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

<Begin Segment 1>

VO: Today is December 17, 2013, and we're in Portland, Oregon, interviewing Etsu Osaki. Observing today is Todd Mayberry of Oregon Nikkei Endowment, and our videographer is Ian McCluskey. My name is Valerie Otani. Oh, and this is part of Oregon Nikkei Endowment's Minidoka Oral History Project. So why don't you start by telling me the date that you were born.

EO: I was born February 18, 1931, in Fresno, California. That was a long time ago.

VO: And do you remember what hospital?

EO: I have no recollection of Fresno, because we left there when I was still very young. I just see pictures of myself.

VO: And your full name when you were born?

EO: I don't have an English name. My first name is Etsuko, which means "joyful child." [Laughs]

VO: And so let's go to your parents. So tell us what your father's name was and where he was from.

EO: My father was Tatsuya Ichikawa, he was a minister, and he was born in 1903 in Iiyama, Nagano-ken, Japan, way up in the mountains. And his father was a minister, of course, but he went to Ryukoku, which in those days was a ministerial training college. And he was the second son. In Japan, the oldest son takes over the temple, so, of course, he had no temple. So that's why he ended up in this country. When he was in college, I think it was, the year was 1925, he was living as a houseboy at the Gomonshu, who would be the head of our particular branch of Buddhism. So the Gomonshu came to this country, so he came as a bag carrier. So that was quite an experience for him.

VO: So you think that might have influenced his decision?

EO: Definitely, and he also had an uncle that spent quite a few years as a minister in this country. So I think those two things probably influenced him to come to the United States.

VO: And then he had some contact that invited him to Fresno?

EO: I'm really not sure what the contact was. I'm sure he must have contacted somebody.

VO: And what was the name of the branch of Buddhism that your...

EO: Oh, our branch is the Nishi Hongwanji school of Jodo Shinshu, also called the True Pureland sect of Buddhism.

VO: And so many generations of your father's family had been...

EO: Yes, I think like about four hundred fifty years it was started in Iiyama. And so I think the present minister, who would be my cousin's son, he's about the twenty-first generation. So it goes way back.

VO: And your mother, tell us a little about your mother.

EO: She's also from a temple, because in those days -- and I don't know if it's still true, temple families tended to marry each other. And so her temple was in what is now Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi-ken, on the southern tip of Honshu. And so people always ask, "How did your parents meet?" Because in those days, they married someone in the same prefecture. So the story goes that my uncle, my mother's brother and my dad were classmates in college. So once he said, "Well, why don't you come home and meet my sister?" And so he went, and that's how they met. And I guess they just headed off, but it's kind of a romantic story. [Laughs]

VO: It is. And so they married before coming to...

EO: Yes, they got married in 1928, and then shortly thereafter they came to Fresno.

VO: Where you were born.

EO: Yes, three of us were born.

VO: But you didn't stay in Fresno too long?

EO: No, we left in 1934 because I think, and I'm pretty sure, my dad's mother was ill, and so he wanted to go back home to see her. And so went back and he got a job as a minister in Kobe, so we lived there for two years.

VO: Now do you have memories of that time in Japan?

EO: That I have vague memories, of Kobe. [Laughs] Waiting in the temple office for him to come home. And then one of my favorite memories is he would bring home for the kids these hot roasted sweet potatoes. Oh, they were so good, and so when I went to Japan I had to look for it, and they still have places where they sell those hot roasted sweet potatoes. I do remember that.

VO: Now, I actually didn't ask what your mother's name was.

EO: Yes, her name was Yasashi Nishi. Nishi meaning "west." She comes from a large family, too, there were seven children. And my dad's family had eight. I didn't realize there were so many, there were eight of them.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

VO: So how long did you spend in Kobe then?

EO: Two years. And then I think that's when he met the bishop from BCA, the Buddhist Churches, in this country, and the bishop told him, "Why don't you come back?" And I think that's why he came back, and then he went to Seattle, and that was in 1936. So we were just two years in Japan.

VO: And what was the name and the location of his church in Seattle?

EO: Oh, Seattle? It's now called the Seattle Betsuin, because they're the headquarters for the Northwest region, but at that time it was called Seattle Buddhist Church.

VO: And where was it located?

EO: It was located right in, on Main Street, that was the old temple. And then the government took over that area and built Yesler Terrace for low-income families, so we had to move. And that's when they built the new temple on Jackson Street, Fourteenth and Jackson. Oh, actually it's on Main Street, I take it back. Fourteenth and Main, because we lived on Fourteenth and Jackson.

VO: And so you lived in the temple? Did the temple then own a house?

EO: Yes, the temple purchased two homes right in the back of the temple, facing Jackson Street. So there were two ministers. My dad was the head minister, and then there was an assistant, so we lived in those homes.

VO: And what do you remember of that childhood in Seattle?

EO: Well, I was in grade school, I enjoyed school. I went to Bailey Gatzert where it was like ninety percent Japanese. [Laughs] Some Chinese and Filipinos and hardly any white kids. It was kind of unusual to have a white student in your room, in your class. So I enjoyed school, and, oh, I started piano lessons. And to this day I think my parents had me take piano so I could play for their service. [Laughs] So I'm still playing for the church services. Let's see... I don't know, we just did the usual children's things.

VO: Well, what do you remember of your father's work as minister?

EO: Yes, my father, I think, was very well-liked. I don't think he had an enemy. He was very humble, kind, very open-minded. So I just think everybody liked him. We had really nice members that looked after us, too.

VO: So that congregation was almost entirely immigrants from Japan and their families?

EO: Yes, in those days it was almost all Japanese.

VO: And how large a congregation was it?

EO: It was big. I remember just the Fujinkai with the ladies, members, I think it was like, it must have a thousand, just the ladies. It was huge; it was a huge temple. And in those days, the temple was kind of a social place, too, so they could meet friends and do things together.

VO: You were saying your father had some responsibilities out beyond Seattle.

EO: Yes. In those days, he would go out to outlying neighborhoods like the islands. I remember going with him to Bellevue and what's that other... Bainbridge, Bainbridge Island, Kirkland, 'cause in those days they didn't have the bridge across Lake Washington. So I can remember those ferry trips going with him for these services. And he used to take these old rented tin silent movies, and he'd show it to the kids after the service. I do remember tagging along. [Laughs]

VO: Did your other brothers and sisters go, too?

EO: I think they did sometimes also, yes. I wasn't the only one.

VO: And how about your mother? What was her role?

EO: My mother was strictly a minister's wife and a housewife. She was kept busy because in those days, the minister's wife was in charge of the women's organization. So she was very busy, and she'd be on the telephone calling members to come make sushi at two o'clock in the morning. [Laughs] She was almost always on the telephone calling members. So that's what she did.

VO: And in your family, what was her role?

EO: Oh, yeah, she was the disciplinarian, because my dad wasn't home very much, and he was very easygoing. So if he had any complaints, he would tell my mother and she would discipline us. So she did all that.

