Grant Kayahara screenshot

Video interview with Grant Kayahara

In this interview, Grant Kayahara talks about his mother’s experience with camp.

Conducted at the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington.

My mom’s story, about this whole thing, about going to the relocation camp is kinda sad, because, she was born in Havre Montana, or Helena Montana, and then soon after she was born she was sent back to Japan.

She was living in Japan, and when she came over, she came over because her father was supposed to send money back to the family in Japan, and he stopped sending it, so she came over to figure out what happened, you know, what was going on. And when she got over here she found out that he was gambling with it and he had a girlfriend. Yeah, so it broke my mom’s heart.

When she got here, then right after they went into war and she got sent to the relocation camp. And then, during the time when she was in camp my grandfather died, her father. And so my father was an inland Japanese and was no threat cause he was working on a farm. So they kinda met on the other side of, you know, between the fence, and they got married and his family helped my mom send the body back to Japan to get closure to it, to his stuff. And then pretty much she was stuck here, but she was trying to get out of camp to take care of my grandfather and get the body back to Japan. And I think maybe, well I recall that she married my father, and she was able to get out of camp. Maybe this was a gift.

I don’t know, well like I said I just came across it when we were moving things, we were cleaning out. It was, it was kinda sad, cause this thing was actually sitting in my dad’s workshop, and he had some tools in the drawers, you know.

And I said “What are you guys keeping this for?”

And my mom says, “Oh, that came back with me when I was in camp.”

And I said, “Oh, then why don’t we have this go inside the house,” that kind of thing.

And then after that, you know, so at that point I felt that it was more of a treasure to the family you know. And then after that I put it in my work shop and then kinda took care of it a little bit, wrapped it up a little bit. But prior to that, throughout the next 30 or 40 years after the camp, probably it was just collecting dust cause it didn’t mean much to them because they didn’t know. It just never got thrown away so that’s how it ended up in my possession.