Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mae Kanazawa Hara Interview
Narrator: Mae Kanazawa Hara
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 15, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-hmae-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: What... may I ask, what do you think were some of the main influences of that time that did affect your thinking?

MH: Well, I think it certainly broadened my horizon, my aspect, my life just branched out. I think if I had stayed in Seattle alone, and even in Seattle, well, we were more fortunate than other Japanese, we did have contact with our Caucasian friends through the church; and not only that, my father's business and his oyster contact with the Caucasian people brought us more in contact with (Caucasians) and I think that made a difference, too. And so I just felt we were not sheltered. And then to have this extra experience of going abroad, my mother and father letting me go with my cousin. My cousin stayed only one year and she went back. And so that hinges onto my next episode is that after I came back from Chicago, I went to Japan.

AI: Oh, when was that? What year was that?

MH: This, this was in, after I came, I was at home only about a couple months.

AI: In 1935?

MH: 1935, then I went to Japan. And because I felt... well, you see, my cousin was introduced to the Rodeheavers through her choir director, Mr. Ugo Nakada, who was trained by Mr. Homer Rodeheaver in his college days, back... this was several years before we appeared. And he was brought from Japan to study choral music, and he ended up studying with Dr. (Finley) Williamson of the Westminster Choir School. At that time, Dr. Williamson lived in Dayton, Ohio and (Mr. Ugo Nakada) lived with them and, and was taught choral (music). He went back to Japan and established these choral groups, of which my cousin was a part of. So that's the connection there. And because of that, she felt obligated after having this experience to go back and do some help in his work. (...) Her family had other ideas, and so she got married. So... which left me feeling maybe I should go back. So I did go back and I was able to help Mr. Nakada with his choral work, and I had another four years of wonderful outreach of extending my musical training by teaching at the Toyo Eiwa jogakko, which is the mission school by the Canadian mission board. (...) I taught in the music department, piano, for four years under Mrs. Henneger's leadership, and at the same time, I played the (...) good reed organ at the Ginza Methodist Church, which is the only Protestant church in downtown Tokyo. And I pumped the organ -- I say I "pumped" because it was not a pipe organ -- and had a nice experience of work. And as it turned out, Mr. Nakada became the choir leader there also, so I worked with the group. And it was a nice, faithful group of young people, dedicated, that came and it was inspiring. What they lacked musically, naturally, they made up with their enthusiasm and their faithfulness, which made the work very delightful. So I had that wonderful experience.

AI: Well --

MH: Then about the same time, there was quite a group of Niseis arriving in Tokyo (...). That was the beginning of the Depression and (...) college graduates were having difficult time finding suitable work in the States, so they were trying their wings in Japan (...). And there was a group of us. I went to the Union Church on Sunday afternoon after I got through helping at the Ginza church, because I was by that time hungry to be able to speak English with some other people. Well, the Union Church had their service at four o'clock in the afternoon, and that was mostly where the Caucasian people congregated for worship because it was all in English. (...) So it was a wonderful opportunity, and so I joined the church and sang in the choir there. And the choir leader was Mrs. Edwin Iglehart, who was the wife of one of the very outstanding Methodist missionary. And through that contact, the Niseis group began to gather there, because it was all in English. And so Mrs. Iglehart thought it would be nice if the Nisei group had a singing group, and so we organized a singing group. It was not a very large (group, but) we got together and sang (...). We participated in many of the social functions introducing (...) American folk song, Negro spirituals, and things of that kind (...). I think one summer we even went up to Karusawa and presented a program there. And so (in) that way we got (to) see the country as well as make (...) contacts (with other people). So that was a nice experience while in Japan.

AI: Let me ask you about your, your living situation while you were in --

MH: In Japan?

AI: -- in Japan.

MH: I lived with Mr. and Mrs. Nakada, who lived way out in the suburbs of Ogikubo, which is near the International College, way out west. But later on I moved into the city and lived in the teachers' dormitory on the campus of Toyo Eiwa. I was there until I left (...).

AI: And I'm sorry, what... what city was it?

MH: This is all in Tokyo.

AI: Was it Tokyo?

MH: This is all in Tokyo.

AI: Well, you were there for four years, is that right?

MH: Four years. 1935 to 1939.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.