by Grant Din
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Mr. Kobashigawa moved to Japan with his family when he was six years old. When he became 16 years old, his father sent him back to the U.S. to work and support the family. He spent three weeks at the Angel Island Immigration Station in 1931. His account of life in the Detention Barracks provides a detailed description of the isolation and anxiety immigrants experienced.
“The food was terrible…the soup was smelly, made from old meat. The rice was steamed but hard. I couldn’t eat.” That’s how Dick Jiro Kobashigawa described one of his first memories of Angel Island, when he arrived from Okinawa in 1931 when he was sixteen.“It was kind of dark by the time I got to Angel Island and they took me to this holding place. They put me with the…illegal immigrants who were waiting for deportation. There were bunk beds, three high…after lunch, we were all outside in the fenced in area behind the building. We were in the sun. That time I met Japanese who were waiting to be deported. I didn’t know anyone there. I couldn’t speak to anyone.”
Kobashigawa stayed at Angel Island for about three weeks in 1931. An American citizen born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1914, Kobashigawa went with his family to Okinawa when he was six because his mother was homesick and his father had made enough money farming strawberries to return. On Okinawa, he did well in a school far enough from home that he had to stay in a boarding house, but when he was sixteen, his father had financial problems, took him out of school, and sent him to the U.S. to work to support the family.
Update: Dick Jiro Kobashigawa passed away peacefully at age 97 at home in San Francisco on Aug. 29, 2012.
Place of Origin
Place of Settlement
Los Angeles, US