Lily Horio and Shari Tamashiro

Recorded June 4, 2011 Archived June 4, 2011 43:22 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY007942


Lily Horio (81) talks with her friend Shari Tamashiro (38) about her family and growing up in Hawaii during WWII.

Subject Log / Time Code

L remembers not feeling afraid because her parents didn’t panic. Shohei Miyasato, Fumiko Kuchiki. L’s older brother in Japan studying at a temple at beginning of WWII.
Ji Koan Hongwanji. Reverend Yamasato. L’s family moved to temple because the Reverend had no family.
L remembers her relative helping her find her mother’s birthplace and meeting a woman who knew L’s parents.
L remembers her dad coming home and not knowing what he’d done.
Jimmy Miyasoto - L’s brother, used to be 3rd from the bottom in his class and comforting his mother about the other other 2 mothers. L sees her dad in Jimmy as an intermediary.


  • Lily Horio
  • Shari Tamashiro

Recording Location

MobileBooth West

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type



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00:02 My name is Sherry tamashiro. I am 38 years old today is June 4th. 2011 a we are in Honolulu Hawaii. I'm here with Lily. Horio, who is somebody in the commune the Okinawan Community who I admire and respect a lot. My name is Lily Who real I'm 81 years old. Today is June 4th 2011 and that we're at here in Honolulu, Hawaii and I'm here with Sarah tamashiro of very nice good friend of mine.

00:36 So Lily I wanted to to ask you about December 7th, 1941 let you know when Pearl Harbor was attacked. You were 11 years old and I was wondering, you know, I wanted to hear about your experiences from that time. Well being that age, you know, we were very naive about what's going on around the world and it was early Sunday morning and my father kept hearing airplanes above and me wondering what what was going on then before we knew it, you know, it was declared that we are not to get out of our house blackout in the military was taking over and everything happened so fast that I really can't even remember each detail except that we were always come finding a homes after 8.

01:32 With the darkened windows and no lights on a flashlight and well costs at that time. There was no TV. This was in what you want. So we only had the radio to entertain us and that's about all I remember that first. Did you end up going to bed at around 8 then around if no, we played cards and not realizing how serious you know, the situation was but you know, it's kind of exciting where we played cards and them just entertained ourselves. Do you remember what changed after the attack for for you as a Japanese meaning of jest Japanese ancestry? Well, we started to realize that people were frantically families were frantically burning books everything pictures, whatever that was.

02:32 Get to Japan except my father was we were the only family that didn't do that. Then I wondered why my father wasn't even in a panicky and that he never burned anything around the house and then but I did notice that when we did go out felt this cold attitude toward us and then of course in school we were given now

03:02 Gas masks and we were told certain things had to be done and that we were restricted and so forth. So and if that during that time, I remember one of the teachers that said that if you Japanese children don't behave we're going to send you back to Japan and I didn't understand what was that about you know, but this is wonderful thing about children of child as I look bad that we didn't put too much emphasis on the negatives and it was kind of exciting to have bomb shelters in your home and getting prepared for all of this and everyone had to be identified with ID cards tomorrow gas masks.

03:51 At all times cool schools always closed on Fridays. We were required to work in the fields and I was in seventh grade 6th grade. Then when I entered 7 Intermediate School is when we started working in the fields for intermediate and I noticed that the older students are worked in the cane fields. Which what did you have to do in the pineapple field? We'd get the weed eater and weed around those plants are yellow. It was really painful having a while. We were required to wear long sleeves and gloves, but it's still penetrated through the cloth and down. It really wasn't fun except.

