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-01-0003

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TI: And so describe a little bit about the village --

TM: Okay, (...) to make it clear, after my father worked for Mr. Kitamura at that particular fishing village, he thought to himself, that he would like to do the fishing by himself so he divorced himself from Mr. Kitamura and found another fishing village and rented the area from Bishop Estate, (an area of about) five acres. So he, in a way, established a new camp, fishing camp. And other fishermen started coming in so that apparently this fishing village called Fish Camp, it was known as Fish Camp quite well, had about ten fishing families and he sort of was in charge. You might say, of the fishing village, which meant that when the fish was caught he made it his responsibility to send the fish, or take the fish over to Honolulu for auctioning.

TI: Now when you talk about these families, the ten families, did they work for your father?

TM: No, no. They were independent fishermen. Apparently, they wanted a secure place and so they joined into the village, the fishing camp.

TI: So the houses there, those were owned by your father?

TM: No, no. They built the independent homes but it was on Bishop Estate leased land. But to manage everything my father handled the whole fishing village. I don't think he charged them for monthly rents but he got commission by taking the fish to downtown.

TI: Okay, so I see, so your father first arranged to get the land through the Bishop and then others who were fishing families could come and become independent, build on the land and then they would help I guess pay for the lease of the land, the rent, so your dad would then collect maybe a little bit of money from everyone and then they would then pay the Bishop family for the land?

TM: Well, that is the part that I don't think my father did charge them for the use of the land or staying there. He got his commission and the commission was, I think, good enough that he could manage to (make a decent living).

TI: Oh, so that was a pretty good deal for the fishing families, they essentially got the land for free and they would do their work and then they would pay a small commission to your father.

TM: Uh-huh, and those fishermen did different types of fishing.

TI: Okay, so they didn't necessarily have to be net fishermen.

TM: No, no. In fact my father and his group, actually there were five. He hired three and his brother joined him so that would make it five. And they were the only net fishermen in that camp. The others did deep sea fishing where they had sampans or individual boats that went out and then did their fishing. There was a family that did fishing by traps, fish traps. They did quite well.

TI: And how would the fish trap work?

TM: Well, they made a fish trap (...) of chicken wire, so that, you know, it was light enough. (It had) a rectangular type housing. And they would go out to the deep sea, deposit the trap (...) for maybe three or four days, and picked it up and the fish would be trapped in there. Somehow the fish could get into the trap but they couldn't get out.

TI: Interesting, it's kind of similar, I'm from Seattle, the Northwest, and there a lot of like crab pots, same way where they have these sort of traps, the crabs can go in but then they can't get out. So they have some sort of bait inside that traps the fish or the crabs.

TM: And I'm quite sure that they didn't use any bait. Apparently, fish was plentiful during those days so somehow they had favorite spots where they put the trap down. Fish would get in, retrieve the trap, and put it in to trap again. So it was an art, I think.

TI: And all these different techniques, were they being used all around that area, so this was something that if you went a few miles the other way there are fishermen doing the same thing?

TM: Oh, yes, that's right. In fact, the deep sea fishermen went out for miles out in the deep and somehow they managed to come back so, in other words, if they ran into any trouble, somehow you have other fishermen coming in to help them.

TI: That's interesting. When your father left the Kitamura camp to do his own camp, what happens? Does that cause ill feelings when people kind of leave and start their own?

TM: I don't think so because you had other fishermen coming in. So a fishing camp can take perhaps only about ten fishing family, which meant that it's always been taken over by other families. I would think like the ten families that my father, you know, not controlled but had responsibility. He could not have taken any more fishing families, ten was about the limit.

TI: Now why is that? Why is there kind of a... is it just because that's the amount of land that was there, or why not have larger fishing villages, especially if you have good access to the water?

TM: Well, it could have expanded more but apparently many of the fishermen (had favorite) spots to go to. In other words, it wasn't sort of restrictive, (but spots) grateful (for the) fishermen to fish around. But normally, during those days, they stayed with a fishing village because of the protection and the help that you could get. So I don't think at that time they had independent fishermen that went from his home to the ocean. It was more convenient being in a fishing village.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.