Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Manzanar school – Matsue Watanabe (OH0066)


There were quite a number of the Japanese students who were seniors. So they kinda took over and they corralled us young people and tried to make us study because we didn’t finish our school year. Because that was, you know, March yet. And you have March, April, May, June… April, May, at least two more months. So they tried to make us study and learn from the books that they had or didn’t have. So that was, I can remember them doing that, and I thought that was… when I think back I think that was really something for them to take it into their own hands to take care of us that way.

They did that before there was any formal school set up. And the formal school didn’t come probably until the next September. And we had to go down to Block, I think it was Block Two. And there was nothing there for us except we sat on the floor because there was no furniture and there weren’t any books. But they did bring in some, some teachers. And so they did the best they could also without the supplies. And I don’t know what we learned, but that’s the way it started. So that’s the way our schooling in Manzanar started.

Video Interview — October, 2006

To see this interview in its entirety, go to the Densho website archives. You will have to register to be allowed access to their archives. Once in the archive, visit the Visual History Collections: Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection.

Matsue Watanabe

Matsue Nishimori Watanabe was 15 years old, in the 9th grade, when she was evacuated. She is the second youngest of six children. The Nishimori family did not move with most of the Bainbridge Islanders to Minidoka. They stayed in Manzanar. When the government started to allow the Japanese Americans to leave camp to travel east, Matsue's older brother and sisters moved to the Chicago area. When she was 18 years old, she moved to Evanston, IL to finish her last year of high school. She lived with a sponsor family.