04:42 Teacher teacher escorted us was always with us, but teacher said it really nice. Where did you use? Why you guys working right field right? They came and I remember hearing a stool. I hope this isn't the same teacher who threatened because by then we were in the Alamo intermediate school, but teachers were also referred. How long was your day that you had to work in the field while we had to be at school? I think it was about 6, and then it ended about 3, and I thought we were loaded on trucks and brought back to school and the

05:29 It's it's Friday of the month is a long day. Only clearance was some medical only those who had the doctor's appointment. Could they back and they worked in the library? And we well they did pay us $0.10 an hour a nice for us not spend your money on. Well, I had to give it to my parents. So to help me out help out. That's nice and what even those days my father was the one who got up and made the lunch for us cuz my mother was not well, you know health-wise so he was the one who first said that's why it's such a comfort food for us, but that's what we had for lunch.

06:24 Rice balls taste is so good in the fields. And then they only drink was the water the water truck would come by every now and then but we didn't have any drinks like children today going on field have to have drinks but it is just basic basic solid food in all of this time. Where you ever afraid?

06:56 When you heard about what was going on on the mainland, or I don't know why but I don't know whether it was because it was my age but I didn't have a really panicking feelings and it could be because of my parents. The atmosphere is at home, you know, they never said anything to scare us. So it sounded like your father was very yeah. Yeah. I'm very very calm and I know I heard from my friends that their parents were just burning everything and so and I couldn't understand that so he could have been because of the way my parents handle the situation. What were your parents name of Jesus shohei miyasato, and my mother is from Eco her maiden name is Gucci gang, but it could also be done and my oldest brother.

07:47 I was in Japan at that time it was he doing in Japan on my parents left him at a temple in Kyushu for further education. And I think that was the purpose in sending each one of us eventually for education. And so that could have been the reason why they're their focuses mainly on Unser know what's going on and what's happening to my brother. And so the immediate situation at home was not the primary concern at that time, but you're saying you had no idea what had happened to your brother. There was no communication no communication. Absolutely. Not then what's the okay?

08:32 Later, we found out you know, and then he came back on the first ship that arrived know you had mentioned most Japanese had dual citizenships the second generation on but your family was different right? I don't know why but my parents just dropped the Japanese portion. And so we were only we only had one citizenship and because of that my brother was saved from being drafted in the Japanese Army. However, he said then they really suffered because they were Americans were Japanese-Americans. So all the Americans, so we're not Japanese of Japanese citizenship. They were together around together in one area and I can't remember details, but I know they suffer too.

09:23 I'm lack of food and so far so I can imagine that length of time not knowing that he was okay having no communication is so different today, right? Absolutely no communication, but going to your father you guys your family was a member of the jiko and hung IG we lived in the temple grounds on the basement of the temple because ribbon yamasato the ministry in charge of a single and he needed he didn't have a wife usually in Japanese Buddhist temples have a lot to do with the helping around and so he asked my father if we could move in and I'm also my mother was like a surrogate

10:13 Minister wife doing all the little Joseph flowers and cleaning and so on and their first he was like a part of our family and I remember he was not entered our taken away immediately like the other other people. So I remember he also, you know later we all were all huddled together in the living room playing cards in them. So but the Reverend was even later that well, I don't remember my mother was terrified because out of the Clear Blue Sky one day they came and said that he needs to leave and he he wanted to go to the bathroom and my mother thought that he really wanted to have a slash but she described it as sister was so terrible day even followed him to the bathroom. That didn't trust him. This was a Navy the FBI or yes.

11:13 FBI and then they also took a lot of our furniture and our that's on me because in those days song the temple Buddhist temples congregation sat on the floor on tatami floors and they came and picked up all the time. I don't know why but maybe you're hiding something there. I don't know or it was something useful that they could use for exercise training and how so when I was researching this part of the of that you're going somewhere what two. A lady who ran the dormitory there is a dormitory next to the temple and when I interviewed her she said that they also took a lot of the furniture in the Doubletree that I didn't know what she

12:07 So and then another lady touches your sister. In fact was a regular member said that she was often question. I should get out of the temple because we were open during the World War. We were the only Temple having service and she said they were FBI men waiting outside asking her. What was she doing there? What did they do when she said she was questioned and well so that the temple was closed and your father actually had it reopened right right and not even being able to speak English and I don't know how they did it. But through the efforts of the former judge judge, John Morimoto, who was the liaison appointed liaison person between the Japanese community and the military. He helped my father and the who I don't know.

