Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Out with friends riding bike, parents’ reaction, curfew – Kay Nakao (OH0020)


I don’t know why I was on the bicycle going down Madison Avenue, Sunday morning. I’m quite sure it was Sunday morning. And my Caucasian friends came out and said something about, “There’s the war,” or something about Pearl Harbor, but that didn’t mean a thing to me. I didn’t know where Pearl Harbor was. And I knew Japan was so far away, non–reachable. And then I went home, turned around, went home and we listened to the radio. And then it was real. Until then I wasn’t too sure.

My parents were very, very shocked, and they thought that was a very bad move on the Japan part. They were speaking in Japanese, so you know, I was understanding what they were trying to say, and they really felt bad about it. Because they always felt like they were American citizens, children being educated in America, and they never wanted to go back to Japan. So they felt bad about the whole situation. And in fact, my dad — I didn’t know this until it happened — that he went and turned in his life insurance policy and bought liberty bonds at that time. He wanted to help the American cause, you know. So I thought that was good of him to do that.

At that point we didn’t go back and forth anymore, because after the war broke out, there was curfew. We had to stay within our boundaries, and not to be out after six o’clock and all that kind of a thing. And we were afraid, too, to get away from our property, we didn’t know what was going to happen. We didn’t know what the reaction will be with the public, the community.

Video Interview — February, 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.

Kay Nakao

Kay Sakai Nakao was 22 years old when her family was evacuated. She is the oldest of six Sakai children, one boy and six girls. Kay was married in Minidoka. She and her husband, Sam Nakao, left camp off and on to work on a ranch in Idaho. They had one son born during the war. The Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School is named after Kay's father who donated their farmland to the Bainbridge Island School District.