Densho Digital Archive
Densho Digital Archive Collection
Title: Molly Enta Kitajima Interview
Narrator: Molly Enta Kitajima
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: San Jose, California
Date: March 20, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-kmolly-01-0003

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TI: Okay, so your father is in Canada. He was supposed to come to the United States, but he couldn't come in so he goes to British Columbia?

MK: Yes, Vancouver.

TI: And did he know anybody in British Columbia?

MK: Yes, lot of... well, you know the Japanese people, even if you don't know them, the people from Fukuoka and Kumamoto, they all have a kenjinkai so they all help each other. And they, so there were a lot of Fukuoka people there. Hiroshima, we had a lot. And then they all came in different groups, like the fishermen all came from Wakayama, and the Hiroshima people, they all went into farming, and then, but my, the Fukuoka people, and like our relatives, they were staying in the city and being, having stores and stuff like that. So my father originally ran a transfer company.

TI: Transfer meaning kind of like moving things?

MK: Van, yeah, van company.

TI: And this is in Vancouver?

MK: In Vancouver.

TI: And then how did he get out to the Surrey area, or Strawberry Hill?

MK: Well, at that time, I've seen pictures for, they were affluent. I wasn't even born, I think. I saw pictures, they had touring cars and --

TI: This is your father?

MK: This is my father. And my sisters were in furs and they were, apparently at one time, like my mother says, they went through a few fortunes. But so they had this... and our name being Enta, it's a very unusual name, but if you write it in kanji nobody pronounces it at Enta. They pronounce it as Shiota. It's "salt land," shiota. So the transfer, the business and everything was all Shiota, Shiota Transfer. And like the trucks and stuff like that, they were... so my father, my father had, like, a trucking business.

TI: So it sounds like it was a very successful business for a while, at least.

MK: It was. It was very, very -- but he went through, he went through fortunes like you can't, he bought a mountain and sent big logs to Japan with our han on it. My aunt in Japan, she was telling me she saw this shipload coming in with my father's han on there, and I didn't know that until I went to Japan and visited, and she's the one that told me that.

TI: So he actually bought a whole mountain to get the timber --

MK: The timber. Logs.

TI: -- cut it, and then put his, his family crest on there.

MK: Yeah.

TI: And they were sent to Japan.

MK: Japan, right. But he, he went... so when the Depression came, my mother was smart enough to keep some of the money. So she went out, she went and knew some friends, they went out to look at land, and because she was a farmer herself she thought, "Well, how am I gonna raise all these kids in town?" So she went, she went and bought the land out there, but through her --

TI: Wow. So your --

MK: -- but through a friend.

TI: So your mother was a pretty strong person.

MK: Oh yes, and she came here when she was fifteen. So she was, she was a very, very religious person, very, very strong person.

TI: And what religion did she follow?

MK: She was Bukkyou, JodoShinshu. Yeah.

TI: Okay, so she's the one who found, essentially, the property at Strawberry Hill.

MK: That's right.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.