Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Roy H. Matsumoto Interview
Narrator: Roy H. Matsumoto
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 17 & 18, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-mroy-01-0001

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AI: Alright, so today is December 17, 2003. We're here in Seattle at the Densho office with Mr. Roy Matsumoto. And I'm Alice Ito, and Tom Ikeda, also from Densho are interviewing, Dana Hoshide on videography. So thanks very much, Mr. Matsumoto. This is --

RM: Doitashimashite.

AI: Great to have you here. And we just want to start with your family background. And the first question I wanted to ask was your paternal grandfather's name, and where he came from in Japan.

RM: My grandfather's name was Wakamatsu Matsumoto and came from a place called Jigozen, right now it's the city of Hatsukaichi, nearby the city of Hiroshima in Hiroshima-ken.

AI: And what, how did he make a living in Japan? What was his family doing at that time?

RM: Well, his family was half farmer and half fishermen. And right there is the, lot of hilly places and not many arable place, so after crop is done, see, nothing else to do so they have to go to the inland sea, fishing to support themselves.

AI: And, excuse me, and what was your paternal grandmother's name?

RM: Haru Matsumoto, well, her maiden name was Motoyama, Motoyama clan, because the big family there.

AI: Well, you told us in our earlier discussion that your grandfather immigrated to Hawaii very early. And could you tell a little bit about why he went to Hawaii?

RM: Well, it so happened that my grandfather was the youngest son of the family. And I don't know how many the brother and sister that he had, but, only things that he do is help elder brother. Because in the Japanese custom, the elder brother inherit everything, including the debts, farm or house, everything. So the younger brother and sister, you see, they don't have anything. So naturally, in order to support themselves, have to find a job outside of family. And then, so happened at the time, the Japanese government solicit the contract laborer, going to Hawaii and work for pineapple field or sugar cane field to harvest sugar cane. And so my grandfather evidently applied for that.

AI: And I think you told us that he went to Hawaii about 1890?

RM: No, before that --

AI: No?

RM: -- I checked his... my nephew just sent me the book about my mother and other family members and mentioned that, that was 1888, so almost '90, but '87 or '8, I presume.

AI: And then --

RM: When he was about twenty years old. He married young and married my grandmother and went to Hawaii and, most likely Kauai first because my uncle was born there and says Kauai, that means probably sugar cane factory, I mean, the field in Hawaii.

AI: So, your, your grandfather and your grandmother both went to Hawaii?

RM: Hawaii, yes. Together.

AI: And, and your oldest uncle was born there in Kauai?

RM: Oldest uncle, and then also my auntie, too. Then, when my grandfather's contract was over he let his wife and his son and daughter go back to Japan. Then he, himself, came to Seattle, I understand. Then, then went down south to Southern California and start farming. Then, he know how to farm because his family was a farmer.

AI: Well, and so then, at some point he decided to call over your father --

RM: Uh-huh.

AI: -- from Japan?

RM: Yes.

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