VO: So there were three of you that were born in Fresno.

EO: Uh-huh, then one in Japan, and then the rest, there were seven of us kids. So that means, what, three were born in Seattle.

VO: And you have a brother who still lives in Seattle?

EO: Yes, Satoru, or Sat, they call him, he still lives in Seattle. He's the only one in Seattle.

VO: And where is he in the birth order?

EO: He's the oldest, and I'm second. And I'm only year and a half younger, so a lot of times people thought I was the oldest. I guess because... I think when we were growing up, I was taller than him at one time, and I was kind of bossy. [Laughs] So people thought I was the oldest.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

VO: And what do you remember of your family life? Were there certain things you always did together or highlights?

EO: Well, we never took a vacation, because in those days, they didn't give ministers vacations. And like my mother said, we wouldn't have enough money to go anywhere anyway, you know. So I just don't recall going on vacations except going with him on these ferry rides. The Seattle church ran a summer camp for the boys, and it was in Auburn. I found out later that it was a Salvation Army camp, and it was right in Green River, and my brother went, and I would tag along with the cooks. It was an all-boys camp, but one of my friend's grandmother was the cook, camp cook, so she got to go. So then I would join her just for a short time.

VO: Were there other kind of church-related activities that your family was...

EO: Oh, yes, the church had a group that were really into acting. And so once a year they'd have this big program at the Nippon Kan, which still exists, and they had... of course, the kids would have to do something, like we usually did some kind of dance, yuugi or odori, and this group, acting group, they put on really good samurai shibais, plays of the samurai, and they would have swordfights on the stage. And one time they asked me to take a part, so I was supposed to be this little boy, and I practiced and I practiced -- and this was all in Japanese -- and when I actually was performing, they said they couldn't even hear me. [Laughs]

VO: And did you study Japanese dance?

EO: No, I didn't, but for these special occasions, they would have us taking lessons from the dance instructor, who was also a member of our temple. And I have lots of memories of doing those shows, and they were fun. We have pictures of the whole crew that were in these productions.

VO: So it was a big highlight every year?

EO: It was. And then they had picnics once a year. So the temple was kind of a social place, really. And I had lots and lots of friends because they were all people in the temple. And so I just never felt lonely. They were my extended family. And of course, sometimes they were kind of critical, too. [Laughs] So my mother would say, "Minister's daughter does not wear bright clothes," things like that. I was supposed to be a role model or something.

VO: And how did you take to that?

EO: I was a rebel. I didn't take to that at all. [Laughs]

VO: Did she feel, did your mother feel that your whole family had to be models?

EO: I think kind of, kind of. We were supposed to stay out of trouble.

VO: Did you also go to Japanese school?

EO: Yes, we had Japanese school. It was a private school, it wasn't the big one on Weller Street. This was a private school. And we went, after the American school, we went twice a week, and then half day Saturday, I think. Something like that.

VO: Do you remember the name of it?

EO: It was called Katei Gakuen, katei meaning "family." So Family School. And there weren't many, it was just the one class, one classroom. And then I think the high school students met on the alternate days.

VO: And did you enjoy it?

EO: Yes, I did. I thought I learned a lot there.

VO: Who was the teacher?

EO: Well, at one time it was the minister, the assistant minister of our temple. Another time they had hired a regular Japanese school teacher, and I really don't know their background.

VO: Why do you think you went to that Japanese school as opposed to the big one?

EO: I think it probably had some connection to the temple, that's what I think. It was like a storefront, and then the family that lived upstairs, they were strong members of our temple, and they kind of looked after the school. I'm sure that was the reason.

VO: And did Japanese come pretty easily to you, the language, since you had...

EO: Yes, because being in Japan for two years, I just knew Japanese. I didn't know any English. So when I started kindergarten, I didn't know English at all. So one of my friends would have to translate, be my interpreter. But by the time I was in the first grade, I was fine.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

VO: Do you remember those first days of going to school?

EO: [Laughs] Yes, I remember. My dad took me, and when he left, I cried. I still remember it.

VO: Do you remember in terms of... was it not knowing the language?

EO: Yes, I used to kind of, especially our principal was very, very strict, and if I had to go to the principal's office for anything, I'd just be shaking. She just made me very nervous because my English wasn't all, I couldn't express myself that good in English. But at that age, it doesn't take very long. By the time I was in the first grade, I was fine.

VO: Did you ever have a nickname?

EO: Well, yes and no. Most of my friends in Seattle know me as Ets, E-T-S. [Laughs] But over here, somebody started calling me Etsu, so that kind of stuck. But other than that, no, no nickname.

VO: So the shibai sounded like it was the main connection to Japanese culture.

EO: They taught flower arranging at the temple, I think, once a week people would come to do flower arranging.

VO: Did you ever take any of those lessons?

EO: Yes, I did. That's why I'm doing flowers here.

VO: So you do the flowers for the temple here?

EO: Yeah, well, there's about ten of us that, we rotate and do it.

VO: And the piano, you started at an early age.

EO: Yeah, I started lessons about eight years, when I was eight years old, and I had a very good teacher. Of course, she was also a member of the temple. [Laughs] And I loved it, I really did, and I learned so much from her, including theory. She taught theory at that time.

VO: And so did you continue with lessons through...

EO: Well, during the war, no. Except in Minidoka, they arranged for us to take some lessons, but I just don't remember too much about that.

VO: So your life really centered around the temple, but did you have friends in the neighborhood that, did people play out in the streets or were there gathering places in the neighborhood?

EO: Well, when we were early in Seattle, the neighbors would gather around in this empty lot next to our house, and we'd play jintori, do you remember that game, jintori? Taking prisoners? [Laughs] That was one of our favorite games.

VO: So that would be both boys and girls.

EO: Yeah. And then at our grade school, we'd play some of those games. You know the game called onibabasan, "the witch"?

VO: How does that work?

EO: They're all Japanese games. Well, it's like prisoners also. It's like "Stop and Go," "Green Light, Red Light."

VO: Did your grandparents from Japan ever come to America to visit?

EO: No, never. I didn't know my... well, I used to write to them. I used to write to my grandmother, but I really didn't know any of my grandparents.

VO: So you were not taken back again to Japan after that two years in Kobe?

EO: No, we weren't.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

VO: So how old were you when Pearl Harbor...

EO: I was eleven, and we were having a slumber party at the church, a group of us girls. And we were told in the morning what had happened. But I don't know how I reacted. It was just such a faraway thing, you know, we didn't know where Pearl Harbor was. So I just can't remember how I reacted.

VO: Do you remember the reaction at home with your family?

EO: No, I have no recollection. If they talked about it, they never talked to the kids.

VO: And so did you go to school the next day?

EO: Yes. But you know, the school was primarily Japanese, so it was no problem. And the teachers were all very good to us. They never showed any signs of discrimination.

VO: So what happened to your parents then?

