Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Seichi Hayashida Interview
Narrator: Seichi Hayashida
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Sheri Nakashima (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: August 21, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-hseichi-01-0026

<Begin Segment 26>

AI: Well, you were telling us about the basics of life in Minidoka. And it sounds like all the basics were covered. But, you were there in the wintertime during holiday season. Could you tell us a little bit about what was Christmas like and the New Year's holiday?

SH: They, they observed them, naturally. And they had things for the real young kids. And a little special for dinner on Thanks-, well, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, yes that had special... they made mochi.

AI: Would you explain that for us? Some people might not know what mochi is, and how it's made.

SH: Oh, one's that's going to be hearing this, years from now? Mochi -- Japanese rice cake. And, they have a special rice. It isn't the ordinary rice that you eat every day. It's a special rice, and it's steamed, cooked, and they pound it to make, to make mochi. No grain in it. And it's a traditional food, especially in Japan. It's mainly... eat it year-round, but mainly in New Year's is when they celebrate New Year's and have mochi. There was enough older people, Issei in camp that no matter where they came from, and I don't know, they must have had, you have to have a special... what do you call that? In Japanese it's called an usu.

AI: The mortar?

SH: Yeah.

AI: Big bowl?

SH: Big bowl made out of carved-out wood. And you pound with mallets. Big heavy mallets or they used the poles and pound on it. And, I was used to it every year, with friends from city coming in -- they couldn't do this in the city very well, so our friends came, two, three families came -- and then we always made it right after Christmas for New Year's. And what we call, pound and make mochi. The pounding was to make the kernels that was cooked into a paste. And, the only people that came from Seattle to Bellevue -- where we farmed to make this -- was the men. And my mother didn't do it. You have to turn that, you can't just put a, cook it and pound it in, they'd have to be turned around. So I learned how to do that, before we left home. So the first winter in Tule Lake -- in Minidoka, I didn't do it in Tule, Minidoka, they made it in their block, each block made some. And, I said, "Oh I can do that." Turned and they said, "Where did you learn that?" They were surprised to see a young Nisei know how to make mochi and turn that... they were surprised, because in-between, you're careful or you get pounded. You get hit in between. Have you ever seen a mochi-making video? I imagine there would be a video. They still probably do it. Out our way in the country they don't do it anymore. Just easier to go and buy mochi than to cook. But we did that in camp, in Minidoka. All the Issei were surprised a young guy knew how to do it. And I said, "Well I did it at home, that's all." Nobody in the, city people knew how, Nisei didn't know how.

AI: So you were able to have some celebrations and some festivities?

SH: Uh-huh.

AI: So, it sounds like in camp there were some good times?

SH: There were some good times. Yes, I wouldn't say... I don't have, really have any bad memories of camp. It was, I just wanted to get out. The freedom was the only thing, that your lack of freedom.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.