Jitsuo Otoshi

 

An accountance of the years surronding internment told from Lisa Noelle Miura, about her grandfather Jitsuo Otoshi:My beloved grandfather passed away on April 19, 1988, one year after I had embarked on gathering information on his background for my Japanese American History class.
Jitsuo Otoshi was born on February 20, 1904, in Hiroshima-ken, Asagun, Tomomura. He came to Seattle in America on the 15th of January 1920. In February, 1942, when the order came to evacuate, Jitsuo held leases on the National Hotel, Loring Hotel, and Stanley Apartments. He had to sell the lease for the National, the family’s place of residence for $5000 (worth $8000 to $10,000), and the Loring lease for $8000.  During this hysteria. Caucasians tried to get things for nothing, knowing that the Japanese had no choice. The Otoshi’s were told that there was no chance for the Japanese to come back to Seattle, and people offered to buy his leases for practically nothing. However, Jitsuo decided to have the White & Bollard Management run the Stanley for him. He actually made very little money away at camp because he had to pay a commission to the management company, an $800/month feee to the owner, and the cost of repairs, etc.During the evacuation process in Seattle, 1st Avenue, location of the National, was listed as the first to move for it’s residents. The Otoshi’s moved to the Stanley, located on 7th Avenue, to stall their departure. Jitsuo took care of transactions and left their belongings in the basement of Stanley. In the middle of March, 1942, Jitsuo, Shina and their children (with the addition of Julianne Sachie, born 3/2/40) were sent to the Pullallup Assembly Center in Washingington, also known as “Camp Harmony”.At this time, all Japanese internees at the age of 17 and over had to sign a loyality oath to America, called an “Application for Leave Clearance”. Jitsuo and Shina both answered “yes-yes” to the two questions, which were as follows: No. 27: Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the U.S. on cambat duty wherever ordered?No. 28: Will you swear to abide by the laws of the U.S. and to take no action which would in any way interfer with the war effort of the U.S.?Like a majority of the Isseis, they accepted the situation because of the war hysteria. From Puyalup, the Otoshi’s were sent to Minidoka, Idaho. About 10,000 Japanese from the Northwest states were detained at this camp. The summers were very hot and deser-like wih dusty wind storms, and the winters were bitter cold. For some, the experience was a nightmare; others felt it was like heaven because they no longer had to worry about feeding themselves and making a living. With all the leisure time, they were able to work on their hobbies and develop their creative skills, for which they never had time in the past. Jitsuo did carpentry work in the camp for $16 a month. He felt the three years spent at Minidoka were like a “dream”, not meaning a happy memory but an unfortunate situation that had to be endured many long years ago. While they were away at camp, the management for the Stanley kept Jitsuo posted from time to time. One manager absconded with all the rent money and the belongings they had stored in the basement. Luckily, they were insured and at least the rent money was reimbursed.In January, 1945, the internees were given permission to leave at the conclusion of the war. Although many thought it was dangerous to return to Seattle, Jitsuo returned alone at the end of February, and took over managing the Stanley from march 1. There were only a few Japanese who had returned to Seattle at that time. An anti-Japanese group in Kent, called “Pearl Harbor”, found out that Jitsuo had returned; they put up a big sign in front of the apartment in red letters saying, “We want no Japs here.” Each time he removed it, they would come back and put another the next day. Eventually the ceased. After May, 1945, those still remanining in camp were more or less forced to leave. Shina and the four children returned to Seattle in May.The Otoshi’s worked to rebuild their lives after the war and continued on in the hotel business.

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