EO: Well, let's see, the war started in December, and many of the leaders in the community, the Isseileaders were being picked up the FBI. So actually my father didn't go until quite a bit later. But he knew they would come to get him. So I think it wasn't until about April that they finally got him. I wasn't home, it was just my mother and my dad, and they took him away. But he was prepared. He was all ready to go because he knew they would come after him. See, one of the things they went through was his college yearbook. And you know, in those days, the students all wore military-type uniforms, so it looked like he was in the military. So that might have had something to do with it, I'm not really sure.

VO: So even though it was religious training, they wore a uniform that looked military.

EO: Uh-huh. Even from their, I think, I don't know how soon they started that uniform, if it's from high school or from college, but they all wore uniforms.

VO: And so where was your father taken to?

EO: Okay, they took him first to the immigration office in Seattle, the top floor was, had the jail. And so we did go visit him once over there. And that's right, the immigration building is right by the train depot. Then they shipped him to Missoula, Montana, it was called Fort Missoula, which still exists today, because I did visit their museum.

VO: Do you remember that visit to your father in the immigration office?

EO: Yes, I do remember.

VO: How did he seem to you?

EO: He seemed okay. He wasn't... I just really don't remember. We just went to visit him.

VO: And with your mother, did you sense how, what impact it had on her to have her husband taken away?

EO: She never said, she never said. I'm sure she told, she talked to her friends, but she never said much to us kids. I guess she didn't want to worry us.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

VO: So when, so that was in April that he was taken. So then what happened, so your family that was remaining in Seattle went to...

EO: Well, we started packing because we had to go to Puyallup. And was trying to remember, we were in Puyallup for a few months, I think through around September, I think, Puyallup Fairgrounds. And luckily we didn't have to live in the horse stable, the animal stables like some of my friends did.

VO: Where did you live?

EO: We lived in Area C which was kind of a hastily built area, it was called a block, Block C. And then they had barracks that were open on the top, but they did have walls. You could hear almost everything next door. [Laughs]

VO: What was it like leaving your school in Seattle?

EO: The principal was very sympathetic. We went to see her individually, all the Japanese kids. And she talked to us. We saw her individually, and I can still remember, she kissed each of us right on our forehead. She was that sympathetic to us. And in fact, when we were in camp, she came to visit, but they wouldn't let her in. We had to visit through the barbed wire. She was a very, very nice person, very strict, strict disciplinarian.

VO: And you had mentioned the memory of her kissing you on the forehead.

EO: Yes, because our parents never kissed us. You know how Isseis, they don't show their emotions like that. So that, to me, was really something new.

VO: Do you remember much of that time in Puyallup?

EO: Puyallup, oh, yes, I do remember Puyallup very well. No privacy. You go to take a shower, and there's no partitions. You go to the, they call them the latrines, there's no partition. You're just sitting on these holes. It was very lack of privacy. And then I used to go help my mother do the laundry on a scrub board. Can you imagine doing all those diapers? See, my kid brother was still in diapers, he was only a few months old. So it was a lot of work for her.

VO: And did you hear from your father right away?

EO: No, not right away. We didn't know where, what happened to him or where he was.

VO: What went through your mind as a child at that time?

EO: I don't know what I thought. I just kind of felt lonely, and my father wasn't there. There were so many of us kids that you really couldn't be lonely.

VO: So you remember that time as pretty... how would you characterize...

EO: It wasn't fun, we just put up with it. We didn't have school. One of the, I guess some people tried to find activities for us, and I remember taking kind of an art class from this lady. Other than that, there was nothing really.

VO: And you knew that it was temporary, that you would be moving on?

EO: Yeah, I think we were told that it was temporary. One of the things that I really remember was when I was in Seattle, I used to go to the library on a regular basis. And one of the librarians came, and I still remember that, she came and I remember the book that she read to us: Horton Hatches the Egg, Dr. Seuss. [Laughs] That was one of the books she read. More recently I wrote to the Seattle Public Library and told them how much we appreciated that. I'm sure that librarian was no longer around, but I sent a donation and said that meant so much to us.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

VO: So then do you remember the move to Minidoka?

EO: You know, I really don't. I know we had to pack up and move, and I can't remember... I guess we went by train. I just don't remember too much about that.

VO: And do you remember arriving?

EO: In Minidoka? Kind of. It was September, so it must have been pretty dusty. We were living in, they put us in Block 21, I think, but most, some of our close church members were elsewhere, so we asked to be moved. So then we moved to another block.

VO: Did you continue having services in Minidoka?

EO: Yes, they had, the Buddhists got together, all the Buddhist ministers got together, and they had Buddhist services for all Buddhists, not the various denominations. We had that for a while, which was different. Then Reverend Terao, who was my dad's assistant minister, decided he wanted his own, the Jodo Shinshu service. So he started his own services, so we went there.

VO: So Reverend Terao was not taken.

EO: No, he wasn't. I don't know why, but he was not taken.

VO: So there were a few that were still left and able to hold, to do the services.

EO: There were quite a few ministers that were in Minidoka. But Reverend Terao, oh Reverend Terakawa of Portland, he was, he was a very liberal-minded minister, and he held summer school for us. But it was very sad, he passed away in camp.

VO: From illness?

EO: I can't remember what exactly it was, but he did pass away in camp. He was a very liberal-minded, very nice person.

VO: Describe your family's living quarters.

EO: Okay, we had one room, maybe the size, maybe three-fourths of this room, or two-thirds. And there were my mother and seven kids with army cots. So one of our friends, he was a good member of the temple, he was a very skillful carpenter. So he built in two bunkbeds against one wall with built-in cabinets in the center. I drew a picture of all this to send to my dad. Built-in laundry chute, built-in dresser, he was very, very clever. So it was really nice that we had some floor space instead of all beds.

VO: So you said you drew that and sent it to your father?

EO: I drew it, I thought I could find the picture, but I guess, somebody must have destroyed it.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 9>

VO: So what was, do you remember when you saw your father for the first time?

EO: Yeah, I think I was excited. I saw him through the window, and I can't remember where we were, but I saw his face and I was very excited.

VO: So that was, you all went to Crystal City to reunite, or did you go to... you didn't pick him up in Santa Fe, you all met...

EO: No, he was already in Crystal City, so we went there. I think I already told you that my youngest brother didn't know him, called him ojisan, which means "uncle." He didn't know his own father, because he was just a baby.

VO: He was born...

EO: Two days after Pearl Harbor, so he was just months old when my dad was taken.

VO: And then describe that life in Crystal City.

EO: Oh, Crystal City was a lot better because we had our, we cooked. So we didn't have to go to a mess hall. And they had American school, which I enjoyed, and we went to Japanese school afterwards, which I enjoyed. We had a very good teacher. And then half day Saturday.

VO: Were you able to have church services again there in Crystal City?

EO: Uh-huh. They had big services, Sunday services, would pack the whole hall.

VO: And was your father leading those, or there was a group?

EO: Well, there were other ministers, so he was just one of the many ministers. Ministers would be standing all around the hall. [Laughs] Many ministers.

