Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Art Okuno Interview
Narrator: Art Okuno
Interviewer: Kirk Peterson
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: September 1, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-oart-01-0025

<Begin Segment 25>

KP: Anything else you'd like to say?

AO: No.

KP: Yeah, we're getting ready to wrap up here. [To off camera] Any other questions come up?

Off camera: Did your parents ever become citizens?

AO: Yeah, my father did.

Off camera: Do you know why? Or what his, what his emotions were at the time?

AO: You know, I never did ask him why, but he did. My mother refused. I mean, she didn't do it, for...

Off camera: When did they pass away?

AO: Gee...

Off camera: I mean, did they live to see the redress movement, or they were gone by then?

AO: Oh, they were gone. Yeah. And so I was the only one that received -- well, my brother and I received reparations, but neither of our parents did 'cause they were, they passed away.

KP: Any more questions for you, Ted?

Off camera: Do you know anything about the Japanese gardens in Saratoga?

AO: You mean Hakone Gardens?

Off camera: Yeah.

AO: Yeah.

Off camera: Were they, were they there before?

AO: Yeah, gee, I don't know when they started, but anyway, see, I'm a member of the Saratoga Sister City and through that organization and Mukoshi -- that's our sister city in Kyoto -- there's a Mr. Yasui that got interested in the garden. He's a, he's a contractor for the imperial household. Yeah, so he's pretty famous. Anyway, he, he looked at Hakone Gardens and he was willing to help us out. And one of the buildings, the tea house was built by them, his (grandson), who's an architect, and he came and it's the original replica of a tea house. And he supervised putting the thing up, so it's an authentic Japanese tea house with a meeting place and place for tea ceremony.

Off camera: Art, do you, do you have children, and if so, what are their names and about when they were born?

AO: [To wife] You want to answer that? [Laughs]

Off camera: Our oldest was born May 15, 1959. The next one was April 30, 1962, then May 20 -- no, that's, yeah, May 24, 1964, and September 21, 1966.

Off camera: And what are their names?

Off camera: (Kenichi) is the oldest, and Satoshi Paul, and then Tadashi Robert, and Akemi Jan, which is the three boys and then a daughter.

Off camera: And I don't think we actually got your name on the tape.

Off camera: My full name is Akiko, and I'm mostly known by Aki because "ko," it means, it really means child. And I just have a Japanese name.

Off camera: Did you, did you talk to your children about these experiences? I mean, have you always been open in sharing your experience, or is this something that just came to you later in life about going out and speaking?

AO: I myself was never afraid to talk about it. I know that there are many people, older people, who didn't want to talk, have anything to do with it, but I thought it's part of my makeup, I guess. I just want to inform people what's going on, or happened. And so she joined me and we go together.

Off camera: (Akiko), I've been speaking to classes many years before that, too, because the early, I think it's in the fourth grade that they have a, used to have a unit on Japan, so I would speak, giving them a little bit about the history of the language, Japanese language, and I would write the students' names in Japanese and then also bring in a little bit about the evacuation story. So I've been, what, nineteen...

AO: Yeah, she's not reluctant either about talking about it.

Off camera: Since about the late '60s I've been speaking in schools.

Off camera: We need to get an interview with you also. Not today. [Laughs]

AO: Yeah, lot of my age people said their parents never talked about it. Well, I could understand because after the war they're so busy trying to get established you can't, you just can't say, "Well, take a few minutes, I'll tell you about the camp." I think that's one of the reasons.

Off camera: Don't you think there was, amongst some, a feeling of shame?

AO: I guess so. I'm not sure. I didn't feel that way, but I guess.

Off camera: Especially among the Issei.

AO: Yeah. I felt more resentment than anything else.

KP: I think that just shows you're American.

AO: Yeah, I guess so. Typical. [Laughs]

KP: Well, on behalf of the Park Service and myself and Alisa and Ted, thank you very much for your interview.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.