Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Giro Nakagawa Interview
Narrator: Giro Nakagawa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: South Bend, Washington
Date: April 30, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-ngiro-01-0002

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TI: So let's go and talk a little bit about your father. What was your father's name and where was he from?

GN: Hiroshima-ken, Ibara-mura. Hiroshima first. His name was Genichi Nakagawa, he was the first son. How he escaped to America is beyond us.

TI: Yeah, because in general, first sons didn't...

GN: Couldn't leave.

TI: Did he have other brothers and sisters?

GN: He had one younger brother. He also went to Panama.

TI: Your father or your uncle?

GN: My uncle.

TI: So he went to Panama to live?

GN: Yeah, they had a barbershop business.

TI: How interesting.

GN: Yeah. The oldest son comes to U.S., and the younger one goes to Panama.

TI: I don't think I know of any Japanese that went to Panama, that's interesting. Do you know why he went to Panama?

GN: I have no idea. [Laughs] But he spoke English, I remember.

TI: Oh, interesting. Do you know what kind of work your father's family did in Japan?

GN: They had a farm. I think they made sake. [Laughs] I think he was a bootlegger. I don't know whether it was legal or not; it probably was. They always drank in Japan.

TI: So why do you think your father came to America?

GN: I think he was more of an adventurer type that wanted to see something different. He said he first went to Hawaii, and he said, oh, he's not going to live there, because Japanese are living like pigs there. He didn't like the conditions, so he hopped the next boat and came into Seattle, I guess on the ship, I don't know. Whatever, he ended up in Seattle.

TI: And then do you know what he did, what kind of work he did?

GN: He worked in railroads, logging camps, mainly in logging camps.

TI: Do you know which logging camp he might have been at?

GN: I know he worked in several places around Port Townsend and those places.

TI: So on the Olympic Peninsula.

GN: Olympic Peninsula.

TI: And then how did he, when he came back to Seattle, what did he do then?

GN: Evidently he was doing pretty good, doing something there. Probably making sake or something. Because we were looking at some of the old pictures of, especially my older brother and myself, and they'd taken the family portraits and stuff, and they're all dressed up in sailor suits. So he was doing all right.

TI: And how would you describe your father? What kind of person was he?

GN: He was a, sort of an adventurous type that liked to fish and hunt and do that kind of stuff, outdoorsman. He was a good worker.

TI: So how did he meet your mother?

GN: They knew each other in Japan, and they probably wrote back and forth. The families knew each other.

TI: So did he go back to Japan to get married, or did they get married by proxy and then she came over?

GN: I don't know that. I never did ask.

TI: And what was your mother's name?

GN: Itsuyo. Itsuyo Yamasaki.

TI: Do you know anything about her family, like did she have brothers and sisters?

GN: She had several brothers and sisters.

TI: Did any of them come to America, or was she the only one?

GN: No, we're the only... we had no relatives in the U.S.A.

TI: And how would you describe your mother? What was she like?

GN: I give a lot of credit to my mother for raising us kids in her condition. Until I was about eighth grade, sophomore in high school, we did not have running water, no refrigeration, no... and she kept us clean, she used to buy bolts of cloth and make our shirts and stuff in the winter. We used to hate it because we all looked alike. [Laughs] No difference. But she was very efficient in household chores. Whatever she did, she did it fast and efficiently.

TI: And this was all, I mean, your memories are from the Kent area when you were growing up.

GN: Yes, yes.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2014 Densho. All Rights Reserved.