VO: And were there other families from Seattle there?

EO: Yes, there were a few families from Seattle.

VO: And were there Peruvians?

EO: Yes, they had Japanese from Peru, and I think some from Bolivia, if I'm not mistaken. And they all went to the all-day Japanese school, because there was no other school for them to go to. And the German kids went to, most of them went to the German school. And we had a couple of Germans in our class. We all got along real well.

VO: And what else do you remember from that time in Crystal City?

EO: Well, let's see. We had a lot of parties. [Laughs] One time we were going to have, was it the junior prom, and some of the Isseis, I think they didn't want us to have it. I can recall that.

VO: Do you know why?

EO: They just didn't do things like that in Japan. And I was trying to remember, we had our class parties. Oh, I can still remember, my friends and I skipped school so we could make popcorn for our class party, and I still remember there was a German cook at this center where we were gonna have the party, He showed us how to make caramel corn. [Laughs] So we made caramel corn popcorn, so of course when we went back to school, we were disciplined.

VO: For missing school?

EO: For missing classes.

VO: And what was the discipline?

EO: I can't remember. [Laughs]

VO: And your mother, was she more traditional, or she let you, she accepted your, the parties and American upbringing?

EO: Yeah, they allowed us. There were some parents that wouldn't let their kids go to any of these functions, but our parents were very, very tolerant of us.

VO: You mentioned earlier when we were talking that you celebrated the Emperor's birthday?

EO: Yes, at our Japanese school, they made us, they would line us out in the field and we would have to celebrate the Emperor's birthday and face the east towards Japan and do, "Banzai," three times. You'd have to say, "Tennouheika, banzai, banzai," and it just about killed me. [Laughs] And we also helped celebrate Hitler's birthday.

VO: You did? Tell us more about that.

EO: We didn't have to do "Heil Hitler," we just observed.

VO: That was for the Germans?

EO: The Germans, they had their own celebration.

VO: And you got to participate.

EO: So we would go just to help them celebrate, I guess, the Japanese school.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

VO: So when you look back on that camp experience, what do you think about it now?

EO: Uh-huh, and there were some very good friends. We kept in touch over the years. I have good memories of that camp, even if we were behind barbed wire. Our grade school principal was really kind to us. I mean, all the teachers were kind to us, otherwise they wouldn't have been there. The principal went out and purchased all different fabric for each of the girls for our eighth grade graduation so we could all have new dresses, and I still have the picture of our graduating class. There were about twenty-three of us, most of them were girls, just a few boys. I think there were two German girls. So I had a brand-new dress. Her husband was the head Texas ranger that guarded our camp. I never met him, but I knew that he was.

VO: Do you remember the guard towers?

EO: Oh, yes. In fact, in Puyallup, the guard tower was right near our barracks. So they'd be standing there talking to the guard. 'Cause they had nothing to do, you know, so it was kind of boring for them, so we'd talk. They never pointed a rifle at us.

VO: Do you remember feeling afraid about them?

EO: Oh, no. I never felt afraid.

VO: And your parents, do you remember more about the discussion about whether to go back to Japan or not?

EO: We never had a discussion, my dad just decided to go back. I'm sure my parents talked about it, but we were just told we were going back. Because when we were in, talking about this teacher, she was my seventh grade teacher, when we went to Crystal City she wrote to me, and by then she had moved to Boulder, Colorado. She wrote to me and she said, "Why don't you come live with me and finish your high school, go to high school? So I asked my parents if I could go, and of course they said no way. [Laughs] They wouldn't let me go. But she was the one that was very kind to me.

VO: And she was not Japanese?

EO: No. All the teachers were hakujin or white, and I think a lot of them were Quakers, Friends, because they're the ones that really helped, they were probably the only group that really helped the Japanese in those days. You know, like when people would go out of the camp to work, they would be the ones that would kind of help them. So I have good feelings about the Friends.

VO: And so when you refused to sign and came up with that idea, was there an argument?

EO: No, my mother cried. [Laughs] My dad never said anything.

VO: And did you cry?

EO: No, I was terrible. [Laughs] I was a horrible teenager.

VO: But it all worked out for the best, it seems.

EO: I think so, I think so. My brother remembers that. He wrote about it. He's, my brother Sat is an artist, he's published a couple of booklets. Have you seen them?

VO: I've seen excerpts from them, yes.

EO: Yeah, the one on Crystal City is the one that he mentions that I wouldn't sign.

VO: Does he, what was his reaction when that happened?

EO: Oh, I can't remember. I wasn't very nice to him. I was too bossy.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

VO: So as the war ended, how did you, were you released to go home pretty early?

EO: I think so. The poor people from Peru, they had nowhere to go, because Peru wouldn't take them back. So if they had relatives in the United States, then they could leave, go with the relatives. In fact, one of my cousins on my husband's side married a girl from Peru, because they went to Hawaii. They had relatives in Hawaii. But I think we were released fairly early.

VO: And was it clear you would go back to Seattle?

EO: Seattle, very definitely.

VO: Because you had your house...

EO: Because people, some of the members were already back there, and this one particular family, I knew he helped finance our family.

VO: To bring you back?

EO: Yeah, to get us started.

VO: Well, tell us about coming back to your home and the temple, church.

EO: Yeah, I can remember that slow train ride, very slow. I guess we were able to get back into the house that we originally lived in. And the temple was still being occupied by the government. They took over to use it as a training school for maritime commission, merchant marines, and so we couldn't go back into the temple. So they rented the kendo hall, which is now the veterans' hall, and we held services there for quite a while.

VO: Well, that church that the government took over was very new.

EO: Yes, they had just finished building it in October, I think, because I can remember the dedication was in November.

VO: 1941?

EO: Yeah, uh-huh. So it was brand new when the government took it over.

VO: And what about your family's possessions?

EO: Yes, the church was used as a storage for many of the Japanese families, and they brought their things there to store. But when the government took it over, they transferred all that to some other warehouse. And at that time, people lost things. I can remember we lost some things.

VO: It must have been a comfort to know you were coming back to your old house.

EO: I think so, uh-huh.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

VO: What was it like starting school again in Seattle?

EO: Yeah, it was different. I was a sophomore, and I went to Garfield High School. It was... having been with all Japanese kids for how many years, it was different. Because at that time, Garfield was mostly white, and there were some Chinese students. And so when I was talking to my classmates, I'd have to watch myself not to use any Japanese words. [Laughs] Because when you're with Japanese kids, you use Japanese words, a lot of slang. So I got over that and I got involved in the school activities.

VO: And how did the other students accept you?

EO: I never felt any kind of tension. In fact, the first day I went to school, they got this girl to kind of be a hostess, and we still keep in touch, wonderful Jewish girl. And she showed me around, and so I just really felt good, I can remember that.

VO: That's quite something to stay in touch after so many years.

