SUGIHARA, MASATOSHI
I am a sixty-nine-year-old Nisei. My name is Masatoshi “Mas” Sugihara. My mother and father were from Buddhist families. Although they knew nothing of Christianity when I was born, after their arrival in the U.S. from Japan I was raised as a Christian, attending Christian preschool, kindergarten, and Sunday school.

In 1935, through the witness of Mr. Kuwahara and Mrs. Fujiwara of the Holiness church, my mother was converted to Christianity; she then became a member of the Los Angeles Holiness Church. During the 1937 annual Holiness Young People’s Convention I met the Lord for the first time and accepted Him as my Savior. Our Nisei church was very small in numbers, but was very strong in spirit and faith. At that time, Akira Kuroda was our leader; he had just arrived in Los Angeles from Hawaii to attend a theological seminary. Some of the names that come to my mind from those years are the Kato sisters, the Fujisawa sisters and brothers, the Okada brothers, the Sugihara cousins, the Shigekunis, the Momiis, the Kuwaharas, the Madokoros, the Iwanabes, the Miyamotos, and many others—I’ll never forget the Kuzuhara family.

Then came the war and the mass evacuation from the West Coast in 1942. These events broke up our church, with members being sent to different camps. We were sent to the Granada Relocation Center (so-called “Amache”), in Colorado. Life was difficult in the camp; our living quarters were very small, we had only a community bath, and ate in a mess hall—but somehow we survived it all. We all had some kind of a job to perform, such as working in the mess hall, in maintenance, or in the administration department. Recreational sports were available for the young people, and the Issei had their handicrafts, English classes, and their shogi (Japanese chess) tournaments. We also had religious services. Sunday school and morning worship were held every Sunday. Buddhist members also had their worship services. We were fortunate to have Rev. Kuroda and Rev. Kuzuhara as our pastors, with ministers from other denominations also.

Looking back, life in the camp seems just a blur. Some boys were sent into the armed services, and others eventually relocated to eastern cities throughout the United States. I was drafted into the army in 1945 and my folks, along with my younger brother, were relocated to Omaha, Nebraska. In 1947, my family returned to Los Angeles and resumed their former life, once again joining the Holiness Church family.

Year of Birth: 1922
Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California
Major Occupation: Nursery Attendant
Relocation Camp: Amache, Colorado
Date of Interview: Submitted by letter in May, 1991

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