At the age of 8, soon to be 9, I am sorry to say that I was a little excited to be going on a train and to be wearing slacks for the first time in my life, even though it meant leaving our farm and the happy life that I once knew.

After the war broke out, I had heard Mom and Dad whispering to Ruth and Paul late at night, when they thought we younger ones were asleep. They were telling them that since they were not U.S. citizens but all of the children were, that there was a possibility that Mom and Dad would be sent to Japan and that the rest of us would remain in the U.S. and we would have to fend for ourselves. They were telling Ruth and Paul that they would be responsible for us, Claude, Jr., Flora and I.

I just could not bear to even think of being separated from Mom and Dad. So when we finally learned that we all as a family were going to be placed in a camp, what relief I felt. I didn't care where we were going, as long as we were all going together. So I think you can understand my kind of "excitement" of a new "adventure" because we were still a family unit.

So, on May 13, 1942 we were sent to Pinedale Assembly Center near Fresno, even though the camp was not completed. It was nice to see so many Japanese and to be living so close to our friends. Our stay there was only for a few months, then we were sent to Tule Lake, which is on the border of California and Oregon.

There again, we saw friends of ours from Hood River in the same block or in blocks close by. We attended school but I remember playing with our friends. We learned new games like gentori (sp.) and Here I Come, Where From?

Dad and some of the other fathers built a large Maypole on one end of the block. We would play on that Maypole for hours and late into the night. It would be exciting and scary, when one person would place his rope over two or three others, and everyone would run in the same direction and the one person would be flung out, high and wide. You had to hang on for dear life if you were the person being propelled into the air or you could get injured. There were a few skinned knees and elbows, but no broken bones.

We were later sent to Minidoka. Some happy memories there.

Dad taught me how to ride a bicycle there.

Diana was born.

Learned how to make kakimochi with the Issei ladies at the messhall and practiced it at home in the barrack on a hotplate. Tasted pretty good and I wish I still had that recipe.

Rollerskated in the laundry room and drove Mrs. Ota (Buster's mother), who would be doing her laundry, crazy. She would get a broom and chase Margaret and I out.

Took the bus ride into Twin Falls for a day trip to visit Dad who was working there.

Finally, the day I left Minidoka with Mom, Grandpa and Diana. Dad, Claude, Jr., and Flora were out of camp and working for the Niis in Eastern Oregon. It was getting pretty sad in camp because my friends were leaving and I was being left behind. We left in Oct. of 1945 for Chicago. We departed from Shoshone Falls, Idaho and met Dad and had lunch with him, before we boarded the train.

Freedom, at last.


Probably, the only sad memories of camp that I can recall are saying goodbye to friends and relatives as they left camp. I recall going to the train stop at Tule Lake to see Frank Hachiya leave after his visit with Mr. Hachiya. That was the last time we saw Frank and I do recall when Mr. Hachiya received the news that he was killed in action in Minidoka. I remember seeing and hearing of memorial services being held in the mess halls for the Nisei soldiers. It was, especially, sad to see the Issei mothers crying for their sons.

I remember crying when Flora left camp with Dad, Claude, and Jr. I would cry myself to sleep at night and Mom would say to me, "When you are together, all you do is fight and now that Flora has left, all you do is cry." Didn't get much sympathy there, but she was speaking the truth.

When Mom was expecting Diana in Minidoka, she had to enter the hospital a few weeks before delivery date. I went with Dad to visit Mom. When the doctor came,

I was told to wait in the hallway. I overheard the doctor telling Dad that since the baby was sideways there was a possibility of either losing the baby or Mom or both in the delivery. That was a very frightening, uncertain time for all of us. Fortunately, the Lord was with Mom and Diana and both survived. So that became a happy memory.

Dec. 10, 2000:

I remember dancing during the obon in Tulelake and we had Japanese kimonos on, too. I think, Ruth took us. Remember, Flora?

We also danced to "Ko jio no tsuki" in Minidoka. A group of us. Can't> remember who our teacher was and we performed it in the mess hall.

Flora, you were in the group, too, I think.

From Flora Hidaka, Dec. 12, 2000

Yes, I remember. Like you asked before, where did we get the dresses?I don't remember the teacher either. Wasn't Yuki or her mother?

From Betty Shibayama, Dec. 10, 2000

The best dancing in the world is during the obon. I will never forget that feeling of oneness. Being part of a huge community and moving together with happiness and synchronicity. The feeling of self-consciousness that plagued most of my life disappeared in the enjoyment of dance.

I recall Nellie from Tule and that she was really nice to even us young kids.

Yambo had pictures in his album of her, Ruth and Chieko Hiuga, in the early days in Chicago area.

Paul wouldn't admit to learning to dance odori from her. He said that it was ballroom dancing and when Nellie told me odori, too, I questioned him about it and he walked away.

It's okay, Paul, alot of guys get in on the Obon dancing.

That Nellie Aramaki is a real, fun character. I had a short talk with her, but she said she got a bunch of people together in Block 67 (Tule)to do dances and skits. She said that a bunch of Block 67 dancers got to be so well-liked that other blocks requested them to come and to their entertainment. She said Paul and his buddies participated. When I asked her about her Japanese dance background, she said that she did not have any.

"Who taught you guys to do it?"

"I just made it up."

Now, that is what I like. Spontaneity, fun, originality. I really like her.

From Ruth Hidaka, Dec. 13, 2000

Paul went dancing with Nellie's brothers, Chuck and Akira, and he was very popular, right Paul? And the baton twirler and her brothers...isn't that terrible...I know their names but it won't register right now!! Sus knew them at Fort Snelling too..Ruth

From Claude Morita, Dec. 14, 2000

Most of Misora Hibari's songs. Anytime you see ladies in kimonos and singing sort of plaintively, it's enka. Watch the kohaku show on New Year's eve. A lot of it is junk, but the gals in kimono are the tip-off. Also Kobayashi Sachiko. She sings well if you can find her in the monstrous get-ups that designers probably pay her to wear and fly in.

I can't think of guys names, but they're there. Shiba can fill in. I'm in my English-American mode in thinking so I have to sit and think a bit and I can't afford to do it on e-mail.

From Betty Shibayama, Dec. 14, 2000

You forgot to mention Shiba loves enka, too. In fact, he used to sing it.

When Yoshito Tsunoda, Sayo's husband, (Dr. Michioka's son in law) used to visit at least, once or twice a year, we would go to a karaoke bar. Sometimes

Harry and Terrie would go too. Yoshito loved to sing and would get Shiba to sing, too. They really enjoyed themselves.

Hosokawa Takashi, Itsuki Hiroshi, Mori Shinichi. Flora, you know the kind of singing Shiba likes. Ishikawa Sayuri is the one that Shiba and Yoshito both liked.

We were reminiscing, Shiba and I, and we went to see alot of the Japanese singers when they performed in this area. Those were the days when, Harry, Fusa and Mac were alive, in the 80's.

Kohaku Uta ga sen is not as enjoyable now as it was in the 80's and early 90's. they have all these young singers singing untypical Japanese songs and wear weird clothes and colored hair, etc. Shiba tapes it and we skipped over the early part of the show and see the end when all the older singers come out.

The Camps: Tule Lake, Minidoka

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