EO: We lost... after she got, I remember I went to her wedding, and then we lost touch with each other. Then about a year ago, I got this phone call, and Jenny says, "I finally found you." She lives in Los Gatos, California. Well, it just happened that she was taking a class with, everything was, some exercise class with another Japanese girl, so she asked her if she knew me. This girl didn't, but this girl knew, had a friend in Tacoma who knew me. So that's how Jenny got in touch with me, and ever since then, we've been corresponding, and I've gone to see her. So it's a small world. She's just a real good friend.

VO: And you were able to kind of pick up your life again in high school.

EO: Yes, but there was this one incident that I mentioned about before that showed some discrimination. We had a principal that wasn't all that great, and I knew I had all A's when I was in Crystal City, okay? So when I found out that I wasn't included in the top ten, I said, "Well, that's funny because I had all A's." And so my Spanish teacher -- and I think she was one of the advisors -- I talked to her, and she went to the principal. And what had happened was the principals had changed all the A-minuses that I had to B's, so therefore I had all these B's. And so the advisor, she stood up for me, and she got half of them changed back to A's. So I was able to graduate in the top ten from the graduating class. But I think it was, the schools in Crystal City were, they were accredited by the State of Texas, so they were just as good as any other public school according to the state. But he probably felt like it wasn't, I'm pretty sure, that it wasn't up to standard. But anyway, that's the only time that I had any problem. The rest of the time we got along with members.

VO: And that transition from being an all-Japanese environment to being at Garfield...

EO: Yeah, that was, at first, kind of a shock. But I got over it. And it's one thing that all of us kids who were, went through this experience, we never talked about it to anybody. Maybe we talked about it within ourselves, but we never talked about it to anybody else. And when I was a freshman in college, that's the first time I wrote a paper about it. And my English professor was so... I guess he knew nothing about it, he was so impressed that he put my paper in the library. So I don't know, I guess to this day it must be in the library somewhere. [Laughs] It wasn't such a great paper, but, you know, he had never heard about a Japanese going through all this.

VO: Did you ever run into friends that you had from before you left who were not Japanese, but who wondered what happened to you?

EO: Yeah, I kept in touch with a couple of my Chinese friends, but none of the others, none of the white kids.

VO: And so they knew where you were?

EO: I think so. I don't know if they knew the details, but they kind of knew what happened to us.

VO: And did you ever reconnect with them again after?

EO: Yeah.

VO: But again, people didn't really, you didn't speak about that experience?

EO: No, we never talked about it.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

VO: So then as you finished up high school, what was your next step?

EO: Well, of course, we went to the nearby college, the University of Washington, all of us kids went there. In those days, tuition wasn't that high. It's terrible now. I worked part time for this fashion designer/dressmaker, and I could pay for all my tuition and all my books. Of course, I didn't have room and board to pay, so it really wasn't bad. But you can't do that anymore, tuition is so high.

VO: And what did you study?

EO: I studied home economics. I wanted to be a fashion designer, so I was majoring in clothing and textiles. Then our home ec. dean, she wanted all of us to go into education, so that's what I did. I switched my major and I went into education, home ec. education. I had a minor in... it was really funny, when I went to this counselor, she said, "Well, you have to have a minor. Okay, you have all these classes in art. Oh, you have a class in music. Okay, your minor is music and art." [Laughs] So that was my minor. That was funny.

VO: And what do you remember of those college years?

EO: Oh, I had a good time. We had a Japanese women's organization, and so in those days you couldn't get into a sorority. Not that I wanted to, but there was discrimination. So we had our own club. We called ourselves the Valedas, and we met regularly and had socials. The men had a house called SYNKOA, so we'd have socials with them.

VO: And the temple was then back?

EO: Yes.

VO: And did your father continue in that leadership role?

EO: Yes, for a long time.

VO: So how long did he stay in...

EO: I think it was nine years, can't remember the exact date. But anyway, he had to retire. He retired early, when he was about fifty-six, because he was legally blind, he had diabetes, and it went to his eyes, so he retired early. And I still say it's because he drank too much. You know, in those days, when he went out for services, you know, they'd feed him and they'd insist that he drink, you know what I mean? You know how the Japanese are. And he would never say no. So I really think he didn't watch his health. It just went to his eyes and he was legally blind, so he retired.

VO: And did he live long after that?

EO: Yeah, I think he lived to be sixty-five. So I think once in a while he'd go and help at the temple. But no, his health just got the best of him.

VO: And your mother lived quite a long time.

EO: Yes. So then after my dad died, I said, "Mom, why don't you come down and babysit for me?" [Laughs] Because I had all these kids and I was trying to work. And so she came, and she lived with us for almost thirty years. She lived a long life. So we built a little apartment for her attached to our house, which is being used by different people.

VO: So actually we'll go back then. So when, so you graduated in home economics education.

EO: Uh-huh, from the UW.

VO: And so you were planning to teach?

EO: Yes, I did my practice teaching at Roosevelt High School. So the first... and then I got married right after graduation, like a week after graduation, and so my husband was still going to school at Pacific University at Forest Grove. So I went down there and I got a job teaching. Actually, the first year, I did civil service work for the health department, the Oregon Health Department in Portland, and then the second year I was able to get a job teaching in Forest Grove. And I'm sure I was the first non-white to teach in Forest Grove. [Laughs] It was a pretty much white community.

VO: Because it's, for people who don't know, it's a small city west of Portland, little college town.

EO: College town, definitely.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

VO: Well, tell us how you met your husband.

EO: Oh, he had just come from Hawaii and entered Pacific University. So that spring break, he and his friend came up to Seattle just to look around. And his friend was a Methodist, and my husband is Buddhist, so said, "Oh, we're going to go to church tomorrow," because that was Saturday. So they flipped a coin, and guess who won? My husband won, so he came to our temple. But that Saturday evening, they went to check out the church, so he comes walking in. And I'm at the organ practicing for a wedding, I don't know if I was playing the wedding march or what, but he walks in. "Who's this smart guy?" I mean, he's real cocky, Hawaiian. So we just struck up a conversation. So I said, "Well, why don't you come to our service tomorrow?" So he came, and he kept coming. [Laughs] He'd hitchhike up to Seattle to come visit me.

VO: All the way from Oregon, he would hitchhike?

EO: Oh, yeah. From Forest Grove he'd coming hitchhiking. In those days, it wasn't that dangerous to hitchhike.

VO: No, but that still takes...

EO: You don't want to do it now. [Laughs]

VO: Still takes some devotion.

EO: Well, in the summertime he would come up and work in Seattle.

VO: So you met one... what year in college were you then? How old were you when you met?

EO: Probably eighteen or nineteen. I graduated in '52, so what would that make me?

VO: So you married right after you graduated?

EO: No, I was twenty-one already. I was of age, legal.

VO: And what was he studying?

