Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toshio Moritsugu Interview
Narrator: Toshio Moritsugu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: March 2, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-mtoshio-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Today is Wednesday, March 2, 2011. We're in Honolulu with Toshio Moritsugu and we're at the Ala Moana Hotel. On camera is Dana Hoshide and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda. So, Toshio, I'm just going to start from the beginning. Why don't you tell me your birthdate. When were you born?

TM: I was born on April 2, 1925, which would mean that in a month's time I'll be eighty-six.

TI: Eighty-six or eighty-seven? You're eighty --

TM: Eighty-five now.

TI: Eighty-five, okay. And then, tell me where you were born.

TM: Well, I was born in a small village called Heeia. You want me to spell it out?

TI: Sure.

TM: H-E-E-I-A. It's a small village, now it's been absorbed by Kaneohe, which everybody is familiar with Kaneohe, it's on the windward side of the island and it's where I was born.

TI: Now when you say you were born there, was there like a medical facility, or was it at a house?

TM: Evidently during those days you had midwives. They came over and then you had your birth.

TI: Okay, good. What was the name given to you at birth?

TM: It was Toshio and I kept that name throughout. Some of them had English names but I kept on with Toshio, so throughout my life, I'm Toshio Moritsugu.

TI: Now was there any reason why that name was given to you? Was there any significance to it?

TM: Apparently, the old folks were quite concerned about the names and they had some expert looking into it and why I was given Toshio I don't recall.

TI: Okay. So next I want to just talk a little bit about your father. Can you tell me his name and where he was born?

TM: Well, my father's name was Yasuichi, Yasuichi Moritsugu. He was born in Japan, Yamaguchi-ken and he came to Hawaii when he was nineteen.

TI: And about what year was that when he came to Hawaii?

TM: It was 1902 as I recall.

TI: In your memoirs you said 1907.

TM: 1907, that would be correct.

TI: And that he was born in 1888, so that make him eighteen, nineteen years old when he came to Hawaii. So tell me when he came to Hawaii, why did he come?

TM: Well, it's a strange long story. Could I go on with the story?

TI: Yes, please, this is why we're doing this. I love these stories.

TM: Oh, okay. Evidently his older brother, Tokuemon, came much earlier and Tokuemon worked for a fishing company and apparently the understanding was that Tokuemon was supposed to let him know, my father know, when was a good time to come to Hawaii. And he never got an answer or letter from Tokuemon so he came on his own and (...) he was nineteen and at the time you had Pali Highway, no you didn't have a highway, actually had the Pali which means that they had wagons that went up and down. He'd walk all the way down the Pali and went to that village, fishing village.

TI: Wait, so he walked all the way from Honolulu all the way --

TM: Yes, and I don't know if it took overnight or much longer. And evidently he got a job as a fisherman working for this person, Kitamura was his name as I recall, the owner. And both of them started working there, and that's how he got his start.

TI: Did he have any stories about what his brother said when he saw him show up on foot?

TM: Beg your pardon?

TI: Did your father ever tell any stories about what his brother said when he saw him?

TM: No, (...) all this story, I got it from my mother before she passed away. So unfortunately I wasn't able to get the information from her. It never got out to the children. None of us knew about all this information.

TI: That's a good story.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.