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Title: Tosh Tokunaga Interview
Narrator: Tosh Tokunaga
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 28, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ttosh-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Thursday, May 28, 2009, and we're in the Densho studio. Dana Hoshide is the cameraperson, and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda. And today we have Tosh. So Tosh, the first question is when and where were you born?

TT: When and where? I was born in Selleck, Washington, 1925. January 2, 1925, a little sawmill town southeast of Seattle.

TI: And when you were born, what was the name given to you at birth?

TT: Toshio Tokunaga, no middle name.

TI: Is there any significance to "Toshio"? Do you know why they named you Toshio?

TT: No.

TI: So let me ask you first about your father. What was your father's name and where was he from?

TT: His name was Taketa Tokunaga. He was born in Ehime-ken, Japan.

TI: And do you know why... or first, do you know what his family did in Japan?

TT: You know, he never talked about it. He was pretty close-mouthed, I don't know why, but my mother talked about (herself), everything she did. But all I know is he was number two son.

TI: Do you know how many brothers or sisters he had?

TT: I think there were just two of them, as far as I know.

TI: And do you have a sense about how old he was when he came to the United States?

TT: No. I don't think he was quite twenty. He came over 1906, he landed in San Francisco right after the earthquake. And I guess they weren't gonna let him ashore because of the chaos that was going on. But then I guess he was sponsored by a hakujin doctor, so he went down and helped my dad out on the ship. And he was doing houseboy.

TI: So this doctor was from San Francisco?

TT: Yes, he lived in San Francisco.

TI: Okay, so he went down there, and they weren't letting anyone else off the ship, but he went down there and got him off the ship.

TT: That's what I know. [Laughs]

TI: And how did he go from San Francisco to Selleck? I mean, what was...

TT: Well, before, I guess, in a way, worked on the railroad, went up to the cannery and wandered around like the younger Isseis, and ended up in the sawmill before the First World War. He was working in the sawmill in Selleck during the war, I guess.

TI: Okay, so he's kind of wandering, doing different types of jobs and finally gets to Selleck. Let's talk about your mother a little bit. So what was your mother's name and where was she from?

TT: Tane Tokunaga. She was from Ehime-ken, too. (...) She was born on a farm in a little village in, I guess it would be the west side of Shikoku island.

TI: And so you mentioned Tokunaga, that was her, what was her maiden name?

TT: Oh, Hori, H-O-R-I.

TI: And do you have a sense of how your mother and father got married?

TT: Well, my dad went back to Japan, got married, and brought her back (in 1920 to Selleck).

TI: Okay, so 1920. And so I'm guessing that he brought her back to Selleck.

TT: Right.

TI: To the sawmill.

TT: That's where my brother was born, (November) 1920.

TI: Okay, so let's talk about the children. So after they were married in 1920, it sounds like right away they then had a boy, your older brother? And what was his name?

TT: Mitsuo.

TI: And then after Mitsuo, who was next?

TT: That's all, there was just two of us.

TI: Just, okay, you and Mitsuo. And so you came about four or five years later?

TT: Four years later.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.