Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Etsuko Ichikawa Osaki Interview
Narrator: Etsuko Ichikawa Osaki
Interviewer: Valerie Otani
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: December 17, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-oetsuko-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

VO: And so you began to receive letters from your father?

EO: Yes, yes. I think there were, when he went to Missoula, Montana, I think he sent some letters, and very definitely from the other camps that he was in, he sent letters to us in English.

VO: And where did he go after Missoula?

EO: Okay, a couple of months in Missoula, and then they shipped him to Camp Livingston, Louisiana. He was there for several months. Then they shipped him to Santa Fe, New Mexico, so a total of two years in these various camps. In the meantime, we went to Minidoka and spent almost two years there. Then we were reunited in Crystal City.

VO: So how did you learn that you were going to be reunited? Were you surprised or were you looking --

EO: Well, I guess. I don't really know how we were told, it must have been through letters. I'm really not sure how we were notified.

VO: How did you feel about leaving your friends in Minidoka?

EO: We didn't give it much thought. [Laughs]

VO: You were very flexible.

EO: Well, I just didn't, I really didn't. Maybe a new adventure. But it was really interesting, when my dad petitioned to come visit us, because I had the letter, he petitioned because the youngest two were in the hospital. I can't remember if it was a very bad cold or what, and so, but I think at first they said he could go, but finally they said no, so he wasn't able to go. And what was really interesting was, do you know Neil Simon? He's the author that wrote something. Well, I went to one of his presentations and he talked about this, about my dad. And it was really interesting that he knew all the information. He read the letter and everything, just really surprised.

VO: So when your father was in those FBI camps in Santa Fe, was he able to continue any of his ministerial work?

EO: I'm pretty sure he did, but there were a lot of ministers. We have a good picture of about forty-five Buddhist ministers in Santa Fe. Right, so he was only one of them. [Laughs] So I'm sure they held regular services.

VO: And how did you feel about being separated from him those years?

EO: Well, I just don't know. I really can't say how I felt. I was a very rebellious teenage daughter, my mother had quite a handful. We used to get into arguments. Because the school we went to, this principal, she made "good American citizens" of us. Every week we had this club called GACC, Good American Citizenship Club, and we met, we had regular meetings, the whole school. And we did the Pledge of Allegiance, and we were just instilled with this loyalty to our country. So, of course, we were all with United States, whereas our parents still felt loyalty to their own country. So my mother and I had a lot of arguments. I was terrible. [Laughs]

VO: Do you think she considered going back to Japan?

EO: Oh, yes. Well, the story goes that my dad signed us up to go to Japan, go back, but I refused to sign. My mother cried all night. I said, "Oh, I'll just stay in this country. I have a good teacher friend that'll take me in." So my dad changed his mind, which was a good thing, because some of my friends that went back to Japan, they were starving. Things were really bad after the war, so it's a good thing we never went back.

VO: And you were the only one in the family who wouldn't sign to go back?

EO: Yes, I was the only one. [Laughs]

VO: You had a lot of influence.

EO: I was terrible.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.