Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Arthur Ogami Interview
Narrator: Arthur Ogami
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 10, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-oarthur-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: So today is March 10, 2004 and I'm Alice Ito with Densho. Dana Hoshide is the videographer. We're here at the Densho studio in Seattle with Arthur Ogami. Thanks very much for being with us today. And I wanted to start with a couple basic questions. And when and where were you born?

AO: I was born and raised in Whittier, California, April 10, 1922.

AI: And what name were you given when you were born?

AO: Arthur Mitsuru Okami.

AI: And maybe I would just ask you a little bit about your family background. What was your father's name and where did he come from in Japan?

AO: My father's name was Nintaro Ogami, is his correct name, and he was born and raised in the city of Fukuoka. And at that time, the village he was born in was Hibaru. And that was the, outside the city limits at the time.

AI: So he grew up more in the countryside at that time?

AO: Yes. His father had rice paddy, approximately four tan at the time. And my father came to United States 1917, and he worked as a houseboy in Whittier. And then he started a gardening, landscape gardening business and that's what he (was) doing up to the time of the evacuation.

AI: Did he ever tell you why he decided to immigrate to the United States?

AO: I think he didn't tell me exactly, but the main reason, I think, was to earn money to be used when he returned to Japan. And he had a brother, younger brother that went to Peru and then -- which would be my uncle -- and my uncle went to Peru approximately during the year 1926 and he remained there until he died. And also he taught the Japanese language, but his main source of income was raising chickens in Peru. [Narr. note: Later I was told that my uncle was sent to Crystal City, Texas.]

AI: And was your father the oldest son in his family?

AO: Yes, he was.

AI: What about your mother? What was her name, and where was she from?

AO: My mother's name was Tane. T-A-N-E, and her maiden name is (Shinozaki)

AO: Yes, Shinozaki. It slipped my mind at the moment. [Laughs]

AI: And she's also from Fukuoka area?

AO: Yes. She's from Fukuoka. And I believe that she's from Itoshimagun, and that's, that's where she was born.

AI: Do you happen to know how your parents met and got married?

AO: Evidently they were sort of -- and most marriages in Japan are matched marriage. And in my father's case it was not a picture bride. She's... lots of bachelor, Japanese men in the United States were picture brides.

AI: So were your parents married before immigrating to the United States, or did your father go back to Japan to get married, do you happen to know?

AO: That's correct. My father did go back to Japan to get married and then after the marriage they both came to the United States.

AI: Well, and so then, you were saying that they were in the Whittier area in their early years in the United States?

AO: Early years when they first arrived from, to United States, they lived in nearby town of, I think, Wintersburg, that's just next to Fullerton in the Anaheim area. And I really don't know what kind of work he was doing there, but later on he did do houseboy work. And I think when we moved to Whittier he was, had already established a gardening route.

AI: So tell me about your sisters and brother.

AO: I have a --

AI: When they were born, and their names?

AO: Yes. My older sister was, Anna was her English name, and Masako was her name at the time -- that's, was given to her at the time she was born. And my younger sister was Grace Kiku and my brother was Benjamin, I can't quite remember his... it's quite... I know it. It'll come out in time. [Narr. note: Mizuchi.]

AI: And I think you said that your older sister was born the year before you, is that right?

AO: Yes, just --

AI: In 1921?

AO: Yes, 1921. And my younger sister 1923 and my younger brother was (1924 or 1925), I think.

AI: Or, let's see, your younger brother was 1920... 1925?

AO: Oh, I'm sorry.

AI: Benjamin --

AO: 'Cause my sister was '21. Yep, '25, that'd be correct.

AI: Right.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.