Utaye Shimasaki

“So the trip takes three days by train, right? So everyone they made porridge and they packed up onto the train. We didn’t know what would happen, but we just said ‘Yeah, it’s war. It can’t be helped!” and we went. But I definitely think the government wasn’t well prepared. Especially when we entered Hastings Park. My goodness! I think we were the third group in. First it was the west coast villages, then Nanaimo, then us. But when we stopped they kept us in the train the whole day. They wouldn’t let us off. On top of that we didn’t have any water or anything, so the women who brought babies were really in a lot of trouble…. So then when we got to Hastings Park, a bus came with some Mounties, and some of them were holding whips, like for training a lion. They must have thought someone was going to run or something, I guess. So we got on that bus and it took us into the park. At the front we registered. I only had brought my one child, but a lady who brought three, really small children, she was crying! So we had to get blankets, taking the kids with us and make a bed, but it was in this place where they had always kept animals…. Also, only the boys under 13 were allowed to stay with the women. So those women who had brought really small children, they were really in trouble…. Yeah, they had to go to the place to get blankets taking all those little children with them and get 3 or 4 blankets so it must have been really hard for them. But there was one thing that was kind of funny though. You see my child came to the bathroom with me so we were ok, but when the other children would go to the bathroom, they would get back and forget where their bunk was! The place was really big and all the rows looked exactly the same, so eventually they came and put letters on the bunks. So now we can laugh about that, I guess. I guess there about 3000 of us in there. It was a really big building, but yeah it smelled. And at night! There always so much noise! It would never quiet down… Really Hastings Park was just terrible at the start. By and by they got their act together and the place became livable. For instance, at first the toilet was just one long trough with water running at one end. So one person would use it at a time and there were terrible lines. So we complained and eventually they built stalls, but it was things like that that made me think the government couldn’t do anything right.”

Interview in Japanese – Nikkei National Museum 1994.80.63

Translated by Morgan Elander