EO: He was studying pre-optometry, but then he switched to education, and so he became a teacher, he switched. And then he got his first job in Sutherlin, Oregon, all white community. [Laughs] Redneck community. Well, anyway, the board chairman there didn't want us, uh-uh. He didn't want any Japanese. But the superintendent had worked in Ontario, Oregon, and so he knew Japanese. He was very sympathetic, kind to us, and he hired us. So we moved to this little town, logging town, near Roseburg, Sutherlin, Oregon, it's right on I-5. So we were there for a number of years.

VO: And both of you were teaching?

EO: Well, I taught off and on, because I had kids. So he taught at the high school, he taught biology and chemistry, and I was, once in a while I would substitute teach, and I think I got a part time job teaching art and home ec. or something, yeah, art and home ec.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

VO: So you started your family, were your first children born in Sutherlin?

EO: Yes, the two oldest were born in Sutherlin. There's a real funny story. My daughter, when she was in nursing school, she met this fellow student from Sutherlin. And she says, "I was born in Sutherlin." And her friend says, "What were your parents doing in Sutherlin?" Because it was just primarily a logging town in those days. So anyway, she was born in Sutherlin.

VO: They were probably the only Japanese ever born in Sutherlin.

EO: No way. [Laughs] In fact, I was in the hospital in Roseburg, because there's no hospital in Sutherlin. And I'm sure our son was the first non-white baby born there, because everybody would come up to see him. [Laughs] "What does this baby look like?" That was really something.

VO: So your first children were born in Sutherlin and then you moved from Sutherlin...

EO: Yeah, the rest were born in Portland.

VO: So your husband got a teaching job?

EO: Yes, we felt like we needed to raise our kids where there were other Japanese. So luckily he was able to get into the Portland School District. So I also taught for Portland for a few years.

VO: And then did you continue teaching after that, after teaching in Portland?

EO: Uh-huh, and then I got a job in David Douglas, which was closer to our home. So I taught off and on between the babies. So when my mother came to live with us, she could take care of the babies, so then I went full time.

VO: How many babies?

EO: There's five kids. Five kids and twelve grandchildren.

VO: And so your oldest is a boy, and where is he?

EO: He's an attorney up in Seattle. My second one is, she just retired as a pediatrics nurse, she lives in Tigard. And the third one lives in East Bay, Fremont.

VO: And your son in Seattle's name? We should say the names of the, of your children.

EO: Well, that's Alan. Alan Osaki. And then my daughter is next, Laura Wahl, W-A-H-L, and the third one is Lynn Hishinuma, she lives in Fremont, and she also was educated as a teacher, but right now she's working for the U.S. court system. Found out it pays better. [Laughs] And then the next one is Jill Standridge, and she's right now living with us, she's going through some marital problems. And then the youngest, Dean Osaki, lives in Pleasanton, which is East Bay, Pleasanton, California. And he... I don't know what you call these, a safety engineer, or safety something, and he works for the insurance company and they go check out accidents and things. And he's had to do some really bad, bad ones. And Jill is, she's the one that -- I just assumed all the kids would go to college because we all did. And so after graduation, she was all signed up to go to University of Oregon, and as we were driving down for her orientation, I realized she didn't really want to go to college, she wanted to go to, what is it, beauty school. So we turned around and came home, and she went to beauty college. And she did that work for many years, then she decided she was going to go to college. [Laughs] So now she has one more year to go at Portland State. I give her a lot of credit. It's not easy when you're older, to go to college. So she went two years to get her associate degree in medical records, and then now she's trying to get her bachelor's. But she's still also a hairdresser. [Laughs]

VO: And you have grandchildren, too?

EO: Oh, yeah, even dozen. They're nice kids. They haven't gotten into trouble yet. [Laughs] The youngest is, the youngest two are still in school. One is an eighth grader, and one is about a fifth grader. The older ones are out of college and they're working. Oldest one into, I think he went into business, he works in San Diego. Next one went into creative writing, it's kind of hard to find a job in creative writing. So I said, "I'm waiting for you to write your first novel." But he works at Powell Books, so he likes books. So they're just doing okay. A couple of them are still in college.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

VO: So in looking back kind of on your life's experiences, how do you think being Japanese really shaped those experiences?

EO: I think it has a lot to do with what I am now, and particularly my religion. Because I come from a minister's family, and so I'm really active. And I just, when I'm around the temple, I just do whatever needs to be done. I tend to organize people so they can do, help me. [Laughs] So we have about ten ladies that do the, all the flower arrangements, 'cause we have lots of flowers on the shrine and around the temple. So I schedule them, I schedule the organists, I think we have about five of them now, I'm not the only organist. And so I do a lot of stuff. I call myself the flunky around the temple, because I grew up in a temple, so I just feel like it's my second home. So I think that has a lot to do with what I am today.

VO: And you've really mentioned teachers all through your life.

EO: Yes, education also is part of my life. In fact, this is almost funny, but my father taught English in Japan.

VO: When he was in Kobe, or earlier?

EO: Yeah, after he graduated, he taught for a while. I just can't imagine, but he did.

VO: Because, did he ever speak English with you?

EO: No, he had quite an accent. But he could write. He wrote very well, he wrote letters to us.

VO: That's right, you said he wrote in English.

EO: Uh-huh, he wrote very well. But no, we always conversed in Japanese. His English was hard to understand when he spoke in English.

VO: Are there other, sort of, most memorable moments in your life?

EO: More recently?

VO: At any point.

EO: At any point, gosh, that's hard to say. I guess, having, it was always exciting when another grandchild came into the world, and I would try to go and help. When my son was working in Washington, D.C., we went over and helped with the baby. So I've traveled because of that. Oh, and then when my son was working, he was working as an, for one of the senators, Washington senators. And so that was a nice experience. He took us through all the buildings, and we got to really see Washington, D.C., and see the metro and go up to the national cemetery, Arlington Cemetery. So that was quite an adventure. And also periodically we would go to Hawaii to see his parents. Of course, now they're gone, so we don't go as often. We go when, unfortunately, we go when one of the siblings passes away. It's sad, but it's getting to that point. We still think of Hawaii as kind of like a second home yet. We always go to visit the family plot, where all his family's graves are.

VO: In Kauai?

EO: In Kapa'a. There's a large, fairly large plot of all the Osakis, because his dad had, there were six of them, and they all stayed on Kauai. So a lot of relatives there. I think my husband's the only one that came over here and never went back. We have a nephew that has a business in Berkeley, but he may go back to Hawaii. So they're almost all, his family is all in Hawaii. His nephew is a graphic artist, and he designed some of the logos for the major football teams. So he's quite well-known. I don't know which team he did, he did the Hawaii emblem.

VO: For the state?

EO: University of Hawaii. You know that H? Are you familiar with it? It's green and white. He designed that. They use it on all the uniforms.

VO: Have your children ever, have they had much interest in your experiences through wartime and internment?

EO: I want to make sure that they know what we went through, so I'm sure they do. Like when my grandkids are around, one time I just got them all together and talked about it, and I showed pictures, so they all know about it. Maybe not all the fine details, but they know more or less what we went through.

VO: And did your parents ever talk after getting back, indicate to you what it was like for them?

