Venice) High School. He was quite an athlete. He was a way better athlete than I was.

KL: And then when did he and your mother marry?

KN: It must have been a couple years before I was born, so it must have been '35, '36.

KL: Mid '30s. And then did they both work at the Fuji Nursery?

KN: Yeah.

KL: Did your dad have any college background or education?

KN: Well, as I mentioned, he had a degree in agriculture and engineering from Davis, U.C. Davis. That was an ag. school.

KL: Do you think he had a real interest in agriculture or do you think he was being pragmatic as a Japanese immigrant, or do you think it's both?

KN: He didn't have a choice. I think it showed, because after the war, him and my grandfather Nishimura went into business processing seafood. And he'd design almost every equipment and built it with a machinist. So they didn't have this machinery, and so he always had design magazines around, so you could tell he always had interest, I think, in engineering.

KL: There's another question about Shimpei I just remembered. How did he get the name Morgenlander?

KN: I have no idea. That's a German name. I did talk to him one time and asked him that, and he always signed his name M.S. Nishimura. And he said to me, "I got a second name because I didn't want to be confused with my dad and my grandfather." Because my grandfather used to always sign his name "S. Nishimura." So if they both signed their name "S. Nishimura"... he always wrote it M.S. I have no idea. And you're sort of polite, you never ask him, right? You never asked, he never told, you know?

KL: Frank Hirosawa's daughter and I were sort of speculating, because she knows German very well and is interested in the language, so she was kind of speculating about meanings and stuff, but it's just curious.

KN: Uncle Shimpei spoke German very fluently. You see, he was also interested in polymer chemistry when he was going to school. When he passed away, I had to dispose of all his books, nobody wanted them. But they were all in German. Polymer chemistry at that time, Germany was the leader in polymer chemistry. So if you wanted to read anything about polymer chemistry, you had to read German. So I still remember when I went to see him in the University of Illinois, this is in probably about 1950, '51, he told me, "I'll be done with lecture about noon or so, why don't you come by this lecture hall?" I went in there and I couldn't believe it, I thought I had a stroke. I didn't understand one word that was being said in that. And I asked him later what language was it, he said, "I was speaking German." Apparently for the summer session, there was a bunch of scientists from Germany that came, so he chose to speak in German. He was very fluent in German.

KL: Did he speak other languages or read other languages?

KN: He was very fluent in Japanese, too, so he was trilingual. I don't know what other language he spoke, but he was very fluent.

KL: Did he ever travel internationally?

KN: Not that I know of. He might have after the war with Robert Emerson. I wouldn't know about that.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

KL: Do you have questions about prewar stuff involving any of this older generation? Is there anything else that you think is important to add about either of your parents or about Shimpei from before the war, stories you heard or things that...

KN: Well, I could tell you that when Pearl Harbor happened, gee, it must have been about noon. Pearl Harbor was early in the morning for us on the West Coast. I answered a knock at the door, at least two -- they look huge to me -- gentlemen wearing overcoats, called me by my first name, and said they'd like to talk to my grandfather Sueji. So I got him, he briefly spoke to them and went in and spoke to my grandmother. We didn't see him, we never saw him until we saw him at Manzanar in late 1944. Of course, they arrested him, that was the FBI. I guess we were under surveillance for a long time. The only reason I know is my grandfather had a gift of a sword, military sword, and my grandmother didn't like it. So he told him to go bury it someplace, and he buried it in the nursery, actually. Four guys walk on the backyard with four shovels and the sword. So we were under surveillance a long time.

KL: The FBI dug up the sword?

KN: Yep.

KL: When they came to take him?

KN: Yeah. Of course, they never did anything. I could tell you another amusing story about that, before the war. Other people used to tell me this. Apparently his high school classmates, a couple of them, were admirals in the Japanese navy. They used to dock their cruisers in Long Beach, they used to lower their touring cars and come up to Pasadena and park it on Fair Oaks Avenue, it's the main drive. And there would be a marine guard standing, Japanese (marine) guard. (...) And somebody had a picture of it, and when my grandfather got arrested, they accused him of being a spy, and he said, "Don't be ridiculous. If I was spying on you, why would they park it on the front of the main street?" The guy comes in his uniform, there's a marine guard standing out there. And they quizzed him and then they found out that they were his high school classmates. So that was an interesting story, that's all.

KL: Yeah. He sounds pretty... I don't know what the right word is, confident to respond that way.

KN: Well, he says, "I'm just telling the truth." My grandfather was pretty straightforward, he says, "Why should anybody be afraid of the truth?" So just tell them the truth. He said, "Yes, they were here, and that car was in front of my house, obviously got a picture. And they were here because they're my friends." They went back and checked up, they were his classmates.

KL: Yeah. Well, and he's the person that you said was here by choice in many phases, came by choice and then chose to remain in the...

KN: And so it was an interesting... Grandfather Nishimura was a pretty big hearted guy, in other words, he didn't fear anything, it seems like he was just an ordinary guy. He was... maybe a Westerner kind of a thing.

KL: Yeah. You mentioned that likely the FBI had been watching him for a while.

KN: They must have been.

KL: Did anyone in your family or did he ever say why he thinks he was targeted?

KN: Well, obviously, the hysteria, why would an admiral stop by to see a nurseryman? They didn't do their homework that's all.

KL: Yeah. So he assumed it was those connections with Japanese --

KN: Yeah, he got... with war hysteria, they get paranoid, they think, oh, he got planted over here. Because I talked to my grandfather about that. He said, "No, I came over here, and they just happened to be my friends. It's the honest truth," he says.

KL: Right.

KN: "I can't tell them not to come." And so that's that story. But what was really funny was during the Second World War, we're in camp, we didn't know where my grandfather was. So my grandfather used to write letters to me. And you could tell, I should have saved those letters, but it's all cut out because it's censored. Of course, the letters I write, I didn't write, my uncle wrote 'em. And he wrote 'em in such a way that he was coding it, so he was trying to figure out, so my grandfather could answer where he was. And they cut a lot of it out, and after a while, my uncle Seth read one letter, I mean, it's full of holes, okay, you could hardly read it, it almost falls apart. He said, "I think Grandpa's in Missoula, Montana, in the federal prison," and that's where he was. We knew when he went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, he was able to tell me, oh, he went to Santa Fe. Because war has sort of wound down. But at the beginning, he was in the federal pen up in Missoula.

KL: So it was Shimpei who would write the letters on your behalf?

KN: Yeah, but I'm writing okay. He'll tell me what to write. So it would take about four pages to write the big words. I barely could write because I was just a kid. So I remember that, I did that in camp. And the only reason was the family wanted to know where he was. First of all, they wanted to know if he was alive, and they realized he was alive because they could see his handwriting.

KL: Back to his arrest, do you remember his demeanor when the agents came to the house and when he was taken away? How did he act?

KN: Well, I talked... he just went back and talked to my grandma, then briskly sort of patted me on the head and left.

KL: Uh-huh. What about them? Were they respectful, were they rude, were they quiet?

KN: I don't remember them being rude, there was no reason to. They didn't manhandle it or anything, they let him go back to... they didn't come in the house actually, so they waited for him there. They tried to escape out the back, they had five guys back there. Then he came back out and said goodbye, and I was the last person he talked to.

KL: Had he been monitoring the relationship between the U.S. and Japan? Did he have a concern about where the two countries were headed in regard to each other?

KN: Well, he didn't tell me this until after the war, but he said to me, "Japan had the largest merchant marine fleet in the world before the war, and they were not allowed to refuel in U.S. ports. And that's really as an act of war. That's what he said, and basically that's what his friend told him.

KL: His friends in the navy?

KN: Navy. He said, "That doesn't seem fair, that's not very friendly," he says. So that part I got out of him.

KL: Did he have a bag packed or was he ready to... did he have any preparations, do you think he had a concern for his security?

KN: No, he didn't take anything, he just put on his overcoat, his hat, and left. That's all he had. He didn't take another piece of clothing.

KL: How did your mother or your grandmother react to his arrest?

KN: Well, you know, to me, he acted calmly, but I'm sure they were pretty concerned, they never showed it. My grandmother never showed it. Never said, "Oh, don't worry about it," they didn't mention it. Not a word was mentioned, actually.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

KL: You mentioned that he was in Missoula and I think Santa Fe, right?

KN: That's what it was, right.

KL: Was he anywhere else, what do you know about the chronology of his experience over those years?

KN: Oh, when he got arrested, they took him down to Terminal Island, that was the federal penitentiary. And then from there he went to a couple other places, I guess. Eventually he got triaged over to Missoula.

KL: Did he ever say, either later or, I assume not in the letters since they were so heavily censored, but did he say what his days were like in Terminal Island or in Missoula or in Santa Fe?

KN: No, he never said anything. He did tell me... it was really funny, he says Santa Fe was a pretty open camp because it's all desert. So he says, one days he says they wanted to eat eel or something, so they went out to the Rio Grande and they found something that was sort of snaky. The brought it back and they were going to cook it, they said, "Hey, wait a minute, these got legs on it," and so they threw 'em away. It was a humorous story. They went, oh boy, we get to eat some Japanese food. And then he was saying this really laughing, he would have tears in his eyes when he'd tell us. They got these wiggly legs sticking out. And he goes, "Hey, eels don't have legs, I'm not eating that." So that was a humorous story.

KL: Was he any different when he came back to your family?

KN: He always was a leader, you know, so he immediately got... I think he immediately got like the block leader, of Block 35. So they took over Block 35. He picked up where he left off kind of a thing.

KL: Yeah, so he still remained real community minded and had a sense of humor.

KN: Yeah, so mentally he was okay, I think. I'm sure there was resentment, but he never showed it.

KL: Were there other significant people in your life who were part of those early arrests, or do you remember anything else like what happened to your...

KN: Well, you know, like the Hatas were from our extended family. I said George Iwamoto and his mom and dad lived in the next barrack, since we played together. I think George donated a picture of a painter out of Manzanar.

KL: He might have. I mean, Iwamoto is a really familiar name to me, but I can't tell you why, if he's part of our oral history collection or donation or what.

KN: He said he was going to donate.

KL: He may have.

KN: And I got a copy of that. You look at the picture, it's his father doing something. His mom watered the plant in the front, George is playing, and I'm in the picture. That's why he gave me a copy.

KL: It's a photograph?

KN: No, it's a painting, watercolor.

KL: Oh, cool. I'll have to look for that.

KN: I got a copy of it, and he made sure I got a copy of it.

KL: Yeah. Maybe, if you would, it'd be great to give me a copy so I can identify it and make sure that's in the notes.

