Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: James A. Nakano Interview
Narrator: James A. Nakano
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: June 3, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-njames_2-01-0002

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TI: Well, let's talk about your mother's family first. So what was your mother's name and where was she from?

JN: She, my understanding is she was also from Fukuoka. And it's even further on, I think my father was from Kyushu -- no, I'm sorry, from Kurume, and I think my mother was even further up in the countryside somewhere, up in the mountains somewhere. Her last name was Inouye. She had a younger brother here, I remember him, that Uncle Inouye. There was an older brother who went back to Japan early. Oh, my understanding is her parents and the older brother somehow went back to Japan. She was, my mother was already married, so she, of course, didn't go. And her younger brother, for some reason, also stayed. He may have also been married by that time, I'm not sure. But both of them stayed here. So her parents, the Inouye family, went back to Japan and I had very little recollection of them at all. But I remember my uncle because he was here.

TI: And what was your mother's first name?

JN: [Laughs] I really don't know.

TI: You just called her "Mother," "Mom"?

JN: In those days, "Okaasan."

TI: I wanted to go back. I forgot to ask about your father's side. You talked about your grandfather, how about your grandmother on your father's side? She also lived with you for a while?

JN: Yeah. She, in Japan, apparently when my grandfather came to Hawaii, she then moved back with her family, with the three boys, she then moved back with her family, with the three boys. And then she then came to Hawaii with the two kids. Like I said, my oldest uncle stayed back in Japan. So they came here to Hawaii. As I said, I'm not sure.

TI: And what was your grandmother like? You talked a little bit about your grandfather as being quiet and rolling the cigarettes, what about your grandmother?

JN: My grandmother was a social butterfly, she went around talking to everybody. And she... what I remember about her, that she just went around, talked to everybody, and she was a very outgoing grandmother. That's the best I can recollect of her. She complained a lot, and she talked a lot.

TI: Okay. So going back to your father and mother, you're not quite sure how they met, but they lived in Honolulu or Wailea?

JN: Yeah. I'm sure it was an arranged marriage in those days. I'm sure somebody arranged it. Whether she came from Japan and arranged, or it was arranged and she came from Japan, I'm not sure. But they were married, she was, I can see pictures of their marriage, and she had kimono on. And that was, it was in Hawaii, though. And I think from early on, they lived in Waialae until around, I guess, my understanding is that when the Depression hit in about 1929/'30, he must have gotten wiped out also, and then he had to move from Waialae to a farm... I'm guessing that he owned a farm in... oh, he may have bought a farm in, someplace in Kahala. And maybe for my grandfather, so that he could do some farming. But I recall that's where the whole family moved, and we moved out of Waialae. And if you know Hawaii, the land, the fee is owned by Bishop Estate, and that's true in Waialae, too. But what I remember is that we then moved from Waialae. I don't remember, frankly, because I wasn't born yet -- that they moved to Kahala. And while there, in 1933, I was born there, I think, in Kahala, on the little farm that they had.

TI: Okay, good.

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