Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tom Matsuoka Interview
Narrator: Tom Matsuoka
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Ridgefield, Washington
Date: May 7, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-mtom-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Okay, well, today is May 7, 1998, and we're here at the home of Mr. Tom Takeo Matsuoka. My name is Alice Ito from the Densho Project. Our videographer is Matt Emery and also present are Mr. Matsuoka's daughter, Rae Takekawa, and family friend Toshio Ito. And Mr. Matsuoka, I just wanted to ask you questions very much like our last visit. If you could just start off with some of your personal history way back beginning with your parents and what your father's name was and mother's name and where they were from in Japan.

TM: You want know -- start off my father's name and mother's name?

AI: Yes.

TM: Okay. My father's name is Kanju Matsuoka and mother's name is Tori Hayakawa, that's maiden name.

AI: And where were they from in Japan?

TM: Where from? Kumamoto-ken, Kyushu.

AI: And last time you were telling me a little bit about what their families did in Japan, their farming.

TM: Oh, came to, from Japan?

AI: In Japan, what kind of farming did they do?

TM: In Japan? Well, my home, much as I know, is all the time is a farmer. In Japan they grow rice. That's the main crop. Well, far as that goes is rice field is irrigated farm, and dry farm they grow some kind of millet and beans and grain. And some farmer, they use silkworm. That is not the main business, but that's sort of a side business. That's why in the dry farm, there's lots of acreage of those mulberry, you know, that kuwa. That's for the silkworm feed. Some people started tobacco, too, but the tobacco and silkworm don't go together because... I don't know what, what in the tobacco, but anyway, if you tried the silkworm in the, dry the tobacco, all those silkworm die. So most of the people, they quit that tobacco business.

AI: I see.

TM: And much, much as I know nowadays, I think the farming is a little bit different, but, but when I was a kid that's how it was.

AI: Well, now can you tell me about how your father decided to come to...

TM: Well, my dad, he want to come to Hawaii so much. And because my grandpa's farm was a pretty big farm. And he was well-to-do and there were just two boys: my father, and he had older brother. Well, when my father was late teenage, he was drafted in the army. Well, that time in Japan, they took the Taiwan from China because Japan beat China. So China paid off to Taiwan, but Taiwan was a really jungle island, see. And the government of Japan, they have to clean up the, all the Taiwan island. And in order to do that they thought, take Southern Japan Army, maybe through to the Taiwan because both is a hot country. When my dad was drafted and went to the army, well, I guess they trained in the hot sun all day long. He had the sunstroke. They discharged him. He discharged and came to the farm again and he thought, "Maybe I should do something else besides the farming." Then meantime there is lot of sugar field labor they are recruiting from Hawaii. So he, so that is the one.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.