Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kara Kondo Interview
Narrator: Kara Kondo
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Gail Nomura (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 7 & 8, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-kkara-01-0001

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AI: Today is December 7, 2002. We're in Seattle at the Densho office interviewing with Kara Kondo. I'm Alice Ito with Densho, and also co-interviewing is Gail Nomura from the Department of American Ethnic Studies at University of Washington. And Kara, thanks so very much for coming from Yakima today. We really appreciate it.

KK: Thank you.

AI: And as we had mentioned earlier, we wanted to start off our interview by asking you to tell us a little bit about your mother and her family background in Japan and anything you can tell us about her life there before coming to the United States.

KK: Would you care to know about my father first, a little bit?

AI: Either way. We thought we might ask about your mother, but your father, also.

KK: Well, my father came... preceded my mother. And he came -- he and his brother, Sho Matsushita. My father's name was Yasutaro. And they came to the United States together. And they came through the Port of Seattle. And I think, while in Japan -- in Hyogo-ken -- they were the, not the oldest son of that family. So both of them were fairly well-educated and... but realized that they could not make a living in Japan. So they -- the first opportunity, I think -- they came here to the United States. And when they were asked to declare what their occupation would be, they both said, "Students." And so when they were, promptly asked my father where he was going to, and the only one he could, institution he could think of was Columbia in New York. And, of course, he never got past Mississippi River. I guess he did during evacuation, but that was his first thought.

But as they joined the Japanese contingent -- small group of Japanese who were here in the valley -- they recognized that it was a very fertile valley and that in 19-, 1904, the first irrigation system was introduced. And the first job that my father had... he didn't go to school, of course. He couldn't afford it. But my Uncle Sho did go to Wapato High School. But my father's first job was with the Northwest Land Development Company, and their job was to put in the first apple orchard on the reservation. The reason for the reservation was that although it was not a closed reservation for the Yakama Nation, and some of the land was purchased by other Caucasian groups... and the Northwest Land Company, following the first irrigation possibilities, had put in the first apple orchard around Wapato. And I often go by Ashue Road and find that the orchard is still there. Of course, the trees have been replaced, but it is the roots of my father's first venture in the valley. And the reason why the Japanese, the Isseis, elected to settle in the, on the reservation was because land was made available to them by leasing through the Yakama Indian, Bureau of Indian Affairs. And that's why so many of the Isseis came to this area and helped clear the sagebrush and started the farms in the lower valley -- or the mid-valley, it is. Mid-Yakima valley. But my Uncle Sho went to school in Wapato High School. And, but my father continued to work. And then it gets a little vague when my mother came. But she came about ten or fifteen years after they had... both the Matsushita brothers had settled in the valley. And the story of my mother, how my father and mother met is unclear to our, to us.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.