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Title: Makoto Otsu Interview
Narrator: Makoto Otsu
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (secondary), Barbara Yasui (primary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 24, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-497-13

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TI: So how long did you stay in Minto Mines before you decided...

MO: I think I stayed... I think I stayed there a year and a half. Well, we moved there in May of '42, and I think I moved out of there in '44. I might have stayed there about two years.

TI: And so that decision to leave Minto mines, was that your decision or was it your parents' decision in terms of...

MO: Well, I don't know. My dad forced me to go because I wasn't doing anything... I don't know. [Laughs]

TI: I know, because I was thinking, that's not too bad, not to go to school.

MO: I was, just finished grade ten, so I think Dad thinks I should get some education.

TI: That makes sense to me, too. As a parent, I think that's what I would be thinking. So why Winnipeg? Why would you go there versus someplace else?

MO: I think my sister was going first, I think. And there was, Winnipeg, I got in the high school there. Daniel Mac, there was a missionary, I think it was Miss Mcgaffinor somebody, helped me. And when I enrolled in Daniel Mac High School there, there was only me and another kid from a Japanese, two of us, that high school, when we were going there.

TI: And because Winnipeg was far enough inland, were there Japanese from the coast that moved there directly from the coast? Or like you, they were someplace else and then they...

MO: Oh, when we went to Winnipeg, there was a Japanese family in Winnipeg already. They must have moved out there from Steveston.

BY: What was your sister doing in Winnipeg?

MO: She was going to high school, too, but she went to a different high school than I did.

BY: You lived separately?

MO: Yeah, we were not living together.

TI: Well, so, if you didn't live with your sister, who did you live with?

MO: I was bunking in with my dad's friend, he was in Winnipeg. He knew... he was my dad's friend, he was a fisherman, too.

TI: Oh, okay, a fisherman with your dad.

MO: I don't know how I got to Winnipeg. I think his son was a chick sexer.

TI: Okay. And do you remember your dad's friend's name?

MO: Yeah, Kimura.

TI: And so he was kind of your dad's age, about the same age?

MO: Yeah.

TI: Okay, so he's like of like a, almost like an uncle or something to you.

MO: Yeah, well, I knew him pretty well before.

BY: And what was he doing there?

MO: He was working in some tanning company.

BY: But there was no, like, big Japanese community there? Just a few?

MO: No, not in Winnipeg. He was living with this Japanese family that was there, he's from Steveston, too. I think their name was Sato.

TI: So when you go to school in Winnipeg, what was the response of your other classmates, the ones who weren't Japanese?

MO: Oh, they were curious. Japanese, the first time they'd seen Japanese there. I had a good time in Winnipeg, though.

TI: So were there any, kind of, like hard times where maybe you got bullied or something like that?

MO: No, I didn't think we got bullied. We were treated pretty good. Me and another Japanese guy, we were small. We were small for, being Japanese, we made a junior basketball team there, and we'd play basketball for the high school.

TI: So that was a way of getting to know people, playing sports and things like that?

MO: Yeah.

TI: How about your education? You mentioned you spent a year or two doing correspondence courses. When you got to Winnipeg and started school, did you find yourself behind the other students, or were you okay?

MO: Well, I was behind maybe, yeah. Like grade eleven and senior in Winnipeg.

TI: Okay, so you had to kind of catch up.

MO: Yeah, I had to catch up.

TI: Any other memories from Winnipeg when you were staying with Mr. Kimura? Anything that comes to mind in terms of, yeah, a memory?

MO: Well, I had a good time in high school.

BY: So how did you and Mr. Kimura eat?

MO: I was a cook, chief cook for him. I was bunking in with him, you know. He has a room rented, one room, I was actually sleeping with him at nighttime.

BY: And you were the cook?

MO: I'm his cook, I was his cook.

TI: So there was a kitchen in the place that you would cook?

MO: Yeah.

TI: So what would you cook?

MO: Well, we were eating a lot of canned food, sardines that that. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, this sounds good. [Laughs] So how long did you and Mr. Kimura live together?

MO: I think I lived together until my dad, they moved about '45. I was maybe a year.

TI: And so '45, so that was when the war...

MO: I must have gone in '44.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.