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Title: Toshikazu "Tosh" Okamoto Interview I
Narrator: Toshikazu "Tosh" Okamoto
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 30, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-otoshikazu-01-0002

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TI: Do you know how he met your mother, how they got together?

TO: I really don't know because my father, of course, was married before he met my mother, before he married my mother. And so it's my assumption that there was some kind of arrangements in Japan that was made before he went to Japan to get my mother. That's my guess.

TI: So let's back up a little bit. So he was married previously.

TO: Yes.

TI: So talk about that first wife. What do you know about the first wife?

TO: Well, the first wife is, I think she was quite a lady. Sounds like she was, had quite a bit to do around the restaurant and bar business at that time. And she was a, she had a sister here, Sakamoto, Mrs. Sakamoto, that was a Joe and Nibs, and I think he had two sisters. Their mother was her sister. But my father's first wife's a little different than the typical Issei lady at that time. For some reason, they had four children, and they just... I kind of... my father didn't talk too much about it. Nobody else talked about it, but she left my father. That's the sense I have of what happened. And she married this guy named Murakami. This Murakami was quite a character. I think they had (four) children between them. He was, the big story about him was he was murdered somewhere on Jackson Street because of his affiliation with gangs or something at that time. And nobody wants to -- I've asked people of that generation and nobody wanted to tell me about it because, of course, my relationship with that. So I really don't know the reasons why. But I understood that he was into gambling, that type of thing. I think there was... I don't know what they call that particular group of Issei that were, were part of this, I guess we'd call it gang today, but they called it something else in those days.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. So when you said your father's first wife was different...

TO: Yes, she was different. Well, I didn't, never knew her, of course.

TI: Right, right. So what do you mean by different? What would that...

TO: Well, she was more into, I don't know. She was... I know that she, I heard that she worked in the restaurants a lot, and of course she had family then, so I don't know how this all came about. And she was more, not as conservative as a typical Issei or even a Nisei lady. That's my take on it, but I don't really want to say too much about it because I really don't know, but that's... she played shamisen, she was an entertainer in restaurants and bars at that time. And then after they split, she took her three children to Japan.

TI: Well, so she had first four with your father...

TO: (Four).

TI: (Four) with your father. And then, and then she went back to Japan?

TO: She took them back to Japan and she left them there with her parents. And she came back, and that's when she married this Murakami. That's my understanding.

TI: Did your father ever talk about his first wife?

TO: Never, never. I didn't even know anything about it until I was probably in my... ten or eleven years old. Because that's when my brothers and sisters started coming back from Japan to this country. By then they were teenagers and they graduated, finished education there. That's when I found out who they, what happened.

TI: So it must have been a surprise for you to find out that you had, essentially, stepbrothers and sisters.

TO: Sure was, yeah.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.