Densho Digital Archive
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Title: Margaret Junko Morita Hiratsuka Interview
Narrator: Margaret Junko Morita Hiratsuka
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 15, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-hmargaret-01-0004

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TI: Okay, so now we come to the place where your father is working for your grandfather on your mother's side.

MH: Yes.

TI: And was he, tell me a little bit more about how he got that job? You said your father, your grandfather wanted someone who knew Japanese and Japanese customs.

MH: And customs, yeah, and could speak the language.

TI: And so was he recruited from Japan to the job?

MH: No, by then my mother and father were married, in 1930. Yeah, 'cause they got married in 1919.

TI: Okay, and how did your mother and father meet?

MH: My father came here to the United States, and he happened to, he came after he had been in the army in Japan and he had gone to Waseda University for three years, and then he decided he wanted to get out of some commitments, maybe he was gonna be drafted again back into the army or something, so he decided to come to this country. So he came and on the visa it said he came to study at the University of Chicago, but he never got there.

TI: And what was your father's name?

MH: Shinjiro Morita. And they were from Nara, Japan, and that's where my mother was from, too, Nara. Then my father's father owned a big lumber company in Japan, but he was, like, the fourth son, so he's not gonna inherit anything. So, but he had, he was in Seattle and he happened to see my mother walking down the stairs at a Japanese hotel and he asked who she was, and there was a kenjin, a person from the same prefecture in Japan, who knew both the Morita and the Uyeminami family, and so he acted as the go-between and they were married.

TI: So even though they had a go-between, your father was attracted to your mother.

MH: Yes. He happened to see her.

TI: So it wasn't your typical arranged marriage where they don't really see each other first.

MH: No, he saw her.

TI: And what was it that your father was attracted to? Did he ever, did you ever ask him, like, "So what was it about Mom that you liked?"

MH: No. She was very pretty.

TI: And so they get married in 1919, and this is before he works for your grandfather, so kind of work did he do in the '20s?

MH: Well, when he first came to America I think he said he worked in the lumber business, or the, and then he had some small hotel and a small, small grocery store, but they didn't do well, so... but when my, so then he ended up working for my grandfather. Although, we had a small grocery store too.

TI: And when he worked for your grandfather, what kind of work did he do? What was it that he did?

MH: He looked after the clientele, and if they wanted, he made reservations there for them, or he took them where they wanted to go.

TI: So your grandfather was able to attract all these, like VIPs almost, these dignitaries, and so your father was hired to really show them around, take 'em on tours, maybe sightseeing, get them to meetings, whatever, things like that.

MH: Yes. Yes, that's what he did.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.