KN: Yeah, the kid in the front, that's me. As a matter of fact, he took a clear picture and he just put the silhouette, and he labeled them one, two, three, four, whatever it was, and this is me, this is George, this is Dad, this is Mom.

KL: Who painted it?

KN: I'm not sure. But I do remember there was a painter named Takamura in camp, he might have been the one. I know he was always painting, I've talked to him, he's painting, you wonder what he's painting, and people come up and ask him, he'll talk to you. But I think there was a painter named Takamura.

KL: Yeah, his first name's Kango, and he was in Santa Fe, too, for a while.

KN: No, he can't be then. He was in Santa Fe?

KL: Yeah, but I don't know when or for how long. He was in Santa Fe and Manzanar.

KN: So he went from Santa Fe to Manzanar.

KL: I presume, I think that's right, I'm not positive.

KN: Because I know Mr. Takamura was in camp later on because I remember him more vividly when I was older, must have been five or six when I used to talk to him.

KL: My guess, and it's just a guess, is that he came to Manzanar sometime in 1943, but it's a guess.

KN: Yeah, I think so, because... that sort of crept out of my mind.

KL: Oh, that's neat.

KN: Oh, there's an artist that I remember.

KL: What was he like?

KN: I don't know. When you're a young man and you talk to older guys like him, they're very kind. They talk to you, because in camp you had time, so they talked to you.

KL: Yeah. A painting of his -- we're redoing the brochure at Manzanar, and there's going to be a Kango Takamura painting that's the main background.

KN: Yeah, he was a good painter.

KL: He was a beautiful painter.

KN: I know he was a good painter, but that's my encounter with Mr. Takamura.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

KL: Well, backing up to Pasadena, after your grandfather's arrest, what else can you tell us about those months, December, January, February, March, before going into the camps, and it'd be all hearsay from later.

KN: I don't know when we decided to pull out of Pasadena, we decided we'd get out of this defense zone, so we went to Reedley in the Central Valley, we thought we'd be safe. Of course, they come looking for you out there, too, you know. And it turns out, one of the funny story is Sam Araki, my partner here, they went from Campbell, they actually left half packed. They left with the door open, because no sooner they left, they came after him. They were just one step ahead, so they came to Reedley. And Sam could tell you stories about they pitched a tent inside of a barn in Reedley. And some people that were willing to put 'em up, and we lived in Reedley but I think we both got tired of running, and we finally went to camp. So if you look at where we came from, it says we came from the Fresno area, look at it. The reason I know is, I didn't know that, but one of my friends in Pasadena says he made a mistake on you, Ko, I said, "What do you mean?" "It says you guys are from the Fresno area." I said, "No, no, that's where we came from." Because we moved from Pasadena inland to get away from the war zone.

KL: Did you have some connection in Reedley? Why'd you choose Reedley?

KN: I don't know. And I think it was some German, I think there was a German descent family that put us up. I'm not sure how we knew him. I could never find that house, I went back there about five times to find it, I couldn't find it.

KL: Your family was in a house?

KN: Yeah, we were in a house. Matter of fact, we got shot at, I know.

KL: What do you know about that?

KN: That's all I know. My dad told me we got shot at, I remember we got shot at. I'm sure it was frightening for them, you know. Because they didn't have guns or anything.

KL: Did your dad have any idea if it was a local person or some...

KN: No, that was at nighttime, so obviously the person was not brave enough to come and confront him. It was almost like a bad prank, I think.

KL: Yeah.

KN: We were lucky, you know.

KL: And you have no awareness of what the German person's connection to your family was or how...

KN: No, I don't know. I never found out. What you got to realize is most parents and relatives that don't talk to the kids about wartime experience. If you don't ask, they don't want to talk to you about it. I can only remember a little, what I experienced and I what I remember.

KL: Yeah. I wondered if you had any memories that are previous to your grandfather's arrest, or is that your first real memory?

KN: Like I told you, I have memories of Mr. Hata. I don't know if I told you this, but Mr. Hata one day was sort of sitting around, because he says, "What does your mother call you?" Because I only spoke Japanese, and Mr. Hata only spoke Japanese. And I said, "Urusai." Urusai means "noisy."

KL: So that was in Pasadena that you had that conversation?

KN: Yeah.

KL: I see.

KN: And after the war, Mr. Hata used to tell me all the time, he used to call me Urusai. They were real close family friends.

KL: How do you spell urusai, if you're writing it in English characters?

KN: U-R-U-S-A-I, urusai.

KL: So do you know when you went to Reedley and how long you stayed there?

KN: We couldn't have stayed there more than three or four months, what I could tell. When you're a young man, it seems like a long time. There was a river next to the house. I presume that was the Kings River. It's too big to be a canal.

KL: Was your family farming in Reedley, do you know?

KN: I don't know what we were doing. When you're on the run, you can't be working in the field and stuff. They might have went and worked in the fields.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

KL: What happened next?

KN: Well, we ended up in Manzanar.

KL: Did you guys go through Pomona Assembly Center?

KN: No, that's what I said, we didn't go through any of that stuff.

KL: Straight to Manzanar from Reedley.

KN: Because we actually... it's the same thing, Sam ended up in Amache from Reedley. It's a wonder we didn't run into each other then.

KL: Yeah, yeah. Where was Shimpei during those months?

KN: Shimpei wasn't around. I can't remember Shimpei being around. That story, that newspaper story that I gave you, you have, they said they called them from someplace to Manzanar. They said he was in Pasadena.

KL: Yeah, the story I've always... I mean, like the Hirosawas, they... I can't remember where they were living. But if they had been regular people without the guayule connection, they would have gone to another camp. I mean, a lot of the guayule people who were a very early part of the project came from elsewhere.

KN: Yeah, I think they got handpicked. And I know Frank Hirosawa was one of the people handpicked, I think.

KL: Yeah, I think that's right.

KN: For his analytical chemistry skills.

KL: So it was you and your mother and your grandmother and your father who were in Reedley together and then came to Manzanar, is that correct?

KN: Yeah, oh, and Mr. Hori. That was my grandfather's cousin from Sendai. He always called him our cousin in Japanese, so I assume he was my grandfather's cousin. And nobody really knew. And then, see, this is some of the things I can't figure out, he called Japan about it, fairly recently. We ended up in the picture of, they're having a memorial service for my grandmother when she died. In a temple in Japan, this about 1951. And there's a lady sitting next to the priest, has my grandmother's picture, her name was Hori. When the Nishimuras sent the picture that identified her and said her name was Hori, so somehow this Hori family is very closely related to us, I'm not quite sure how. She wouldn't be holding the picture, right, of my grandmother? So anyway, even my closest cousin can't tell me that, and he's in the picture and he's only about this tall. I said, "Kazuo, you were there, weren't you?" He said, "Oh, yeah, I was there at that service." I said, "Who was that lady holding up the..." "I don't know." I said, "She was identified as a Hori." Says, "Oh, really? I don't know who that is," he said. Because I was only about seven or eight or ten or something like that.

KL: Yeah, that was probably not his main interest, is the genealogy or whatever, right.

KN: He was wondering what he was doing there. So anyway, I'm not quite sure, but that's what I know about it.

KL: So what do you know about the trip to Manzanar? Do you have any memories of that?

KN: All I remember is I had memories coming there. I think we were one of the very few people that went to Manzanar, took more than what they could carry with two hands. You know why? Because I remember coming in with a truckload of stuff.

KL: So you guys drove yourself?

KN: I don't know who drove it, but I remember there was a truck next to the barrack. I don't know how we got there. I have no idea how we got there. I remember this truck full of loaded stuff, people, of course, we gave some of this stuff away because we couldn't put it all in the house. I'm pretty sure that's what happened.

KL: Oh, interesting.

KN: It was [inaudible] truck, it was loaded like this.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

KL: When you went to Manzanar, was your dad sort of an early choice for guayule, or did he get recruited from Manzanar, do you know?

KN: He just went to work with my uncle Shimpei, that's all. Because he knew how to grow plants, and he could run experiments.

KL: So Shimpei recruited him after your family... your family's going to Manzanar had nothing to do with guayule.

KN: Yeah. Actually, I can't remember if Shimpei was living with us. Because don't forget, guayule was on Block 6.

KL: The lathe house, but there was some stuff on the north side, too.

KN: The laboratory was one of the bathrooms converted, right? I remember going over there, right?

KL: Or an ironing room or something.

KN: Yeah, it was in the middle of the block. Good community room they converted.

KL: In Block 35?

KN: No, Block 6

KL: Block 6, okay.

KN: I'm pretty sure it was Block 6. I don't remember anything on Block 35.

KL: Okay. You remember it being centered on Block 6.

KN: My dad had a '41 Ford because he ran the water project outside the reservoir.

KL: I didn't know that.

KN: He had a '41 Ford, a sedan, so I remember the only way I got to Block 6 was with his car.

KL: Yeah, the reason I was asking about how your dad came to guayule is because I wondered if Dr. Emerson was somehow involved.


KL: This is tape number two, we're back for a continuing interview with Ko Nishimura on July 14, 2015. And we were talking about your arrival at Manzanar. What was your address in Manzanar?

KN: I don't know, but all I know is we lived on the most northeastern block, I mean, the barrack of the block. We were right next to the highway, and we were closest to the guard tower.

KL: Okay. So that would be building 8. It's interesting, because something I read said you were in 35-5-2, but maybe you moved, or maybe this thing I looked at was wrong. But you were the farthest northeast.

KN: Yeah. You could check to see because... see where the Itos lived.

KL: Okay.

KN: The Itos lived on the next block from us. I'm pretty sure we lived in... I may be mistaken, but that's what my memories are.

KL: You could very easily be right, too. I mean, people moved around, so maybe building 5 got reported and then you moved to eight within two weeks or something, who knows.

KN: We could have. I have no idea.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

KL: I kind of want to do two sections to Manzanar, one of your own memories and then one focused on the guayule stuff. So let's start with yours. What memories do you have?

KN: Well, I remember sandstorms. I still remember the first, one of the first sandstorms. Of course, with the big openings in the buildings, so sand comes in the building. Because between the door and the floor there's probably half an inch, right? And then they were not very well sealed. I got my face down, this muslin sheet you might call it, and it was so dusty you just cover your face and just lay on the floor. And after the sandstorm was over you get up and shake sand out of your hair, I still remember I had a silhouette of sand around me. And it wasn't scary, gee, look at the sand, kind of. I have a vivid memory of that. I have a vivid memory of going to get... I guess it's oil for the furnaces. And I used to think, "What a mess." EPA would never let you do that now. You probably could tell even now where these dispensaries were.

KL: Oh, really? I've never heard anyone talk about that. What do they look like?

