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Title: Sakaye Aratani Interview
Narrator: Sakaye Aratani
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 11, 2017
Densho ID: denshovh-asakaye-01-0001

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TI: So today is February 11, 2017. We're in the home of Sakaye Aratani, and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda, and on camera we have Akira Boch. And so the first question I always ask people is can you tell me when you were born and where?

SA: Oh, I was born on December 11, 1919, here in Hollywood.

TI: So how old are you today?

SA: Ninety-seven, I'll be ninety-eight in December.

TI: What was the name given to you at birth, your full name?

SA: Sakaye Inouye.

TI: How about siblings? Did you have any brothers or sisters?

SA: Just one sister.

TI: This is your younger sister?

SA: Vicky, my younger sister?

TI: And how much younger?

SA: Twelve years.

TI: How about your father? Can you tell me his name and where he is from?

SA: Oh, he is formerly from Japan, Wakayama. And his name is Eijiro Arthur. And he was involved with nursery, so my grandfather had a nursery here in Hollywood when I was born.

TI: And in Japan, what kind of work did...

SA: He came quite early to go to school here. He was very interested in botany, and he did a lot of study of botany.

TI: And you said your grandfather was also here, so did they come together?

SA: My grandfather, yes. He had the nursery also, and he was here in Hollywood with my grandmother.

TI: And do you remember about when? You said early, about when they came?

SA: What?

TI: Do you know about when they came to the United States?

SA: Oh, to United States? I have no idea.

TI: But was it like in the 1800s?

SA: I believe so, because my grandmother came after my grandfather. My mother was born in Japan, and then I have two uncles that was born here from my grandmother.

TI: So their children would be your cousins.

SA: Yeah, I call them "uncle," the oldest one was Iwao and the younger son was Lloyd Nakayama.

TI: So your family has, for Japanese Americans, probably one of the longest family being in the United States.

SA: Oh, yes.

TI: That's exciting.

SA: I remember my grandfather telling me that while he was here, before he got married... no, no, he was already married, but he was working in, I think he said Wyoming, they were putting railroad track, and he was a cook for the people that worked there.

TI: How interesting. My mother-in-law's family grew up in Wyoming, too. Same way, they got there by the railroad work, and then once they were there, they decided to settle in a small town called Worthen, Wyoming, so it's a very, very different story. Did your grandfather ever tell you why he wanted to leave Japan?

SA: No, he never did.

TI: How about your father? Did he ever about why...

SA: Well, he wanted to come and study botany, and he was so interested in, so I think he did schoolboy while he was going to school.

TI: And so let's ask about your mother, how did your father and mother meet?

SA: Oh, through a baishakunin. [Laughs]

TI: And so was your mother in Japan?

SA: Yes, and then she came, I think she must have been about, maybe around eighteen or nineteen, after she graduated school from Japan, then she came to America.

TI: Tell me her name.

SA: Oh, her name is Katsuko.

TI: And her maiden name?

SA: Nakayama.

TI: Do you know what kind of work her family did in Japan?

SA: No, I have no idea.

TI: So your father worked in the nursery business with his father.

SA: Yes, doing landscaping.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright (c) 2017 Densho. All Rights Reserved.