Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Toshiro Izumi Interview
Narrator: Toshiro Izumi
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: March 2, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-ftakayo-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: When you graduated from grammar school, then you had to go off the island to attend Dana Junior High School?

TI: Uh-huh, Dana Junior High School.

RP: That was in San Pedro?

TI: Yes.

RP: What was that like? Suddenly you were in another world.

TI: It certainly was, because to begin, with every day we'd have to take a ferry to cross the channel onto the mainland. And most of us walked from the ferry landing to Dana Junior High School, which was I think on Twelfth Street. It's quite a walk. And a lot of us as we got older, why, we got lazy and we'd ride the bus. And the bus I think cost us three cents.

RP: How about the ferry ride?

TI: Ferry I think was, well, we'd buy a whole booklet of tickets and I think it was about a nickel, each ticket I think was worth five cents.

RP: And what was it like going to school at the, at Dana Junior High?

TI: Dana Junior High School, we went to the, our elementary school, I think we went through sixth grade. So Dana we only went to seventh and eighth I believe, two years. But we got along real good with the mainlanders.

RP: And did you get involved in sports as a part of your junior high school or high school?

TI: No, I didn't participate in anything. The only sports I know about is when gym time when we played baseball or...

RP: Who did you like to pal around with, you know, growing up, on the island or off?

TI: This is I guess a little funny, but growing up from junior high school into high school, I associated more with students that came from Japan than my own American-born friends.

RP: Students from Japan.

TI: Yeah, these friends of mine that I associated, they were born here in the United States but they were raised in Japan and their Japanese was much stronger than their English naturally and, but I associated with them quite a bit.

RP: So some people refer to them as Kibei?

TI: Uh-huh, yes, Kibei.

RP: And you conversed with them pretty well 'cause you had a strong Japanese...

TI: Yes, uh-huh. And I believe that's the reason my Japanese was stronger than the average American-born Japanese. I found out that when I went the army language school. Yeah, I'd be skipping lots of grades. I'd go there originally with a group but maybe I'd graduate a year or two before ahead of them.

RP: How did the, how did the Kibei, in your eyes, interact with the Nisei, American, Japanese Americans who hadn't been to Japan? Can you talk about that relationship if you sensed any frictions or how did they get along?

TI: I believe they got along okay. But they tell me there was a friction. They had a tendency to stay together and we, being born here in the United States, why, we had the tendency to stay together too. So, I guess there was a little difference there. But somehow or another, because of my, I guess, strong Japanese learning at the Japanese language school, I spoke with them in Japanese and got along quite well.

RP: So you could kind of bridge both groups?

TI: Yes, uh-huh.

RP: You felt comfortable --

TI: Oh, yes.

RP: -- amongst both groups.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.