Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Rokuro Kurihara Interview
Narrator: Rokuro Kurihara
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Glendale, California
Date: May 10, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-krokuro-01-0002

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RP: Tell us about your, maybe you can list your siblings for us, the oldest...

RK: Okay.

RP: ...down to the youngest. give, give us their name and maybe a little bit, little information about them, maybe about their personality or what do you remember about them.

RK: Well my oldest brother, his name is Kenichi, Kenichi.

RP: Did he have a, did he have an American name at all?

RK: No.

RP: No.

RK: No, he didn't.

RP: Okay.

RK: And he, he was born in 1918, 1918. And he went through the Glendale school system and he graduated Glendale High School. Then he went to USC and then he went to camp. Then from camp he went to Saint Louis and finished his pharmacy degree.

RP: So was it while he was at USC that he had to go to camp? Was his education interrupted at USC by evacuation?

RK: Yeah, yeah. It was, it was interrupted, uh-huh.

RP: And then Fusao is the next one?

RK: Fusao, yeah. Well, he went by Richard, Dick. He was the only one that had the English name. And, what he did is that he went through the same Glendale school system, Edison Roosevelt. But he graduated Hoover High School which is here, Hoover High School. And then he went to a technical school called Curtiss-Wright, Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute. And he became an engineer, aeronautical engineer.

RP: This is before the war?

RK: Before the war. And he graduated before the war, too. And he too was, went to camp. But he's the one that just sort of passed through. And he went to Cleveland, Ohio, he relocated to Cleveland, Ohio.

RP: You said he was working, he graduated technical school...

RK: Here.

RP: ...and then got a job as an aeronautical engineer?

RK: But not here, in Cleveland.

RP: Oh, Cleveland.

RK: Cleveland.

RP: Did he try to get a job here before camp, or...

RK: Well, you know, it was right about the time when he graduated so he didn't have that much of a chance. But he never worked here as an engineer. And my third brother, his name is Saburo.

RP: Saburo?

RK: Saburo. Is he listed on there?

RP: He's not.

RK: He's not? He's, he's the third brother.

RP: That's right, because the fourth brother is Shiro.

RK: Yeah. No, you need the... between Dick and Shiro there's Saburo.

RP: Huh. Tell us about Saburo.

RK: Well, Saburo, he went through the same school system. Went to Hoover High School, graduated, and like a lot of other boys at that time, went to Japan to learn, to learn Japanese. And he was caught in the war, he was caught in the war but he was in Japan. And what I heard is that from, from Japan he went to Singapore. And stayed, you know, stayed during the war in Singapore, with the Japanese whatever, you know.

RP: He wasn't a...

RK: He, he wasn't drafted because he wasn't a Japanese citizen.

RP: He was an American citizen. So he served in some other capacity?

RK: Yeah.

RP: Maybe as...

RK: In the agricultural thing.

RP: Do you, do you recall when he went over to Japan? Was it just before the war broke out?

RK: Let's see, we went to camp in '42, right? '42? So he went to, he went to Japan about '40, 1940.

RP: And did he, did he stay with the, stay with the family who was over there?

RK: You know, I don't know. But if it's anybody it was a family called, named Ono, Ono.

RP: Ono?

RK: Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh.

RK: I think. I'm not sure.

RP: And he was the only one of the brothers that was sent back to Japan?

RK: Yeah he, well, we, my folks sent him to Japan.

RP: Specifically to learn Japanese?

RK: Yeah. And a lot of families did that.

RP: Right. That was a common, if, if you had the resources and money to do it.

RK: Yeah.

RP: And did he eventually come back to America?

RK: Oh yes, yes. He did.

RP: After, right after the war?

RK: Yeah he, let's see, we're talking about, we're talking about forty, '45, so, so he, he must have come back about '46 or '47, he came back. I'm not sure on those dates either.

RP: Oh. And Shiro.

RK: Shiro, he, Shiro, well, he went through the same school system and graduated Hoover High School. And he went to camp with us at about the same time. Yeah, it was about April '42. That's when we all went. And he literally stayed 'til the end, too. Literally stayed 'til the end of camp.

RP: You said he closed the gates.

RK: Yeah, he almost literally closed the gate. He came back, we had the truck stored, and he came back with the truck and brought a lot of people home. Yeah.

RP: Goro.

RK: Goro, he was, he went through the same school system that I did, but he graduated at Manzanar High School. And, and he, and he was drafted out of the, out of camp and went to the army. Stationed in Germany, I think. At least, I think.

RP: Okay.

RK: And you know, and we, and we all did the usual things that, that families of Japanese ancestry did. We'd, we had to go to Japanese school. We had to go do judo and, and play our baseball games and all that.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.