13:07 Who was on the committee by the circulating a petition and we were able to keep the temple open? Because his argument was that religion, you know had nothing to do with patriotism you so what's wrong with us and so it was really unusual at that time because he hadn't had his citizenship. Yes, but he really was working toward that and I think you knew the education level. Did your dad get up to see went to school in Japan in Okinawa according to my mom when he was only up to Thirty fourth grade, but he was a self in his just studied on his own read a lot. And so this petition went to Jenna lemons and he said it was okay for me the number to open. Yeah, and what did your family do then? It was really nice that my father was really pleased when he

14:07 Came back, cuz I guess there was a lot of fear in facing someone of that caliber and Military and he said but General Ms. Was very very nice. She said very gentle very nice person. And so they were relieved and so the temple was open for families that wanted to observe Memorial services. So I don't know who gave him the authority probably the military to be a lay Minister and Chan and Foreign Service for families and wanted and so it and then also most of The Minister's Japanese ministers was gone. So the only one around was Reverend Ernest hunt a Caucasian Buddhist Minister, and I don't know where he found out when was Cupid and

15:07 On Sunday morning. He just came out and just started holding service twice a week twice a month. I heard that there was another on one of the other Islands, but I'm not sure that amazing thing that your dad did the right. Yeah. It really well as a child. You don't realize these things until later then you find out how did they do that? You know, so that's a child where you frightened seeing people taken away or hearing about people being taken away. Yes, and no, I don't know why but I can't remember too much fear because Reverend Yamazato was not taken away while I was I think it was during the time when I was in school, then when I come home and he's not there and a lot of my friends.

16:07 Fathers who had businesses or were teachers and Language School were also taken away anyone who had anything any connection to Japanese show business or a newspaper editors and religion. Yeah, I need was pretty much comment among the

16:28 Friends that their parents are not there so you wasn't and so they must be important enough to be taken away, but I don't know children's mind work differently. We know how to deal with such events and not not really.

16:57 Ponderosa think about it. So anyway, it was fortunate that I was that age if I were in high school, I may have had a different dad is out here. So your father was involved in relief efforts. Yes for okay now on after the war ended ribbon Yamazato returned and then he found from epidural Higa the situation in Okinawa as so when he heard how terrible it was the immediately or Jake Lamb became the center of relief efforts. I thought he was Tara Higa hotel room, but I need to take that is your right one of our dogs in something like that letter that was published in the newspaper. I see but it was there to make sure he was letting them know to call Rev. It was really really terrible.

17:51 So we still do to this day see remnants of that event right after the war of people in Okinawa are so appreciative. So I just got back from Okinawa from my first visit. I'm embarrassed to say but when they hear that you're from Hawaii, you know, some of their remember how they were saved and so dumb that time and it would be extraction. Nice. What about when they found out you were the daughter of shohei? I thought though I actually wanted to go to Okinawa because my brother my oldest brother was the one who was our link to a relative's whiskey went there often enough so that the rest of us just sat back and enjoyed stories, but when he passed away, I became the only one left off shreyas of five children.

18:49 And so I felt that I should at least make one visit and make some kind of connection and fortunately my daughter and my nephew my third brother's son. Also, we're interested. So the three of us with their this last visit and we were we wanted to see my father's birthplace and my mother's birth place and they were so nice the relatives trying to help us locate the exact place and then of course we met this man who remembered my father coming to visit and then I guess because he had helped so much with the relief efforts. He became sort of us celebrity in that small little town. And so this man is saying we had never seen a car driving up this dirt road and so

19:41 I was so excited and I hear was his celebrity this man coming who saved us after the war and I had to be a part of it is so he ran in drive-thru in his tomb of the school that buy one of the ladies for doing that but he was such a pure sincere Charming man who happened to be my neighbor in that while we were in love try to find my father's birthplace. And what exactly did your father do with the relief effort coordinated and he was like a PR person as skiing and going around talking to people and oh it was a huge responsibility thought I remember night after night ladies were fixing an ironing clothes and mending and the men wear outside packing and wake up the help of the military. This was to send my life for clothing and food.

