Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mako Nakagawa Interview
Narrator: Mako Nakagawa
Interviewer: Lori Hoshino
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 27, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-nmako-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

LH: Sounds like a Chinese kind of a saying, huh? Yeah. Gosh. Did somebody in your family do that?

MN: No. No. No. This is supposed to be a famous calligrapher. This is a Japanese relative. Every time they come over they bring something, and then you... you know, that whole gift giving back and forth. I can't keep up with it. All this is omiyage. Most of the stuff I have up around the house is all omiyage.

LH: Yeah. I love this. I love the zodiac animals.

MN: Isn't that sweet of them?

LH: Yeah. But these are relatives from which side of your family?

MN: My father's side of the family.

LH: The Takahashi?

MN: Yeah.

LH: So wait a minute. He was from Sendai, right.

MN: Uh-huh.

LH: So these relatives are from -- your father is part of a second family?

MN: Yeah.

LH: I see. How many siblings did he have?

MN: He had four brothers before. There was four brothers in the family then he has four daughters. [Laughs]

LH: Four daughters.

MN: Yeah, he was a second.

LH: I see.

MN: Yeah. He was a fun loving, you know, he was kind of a absolutely useless. [Laughs] He was never serious, but he was good with people. He had terrific people skills so by the time he got to Alaska cannery job, he was known to be a pretty good boss as well as he got along well with the hakujins so he kind of played a good role between the workers and the... so that, he got paid pretty well for that so it was pretty prestigious and because people wanted to go to Alaska and that's where Bill Marutani came in, and he was one of my dad's crew to go to Alaska.

LH: And let's save that for a little bit later, but your father came to Seattle and started working as the Alaska cannery foreman and in the meantime, what did your mom do?

MN: My father... actually that was only just before the war he got this good job, yeah.

LH: Oh, I see.

MN: Yeah. In fact, he smuggled into the country. He came to Canada. He worked there as kind of a maintenance, just anything he could possibly get. In fact, one time he told me -- I don't know if you want this story. We were at Sea Shelt and he said, "See this hill here?" He says, "We used to walk down this hill on the way to work every day, and one day on the beach there was a dead deer that washed up. And all the guys that were in this work crew, they saw it on the way there, and then on the way back they looked and it was still there. And they went back to their housing area, and they waited 'til it got dark, then they came back and they picked up the deer, brought it home, and they cooked it up and ate it. And I'm thinking wow. I don't know what to make of the story. Were they that hungry? Then I... it just dawned on me that they were still young men and young men are always hungry, [Laughs] but they waited 'til dark. They did not want to be caught picking up and letting people know how hungry they were so they waited 'til dark. That story always kind of haunts me a little when he told me that story.

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