EO: They never talked about it, never. Except it seemed like my brother has a lot of the letters that they wrote to each other, and he mentions that many of the letters my mother talks about how lonely she is, for him, her husband, and they're quite emotional letters. He has translated a number of those letters, and given them to us. I think he has a box that need to be translated. But he's the only one that can do it, because... I don't think I can do it.

VO: Oh, so your brother speaks Japanese better?

EO: Well, he was in CIC, Counterintelligence, so he got through the training in Japanese language. And, in fact, he was stationed in Japan, in occupied Japan. And it was kind of touchy for him to go visit the relatives, because they had been defeated. But I guess things went okay, he did visit the relatives when he was in Japan.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

VO: When you're talking to your grandchildren, are there certain lessons that you feel it's important that they understand about the Japanese American...

EO: Well, I want them to be proud of their heritage, and not to be ashamed. A lot of the kids are hapas, but still, you know hapa? Half? They're all good kids.

VO: Do you think that the experience shaped the way you think about being an American?

EO: I kind of think so. I mean, I wouldn't want it to happen to any other group, and I would stand for that. If the government ever tried to persecute any group, any other ethnic group, I would certainly stand up for that, speak against something like that. Our motto is "never again," right? Never again. So we don't want that to happen, and I kind of feel for the Native Americans. They went through a lot of discrimination, persecution. So I kind of feel with them. In fact, my son was, he almost got married to a Native American, but then they decided that he didn't really like rodeos. [Laughs] He wouldn't know which end of the horse to get up on. They're interested in rodeos, in fact, I think she was a rodeo queen at one time. She was a direct descendant of Chief Joseph, real nice gal. They met at the University of Oregon, because she was in charge of the Native American students, and he was in charge of the Asian student club. So they had their office right next door to each other, real nice gal. In fact, she runs the Pendleton museum there, so I had a chance to visit with her. We went on a golf trip over to Pendleton and we had a nice visit. I have real fond memories of her, and her mother, too. You know, the Native Americans are like the Japanese, they give gifts right away. And I hardly knew her mother, but she made a beautiful shawl for me. She gave me a record of Indian chants. They're very giving. Let's see, what else? What else can I talk about? [Laughs]

VO: What's important in life, and sort of overall philosophical questions like that?

EO: Yeah, well, I think, to me, to treat people with kindness is important. No matter how you're treated, you don't have to be friends, but at least respect people, respect others' religion and their ideals, and stand up for some of the strong beliefs that you have, speak out. I hope my kids can do the same.

VO: And have your children remained active Buddhists?

EO: I can't say active, but I think they're all Buddhists. Like my, I know I have a granddaughter down in California, and she was active in the San Jose YBA, and they went to Japan. And so it was a real good experience for her, you know, they visited the Hongwanji Temple, she saw all that, and she got to meet the Gomonshu. This is through the YBA. So she's really involved more in San Jose than in South Alameda where my daughter goes. But I think they're all, they may not be real active in the temple, but they're members.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

VO: And have you gone back to Japan?

EO: Yeah, we just went. We went primarily, I said, this is my last trip to Japan. We had gone several times before. I wanted to say goodbye to my relatives. So went up to my dad's country and I said goodbye to my cousin. My cousin had passed away, the one that was running the temple, but his wife was still there. So we stayed with her and we had a good time, and I said, "This is our last trip," so this is it. And then we went down to my mother's temple, and my cousin is still running the temple there, so we said goodbye to him. And then we went to Kyoto, because there's a big mausoleum, it's called the Otani Mausoleum, my parents' ashes are there. So each temple has a, it goes down underground about, what, five stories underground? And each temple has a little shrine. It's all locked. So we went there and gave our respects and our farewell.

VO: So even though your parents died here in America, their ashes are...

EO: Yeah, it's just a little bit. It's just the size of a little teacup that they store, storage, because it wouldn't hold the big box of ashes. So it's just a little bit of ashes.

VO: And that's because he was a minister, that he's buried there?

EO: Because all the temples, I think, in Japan, have the niche there. But we took most of the ashes back to his home temple, because they had their own cemetery, and they have this big urn, and they just throw all the ashes in there, so they're all mixed, all the ancestors' ashes are mixed. That was new to me. Then we took my mother's ashes to her home temple, because they had their own family. In Japan, the temples had their own cemetery behind the temple. So that's where we took her ashes, 'cause that's where she wanted to go. So I don't know where I'm going. [Laughs] Herb says he wants, my husband says he wants to go back to Kauai, to Hawaii, so that's where he'll go. I don't know where I'll go.

VO: Where do you consider home?

EO: Home? Yeah, I consider Portland my home. So I'll probably go to Rose City. But they're missing, their plot is all filled up, so I'd have to be inside somewhere. Isn't that right? They say that it's all filled up now. So I'll have to go in the building, buy a space in the building. Well, see, the ashes here are supposedly temporary. This is not a permanent repository, the one next door.

VO: Here at the temple in Portland?

EO: Yeah, uh-huh. We have a room, the room right next door? Oh, you'll have to see it. But people have left their ashes there forever, but according to the state law, it's not a permanent repository, it's temporary until they find someplace else.

VO: And that's... traditionally people have gone back, usually are taken back to their family plot or their family temple?

EO: Yeah, usually it's here temporarily, and then they're supposed to take it somewhere more permanent. But some families just, either they forget or they don't want to, they want to just leave it here. That's true with Seattle temple also, they have a fairly large room of ashes. And some of them are very old, so you know that they will never be moved. But anyway...

VO: I'll ask, do you have any questions?

Off camera: Well, sorry to interject for a second there, I couldn't help myself, but there is a row and a half left at Rose City.

EO: There is? [Laughs]

Off camera: So there's, things are in the works.

EO: I know one of my close friends, she opted to leave the ashes inside at that building. So that's nice, too.

Off camera: And this has been a wonderful interview. I'm just wondering, I know that at Crystal City, and taking care of the kids in Minidoka for your mother, that was quite a strain for her.

EO: Yes. She almost had a, she didn't have a nervous breakdown, but she almost had a nervous breakdown in Crystal City.

VO: Can you describe --

EO: Because I got up one night and she was hallucinating. She lost her dad at an early age, she was talking about her dad in her dream or something. And I think she just hung on until we got to Crystal City. She was not a real strong person, physically. And so I think she just hung on, and I know one night I got up and she was hallucinating, poor thing. Luckily my dad was right there with her. But we had, you know, we had good friends that helped her in Minidoka, especially when she was sick, they did come over and help. So it was community, people helping each other. You don't get that anymore, huh?

VO: Well, it sounds like you had that so much growing up within the temple.

EO: Yeah. You know, like we live on a dead end street, so one of... I don't know who started it, but we plotted every house through this street with their address and phone number. And so I just did that again recently to update it, and it's good. I got to meet all the families right in our neighborhood, and we're not real close or anything, but at least I know of them. We have their phone just in case. So I think it's really important. I don't think we do enough of that anymore in this day and age.