KN: There's a tank, and then you just opened a spigot to get it. But when it closes, it drips. So you got oil all over the place around there. I'm going, gee, there's a lot of oil spilled around here. And that's not the only place that dust wouldn't fly. So I remember that. I remember that it was a firebreak. And the reason I remember that is one day we were coming home from school, and I decided I'd jump over this mound, and I forgot there was a, they'd dig a trench for the garbage from the mess hall, and it's rotting garbage. Well, I missed the other side and ended up in it. When I got home, my mother had to clean me all up and take me to the communal showers.

KL: That trench was in the firebreak?

KN: I think that was close to the firebreak, yeah.

KL: Oh, interesting.

KN: That's what I remember, but I remember two things. Boy, we had to go through this, across this firebreak to come home from school, and the other one is, of course, falling in that ditch. Somehow I feel like they were close together. Another one was, kindergarten was taught in Japanese.

KL: Where did you go to kindergarten?

KN: I have no idea. I mean, it was in camp, okay.

KL: Was it in a barrack, do you think?

KN: Yeah, it was a barrack, yeah. And the teachers were all Japanese or Japanese American. So if you didn't speak English they spoke to you in Japanese. And then they say other Nisei, Sansei kids, they spoke to them in English. So it was a real shock to me the first day I go to first grade. I go over there and we have Caucasian civil servants teaching there. So I beat my mother home, "I don't want to go to that school, they speak English." But the interesting thing about when you're that young, I started speaking zero English. But by the end of the year, you're speaking English.

KL: Do you know if you had language instruction or if you just heard it and were a kid?

KN: I don't think we had any language instruction, I don't think so. But young kids pick it up real quick.

KL: Do you remember either of your teachers or any of your teachers?

KN: No, I don't remember any of my teachers. I showed you a picture of my class, and I think there was a teacher standing in there, right?

KL: Yeah. Somewhere I read Mr. Earl might have been your first grade teacher?

KN: This was in, from September of 1944 to June 1945. What's her name?

KL: Earl, E-A-R-L.

KN: Oh, come to think of it, I think that does ring a bell, Mrs. Earl. That was my teacher, yeah. And I thought, yeah, that sounds right.

KL: What was she like?

KN: I don't know, I don't remember.

KL: Tall, old.

KN: I'll tell you what most teachers sounded, even through high school. You know the Peanuts comic strip, you know the cartoon? And you hear this, "Wah-wah-way," "Yes, ma'am." "Wah-wah," "Yes, ma'am." That's what it sounded like to me. You're not listening to them, right?

KL: What were you doing instead when you were a young kid?

KN: What do you mean?

KL: Like what were you thinking about, what were your interests?

KN: I'm not paying attention. You're just not paying attention. You want to know when recess is, when you could do your Crayolas, something like that. Who wants to do arithmetic or something like that? [Laughs]

KL: Do you remember anything about the classroom in first grade?

KN: No, I don't remember anything about the class. I don't remember.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

KL: So your good friends were still Gary and George. What were the three of you like? Did you play any pranks or were you pretty respectful?

KN: Well we played a lot of cowboys and Indians and guns and stuff. We shot a lot of marbles. We got to be a pretty good marble player. Lot of time, right, so we played marbles. So that's what I remember. So it seemed like the days were really long. The kids today, days are short, and our days, summertime, one day was a long time. I guess we're in camp, too.

KL: Yeah, well, summer days there are long in the Owens Valley.

KN: Yeah, and I still remember that. Because of the barracks, there's a road, a permanent road around the camp, right? And across the street, we used to grow watermelons in the summer. And my dad said, "Somebody's stealing a watermelon." So we stayed out there one night. And the cops were stealing it. You know, they were Japanese cops can stop by, my dad goes, "Aha."

KL: He confronted them? What did they say?

KN: They're just laughing. And, of course, "Why don't you ask? I would have given them to you." So he wasn't mad at 'em, they were just laughing.

KL: There's two other people who have told me that they stole watermelon, a guy named George Oda who was like twenty, I don't remember what block George lived in. And then Robert Kame, Robert Kame talked about either stealing or having watermelons, he's from West L.A., he's a couple years older than you.

KN: I mean, there was a lot of people stealing watermelon.

KL: But in your case it was internal security.

KN: The guy actually stopped his police car, and looked around and picked it up, soon as he picked up and started walking back, my dad goes, "Aha."

KL: And you helped with the stakeout, you were there?

KN: Well, it's sort of fun, it's warm at Manzanar during the summer, you're in your t-shirt. It doesn't get cold out there. That was when I was probably five or so, he remembered that.

KL: Do you remember the guy's name?

KN: No. But my dad's laughing and he's laughing away, so it was almost like nobody cared.

KL: Yeah. Did the thefts stop after that?

KN: Well, no, because actually the guys who stopped by and said, "I'm going to take one of your watermelons." It was no longer theft, he'll come during the day. [Laughs] Why come during the night when you can get it during the day?

KL: Yeah.

KN: "Can I have a watermelon?" "Sure, how many you want? Take two of them."

KL: That's fun.

KN: So he'd take it home, you know. "Can I take one to my brother?" "Sure."

KL: Did you guys grow anything other than watermelons in that patch?

KN: My grandmother might have grown eggplants and stuff, the Japanese eggplants and cucumbers, and made Japanese pickles out of it. Because I remember we were eating those things, they were really good. And so, yeah, we grew other things.

KL: Do you have any other memories of nighttime at Manzanar besides that stakeout? What were nights like?

KN: Yeah, I have one other one, it's more eerie. At nighttime I could see the flashlights come and go by through the windows of the barrack, the side, they'd come around scanning this way. So if you wake up you could see the shadow of the searchlight coming through. That's the one thing I remember.

KL: From up on the tower?

KN: Yeah.

KL: How'd you feel about that?

KN: Well, you don't think much about it. Even as a kid you feel uneasy about it because you feel like you're under surveillance more or less. You're being watched, right? And nobody else would be shining a searchlight on your house, right? And my grandmother probably wouldn't have bothered me, she didn't like it, I don't think, but she never said anything.

KL: You could sense from her behavior that...

KN: Because I'd say to her, in Japanese, I'd say, "It sort of feels weird when the searchlight light comes through." She wouldn't usually comment, but she remained silent, which is a sign of disapproval, right? But she never said anything, so I don't know. I presume she didn't care for it.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

KL: Did you ever have an interpersonal or kind of face to face interaction with any of the MPs, or was it always distant, like them up in the tower with the light?

KN: I've seen them come through camp, but never on a confrontation. I do know that one of the Ito brothers got killed in camp.

KL: Oh, the Itos that were your neighbors were Jimmy Ito's family, who was killed in the riot?

KN: Yeah. I'll tell you what, we were very close to the Itos. When we came out of camp, we lived in the Itos' house, Itos' house from September to January or February of '46, September of '45, because we had no place to stay and Mr. Ito let us stay there.

KL: Do you have any memories of the man who was killed, Jimmy, James?

KN: I'm not sure if James worked for my grandfather Sueji, but George did, George Ito.

KL: Is George older?

KN: They were delivery boys, they delivered from the nursery right to the customers.

KL: Wow.

KN: So George was... the interesting thing about the house, it was 273 Pepper Street. And if you go a couple of blocks up, that's where Jackie Robinson grew up and his mom lived there. And if you read Jackie Robinson's biography, he finally talks about the Pepper Street Gang and the Ito Brothers that he hung around with. The Ito boys were very close to the Robinsons.

KL: Did you know the Robinsons?

KN: I knew one of Jackie's nephews, I went to school with him.

KL: What are your memories of George Ito, what was his personality like?

KN: I used to see, after the war I used to see George every now and then. He used to stop by the house and talk to my grandmother, because he worked at the nursery.

KL: Did he work there after the camp, too?

KN: No, we didn't have the nursery afterwards. It got confiscated by the government.

KL: But he would come by still and see her?

KN: Yeah, it must have been hard on my grandfather, but we lost the nursery and the state of California and the federal government went to court on who should own that property. And I know my grandfather thought it was a ridiculous thing to do. They called up and said, "Will you come to court and be the friend of the court?" Said, "Which side would you rather have win?" It was sort of insulting. And, of course, the federal government won because the U.S. post office when on.

KL: Whose name was the nursery in?

KN: Guess who? Nobody else could buy the house, that's why. Because they confiscated it because nonpayment of taxes.

KL: During the camp time?

KN: No, no.

KL: Prior?

KN: Or they just can't get the money to buy the land. It was never reported, right?

KL: So your family was making payments, but because it was in your name it got confiscated?

KN: Yeah. Basically the IRS confiscated it. Then the State of California says, "Well, they owe us money, too." My grandfather said, "You guys duke it out. I don't care who gets the place."

KL: But your family was making payments, they just got you on a technicality?

KN: Yeah, they confiscated it as we went into camp. And they took precedent over the bank, right?

KL: Sounds like it. [Laughs] Back to Jimmy Ito's death, do you remember that happening?

KN: Yeah, I remember hearing about it after that, everybody's somber about it. Everybody had a long face for about a week, I think. You could tell it impacted the morale of at least our block. It happened someplace way toward the gate, right? It was far away from where we were.

KL: Right.

KN: So people were very unhappy about that, I noticed that. And it was extra sad for my grandmother because she knew the Itos very well. And she felt very sad for Jimmy, I guess. And of course you get all kinds of rumors on what happened.

KL: Yeah, what kind of rumors did you hear?

KN: Of course, there's a lot of anti-U.S. Army feeling, outright murder. What can you do? It's pretty tough when you get a eighteen year old soldier standing up there, raw recruit, and there's a mob out there, even though they're not doing anything, they got loaded rifles. And you can't tell if they're going to pull the trigger I guess. And what happened is tragic. Anyway, the Itos I think had to work through that. I could tell it wasn't a very pleasant experience for my family. Not me so much because I'm so young.

KL: Yeah, I've heard that Jimmy was really popular, I mean, it sounds like a lot of people liked him as a person, so there was the tragedy of the death, but then also it wasn't just some anonymous person.

KN: When it happened, a lot of people knew the kid. But anyway...

KL: Do you have any other memories attached to the event that gets called the Manzanar Riot in December of 1942, like do you remember people moving through the camps, I mean, moving through the camp or being told to stay in or noise or anything?

KN: You know, there were other things like there was suicide committed, and of course murders happening and rumors of that. We used to hear about it, there would be fear of the pro-Japan group against the pro-American group. And once in a while, I guess, it got fairly violent within the camp.

KL: Your family had some concerns about that?

