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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Janice Mirikitani Interview
Narrator: Janice Mirikitani
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: January 19, 2016
Densho ID: denshovh-mjanice-01-0001

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TI: So today is January 19, 2016, we're in San Francisco at the Hotel Kabuki. On camera is Dana Hoshide and interviewing is Tom Ikeda, that's me. So, Janice, I'm just going to start at the very beginning, and we're going to do a, just sort of a life history. So can you tell me where and when you were born?

JM: I was born in 1941 in Stockton, California. And about nine months later we were all sent into the camps because Pearl Harbor occurred and the executive order occurred in 1942.

TI: Okay, so like the spring of 1941?

JM: I was born in February.

TI: Okay, February. And what was the name given you to at birth?

JM: Janice Hachiko Mirikitani.

TI: Okay. So I'm going to first start with your parents. Can you tell me your mother's name and some of her history?

JM: My mother's name is Bellan Shigemi Matsuda, that's her maiden name. She married Ted Mirikitani, Tadashi Mirikitani, when she was twenty-six, I believe. And he was from Lodi, we were from Stockton, or the other way around, I'm not sure. [Laughs] Actually, we were from Petaluma because my maternal grandparents had a farm in Petaluma which my mother as a Nisei, American-born, was able to purchase after they had done indentured servitude on a plantation in Hawaii. So they immigrated through Hawaii like a lot of Japanese immigrants did, and worked their way so that they could by some property.

TI: But they used your mother's name to buy the property?

JM: My mother was an American citizen, therefore she was able to purchase property. And what they did is they grew out the land into a chicken farm, and we had various other, we had vegetables, we grew vegetables, we sold eggs, we had sheep, we had one horse.

TI: So how large was the family farm?

JM: The family farm I think was about five acres, because we had large... back then, we had large chicken houses and we had yards, so we had no cages for the chickens. These were really, really fresh eggs and totally non-steroidal and non-hormonal. Those were the days.

TI: So I have this image that it was kind of like an Easter egg hunt every day then, because they weren't caged, the eggs would be all over.

JM: Oh, no, the houses had nests.

TI: Oh, I see.

JM: And the chickens would come outside to eat, and then at night they would shoo them inside, and they would sit in their nests and they would lay their eggs. And so every day it was our task, our task, ever since I was ten or twelve, I think, to gather eggs and also help clean the chicken houses because we didn't have mechanical ways in which to do that, so we had to shovel shit, basically. [Laughs] And it was an interesting childhood because the child... growing up on a farm is very isolated. And, of course, after the camps when we were released in 1944, my mother and I and my biological father Ted and Bellann, moved to Chicago with me.

TI: But before we go there, let me just finish up with a few more questions about your mom's family, then we'll go to your father's family, then we'll just kind of walk through chronologically.

JM: Okay.

TI: So your mom's family, they have the family farm in Petaluma. Now, your grandparents, where did they come from in Japan?

JM: Hiroshima. And the Mirikitanis came from Hiroshima also, so Matsudas and Mirikitanis came from Hiroshima. And the Mirikitanis moved after the war to Kansas City, and we moved back to, my maternal grandparents moved back to Petaluma, and we moved to Chicago after the camps.

TI: Right, but then your biological father, so his family also from Hiroshima, but then when they immigrated, they came to Kansas City.

JM: They went through Hawaii.

TI: Through Hawaii. This is your dad's family, biological.

JM: Yes. In fact, the Mirikitanis owned quite a bit of property I understand, in Waikiki. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, really?

JM: And I'm considered a poor relative.

TI: You'll have to tap into that. Okay. And how did your biological parents meet?

JM: Well, my mother, as I said, was raised in Petaluma, and my father was in Lodi and he was a baseball player. And this was a baishakunin arranged marriage, so they arranged my mother and my biological father to marry.

TI: Even though they were Nisei, it was a baishakunin? You hear a lot more in terms of Isseis, but Niseis not as much.

JM: Well, they were older. [Laughs] More traditional maybe.

TI: So older Nisei.

JM: Yeah.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright (c) 2016 Densho. All Rights Reserved.