VO: You'd actually mentioned, going back to tagging along with your father when he would go do services in other communities, that you often accompanied him.

EO: I was a tagalong. I don't know why he took me. [Laughs]

VO: But you said that others said he really missed you.

EO: That's right. After I got married, I didn't give it much thought. And then much later, one of the church members said, "You know, when you got married and went away, your dad was so lonely. He missed you." I said, "What?" There were still six kids left in the house. How could he miss me? But he did. That was a real eye-opener. No matter how many kids you have, right? Each one is special. Yes, he was a very gentle man.

VO: And he was able to put up with you being a rebel?

EO: Yes, he put up with me. I can never remember him disciplining me, it was always my mother. [Laughs] Yes, my mother was, she went through a lot.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

Off camera: Actually, just for the record since the camera is rolling, you mentioned that you'd actually gone to Camp Livingston?

EO: Yes, I went, and it's not where the map shows. It's in the northern part of Louisiana, we found out. They have it wrong. Tetsu Kashima, he has it wrong, 'cause in his book, he has it at the tip, going towards the toe, and that's wrong. Because we went there, and it wasn't there. [Laughs]

VO: So you've visited a number of the camp sites.

EO: Just the two, Missoula, Fort Missoula, and Camp Livingston. I've never gone... Crystal City has reunions. In fact, down in California, they meet every year, they're very close-knit. I went to one, couple of reunions. I haven't gone to the Minidoka reunion at all. Have you been to the pilgrimage?

VO: Uh-huh, twice.

EO: I haven't been there. I would like to go sometime, just to see it. Yeah, when I went to camp Livingston, the fellow that was in charge of the museum there didn't know anything about it. It was really strange. So when I told him, he started digging into his files and he found information. And so this other soldier took us to the remains of Camp Livingston, we just saw the foundation. There's no camp there anymore. It was good to go. We were in New Orleans, and I said, "I want to go try to find Camp Livingston." People gave us all these misdirections. "Oh yeah, there was a camp here." So we'd go over there, no. Oh, it was over there? We went all over, we finally went to the State Library, they had a file, and they told us where to go. Because there's a county or a town called Camp Livingston, or Livingston, and it's not anywhere near where the camp was. So I think people got the wrong idea, and when they draw the map, they put it to where Livingston is right now, and it isn't there.

Off camera: You've mentioned that the guestbook, the actually furniture that the guestbook is sitting on was made by a camp inmate?

EO: Right, it was like a podium, beautifully made. And when I looked down below it, there was a Japanese Suematsu name on it, so it had been built by an internee, and they didn't know anything about it. So then I did some background check, and that family had gone back to Japan, so I don't know what happened to them. It was beautifully made, he must have been quite a craftsman. And that's where they had the guestbook. I saw it, the minute I walked in, I saw this beautiful podium with a guestbook, and looked down, and hey, that's a Japanese name. There's a story about Camp Livingston. The reason the Japanese had to move was because they brought in more POWs. And they had the... but the POWs got along, and there's a story about the Japanese and the Italians would have baseball games against each other. It was really something. It just goes to show that people can get along. Why is it that we have to have wars, right? On an individual basis, people get along fine. We got along fine with the Germans, except when we played basketball. The German girls were so tall, six feet. And I was trying to guard this German gal, she slammed the basketball right on my fingers, I still have a sprain here. Never got well. Sprained my finger. They were real tall and athletic compared to the Japanese girls. But we got along fine.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

VO: Did you have other social, you had the basketball games.

EO: We had softball, basketball, volleyball, we did a lot of sports, and they were all organized.

VO: Were there dances or other social...

EO: Oh, yeah, dances by the block. We lived in the Q section, and we'd have a dance just for the Q section.

VO: So the dances would tend to be just Japanese, or would have the Germans?

EO: It was all Japanese. And then like when we had, we would ask our teacher, I don't know which teacher it was, she would go and buy refreshments for us. She'd go out of camp and buy refreshments and bring it back for us. So the teachers were all very nice to us. But sometimes I understand that they had a bad time when they went back home because they were called "Jap lovers," since they came to teach us. So I had heard about that also. So they weren't too popular outside of camp. But as a whole, they were very nice to us. So that was the only connection with Caucasians, just the administrators and teachers. Otherwise, it was all Japanese, except for the Germans. This one German girl, she was so smart. Hey, Germans are smart. No, this one girl was really smart. Rosemary Hohenreiner. I wonder what happened to her. There was a kid named Johannes (Gouth) or something, in our class, and my girlfriend had a crush on him. [Laughs] So she had us go over to his house to visit him, so I'd tag along. But his mother was real nice, she gave us these German cookies and taught us how to make German spritz. She was the one that... so I learned how to make spritz.

VO: In Japanese family camp in Crystal City, Texas.

EO: Yeah, German. We all got along fine. There's a book about schools behind barbed wire, and it talks about all the problems the Germans had. They had more problems than the Japanese.

VO: Why is that?

EO: Something about their German school, they had all kinds of problems. They didn't get along with each other. The Japanese, I don't think they had that many problems.


EO: Well, I can remember in Minidoka, one of my older, it was an older girlfriend, I remember she passed away, and that was real sad. I attended her funeral and probably played for the funeral, too. Because I used to play for the services. One time I was so embarrassed, because the minister said, "Okay, we're going to sing such and such a song." I looked at him and says, "Yeah, but I don't know how to play it." [Laughs] That was embarrassing. But no, as a whole, I have pretty good memories. We were so young that we didn't realize the seriousness of the whole thing. I think people that were older than us, if we had to stop their college education, and those that went into the military, they had a different, I think they had different feelings compared to the kids. Kids just, kids are kids. We just managed to do our own thing, have fun.

I had a kid brother that was always into problems, mischief. He's the nicest kid in the family now. [Laughs] He was so naughty, my mother used to cry. And when we were in Crystal City, he must have been about five, six. Anyway, there was an ice truck that would come around, because we didn't have refrigerators, we had these ice boxes. And they would deliver the ice. And so when they, everybody knew my kid brother, they called him Sluggo, you know the Nancy cartoon, Sluggo? He looked like that. They said, "Hey, Sluggo." And so he'd come running out and they'd put him on the truck and take him for a ride. Oh, he was such a character. He'd go next door to the neighbors' and open the refrigerator, stick his finger in and says, "What's this?" But he turned out to be the nicest kid, he turned out to be a college professor. You never know, huh? Everyone said he's going to be the minister, because he was so naughty. His name is Akira. They live up in Lethbridge, Canada. And he's retired now, but he taught at the university up there. My mother used to say, she used to say, "Junsao yobu." "I'm going to call the police." [Laughs] "Junsao yobu." She didn't know what to do with him, he was so naughty. We tease him all the time about those days. Yeah, lots of memories.

VO: That's great. Well, thank you.

EO: Yeah, thank you for doing this.

VO: Thank you so much.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.