20:41 You okay now and then educational materials to what state?

20:51 This was the war right after the war that Villages for just devastated and those people were just homeless and had a better-looking outraged for 3 months and it was called the typhoon of steel and iron because of the ferocity of artillery fire that the American shot down at the end and they say, okay now it's just flattened. There were no structures. No livestock. It was just mud the can blood Left Behind the first absolutely I just got back from seeing all of that Memorial in the museum and so hard to believe and I just wait we don't know, you know, how terrible because we went to Nagasaki to the atomic bomb on the strip.

21:41 So so soon after the war and that's when the Hawaii really responded. Well mainly because so many of us had families and relatives there in Okinawa.

21:54 So it wasn't difficult to get people to respond now.

22:00 One thing I really admire about the Okinawan people is I think they said the number was something like one-third of the civilian population died during the battle. But what they did in detail Moniz, they build a peace Memorial and they have the names of everyone who died during the Battle of American Japanese and Okinawan because they have this belief that all life is precious right? You do... Right, right. I've never seen a memorial like that where it doesn't matter what your background is, right? It's a lie. That was that they want to to honor and remember

22:41 Yeah, and also I found it Spirit of Okinawan really on their persistent like one of her relatives that went with us to look at my father this on this last trip birthplace. We found his birthplace but my mother lived in another Village motobu and we had no record of where she was actually born in one of the relatives went from house to house asking if they remembered when we could go shopping and we kept telling him never mind. Never mind. I'm satisfied just that this is where she was but he said no no, no, no, no and he found a lady who remembered my mother as she was running a shop all by herself a little store.

23:32 And then when she found out that I was a daughter of shohei and for Micco kept all the soda water and snacks in return for all of us received in the past. And then when my relative asked if she knows where if she knew where my mother was born right down there, I'll go with you and we told her no, no, no. No, you have your store to my nevermind. You know, it's okay. I didn't know how close I jumped in our car and took me exactly where that house was and and and later to my relatives or if it weren't for you. I would never have found this place Tim and thank you very much. And he said that's how we are. You know that we're not going to give up.

24:32 That's what I was really impressed with. Then. I just can't say enough about the character of the people. I really and then I could see why my father was the way he was, you know, very persistent. And so now my perspective of different and I really would like to go back again for other, you know reasons not just finding my parents birthplace, but getting getting to know you

25:13 Father

25:15 Well

25:20 Sion

25:23 I remember him as someone who never preached or told us don't do this. Don't do that, but he showed by his actions what how we should behave so that it was always a community-minded person always trying to help others and the one thing that sticks in my mind always and it's always made me drop my life was that he said when people need help

25:52 Don't give help at your convenience. You give help when the help is needed. In other words, you know many times would say, okay, I'll help you but we check our calendar and decide which day we could help and he said that's not really helping and that really stuck in my mind and that to me represent what my father was like and he was unusual in those days because most Japanese men were like Samurai, you know, the wives did everything but he wash diapers you help me cuz my mom was more career-minded.

26:29 Y'all had that time she knew she would learn how to sew so she had people from other Island sending their daughters to learn how to sew and so she'll be busy doing that all day and he would be minding our so in a way. I thought she was a mother and father to me and he was always someone who reached out to the runt of the litter or the weakest even among my cousin's, you know, he was always try to look after the weekend and I'm so that's what I noticed about him, but it was always just by his actions that I guess all of us, you know in that kind of atmosphere.

