Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yuri Kochiyama Interview
Narrator: Yuri Kochiyama
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Oakland, California
Date: July 21, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-kyuri-01-0004

YK: And then I went on to my Sunday school class. The kids I had were about thirteen, fourteen years or so. They happened to be all white, because our area was white. And suddenly, for the first time, I felt something different. And I felt, too, that my own Sunday school class looked at me differently. All the time before, I think they just saw me as a Sunday school teacher, nothing about my background being Japanese. But that morning, they did look at me. They probably knew that Pearl Harbor was being bombed. And, well, the Sunday school kids plus myself, we felt sort of funny. We never felt this way before. But even the kids said, "Oh, let's make this short today," and I said, "Yeah, that's a good idea." And then always I used to have all the kids, seven or eight of the kids jump in the car and I'd take each one home. But they knew Pearl Harbor was happening, and I heard from that friend of mine.

So as soon as I took them home, three tall white men were at my door, and my father had just come home from the hospital the day before. And when I opened the door to the white men who were knocking on the door, they asked if a Mr. Nakahara lived there. I said, "Oh, yeah, but he just came home from the hospital, and he's sleeping in the back." Well, these three guys walked in -- I didn't know what they were 'til later, but it was the FBI identification. And they didn't say anything, they just went in the house, went into the back, woke up my father and said, "Put on your bathrobe and slippers," I guess. And they took him away just like that. And so I called my mother, I was the only one home then, and she was just down the street at my aunt's. And I said, "Mom, come home quick. Some guys, some white men came and they took Pop somewhere, I don't know where, and they didn't tell me anything." And so she came home. And I think probably this was happening to a lot of other Japanese, and so we were calling each other up saying, "Did anyone come to your house yet?" Some of the people said yes, some said no, but they said they all had heard over the radio that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. So we said, "Oh my god, I'll bet we're all going to be in trouble, 'cause we're Japanese, and people won't think of us as being American even if we are."

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.