KN: I think our family stayed pretty neutral in that. Didn't get involved in discussions of pro-Japan or pro-America.

KL: I wasn't sure if guayule would have pulled you into that.

KN: What's that?

KL: I wasn't sure if people's participation in the guayule project would have kind of pulled you into that regardless of whether your family wanted to be involved or not.

KN: Here's some of the interesting things. My uncle Shimpei knew the Ito boys very well, he never talked about it. He never talked about it, never. He'd talk about George and some of the goof-off things he did, you know. But he never talked about that incident, never ever. Not a word. So if there were feelings, they died with them. And I didn't think of asking 'em, 'cause I didn't have any need to ask them. Some of the interesting thing about camp was, I think it was Morgan Ward, he was a mathematician out of Cal Tech. He used to come into camp with the, all the chemists that used to come in for the status of the guayule project for the government. Of course, they didn't know, but he came in with the Cal Tech crew. And he would end up playing go with all the go players. They had all the good go players in camp. Morgan Ward was the, I think he was one of the foremost authority on abstract algebra at that time. I think what he was trying to is formalize the game of go into game theory. So he would come in and play everybody, I remember him doing that. And once in a while he would say something to me and I'd watch him play. So that's another, it's just a snippet of things that I saw. Here's this brilliant man playing go.

KL: Where did they play?

KN: They played sometime in our place, my grandmother hosted them because of Shimpei. And they're intensely thinking about this game. I'm going god, he's going to burn his brains out. And he would speak to me and say something. And then somebody would make a move, his brain's working like a computer, right?

KL: Yeah. That's interesting, and he was from Cal Tech also.

KN: He shouldn't have been there, but he could sneak in with the security clearance, he's Dr. Ward of Cal Tech, they're not gonna ask him, right. If they challenge him, someone like Emerson said, "Oh, he's part of the crew."

KL: Right. How often did Cal Tech personnel visit Manzanar? Do you have a sense for that?

KN: I thought they came in at least once a month. It was pretty frequent. There were a lot of people that came by.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

KL: I read in an article this morning, I forget his name, but the man who wrote the monograph about guayule, he said that it was weekly, and that seems very frequent.

KN: I think it might have been that frequent. It was pretty often, there was a lot of guys coming through. I know because you could almost think of Dr. Emerson, Robert Emerson, as being an internee almost, because we saw him all the time. The other guy I found fascinating, because he was a Caucasian, is Reverend Nicholson. Remember him?

KL: Yeah, tell me about him.

KN: He used to come and talk to my grandmother, and I used to sit there fascinated listening to him because he speaks Japanese. But he speaks this anglicized Japanese, all the words he speaks, they're anglicized. But he speaks perfect Japanese as far as vocabulary and everything. So I used to sit there fascinated listening to this, gee, look at this gaijin speaking Japanese. Because I'll tell you, this is the same thing as, I used to go to Singapore a lot, so I used to catch the morning flight back, eight o'clock United flight out of Singapore. Or I'd go to Malaysia and I'd take the eight o'clock flight, the Singapore flight. So I go up to the Singapore counter at six o'clock in the morning, there's hardly anybody there. So I'm talking to this gal, and almost like this young girl, beautiful gal, almost amorously looking at me. And she's leaning in like this, she's just mesmerized. And then the next thing she said... I said, "What's the matter?" She goes, "I can't believe a Japanese person's speaking this good of an English." And so I start to go and she says, "Can you stay here and talk to me some more?" She wants me to speak English. Because, you know, she's not used to... she thought I was a Japanese national. Of course, she's not in love with me or anything, but she says, "I can't believe it."

KL: Just the novelty, yeah.

KN: Novelty. "Can you say something more?"

KL: "Speak English to me more."

KN: Anything. Because their English sounds pidgin to me. So that's how I used to listen to Nicholson, that's what I'm trying to tell you. It's that kind of a thing, because I was fascinated that this man speaks Japanese. Of course, he did a lot of mission in Japanese, right, in Japan.

KL: Yeah. What did you call him?

KN: I used to call him, I think my grandmother used to call him Nicholson-sensei.

KL: How did they know each other?

KN: I don't know how they knew each other, but he used to come over and talk to my grandmother reasonably often. So that's another outside experience I had. I saw Robert Emerson and I saw him.

KL: What was Emerson like as a person? What characteristics?

KN: Emerson just struck me as an intellectual, complete intellectual. He was always serious, he never joked. The one thing that I found odd about his family is everybody called each other by their first name. I remember after the war he went over to his house. And I'm going, he says, yeah, we have Bob. Who's Bob in this family? He said, "That's my father. Isn't that right, Bob?" This is completely weird to me. They were an intellectual family, right?

KL: Yeah, their family history is actually pretty interesting. I think there were connections to New England abolitionism and intellectualism.

KN: I think he was a Quaker, isn't he?

KL: He was, yeah.

KN: He was a very, very principled man, from what I could gather.

KL: Yeah. Well, who else... I did have a list of people involved in guayule, but just in general, who else do you remember from Manzanar like Dr. Emerson or Reverend Nicholson?

KN: I remember Herbie Higuchi, and that's because he was a kendoist. And I know there was a kendo dojo, but I've never been there and I think, like you said, that a lot of kendo people were segregated out to Tule Lake. Who else did I see over there? Mr. and Mrs. Kawahara.

KL: Why do you remember Herb Higuchi? What about him stood out?

KN: Oh, he came by the house. I don't know why, but he came by. Some of the other people I remember is Mrs. Hoshiyama. She was the Sawtelle Gakuen Japanese school teacher.

KL: Did you study Japanese with her?

KN: Yeah, and I was pretty impatient, so I was her student for an hour lesson that took half a day. So she gave me fifteen minutes and I'd get to go play half an hour, come back and do another fifteen minutes, go play another half an hour. The other one I remember is Mr. and Mrs. Saito. They were barbers out in Los Angeles that lived on, I think, Block 34. I used to go get a haircut from them. My haircut came in three parts. I'd get a third of my head cut and I'd go out and play, because I can't sit still that long. I'd be diagnosed now as Attention Deficit probably, but the funny part of it is when I came back from Los Angeles to get haircuts from them, everybody would say, "Is this the kid? Is this the kid that got the three-part haircut in Manzanar?" That's how I got known. We used to have a, in Japanese Town in Los Angeles they had a barber shop, so that's the other couple I remember. And I remember anybody else, I think I told you about Dr. Little.

KL: Well, I don't think it was on the camera. So if you would tell us again, that'd be great.

KN: I remember there was a young doctor named Dr. Little. A couple times I got pneumonia, I got very sick, and I almost didn't make it. And so one time I was in the infirmary up there in the hospital. So he looks at me, and I think he wanted to put me at ease, he said, "Itai kai," which means, "Are you hurting?" It's sort of colloquial. Itai is, "do you hurt." Kai, the word kai, by itself, means differently, it means "itch." I go, "What? Are you asking me do I hurt and itch at the same time?" Because I spoke no English, see, he was trying to communicate with me. So that's another interesting thing.

KL: Were your parents satisfied with the quality of the health care that you got at Manzanar, do you have any idea?

KN: I don't know, they never said anything. I think they were a little bit worried they were going to lose me, because I got pneumonia a couple of times. Because I was a frail kid.

KL: Did you have to stay in the hospital?

KN: I don't remember. I was three or four years old, it's so cold out there, and you had hardly anything, right? So you just caught a deadly cold.

KL: So what you remember about Dr. Little was mostly his youth. Do you remember anything else about him, how he struck you?

KN: No, no, he just, I think, tried to humor me. And I didn't realize he was trying to humor me. But seeing Caucasians was sort of strange anyway, right, because you're not used to seeing Caucasians. Even from Pasadena, because I was raised by my grandparents, my grandmother.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

KL: Did your family ever talk to you about their experience with the questionnaire that the government issued in 1943?

KN: No, I didn't even know they even answered it. They never talked about it. I don't even know how they answered, but I suspect how they answered.

KL: What are your suspicions?

KN: They probably answered "no-no."

KL: Oh, really? We'll talk after we finish up about a way you can request records about them. It'd be really interesting to see that, it might answer some questions for you.

KN: I'll tell you why, if they were logical, they had to answer "no-no." They'd be a person without a country. You see, they were Japanese nationals.


KL: Yeah, the administration actually reworded that question, the question that dealt with the emperor, with Japanese loyalty, at Manzanar a couple of times because it was so problematic for Issei. So a lot of Issei were given that question multiple times, and sometimes told not to answer it, and then it was reworded and then it was reworded again.

KN: Yeah, the way they handled it was, if they answered even, "Yes, if you let my parents out," or whatever it is, that was a "no." Anything except an, just a clean yes, it was a "no," and they got segregated.

KL: Did you guys have family members or friends who were sent to Tule Lake?

KN: Hmm?

KL: Do you have family members or friends who were sent to Tule Lake?

KN: Of course. My wife went to Tule Lake from Rohwer.

KL: Do you have any, I mean, there is still, I think, that divide still affects people's lives. Do you have any thoughts about the questionnaire and about Tule Lake and kind of the legacy of it?

KN: Not myself. I really admire the guys who fought in the 442. They made a tremendous sacrifice, but when you look at the other side of this thing, it took a lot of guts to say no, too, because they went to Leavenworth, dishonor, right? And so, but there was a lot of hard feelings between Niseis that were older than me, because you had to take one stand or another, right? I mean, in one extreme, their buddies died in the war, right next to them, and how can you do that, right? So I can understand the thing, and I'm one of the youngest Niseis probably because of that, ten years younger than the average Nisei. So I look at it as a tragic period, I think, where people were forced to take a stand, and everybody paid dearly for it, unfortunately.

KL: Yeah, thanks for that, I think it's an important thing to get people's take on.

KN: Of course, I know people on both sides. One of my friends got exonerated in the Shasta court, county court, you know him. You're going to interview his wife today, tomorrow or so. They actually held a ceremony for them, oh, maybe about five, ten years ago. And they honored him and the judge's son that exonerated him. I thought that was neat.

KL: Yeah. So for those who were watching this, we're talking about Jimi Yamaichi.

KN: Yeah. Jimi is only a few blocks away from me, he always stops by and sees me. Jimi's a very close friend of mine.

KL: He's done a lot for the museum here and for Tule Lake.

