Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mits Takahashi Interview
Narrator: Mits Takahashi
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 20, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-tmits-01-0010

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TI: And so after December 7th, did that impact your father's business?

MT: To a certain extent, yeah. There was one family where he worked, and there was a Filipino working there as a houseboy or something. And I guess he kind of threatened my dad, so the customer told him not to come back because they were fearful of something happening to my father.

TI: So, I'm sorry, so the Filipino worker threatened your...

MT: He was working there as a houseboy or a chauffeur or something like that.

TI: And so the Filipino was upset because Japan had attacked the Philippines, and so he, he was angry at your father. And so the, the family, the Caucasian family decided to not have your father come anymore because of that.

MT: Uh-huh.

TI: How about, just Caucasian families that were just upset about it and not wanting your father to be there? Was there any of that kind of...

MT: I don't recall that he had anything like that. There was one family, I can't think of the name, they were a prominent banking family. But I think Dad was told that if they knew that their funds were... what would you call it?

TI: Frozen?

MT: Frozen right away, that if he needed cash or something, that they would loan him that. And he continued to work there, and I think they paid him in cash so that he would have funds. So most of the people that they, he worked for were quite sympathetic. I can't think of anyone that was, said, "We don't want you anymore."

TI: 'Cause I'm thinking, so the Japanese gardeners, I mean, perhaps more than most groups or any other groups, they're out in, sort of, Caucasian or white society. I mean, that's who their clients are, they're going to all parts of the city, this is after the war. So did you hear of any incidences or experiences of the gardeners during this time period that...

MT: I think the gardeners working for people that were, you know, they were not the rich-rich, but economically, they were well-off, fairly well-educated people. So I think they were, tolerated what happened. I think to people that had little grocery stores or small businesses outside of the central area of Nihonmachi, I think there was a lot of, you know, verbal abuse, possibly some physical abuse and things, but I don't think any of the gardeners ran into anything like that.

TI: Yeah, so it sounds like their client base was actually very sympathetic to what was happening. So I'm kind of jumping ahead, but I want to kind of stay with this. So when the Japanese were removed from Seattle, do you recall any reactions from the clients as these, as the gardeners started leaving Seattle? Like for your father, did, do you recall any stories about any conversations or discussions he had with any of his clients?

MT: Really no, but when we came back, looking at some of these areas where they did have gardeners before the war, the gardeners, gardens were all neglected because there was really no one to take care of 'em. Or some of the people that had a little larger piece had turned 'em into little victory gardens. So there was a lot of garden patches on the different homes. But when the Japanese, or the Isseis and the Niseis came back, the ones that were in the gardening business were almost able to pick up the business and start providing for the families from the day they came back here, provided they had a few tools and things like that. Where I think for a lot of the Isseis and Niseis that came back right after the war, it was hard to find a job. But jobs were available for the gardeners.

TI: And so coming back from the war, so they would go back to, essentially, their same clients, who were pretty sympathetic before they left, and then when they came back, they found their, the gardens were pretty disrepair, or they needed maintenance. And so that was, in terms of getting work, it was a good situation for the gardeners.

MT: Yeah.

TI: Which was, you're right, unusual for the other Japanese who came back not having... well, we'll come back to that later.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.