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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hannah Hirabayashi Interview
Narrator: Hannah Hirabayashi
Interviewers: Barbara Yasui (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 10, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-493-1

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BY: We're here today with Hannah Hanami Hirabayashi. It's March 10, 2022. We are at the Lakeshore Retirement Community in Seattle, Washington. And I am Barbara Yasui, and Tom Ikeda is also here to conduct this interview. So thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed. We're going to start today with some questions about your immediate family and your background. So can you tell us when and where you were born?

HH: I was born in 1938 in Seattle, Washington.

BY: Okay, and what was your full name that was given to you when you were born?

HH: Hannah Hanami Hirabayashi.

BY: Okay, great. And what was your father's name?

HH: Tomonobu.

BY: Tomonobu Hirabayashi.

HH: Right.

BY: And where was he born?

HH: He was born in Japan, Nagano-ken, I don't know what city or town or whatever they had at that time.

BY: All right. And what kind of, do you know what kind of work your father or father's family did in Japan?

HH: Well, my understanding was they were all farmers. But we never talked about it so I don't really know, I just assumed that. He always said he was from a samurai family.

BY: And when did your father come to the United States?

HH: 1919, when he was nineteen.

BY: Oh, that makes it easy to remember, doesn't it? And why did he come, or what motivated him to come to the United States?

HH: I think at that time it was mostly for economic reasons, you know, to make money for the family and to send money back to the family.

BY: Did he ever talk about that decision to come?

HH: He may have, in Japanese. [Laughs]

BY: And then did he arrive in Seattle, or when did he arrive?

HH: It must have been Seattle, because that's where all the boats came in.

BY: Okay. And then do you know what he did once he arrived?

HH: He was united with his brother who was ten years older. He was here for a while. And then at that time, he had a tailor shop. So my dad joined him and learned the tailoring business from him.

BY: So was your father's brother or your father, were either of them trained as tailors?

HH: No, uh-uh, fast learners.

BY: And do you know anything about their clientele? Were they tailors for the Japanese people or the white community, do you know?

HH: I think it was probably mostly the white community. My dad was saying that they didn't really suffer during the Depression because there were a lot of, I'm sure he said Swedish men coming in to have their clothes made or tailored.

BY: Do you know where the tailor shop was, or did your father ever say?

HH: Yeah, but I don't remember. It's in Chinatown, but I don't remember the street.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.