KN: Quite a lot. I get a big kick out of him. And when I went to Tule Lake, people joke about, they were pretty mad at him. Jimi was a very young man, about eighteen years old, and they paid him to build the jail. Well, if you knew Jimi, he's a perfectionist, he built a very sturdy jail. So one of the guys that was up there said, "Damn, Jimi, you should have messed up." He said, "Look, I got paid to do a good job, so I did a good job." [Laughs] They started arguing from there again, said, "We couldn't bust out of there." He said, "Well, jails are supposed to be made so you can't bust out, so I built the jail the way I was supposed to." Workmanship, right? And so I'm listening to this conversation that's something that happened seventy years ago. And Jimi's serious, he says, "They paid me for this, I had to do a good job." He says, "But goddang, we couldn't break out." He said, "You're not supposed to be able to break out of jail." You could see this conversation, I thought, Jimi, time out. But it's sort of fun to watch. But the strong sense of values these two man had, they were both honorable men. Here's the eighteen year old kid that built this jail, and he got this onus and he built this thing, it's so small and they couldn't break out of it and they were mad at him. [Laughs]

KL: I know the answer because you told me before we turned on the camera, but where did this conversation occur?

KN: Tule Lake.

KL: It was at the pilgrimage, is that right?

KN: Yeah, we went to one of the pilgrimages, all my cousins, and they all went to Tule Lake, so I took them with me. I took my mother-in-law with me, she went to Tule Lake. So it was a real nostalgic trip, and my cousin Shuji was born in Tule Lake. And as we were going by the old city sign, he says, "I thought I was born in Tule Lake, how come my birth certificate says Newell?" We're in the bus, okay, and we're going by the Tule Lake city limits, the Newell sign, I said, "What does it say, Shuji?" "Oh, is Tule Lake in Newell?" I said, "Yes." "Oh, I always wondered why it said Newell."

KL: What did you think of the Tule Lake pilgrimage?

KN: I think they do a fantastic job of putting it on. I didn't believe the emotion this thing carried, where guys who, little trip I made, they held emotions to that trip, and all of a sudden a bunch of them broke down. That's pretty tough, I said, pretty heavy baggage to carry, burden to carry. Hopefully that did it for 'em, but even their families didn't know that. So you realize the magnitude of stuff like some of these people went through. That's unwritten, must have been a terrible trauma. I tried to take one of my relatives with me, and she wouldn't go. Something happened, she's not willing to talk about it, something happened there. I said, "Why don't you go with us?" "No," just a flat no. Didn't even want to talk about it. So it's going to die with her. So it's tough, it's tougher than most people are willing to admit. Not for people like me because I was pretty young, some of the people it affected, the older ones.

KL: What year did you go to the pilgrimage, do you remember?

KN: Must have been...

KL: It's every other year now and it's the even years, 2002, '04.

KN: I think that was the year they had it two years in a row.

KL: Oh, okay.

KN: It was about 2010 or something like that.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

KL: So we've talked about Dr. Emerson. We've kind of danced around a little bit and talked some off camera, but I wonder, for the camera, what you can tell us about Akira or Frank Kageyama.

KN: Frank, as I recollect, he was a young man then, twenty years old, maybe. I remember Frank because I knew who he married, because his wife-to-be was a Kawahara, and they were very close family friends, they're from Pasadena, too. And so outside of, I think Frank... he really did a good job, but I think he learned a lot on the guayule project, how to grow things, being on that project. And he turned out to be a very good orchid grower, too, so he's a world-class person, so he became really knowledgeable in the yard, so you've got to give him a lot of credit. I think that's where you've got to start. That's my impression, I may be incorrect.

KL: He says the same in his oral history interview, that he learned and that was kind of his start of his profession. He always loved growing as a kid even, he loved planting seeds.

KN: That's where he got his training, you might say? Formal training. And I know he was an intensely intelligent man, so he didn't learn in school what he learned through doing, and really working hard at it, kept going for the next, I guess, seventy years or eighty years, well, I can understand. Yeah. And he was a family friend. The other thing I like about Frank was he was sort of a classy guy. I told that to one of his... said, "God, I always admired that Buick coupe you used to drive around." He had a Buick coupe after the war. Most Japanese buy Buick coupes, right? It's a nice looking car, so I said, "I used to look at your dad's car," it was really nice to come by the house, talk to him.

KL: He had some style.

KN: Yeah, he was a classy guy. So that's Frank.

KL: What about his wife? What do you remember about her?

KN: She's a Pasadena girl, and she had two brothers, and she married Frank and, as usual, good parents, they thought Frank wasn't good enough for her, so they said no, so Frank came to my grandmother and my grandmother convinced Keiko's mother.

KL: That he was a good guy.

KN: Yeah. As it turned out, he was a damn good guy. Not because my grandmother said so, because Frank was a good guy. But that marriage might not have happened.

KL: She's Kay, right? Keiko or Kay?

KN: Yeah, I guess so. I don't know what they call her, but her name was Keiko. They call her Kay, I only know her from before the war, my grandmother, I only know them because of that. I've talked to her at one of the Manzanar reunions. Probably the last one Frank went to.

KL: Do you know anything about Frank's relationship with Hugh Anderson?

KN: I'm not sure. He was an interesting guy.

KL: Dr. Anderson?

KN: Yeah. I don't know if he was a PhD or not, maybe he was. That's how much I know about him. I know he was a Stanford graduate. But he was a business guy who always wanted to write up a business case for guayule, he was always pushing my uncle to go do something about this. And he used to come over to the house to bug my uncle. Of course, my uncle was pretty stubborn, so he started campaigning with my grandmother. He used to come over and sweet talk her. So he was a really frequent visitor, Hugh Anderson. And of course, Hugh kept in touch with the guayule crew, of course, Frank, and I know he kept in touch with Frank, but he also kept in touch with Tomoichi Hata. Because Mr. Hata used to talk about it quite frequently after the war.

KL: Did Hugh Anderson want your grandmother to write a business plan?

KN: No, he was trying to get my uncle to come work with him.

KL: That's funny.

KN: I bet you my grandmother said, "Go work with them," Uncle Shimpei would have done it. He used to really take care of Grandma. That's his mom.

KL: Shimpei always took good care of her?

KN: Oh, yeah. He quit his job in Illinois when she got cancer, and waited on her hand and foot until she died about two years later.

KL: Well, let's talk next about Tomoichi Hata. You mentioned he was a World War I veteran and gained his U.S. citizenship that way. He was your friend's father, what else do you remember about him?

KN: He was my grandfather's friend before the war.


KL: Well, you were starting to tell us about Tomoichi Hata.

KN: Tomoichi Hata and his wife worked for Fuji Nursery, who was owned by my grandfather Nishimura before the war. And that's where he learned his practices, I'm sure he learned it, in the nursery there. So that's why he was so well groomed in that kind of endeavor. He knew how to grow things.

KL: What did he do after Manzanar?

KN: He started a nursery. He first started a nursery in 37th Place and Harvard in Los Angeles, near Western Avenue. And I used to go over there and play with Gary. And I still remember because both my dad and my grandfather were gardening. Every time my dad used to cut ivy, because it was huge estates, Mr. Hata used to come on his little truck and take all of it, and, of course, make cuttings out of 'em. And his wife knew how to do it, and she taught his neighbors how to do it, so all these Japanese ladies used to come over for Mr. Hata. Then they moved to Rosecrans near central, that's close to Compton, but it's city property. But the interesting part of it, remember they had the big L.A. riot? He was so well-liked by his neighbors, his neighbors came and sat in the front so nothing happened.

KL: You're talking about after the Rodney King beating?

KN: Yeah, Rodney King, there was one before that.

KL: What decade was it?

KN: It was on both. There was another riot in Los Angeles before the Rodney King one. He was down there already, and he had to call the cops, the sheriff had to go, twenty minutes away. But Mr. Hata went to bed every night, he said, because his neighbors were out there. These kids would come and try to destroy the place, the parents were sitting out in the front. So he was a very well-loved man. He was a very nice man. And so I've known Mr. Hata until he died. His wife probably babysat me from when I was born sometime, she had a chance.

KL: And you said earlier, before we turned this on, I think, that she had real skill in growing things, too.

KN: Yeah, I mean, she learned like cutting and stuff like that. She did this as a production for the nursery, right? So then they were very skilled people.

KL: What can you tell us about Frank Hirosawa?

KN: I don't know much about Frank. All I knew is he was this mustache man, very serious. I don't think he ever smiled, because he was sort of scary, actually, when I was young. But he was very... he was always the man that I thought he might have been deep in thought all the time. And I did know, because when I talked to my uncle Shimpei, from what I could gather, he was an analytical chemist, and he was a very good one. And so I got picked for that project, I'm deducing that, because I'm a technologist also. What they needed was a very good analytical chemist, and he must have been pretty good. Because I think he was handpicked.

KL: Do you know what he did after Manzanar?

KN: No. I do know I have a picture at home, I don't know where it is, but it's a picture of my dad, Uncle Shimpei, my grandfather, and Frank Hirosawa was in it. It was at Sanko Low, it was a Chinese restaurant on East First Street in Japanese town in Los Angeles. So he was reasonably closely associated with the Nishimura family in some way. Not me, but I think he was affiliated with my uncle Shimpei.

KL: Do you know the name Masuo Kodani?

KN: I think... isn't he a chemist?

KL: I'm not sure. He was part of the guayule project, pretty significant player, but I'm not sure...

KN: There was another guy, that article I gave you mentions a guy, wasn't that Kodani?

KL: I'm not sure, I'll have to look.

KN: I don't know Kodani.

KL: Homer Kimura?

KN: No, I don't know him.

KL: Kenji Nozaki?

KN: Kenji... no. Because I don't want to mistake him for the priest of the Zen Buddhism temple in Los Angeles, he was a Nozaki.

KL: Was your family -- that reminds me, I wanted to ask if your family had a religious tradition in Manzanar or before or after.

KN: I think they were Zen Shuji, so they were Zen Buddhist.

KL: Was it something that affected their lives a lot or shaped them very much, or was it pretty casual?

KN: No, I think probably because of the region they came from. Don't forget, the Nishimuras came from Sendai, which was pretty northern Japan compared to most of the immigrants to the U.S. from Japan, south and east of Tokyo, from Hiroshima, Okayama, those kind of... so they're different.

KL: Sometimes in a lot of people's minds there's a conflict between religion and science. Do you think that affected Shimpei at all, or was he religious?

KN: I think Shimpei was sort of raised in the Buddhist tradition, so his values are Buddhist. But Shimpei is a scientist, he's pretty deductive logic kind of a guy. He'd just break down problems, you can't get emotional. He's pretty well read, pretty well... one of the most knowledgeable guys I knew.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

KL: This is tape number three, we're finishing up an interview with Ko Nishimura on July 14, 2015. There are just a few more names I want to ask about relative to guayule, and the first one is the president of Cal Tech, Dr. Millikin. Do you have any awareness of his role in the project?

