Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fumiko Uyeda Groves Interview
Narrator: Fumiko Uyeda Groves
Interviewer: Larry Hashima
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 16, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-gfumiko-01-0027

<Begin Segment 27>

FG: That, the kenjin phenomenon, the kenjinkai, thekenjin phenomenon, is a very strong one that it influenced a lot of things. And this is going off the subject a little bit, but my father put together a memorial, a book for the Hiroshima club, the Hiroshima Kenjinkai. And it was a seventy-five year memorial, a special, and it was an anniversary thing. And I was surprised as I read the minutes of the meetings that they did a lot and the kenjinkais were a bit like a benevolent association so they did all of these things like helping people and things. But the thing that I thought was interesting is the competition between the kenjinkais.

LH: Really? What kind of competition would they have?

FG: Well, there were remarks about how, about what boneheads the Hiroshima people were and then they say oh, no we aren't. [Laughs] But our ken is better than your ken, type of thing. It's like, I'm sure glad that -- like people would say well, I don't know about people from Alabama, that type of thing.

LH: So these were like regional bias kind of things.

FG: Yes. Yes. Yes, exactly.

LH: That's interesting. And, but you also had mentioned earlier in a previous conversation that we had that your father actually had his Seattle ties in Lordsburg as well, that was sort of, that he...

FG: Yes. Yeah. Because see, again, it's the Hiroshima Club, the Hiroshima Kenjinkai, and a number of people from here were there too. And they were either, my father knew them from the Hiroshima Kenjinkai or Nikkeijinkai, and so that covers quite a few. But, anyway, then it became if you were from Seattle then you knew most of the people from Seattle. And actually it's interesting after they came back from camp, they still had those ties. And I think -- I'm just guessing, this is just conjecture -- but then I'm thinking that what made Nikkeijinkai work after the war was because these people had made their, they had ties from camp, from like Lordsburg. And so they could work together because they already knew each other. And so this was an interdenominational, inter-kenjin. The booklet that I have is all Hiroshima Kenjinkai, but there were other kens, people there too, and they still would have meals together, they would play baseball, whatever. And so these ties, I believe, went beyond the kens. In the beginning, I think, when they were in Seattle then the kens would be, which ken you belonged to was most important. But I think when they went to camp and came back, when they were in camp, then coming from Seattle was what was important and then so it brought together all of the kenjins.

LH: So it was more of a case of if you were Seattle or if you were from Los Angeles or if you were from Portland, that's what became more important rather than the fact that you came from Hiroshima, or if you came from...

FG: I think so. I think so. And then, so then when they were rebuilding the Japanese community in Seattle after the war, it was a lot easier, it was smoother because everybody, a lot of those men I think knew each other from camp.

LH: And who are some of these men that your father....

FG: Oh, let's see. Mr. Mihara, Mr. Arase, Mr. Bitow, Miyahara, Isomura, Mayeno, Watanabe, (Matsushita), Matsumoto, Hikida. I don't know, there's lots of them. But then, see, these people that I'm naming are Nikkeijinkai people. A lot of people were overlapped. They would be part of Hiroshima, Hiroshima Kenjinkai, and they'd be part of a Buddhist church, and they would be part of Nikkeijinkai, or if you're not Buddhist church, you'd be part of Methodist church and then Nikkeijinkai and then Hiroshima Kenjinkai. Or I think they had multiple, they wore multiple hats. And they would be Nikkeijinkai and then they would be Kumamoto Kenjinkai and then they would be Baptist, that sort of thing. But I think that the thing that brought it all together was Nikkeijinkai when I think about it now.

LH: This is after the war that brought everything together.

FG: Yes.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.