TOMITA, SHIZUKO
I was sent directly to Manzanar from my home. My in-laws, though, were sent to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. They kept sending letters urging me to come to Wyoming, for they eagerly wanted to see their grandchildren and my mother wanted me nearby due to her illness. I, however, remained in Manzanar where I could be with our Holiness church friends; also, my husband did not want to subject our children to the cold weather of Wyoming. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law were not in Wyoming, but in Chicago at that time. As my parents continued to send letters, my husband decided to visit and encourage them himself. In order to see them, he went to Idaho where he got a job, and from there he could often visit them in the Heart Mountain Relocation Center. After my mother-in-law passed away in Wyoming, my father-in-law came to live with us in Manzanar. My husband later regretted that he had not brought them to Manzanar earlier, as the weather was warmer and more comfortable than that of Wyoming.

At first, the Los Angeles Holiness Church decided to relocate itself as a single group. Dr. Wakamatsu and two other young men subsequently started reconnoitering sites in Cedar City, Utah. However, we were unable relocate there as a group due to the short period of free evacuation. As a result, most were soon sent to assembly centers. We, however, did not go to an assembly center, but were sent directly to the Manzanar Relocation Center instead in February 1942. We were one of the first families to arrive there. My husband later earned his American citizenship after the war, and was the first Japanese in his group to do so.

In Manzanar, a federated Christian church was organized, as was the case with the other relocation camps. The Japanese-speaking minister was Rev. Masahiro Omi, from the Free Methodist church; no minister was sent from the Holiness church. However, the Holiness minister, Rev. Junro Kashitani, visited us several times and encouraged our group. The English and Japanese-speaking services were held interchangeably. Our Holiness church group also held its own services every once in a while. Neither evangelical activities nor oneness in the Spirit was lacking among the Christians in the camp.

However, as far as I know, no one was baptized as a result of the Federated Christian Church activities. Although Mr. Kato, a leader of our group, was very active, the fruit of these activities was not recognizable. The main reason for the lack of conversion in the camp, I believe, was that most non-Christians saw us as strange people and different from them. We were in Manzanar for two-and-one-half years. I enjoyed the clear waters from the Sierra and the beautiful skies at night. At present, I do not remember anything painful about my camp experience during the war. Most of all, we were happy to be safe in the camp with our six children. If we had been outside the camp, we would have been unable to survive the war. For example, one of my friends had their house burned down.

From Manzanar, we returned directly to the Los Angeles Holiness Church by bus, where Rev. Yahiro was waiting for us. Even after the war, we were still afraid of living outside the camp. However, some of our American friends were very kind; one night a gas station owner brought us a forty-dollar gift. He could not bring the money for us during the daytime, for fear that others would see. Mr. and Mrs. Heisdorf (two of the founders of both the San Fernando and the San Gabriel Holiness Churches) were afraid to have Japanese visitors in their home. But, we were never actually harmed by others after the war.

Year of Birth: 1907
Place of Birth: Tottori-Ken, Japan
Major Occupation: Housewife
Relocation Camp: Manzanar, California
Date of Interview: June SO, 1989

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