KN: I know who he is. Anybody in science knows who Millikin is, so I know who he is. The Millikin Drop Experiment, right? Anyway, I don't know him personally. I have never heard Uncle Shimpei talk about him, so I don't know. I'm sure Uncle Shimpei knew who he was, but I don't.

KL: Ralph Merritt, the director of Manzanar for most of the time, did you hear much about him or ever encounter him?

KN: Yeah, I became aware of Merritt through my grandmother. She used to mention his name, sometimes pretty frequently. And I'm not sure my grandmother agreed with him, that's why. [Laughs] I don't think having them just telling you, it seemed like she didn't trust him, somehow. So that's where it was. I used to hear his name all the time.

KL: Do you have a sense for what specifically she had concerns about him for? Shimpei would tear that sentence apart with his red pen.

KN: Not really Shimpei, it was my grandmother. It's her perception of the man.

KL: Yeah. I just meant I worded that question really poorly. Do you know what she was concerned about?

KN: Well, I think, to my grandmother, she was a person of value. So she felt betrayed by him, I think, somehow. I don't know how. You just listen to this side conversation, you don't ask questions because she's your grandmother, right? So you listen to this thing and go, hmm, somehow she doesn't like the man. And basically it seemed like there was some sort of betrayal. Somehow it almost came across as he stole her dignity from her, which was a no-no to a Japanese, right? Because I heard that name, Merritt, all the time. But she would be talking to her friends about it, I just happened to be there.

KL: Yeah, and you were young, that's important to hear, too.

KN: You've got no opinions, so you're listening, just don't say anything. So that's why I'm aware of the name. By the way, I have no opinion on Merritt.

KL: No, thank you. It's good to hear what older people, what people thought.

KN: Yeah. I don't know what it is, and maybe you could tell me one day what it might be.

KL: Yeah, I mean, we can talk more about him a little bit if you want to, even later today.

KN: Okay, go ahead.

KL: Both Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams photographed people in the guayule project. Did you hear about that?

KN: Yeah, they both seemed to have whitewashed the thing from my perspective. I was seeing the pictures and stuff. Is Dorothea Lange the one, the children of the camp?

KL: Satsuki Ina, the filmmaker, Satsuki Ina made a film Children of the Camp.

KN: No, no. Dorothea Lange had a set of pictures, she was commissioned by the government to do that, right? Positive pictures, right?

KL: Ansel Adams has a stronger reputation for that.

KN: Okay, both of them did that, I know. I know Ansel did. But anyway, they're a nice set of picture, but they're not Toyo Miyatake pictures.

KL: That's true.

KN: And there's a stark difference between the two, that's why.

KL: Did you know the Miyatake family, or Toyo? What do you remember about him?

KN: I met him, because he was in camp. The family knew him. My cousin Fumi is married to one of the sons. Well, he passed away, but we sort of knew them. My grandparents knew the Miyatakes very well, I guess, but I just happened to know him because my cousin Fumi was married to one of the Miyatake sons, the one you never hear about. You only hear about Archie, this is Richard, he passed away. If you notice, even when Archie talks, there's two kids in the picture. He never talks about his brother, and I don't know why. I'm not trying to make a big deal about it, but... and Richard never talked about it to me.

KL: Can you tell us your impressions of Richard and what he was like as a person?

KN: Well, he was a photographer, too. And a matter of fact, he did my son's wedding pictures when he got married. And he's a very nice person, a sensitive person, very quiet-spoken person, noncontroversial. So he seemed like he's just a nice person. And every time we got together we chatted, you know, laughed kind of a thing. And he was a good person to have in your extended family. Because I'm pretty close to all my cousins.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

KL: Did Shimpei or anyone else ever talk about media coverage of guayule or sort of what they thought about its public image and people's reaction?


KN: To minimize the impact to the Manzanar project, but even the people over here in Salinas, I do know that they sent the worst stuff over, and we weren't gonna give them anything. And so they got really trodden on, I think. But Uncle Shimpei never said anything except when they said they didn't send us very good stuff, this many years later.

KL: That's interesting. So he didn't ever voice any...

KN: Not to us. Not to us. You have the paper that was written about it? Lead author was my uncle and Frank Kageyama and Hata's listed on there. Do you have that article?

KL: I think we do, yeah.

KN: Yeah, okay.

KL: But it's just good to have it in your voice, too.

KN: Yeah, they were, I think there was a lot of racism on the part of the government to not want to disclose it either, that there was a project in camp. They just didn't want to show those, the Japanese succeeding at anything. And the ironic part was most of them were Japanese Americans, you know. So that's the sad part.

KL: Did Shimpei ever voice anything about that, about racism playing a role?

KN: No, he never voiced it, but I'm sure he must have had some feelings all the way up to the Nobel Prize. Because I had the feeling the guy that worked on the project with him in Berkeley, got the Nobel Prize. He's not even mentioned.

KL: What was the project that won the Nobel Prize?

KN: I don't know what it was, but it was pretty prominent. And it was deserving of the Nobel Prize, so don't ever think that the person that won it didn't deserve it because he did. But it's just strange there's not even a mention. So he worked, this is right before the Second World War, so this is not a very popular thing to do. Japanese were not welcome. They were great to have around, but they were not given the stature they should have been given. The only reason I know is he mentioned that he knows his one person, Nobel Prize winner, and I think he worked with him.

KL: Do you recall the winner, the Nobel Prize winner's name?

KN: Yeah, I'd rather not say, it was not important. Shimpei wouldn't give him up anyway. Because to him it was irrelevant. The important thing was he made a contribution that got it [inaudible] for. So I'm sure he felt slighted, okay? At least, okay? It was the same thing like on guayule, right?

KL: Right.

KN: They did a lot of work, a lot of seminal work they did.

KL: Right, I wondered, I mean, that's one of my questions, if you would tell us about their accomplishments, because they were major and fast.

KN: Yeah. First of all, they grew a hybrid breed I think that yielded more than the normal guayule plant. The yield was very low, but I think they doubled it. They grew some pretty healthy plants they didn't think they can grow from cutting, they all came from cuttings, so that was really selecting a healthy species that way, for their plants. They came from seeds they wouldn't have known. You know why I know? Because I grow the stuff over here. So cuttings is a nice way to know that you've got a very healthy plant. And all the genetic properties of that particular plant will be transferred with that cutting. And so a lot of... not only for guayule, but techniques, they looked at root growing, what it meant to, what soil meant to these guys. I know how important it is because I know how important soil is now. One of the first papers I read was my uncle's paper. I got more of that paper initially than the other paper. And this is not him alone, it's that whole team of people.

KL: You have, I think, a couple firsthand memories of going, like, into the lathe house and into the lab and stuff.

KN: I remember going to the lab, but I don't remember much about it. I remember they were jury rigging stuff because they didn't have equipment. It was very clever and creating instruments and tools they couldn't get their hands on. So I thought they did a good job.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

KL: Are there things I've left out that you wanted to talk about related to Manzanar? Any of your firsthand experiences or anything else that's significant from that time that you want to record?

KN: Well, thinking back and reflecting on some of the things I did, I did attend the dedication ceremony for the museum there. I thought that was nice.

KL: In 2004 when it opened?

KN: Yeah, I was there.

KL: Tell us about that.

KN: I came on my RV, I stayed in Lone Pine, this RV place, park. Had a good time, brought my dog with me, and I brought my wife with me, and we had a good time. And it was sort of nostalgic. And so we drove by the guard house, I remember that, it was just like I remembered. Like it was like yesterday, and I knew exactly where to turn. And you're guessing now, since I got to get up there. The monument is right up over here, so they're trying to tell you how to get there and I said I know how to get there, so I found my way pretty quick. So yeah, I was pretty pleased, it was just nostalgic. And I went in there to the museum, and you saw your name with the family and your number, whatever you want to call it. I remember where we lived, but it also told you where you lived, right? You looked at some of the artifacts there, it brought back memories, so it was really nice. And I say that because I used to go by there all the time, I used to go fishing in upper Owens and Lake Crowley, even when I was a Boy Scout in the '50s. And that thing was, they were using the auditorium as a snowplow shed or something by Caltrans. I thought, what a shame. People lived here, it was too bad they don't do something to preserve it. I was always really delighted to see that. And it was interesting, as I mentioned, that one of the guys who worked at IBM, this is how connected we are to the world. We're not very many handshakes away from each other. His name was Carl Rook, and I said, "Carl, it's too bad they don't do something with that shed," and I said, "Caltrans runs that place." He said, "You know, my dad operates out of there," he works with Caltrans. He was thinking the same thing. Because I guess a lot of people in the area know what happened over there. He would know more about it, but the atmosphere in Lone Pine was a heck of a lot more different than I, even when I came up in the '50s, they're not very friendly. I got to tell you an interesting incident happening in Lone Pine when I came up.

KL: This is in 2004?

KN: No, this is the '50s.

KL: In the '50s.

KN: Early '50s. We're gassing up our car in Lone Pine, and I said to this guy, I said, "I don't know if there's any Japanese up here." He said, "There isn't." I said, "Are you a Japanese?" Says, "Are you kidding?" He said, "I'm an Indian." It's hardly rare for the Japanese to mistake somebody for not being a Japanese. This guy looked very Japanese. Then you come to the realization, of course, they came over there, so people would probably carry the same genes. So just giving you a human interest story here. I swear to god he... if he told me... I almost told him, "Yeah, you're a Japanese," I said, oh, I'm going to insult this guy. But he looked so Japanese, I said, "How can I make a mistake?" But he looked Japanesey. He was an Indian, I think, right?

KL: Yeah, it's Paiute... I mean, Lone Pine's on the border of Paiute and Shoshone homeland.

KN: Yeah, yeah. There's a lot of Indians out there. But that area has a lot of history, I did a lot of reading, and of course, the big name in Los Angeles is Mulholland Drive, he's one of the guys that bought all the water rights out of there, secretly, right, from the city of Los Angeles? Really ruined that whole valley up there.

KL: Yeah. Los Angeles and the Owens Valley have, you know, more connections than people would imagine, I mean, through Manzanar, through the population that was confined there during World War II, through the water question, through just current land use, through the mining even and the money that built Los Angeles, those two places are very closely linked.

KN: It's a beautiful area, actually. And you know, you become keenly aware about the Alabama Hills, because I watched those Hopalong Cassidy movies, and of course the most recent one probably is Iron Man, right? They used the Alabama Hills. As soon as I saw that Iron Man, I said, "I know where that is." So anyway, it's a beautiful area, actually.

KL: Did you like it as a kid? Did you like the area, the valley, the mountains?

