Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Roger Shimomura Interview
Narrator: Roger Shimomura
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary); Mayumi Tsutakawa (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 18 & 20, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-sroger-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Okay. Well, today is March 18, 2003. We're here in Seattle with Roger Shimomura. I'm Alice Ito with Densho and videographer is Dana Hoshide. Roger, thanks again very much for joining us and participating in this interview. And I just wanted to start off at the beginning and ask questions about your early childhood starting with your name. What was your name at birth?

RS: At birth it was Roger Yutaka -- spelled with a "Y" -- Shimomura.

AI: And when and where were your born?

RS: I was born June 26, 1939 in the house that we were residing in, 946 Twenty-fourth Avenue South, which was five blocks south of Jackson on Twenty-fourth. And delivered by my grandmother, Toku, who was a midwife, and she had actually retired, I believe, the year before and came out of retirement to deliver me, in June. And I think present at my birth was my Uncle Rik Tanagi, who was my mom's brother. Because he always used to like to tell the story that the Japanese felt that it was better to be born at the beginning of a day than the ending of a day. And my grandmother was encouraging my mother to hold on and not deliver until after midnight. And my Uncle Rik said that he heard my mom yelling and screaming in pain and everything, holding me in because it was very close to midnight. And then finally, right after midnight, I was born. So I actually incorporated that into one of the performances that, that I did.

AI: That is quite a beginning.

RS: Yeah.

AI: A beginning story.

RS: And I think my dad was the one that was principally responsible for my first name, "Roger." I think it is a German name and my dad was conversant in German. And, which leads me to believe that that may have had something to do with him selecting a German name. And then my grandmother is the one that selected my middle name.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.