27:19 And I used to think how come other mothers are housekeepers and only my mother but now as I look back I really thank him for what he was cuz I remember once when NHK Japan news media what I was trying to find three mothers from Hawaii and interview that mother and I don't know somehow. My mother was big and Mary Harris Mother was also pick

27:58 But when the interview is my brother L as a preview of what was to come my brother said, you know, if you want to know my mother you have to know my father first because the two of them go hand-in-hand, you know as parents or like in the team. Yeah, it was a team. So unlike other I remember Al saying that to the interviewer, so I guess we grew up with unusual parents when I think about it.

28:33 Can you talk a little bit more about what your dad did in the relief effort in Okinawa? Oh, well part of it was the clothing Drive afterwards and then later when they found out that food was very very of scares and pork or Pig being on the staple of Okinawan diet. They decided to have a fundraiser and I think it was $60 donation for one Pig and so my father was one of the pr person going around and yet they had opposition from the Okinawan Community this a group of people who opposed this effort because they said defend did not lose people were still insisting that Japan won the war. So why are you folks trying to get you? No send pics joking or they'll be taken care of by the Japanese.

29:33 Government, so they were really against a lot of these strong-willed people. Mr. NACA mean he's told me once that he was called to pick up donation. And then when he did go to the side there wasn't anyone there. It was like a sabotage. You're not my friend. No, he said he remembers that too, but they have very very persistent and not giving up they were able to I even during the journey on the taking the pigs they had to get back go back to refuel and rearm, you know restore the ship because they had met the typhoon on their way.

30:18 And I still I know my father I am people deny it but as I recall some of the pigs were overboard and I remember my father saying that the only thing he could be proud of us swimming. So he said he jumped and then try to save some of the pegs while they are before he jumped they tied a rope around him so that they could pull him back up. But but then there's no evidence of it and then we lost all of his papers that I know. I know he was writing a lot. So your father was a member of the pig Brigade that took from Oregon and then mr. Yamashiro who is who was the veterinarian or veterinarian they were well, well organized. They had a veterinarian pig farmer a businessman.

31:18 Oh what else you need any way a representative of each level of caring for pigs and then they picked up. Mr. Wizzle on the way because he was so young and Youthful and they wanted to suck energy.

31:39 Right

31:42 And I remember him and then people after during our interview the asked or can I can't even remember any of it because they didn't think they were doing anything special, you know, and they didn't expect any accolades or anything. And so I did it was just another one of my Father's son Community Ventures and all I remember is that he came home very very tired, but then you got to know how much it meant to me all those pigs. So that's what I heard but those men never expected any kind of you know recognition is so I think they would have been surprised today with all the musical and play that was done. And so yeah.

32:38 You know Lily oh, and we always had people coming to our home.

32:54 Staying until they found a place today would call them homeless like this, but they took care of each other. So, you know, we were talking and you were saying that you were remembering a lot of December 7th today because of I guess he said the feelings were coming back because of what you're seeing happening in touch about that a little bit when I hear this is mainly through the media. This is louder 911 about individuals. Although Americans were being picked on and some really really terribly I really, you know,

33:36 I well I recall that feeling but of course when I when it happened to me, I was a child so we could bounce back easily. But when I see some of these families that are really, you know, suffering because of their identity as although Americans, but Muslim and I all I hope that

34:00 Somehow it's the day will come like for the are Japanese community that they will eventually be recognized, you know is equal Americans but it's really sad to see things happening to an innocent people just because of their background identity. How does it make you feel cuz this is almost like history repeating itself on right and down. Well, I hope that well as an individual I could only sympathize but hopefully we won't have more of our own Americans.

34:40 Really doing something to protect these people like well in other time when it happened to the Japanese during World War II we were a majority in Hawaii. Ya in Hawaii. And there were so many of us that you you feel braver in them, you know the numbers but when I watch the news were the American most Muslim Americans are so few in numbers. It's it's really I can sympathize how they must be feeling and I do see some rays people standing up for the right spot.