KN: No. Because in the summer it was so intensely hot, and then sandstorms, and the wintertime was bitterly cold. And of course, we didn't have the proper clothing. So I didn't like it. That's not where I'd like to live now. It'd be nice to go visit and have a summer home or something like that, it'd be pretty. If you got off the Lone Pine floor and went up a couple thousand feet, it's pretty pleasant, actually, it gets cool, right?

KL: Yeah, it's very different as you go up in elevation, it's great. I love having all that variety right there.

KN: As a matter of fact, I never did it, but if you go up to, as it starts going on the mountain, if you could build a house there, I bet you it's a beautiful panorama of the valley and it's cool up there in the summertime. But you better get out of there in the wintertime, because you'd never get a car out of there.

KL: When you were living at Manzanar as a kid, did you ever leave the camp and go...

KN: No, never. Oh, I take that back. Yes, I did, with my father. Because in order to get to the reservoir, you had to drive out of the gate. I think it went south, and you had to go around to get there, to get to the reservoir.

KL: That's right. So I want to respect your --

KN: I used to leave almost every day, yes.

KL: I want to respect your time, but I also would love for you to tell me what your dad's involvement with the reservoir was.

KN: I think he was one of the guys that worked as, I guess it would be a technician, right, to monitor the water and regulate the water. I think it was even feeding Lone Pine then, too. Or was it just Manzanar?

KL: It was just Manzanar, yeah.

KN: But I could tell he was looking at the valves. If you go up there, I told my son this, I said, Bob, when you go up to take a picture of those valves, and if you look at these copper tags hanging on them, I'll tell you what it does. Here comes the problem solving Japanese. My dad would write it in English. If you couldn't read Japanese, you couldn't turn off any of the valves. [Laughs]

KL: Did he ever... I mean...

KN: I think that was his way of testing, okay?

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

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: Yeah. Well, so, okay, here's two questions real quick and then I'll give you the other big ones. One is, did your dad ever write graffiti up there, do you know?

KN: No. But there were three or four bachelors living in the end unit of our barrack. They were Kibei-Niseis, Kibei-Niseis were Niseis who went back to Japan, they went to school, they came back, so they're basically all pro-Japan. Ben Suyenobu, Frank Ego, I forgot the other two guys' names. They were young men probably in their twenties. Well, they got hired -- this is the story I heard. They got hired to go fix the leaks on the roofs of the detachment attached to the military, attached to Manzanar. So they started painting this red stuff, and the story goes, and I think it's true, is that they made it bigger and bigger, and they all ended up with a Hinomaru. And they decided, well, let's fix it up and they made it into the gunki, which is the rising sun, which is the military flag. Apparently that day or the next day -- nobody knew it was up there because it's a roof -- the West Coast commander of the army came by, and he wouldn't land the plane because he thought the Japanese took over the detachment. They had a big hearing about how it happened. And of course, one of the guys that later on worked with my dad, said, "Wow, we were in a spot, and we did it. We did it as a prank, and we're sorry about it, but stuff happens. Oh, we're making this and it's sort of not symmetrical, so we tried to mound it up and it got bigger and bigger." And how did this thing happen, and said, "Well, not quite sure, but there was some paint running around, so we had to make it all the way down, so we started putting these lines." [Laughs] of course, that was all a lie. I think they went in the clink for a few days for that, you know, detachment, right? They got punished for it. Then that was a prank they did, I know. The other thing they did was I had, I have a sword, if I could find it maybe. They made me a Japanese samurai sword, they're very artistic guys. They took a bed, I think, somehow they found a stainless steel piece, that was more, steel, and they cut it. And they also got a fence post, one of the fence posts that they traded out, and they made a sword handle out of it. You could tell there's nail holes in the sheath, because that's the only one they could get. They can't get a complete piece of wood with no nails in it. So they did a nice job, I had a sword, Japanese sword with a wooden sheath that had, it was a fence post of Manzanar they made during the war. So these guys were pretty artistic people. So those were a couple of humorous stories I could tell you.

KL: Yeah. Did those guys to go to Tule Lake, do you remember?

KN: No, somehow they avoided it. They were there 'til the end. And with Ben Suyenobu and Frank Ego, the family maintained ties with them because Ben Suyenobu went on to become a ceramist, a gifted ceramist, who made a, like Marie Antoinette, those kind of, that wore these dresses, all in ceramics. Beautiful ceramics.

KL: So another question I had, and you reminded me of it when you said your dad's labels in Japanese may have been his way of protesting...

KN: Yeah, well, just surmising.

KL: Did you ever hear him or any other of the guayule people in particular talk about their feelings about being incarcerated?

KN: No, he never spoke about it. I'm sure he had feelings about it. Even my son surmised that... I told him about it, he went and took pictures of it, went to Manzanar. Did you know the Manzanar Committee didn't know that reservoir existed for a long time? You know how I found out? I told my son about it, he went and saw it. Then he went to one of the Manzanar... what do they call those things, remembrance things, and he told them there's a reservoir there. They said, "Really?" And he showed them where it was. But he went and took pictures of it, and he confronted my dad, because grandfathers are sweeter to the grandson, right? And he said, "Gee, Jiichan," he says, "you must have been awful PO'd about this." He goes, "Yeah, sometimes time helps it," he says. He didn't deny it. He would have never told me. So my son said, "Yeah, I showed Grandpa."

KL: Did your grandparents ever, in later years, talk about their feelings about Manzanar?

KN: Who, me?

KL: Your grandparents.

KN: My grandparents?

KL: Yeah.

KN: My grandmother died in 1951, okay, the other two went to Japan in 1945. And the only one left here was my grandfather, he never talked about it. He never even talked about Santa Fe or Missoula. Except for that one funny incident, they thought they could, they got an eel.

KL: The salamander or whatever it was?

KN: Yeah, it was a salamander, it has legs on it, he said. Oh, god, he says, panic broke out in the mess hall. They're ready to eat this thing, ahh, it's got legs on it.

KL: The poor thing was probably long gone.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

KL: Well, the other three sort of big questions I have are what were your parents' lives like after Manzanar, where did your family go, what did you do. Same question for Shimpei, and then I wanted to hear about your own adult life.

KN: Well, I think they left camp, I think each family got about twenty-five bucks, right, or something like that. It was tough. They came out, and of course, they (did not have) enough money, so I remember they immediately went out and started banging on doors for gardening jobs. And they had to get a car, so I don't know where they got the money, but they got a 1935 Chevrolet, two-door coupe. And they started going, self-employed. It's all they could do, nobody would loan 'em money or anything. So it was pretty tough, there was a lot of people all in the churches, like in the church, living in the basement. It was maybe three times as big as this, and there'd be twenty families down there. This partition, things hanging down where you could just sleep on the floor. So life was tough.

KL: Where did you guys live?

KN: We lived in Jimmy Ito's parents' home from September to February until we could raise enough money to buy a house. And I still remember in Pasadena, you could only buy in northwest Pasadena. Northwest Pasadena had the highest black density outside of Watts. And all the deeds in that whole area had a clause in this that you could not sell to anybody except a Caucasian. So I know my grandparents, my grandmother befriended a black realtor, Benjamin Harrison, who found a house for us that we bought. I'm not quite sure where they got the money, but they were able to make a down payment on it. So it was pretty tough. And then, of course, later on they went on to other businesses. But Shimpei...

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

KN: My dad did. And it was really funny. L.A. Times reporter -- you know, my dad's pretty humorous. And he didn't know what to say, they thought he misunderstood the question. They said, "Why didn't you become a U.S. citizen?" And you know what his answer was? "So I could talk to my grandson." You got to know one more piece of information. My son is a ham radio operator. He can get a ham radio operator license. He was laughing, he says, "They thought I was a dummy." He showed up in the L.A. Times, he had his hand up, he was on the front page. He got his hand up, you know, swearing in, he got the front page coverage.

KL: Do you know when that was?

KN: It had to be after 1975.

KL: Okay.

KN: He was right up there on the front page. And I think my grandfather Nishimura got his citizenship.

KL: Oh, really?

KN: He probably got it in his eighties, but he decided he's going to do it. He says, "I'm American," he says, "I've lived here so long."

KL: When did he die?

KN: He died probably twenty, twenty-five years ago.

KL: He saw a lot in his life.

KN: Yeah, he did. He was a tough guy. I mean, he was a good swimmer. We used to go to Huntington, he used to walk into the beach and disappear in the ocean and come ashore two hours later. He's a good swimmer. Guess what? My third son took after him. He's a good swimmer. Him and Grandpa would have loved going down to the beach and they would have never showed up. Because he's a surfer, too, right? Grandpa Nishimura probably never surfed.

KL: He could have taught him.

KN: So anyway...

KL: What about your folks? When did they die?

KN: My dad died just a few years ago. He died on the same day my first grandson was born. Different year. So my grandson is very comfortable with that, he says, "We made a handoff," he says. Which is a nice way of looking at it. And my mother died probably about the year 2000 or1999.

KL: And she never sought U.S. citizenship?

KN: I don't know, she remarried. So I didn't see her very often.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

KL: I cut you off, you were starting to tell about Shimpei, too.

KN: Yeah. And Shimpei, I'm not sure if he ever got citizenship, I don't know. He might have, we never talk about it.

KL: You mentioned he went to U of I and that he eventually came back to California to care for his mother. Can you tell us details about his life?

KN: Yeah. What happened was he was at Cal Tech with Professor Emerson. And when Professor Emerson got better funding at Illinois for his research work, he went there. He asked Shimpei to come with him, so he went.

KL: Did Shimpei get back into the field of physics, or what was he doing?

KN: No, he was doing photosynthesis. I know because I went there to help him do some experiments with red lights. And I stayed up at nights running the experiments, so you got to be on Shimpei's schedule. And I ran some experiments for him. And when Grandma got sick, he just came home, took care of Grandma until she passed away.

KL: Are there other big academic milestones in his life that we should be aware of?

KN: Yeah. After a while, he became quite an expert on geriatrics. Being a scientist, see, everything is an experiment. Well, it turns out that my grandfather got prostate cancer.

