Excerpt from Sam Nishimura oral history interview with Perry Nakayama, July 12, 1976

Sam Nishimura describes life at the Sand Island and Honouliuli internment camps.

…Because, well, there was no hope, anyway. Just stay in there. Just wasting your time. Because you get no future. You don’t know whether you are going to be released. What you’re going to do is you have to make the most of yourself to keep yourself healthy. Just don’t lose your mind. That’s all to it. So we were telling to ourself, “Try and do something so that you won’t get stale and you won’t lose your mind.” That’s the main thing. You don’t know how long you going to be in here, so you might as well make the best of it, so when we went to Honouliuli, that’s where we started to make lot of things.

I used to make airplane. I used to make rings. Monkeypod. You know, used to make all those things. And we send them out to our family during our visitations and… we have something to do to keep our mind occupied. Otherwise, we just get stale and anything can happen.

Honouliuli was much better. Just like family type internment, so wasn’t too bad. In our barracks, we had nine guys. One barracks. Little bigger than this in one room. And double bunk. We had five bunks. And so it was just like a family. Nine guys is just like one family in there. So what we used to do, lot of the fellow in our room were working in the kitchen. So naturally, they bring back some pastries. So in the evening, they got some coffees, too, so we used to drink that before lights went out at 9 o’clock.
Some of them get nervous breakdown. They won’t be able to sleep at all. But if you are occupied, doing something, you will be able to withstand the agony.

Source:  “Oral History Interview with Sam Nishimura,” interview with Perry Nakayama, July 12, 1976
PublicationWaialua & Hale’iwa: the People Tell Their Story
Page #:  378
Call No. in JCCH Resource Center:  H B Nishimura

MLA citation:  Nishimura, Sam. "Oral History Interview with Sam Nishimura." Interview with Perry Nakayama, University of Hawai‘i Center for Oral History, 12 July 1976. Waialua & Haleiwa: The People Tell Their Story. Honolulu: Ethnic Studies Oral History Project, Ethnic Studies Program, U of Hawai‘i, Manoa, 1977. 327-426. The Untold Story: The Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i. Web. [date of access]