35:23 I have no idea how how in which direction we should go as Americans to try to help these people and it's really not their fault even during World War II. It was really the military in Japan and had nothing to do with citizens. So it's sometimes is unfair that little Japanese in America were found guilty. You're under suspicion because of that affiliation writing Japanese ancestry really on the same thing is happening with the people knowing Muslim.

36:01 Do you have

36:07 You know say anything about you being Japanese after Pearl Harbor. Well, they had a lot of campaigns of not speaking in English only you you're not supposed to speak Japanese anime. But as I said because there's so many of us. I didn't feel that, you know, kind of prejudice that the Muslim people are suffering.

36:47 So you don't know there was you never experienced any discrimination.

36:53 Not so much so that I would go home crying and to say that also is so tease me or even in the classroom. Most of us were Japanese and though

37:06 So the teacher that said that well she said it we just did you know when you have the number?

37:20 I think that's what saved us.

37:23 There's so many of us.

37:27 And of course the Okinawan people themselves were when they first arrived the immigrants was established as a temple Buddhist temple because the Okinawan immigrants arrived here 15 years or so after the Japanese the mainlanders and so there was a lot of prejudice against the newcomers speaking another language and the different lifestyle food even food was so different and so when revving your sim or a bishop your sim or his father noticed that he felt that these new immigrants Okinawan needed a place, you know where they were welcomed.

38:17 But so they finally establish decor and then this is what you're going to have such a strong ties with the Okinawan Community, but it shouldn't stay that way some of us feel that we should you know, welcome everybody not just Okinawan says I think you can welcome everyone but still hold True To Your Roots right right not forget your roots cuz we haven't forgotten what gjiko and did oh, yes. This last video was really wonderful having the community support.

38:53 So

38:54 You know, I was telling you as we're walking to hear that I was just thinking about it you're or your dad's example. I think you know your brother Al he was actually of a mentor to my father in the one my father really looks up to and I know aspires to be like and you know, you are actually a figure in the community that I look up to and this is a mentor and some of that I want to grow up to be like so you know it and I guess I see.

39:26 In the kids of the parents. Yeah. Well, I think this is why my nephew came along with me Toca now because she did not know my father that well cuz my father died when he was around 4:05, he wanted to know more about my father and The Roots and so are we were having breakfast, you know, he recorded feels about you know, how his father. His father was also someone that I really respected and that was my last brother. And so and then I had a second brother to Jimmy who was an athlete his focus in life of mostly baseball football and so forth, but he also had that trait of my father always trying to smooth things out between people cuz I remember him coming home with the lowest chicken.

40:26 To the lowest grade grade in Japanese school, they rank you from if the 30 students they would rank you from one end of the school year, he would be about the third from the last jimmied my second brother and my mother so I can you always at the bottom like my father telling her don't worry mama. Just think of the other two mothers below me. How did

41:00 So now even that makes me feel better, but he was that second brother was always trying to smooth things out between people and I saw that in him of my father my father was slippery. And so this is why I think even within the picture on the sea when I watch that play there was a scene where they were already getting so frustrated and starting to argue and fight and then I noticed that was the person who took my father's intermediary trying to and that's exactly what he did throughout his life. And so maybe that's why he was on the ship because I couldn't understand he had nothing to do with you as part of the group. So,

41:56 So that's really important things can easily fly part where I disagree. I cannot agree right and always my brother Ali is that way to he he he even within a family oldest brother. He always said well don't worry, you know, if you have any problems just come to me and I'll take care of it after my parents had died. So

42:28 You know, thank you so much for doing this. I'm really I'm really glad that every time I get to hear your story. I'm so glad yesterday right after I come back from Okinawa because I have a totally different, you know feeling and attitude toward everything after having seen what happened to Okinawa after the war and meeting the relatives. So thank you very much. I am really find this day every opportunity for me to so thank you. I was just so sad when you said that all of the feelings from Pearl Harbor were coming back cuz you were seeing history repeating itself. It's who you know what maybe we can do something about it.