So he started looking to how to irrigate his bladder to keep him alive and not have the cancer grow. So he had this little... he had a notebook full of data, he was taking every day. "What are you doing?" He says, "Oh, I'm keeping Grandpa alive." I said, god dang, he's not a damn laboratory. He said, "No, no, he's okay," and he was, he was comfortable. And I'm sit there and I get a call from a doctor in Pasadena who's handling an elderly patient, he's asking how to take care of the bladder. Well, Shimpei, he knew more about it. The other thing he became very knowledgeable was biometrics. I don't know if you know what that is. Biometrics is a multivaried statistics of studying the human body's bone statistics. And from that, you make inferences of correlating to other places. This is before you could do it with genes. So Shimpei got really interested in where Japanese people came from. So he went and did this thing and he said, and he started becoming an expert in multivaried statistics. And he started corresponding with this guy Rao in India, who was the expert on multivaried statistics. At the beginning, Shimpei was asking questions, toward the end the guy was asking him questions. My friends would say, they would often see him on the campus at UCLA with books, going to the library, looking up this stuff. And one day I talked to him and I said, "How close are you?" "I think," he says, "one set of Japanese came through the Korean peninsula, and the other one came through China through the south. They have very different (...) statistics. And he said, "If I lived in Japan before the Second World War and I said that, they would have beheaded me." Because the Japanese theory is you came from one place, not true.

KL: And it's probably not Korea or China. [Laughs]

KN: Of all places, you know. But that's what he found. Of course, now that's been validated, right? Because you could do it through genetics.

KL: Interesting.

KN: So he's a scientist, I guess.

KL: And then he outlived your grandmother? You said he cared for her until...

KN: Yeah, and then he took care of Grandpa, then he passed away. He probably passed away in the late '80s. So that's Shimpei.

KL: Did he work for any other universities besides Illinois?

KN: No, he came home and he just got old and he just wanted to do his own thing.

KL: How do you think he, did he ever speak about how he kind of fit the Manzanar guayule project into his contributions? Do you know what kind of a role it held for him in his mind?

KN: He never talked himself. He always talked about others, what they did and what their contribution... he's typical Japanese, he's self-effacing, he'll never talk about himself.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

KL: The only other question I had, and we're...

KN: Who am I?

KL: Yeah. I've already kept you ten minutes past our thirty minute limit, we're forty minutes, but as much as you want to say about who are you.

KN: Well, I'm me. I can tell you I was born in Pasadena, California, born and raised, went to Manzanar and back from the second grade to junior college and went through the Pasadena school system. When I was fourteen my parents got divorced and I lived by myself ever since. Some of the interesting things is I went back and visited my high school later on, and the office help at the high school says, "You're the only one I know that had thirty mothers." See, I used to go get girls' handwriting to sign my excuses. These girls, I should have known they knew. They were keeping all these notes, you know, and they were laughing, said, "Look at this, they're all different." They never turned me in. And so that was one thing. So I was not a very good student, unlike the rest of the family. I went to school playing sports, so I went to college as a phys ed. major. I got hurt pretty bad playing football in junior college, I had no feeling in my right arm, left arm, for five years, so I had to change my major. So on a lark I changed it to engineering and went to my advisor and she said, "You can't do this." I said, "Why not?" She said, "You barely passed Algebra I in high school. You have no prerequisites." So I sort of dolefully looked at her, I had the arm in a sling. I still remember her name was Mrs. Evelyn P. Lowe, and I said, "Oh, Mrs. Lowe, I sure want to be an engineer." She says, "Okay, I'll go talk to the calculus professors to see if you can get in." So he didn't think I was going to make it, so he said, "Okay, I'll let you in." Well, obviously, the rest is history. I scored the top score in the class on both midterms and the final. So I became an engineer.

I went from City College to San Jose State, bachelor's and master's in electrical engineering. In the process I went to work for Lockheed. That's where I met my close friend, Sam Araki, he was a first line manager there. And I worked for him for a while and after I got my degree, I decided I'd rather work in computers. So I went to go work for IBM, and ended up running, developing technology that sort of dictated their strategies in the '70s. Then they sent me back to school, and they actually sent me back to school at forty-one, and I went to Stanford and got a PhD. And then after that I found out I couldn't help IBM very much anymore because they were changing from a hardware company to a software company. So I left with twenty-four and a half years. I would have invested in my retirement at twenty-five, but I left six months early on a handshake to take a job at this little startup called Solectron. And the guy says, "Well, I want you to take this over," and so over the next few years I took it over. And when I went there, the company was a ninety-three million dollar revenue company, one location, fifteen hundred people. We grew to eighteen billion dollars in ten years with over a hundred thousand employees. We won two Malcolm Balrige national award, quality awards. The whole company did, which was never heard of. So we got branded pretty well. Then I retired in 2004, and so I served on a lot of boards, AT&T and a few other boards, [inaudible]. I sat on the, I guess what they call the economic development board of Singapore, international advisory committee. And so I've done some stuff on boards and stuff.

And then I decided to start this company. All along, I realized that agriculture in the form it was non- sustainable. Where I picked that up was I spent fifteen years in Santa Fe Institute. They're a think tank that works on theoretical problems of complexity. And if you look at agriculture, it's one of those problems of complexity. You can't diddle with one, and you don't do nature like that. And so we got a pretty good feel for how you have to deal with nature, so I thought California has a problem with both water and land, land use. So you could see where we did a prototype here and we raised money and now we're building a full farm. So that's my life. But I was fortunate in having a lot of very good people work with me, so I've been pretty lucky.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

KL: Can you say anything more about Ecopia Farms, which is the last project you were talking about? We're here today.

KN: Well, yeah, what we did was it was a proof of concept. When we first started, we found out that with about three percent of utilizing lettuce as a proxy, we could grow about, in three thousand, four thousand square feet, fifteen acres worth of lettuce, with three percent of the water that a normal farm uses, with no pesticide, no herbicide, by the way, and we did it with, we're doing it in soil, we're not hydroponic. And so it seems it worked, so I've got a couple of salads for you guys to take home.

KL: Thanks.

KN: Enjoy yourself. And I could honestly say that some of the things I'm very pleased about in my life is that... oh, by the way, I'm an Eagle Scout, fourteen year old Eagle Scout. That's why I didn't do very well in school, I decided I liked to do other things out in nature. One of the things good about Boy Scouting was these merit badges, you went out and did things. In class you just listen to a broadcast and did nothing. I thought, "This is not interesting." So I got merit badges like astronomy, that was really fun. Mt. Wilson was nearby. I used to lay in my sleeping bag and I'd look at the stores, just fascinated. When you think about it, we're just insignificant in the universe. And so it was just curiosity that drove me. And I picked up all the lifesaving, I mean, merit badges, scout lifeguard, and the process is the same as the Red Cross, I picked that up. So I could lifeguard at the beach. So I wasn't a very academic guy when I was growing up. And by the way, my three sons are Eagle Scout.

KL: Do they have any connection to growing things?

KN: Yeah, my youngest son's on the board of this company. He's a dentist. He's a dentist with a degree in finance from SC. He's the only financially literate dentist on the face of this earth.

KL: It's probably useful to him.

KN: (Greg) went to UCLA, he played rugby, and he's a surgeon. Then (Bob) got into law enforcement, and that's what he wanted to do. So we're pretty happy, we raised three good kids. I guess like the Frank Sinatra song, I did what I wanted to do, I did, but I did it my way, and I'm pretty happy.

KL: That's great.

KN: I'd do it again.

KL: Well, I really appreciate your taking the time with us today to share it, it's been really valuable. [Addressing RM] Do you have any burning questions, keeping in mind sort of time constraints?

RM: No.

KN: Come on.

RM: We only have ten minutes left to an hour.

KL: I think you got an invitation.

RM: Okay. Well, your colleague mentioned that Jimi Yamaichi worked here at some point. Is that correct?

KN: What's that?

RM: Your colleague who was here earlier, she was getting us drinks and stuff, she mentioned that Jimi Yamaichi worked here at one point. Is that correct?

KN: What you got to understand is that I drag Jimi all over the place. If you look at Solectron, he almost built all the buildings at Solectron.

KL: That does not surprise me.

KN: And he always complains, "You put me to work after I was seventy-five years old, after I retired." He built my buildings over here, nine buildings in Milpitas, he built my building in China, he built my building in Malaysia, he built my building in Mexico, he built my building in Germany, okay. I dragged him all over the world. He's an amazing man. He's absolutely an amazing man. He could look at a building and tell you what's wrong with it. And you know what? He's right. And he knows how to build buildings, I swear to god, I watched him. So yeah, that's Jimi, and he's quite a guy. He still is.

RM: Yeah, yeah.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

RM: And then my other question was earlier we were talking about the FBI arrest. Did you have any friends or anyone in the area that you were living in that also had experienced FBI arrests, or was it, was your grandfather one of few in the area that you were in?

KN: I'm sure there were others, but the Japanese community was quiet about things like that happening to them personally. They don't go around advertising, because it's rather embarrassing, I think. So I'm sure there were probably hundreds of them. Because I know they took a picture in the L.A. Times, and they're standing in front of the gate at Terminal Island federal penitentiary. There must be three or four hundred Japanese men standing out there. And I'm sure many of them were dragged in by the FBI. They just got dragged in on Sunday, just took 'em all in, right? Threw 'em in the paddy wagon and they hauled them down there, and they had this prison. You look in the L.A. Times and they had a picture.

KL: And your grandpa's in that picture?

KN: Yeah, he's standing right in the middle. He's the only one looking up. He says, "I didn't do anything," very proud man. He was right.

RM: Then the last thing about just the FBI think was that I noticed, like we kind of talked about the actual series of events with people showing up at the door and then what you felt your grandfather and your grandmother's impressions were, but what were your impressions?

KN: Well, my only thing is you just recollect because they call me by name. My name is not easy to pronounce, it's Koichi. "Koichi," they says, "we'd like to speak to your grandfather."

RM: What were your feelings?

KN: And I knew what they said, I think the exact wording was, "We'd like to speak to your grandfather Sueji." See, I didn't really understand English so I said, Sueji, so I went and got my grandfather.

KL: She was wondering what your feelings were.

KN: Sort of scary to see two tall men in overcoats standing in front. And you're only this tall. You're what, three, three and a half? "Yes, sir," you know. Next thing you knew, he came back, and I'm just holding the door open. So he came back and he had his coat and his hat, that was it. And then, of course, my grandparents and my mother didn't say anything. So dinnertime came, no grandpa. As far as I knew, he was down at the office. Then a few days went by, no grandpa, now you know something's wrong. And nothing was said. But the Japanese community, they grabbed all the community leaders and everything else. I was sure my grandfather was one of hundreds that did that, yeah, came afterwards.

KL: Is there anything else about your life or anything that you wanted to include, stuff I didn't know to ask about, or Manzanar?

KN: No, I don't think so. You guys got my academic life, you got my professional life, you could look at online. So my career early on, I talked to you about that. I think I talked to about everything I knew about my uncle, talked to you about my family. I don't think so. If there is, give me a call.

KL: Okay. And likewise, I mean, we're in touch now. Well, thank you very much, we'll turn this off.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.