Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Father taken, then reunited at end of war – Michi Noritake (OH0001)


After the Pearl Harbor, they came right, FBI came right away and they took my father. So I, when I came home after I got fired, my father was gone already. They took him away. We had cleared the strawberry farm land down below, and so there was about maybe half a dozen or so dynamite left in the barn. So when they searched everything, they found this dynamite, so first thing, they just, you know, dynamite, so they just took my father right away. And so I didn’t get to see him when I got fired and came home. So that was really hard, just sad. And then Mother had four of us girls and she had to be in charge. But my sister, the eldest sister was home, so she had to take over everything and so we could get things going on the farm again.

Before we evacuated, they were at immigration office in Seattle, and so we could go see. I forgot how, not every day, but once in a while they’ll give us permission to go and see, so we got to see my father and talk to him. So Father would say, “Be brave and,” he said, “obey. Whatever they say, obey. Don’t fight back.” That was… and then, I forgot how, I don’t know how long it was before we knew they took him away, we didn’t know where they went, we didn’t know for a long time. We found out later my father and that group went to North Dakota, Bismarck. And then later on, towards, a year and half or something, then they moved him down to (New) Mexico, I think it was Santa Fe. So we, so we didn’t get to see Dad, we would write maybe once a month, we were given permission to write letters. And so once a month or so, Dad would write, but everything was censored so we had to be very careful what we said.

We knew that Dad was gonna be released one day, but we didn’t know when. And so in order to come home, we had to get parents, and Dad wasn’t home, Mom and I, and so I went into Twin Falls, got permission to do some shopping, we needed clothes, summer kind of clothes, ’cause it was before September that we were gonna be able to go home. And so Reverend Andrews gave, told me to come in again, so I got a permission to go and I went and done some shoppings, buy things that I needed as soon as we got home. So on the way home… another crying… and on the way home, at the bus stop, here was my dad, waiting. [Cries] He was coming home from (New) Mexico, coming to Hunt, Idaho, and I got to see my father. We hugged and Grandpa came, a pretty straw hat on, and that was one of the greatest moments during all that evacuation time, my father and I got to come home together on the bus, I brought him home.

Yeah, really, God answered our prayers for us, ’cause we were all praying that Dad would be released.

Video Interview — February 2006

Michi Noritake

Michiko Amatatsu Noritake was 22 years old at the time of evacuation. She is the second youngest of four sisters. Michi was fired from her job right after Pearl Harbor. Before evacuation, the FBI took her father and he was eventually sent to a Department of Justice Internment Camp. At the end of the war, as the Amatatsus were preparing to return home, Michi was in Twin Falls and she ran into her father who had been released from internment camp and was coming to re–unite with his family. Michi sometimes refers to her father as "grandpa." She also calls New Mexico, "Mexico."