Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Kitamoto Interview
Narrator: Frank Kitamoto
Interviewer: Lori Hoshino
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: April 13, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-kfrank-01-0037

<Begin Segment 37>

LH: Oh, excuse me. For the, for the Bainbridge Island Japanese Community now, well, your organization is, is, is that what evolved into BIJAC or...?

FK: Yeah.

LH: Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.

FK: Yeah. The Bainbridge Island Japanese... it used to be called the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Club. And some of us thought club didn't quite say what we wanted to say since we, it was incorporated right after the war. Sometime in the, sometime in the late '40s. And when we revived it in '83, we actually redid the constitution and redid the purpose of it, to more of a historical thing where we did our background plus wanting to share that with the population at large. So, so it's been a group that's been around for a while. But it's... the emphasis and the focus has been different since '83, as far as getting away from helping ourselves to maybe more finding out about ourselves and sharing that with the rest of the community at large.

LH: I see.

FK: Yeah.

LH: And some of the works that your organization does are? Could you explain what those would be?

FK: Oh, it would be like, well, the photo project we did. When we, that was the Washington Humanities commission and... it was $35,000 to do the photo project. So, we raised half the money and we got the other half with contributed time, in kind, I mean with a matching grant from the Humanities commission. We do a teriyaki dinner every year and that's... we (have) the Kokon Taiko's come and play at that, and the Peninsula Women's Group will do dances at that. And we have two servings. It's our main fund-raiser. There was a Japanese man that came from L.A. once, and I don't really know who he was, but he, he was there and he said, "This is amazing." And I said, "Why is this amazing?" I said, "Don't you guys have stuff like this too?" And he said, "Yeah." He said, "We do, but we don't have 7/8ths of the crowd here being Caucasian." And, and that's, and essentially, it's really good for the Japanese community because everybody works on it. I mean we have probably over a hundred people that volunteer to work on it, and they may never show up for anything else but this dinner. But most of the people that come are Caucasians from the community, and that's probably because the rest of us are working on it. But in order for it to be successful, it has to be the rest of the community. And they really enjoy coming to it and...

LH: They support it?

FK: They support it, so... and I think that does a lot too, as far as that goes. And then we have the mochitsuki every year.

LH: And can you tell me what that is?

FK: It's making mochi, which is the, I think Japanese people know what mochi is. But it's mostly the rice and sometimes you put an inside, put the brown bean stuff inside, but it's... the old fashioned way is to pound it with mallets. You cook it on, it's, I get, think it's called sweet rice and you cook it over, in wooden crates over an open fire. One of the men actually reconstructed the (stuff) out of old wash tubs, the fire thing. And you cut out the hole (where) you put this big wash tub on top of that and somebody still had the wooden crates that you, with the, with the wooden bamboo stuff in the bottom, and you put the rice in and you cook it and you keep changing the layers. And so we do that and we hand pound. One of the guys had a granite mortar type thing that they used to use. And, it was something they used to do before the war a lot, here on the Island. They used to have New Year's celebrations for good luck and prosperity and stuff. And people would actually go to each other's houses and have meals and dinners and stuff and drink some sake and so forth, and that was a way of them sharing things together and celebrating. And so one day, one of the guys said, "Well why don't we just go ahead and try and make the mochi again?" So we've, we've done it now for, maybe eight years.

LH: That's great.

FK: We also have machines there. So, people get a chance to see the modern way of doing it, plus the, the old fashioned way and then... but it's fun, because the kids... come and they actually roll the stuff, and make the mochi and all this. And the ones made by hand look a little coarser, but everybody has really a lot of fun doing it. And we usually have a potluck and share a meal after that.

LH: Boy that's great.

FK: Yeah.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.