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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toru Sakahara - Kiyo Sakahara Interview I
Narrator: Toru Sakahara, Kiyo Sakahara
Interviewer: Dee Goto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: February 24, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-storu_g-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

DG: Let's introduce yourselves. Today is February 24, 1998 and we're here in your home and your name is...

KS: I'm Kiyo Kamikawa Sakahara and we live in a condo. We've lived here for almost fourteen years now. Prior to that we lived in the University District for thirty-four years so we consider ourselves Seattle-ites.

DG: And Toru...

TS: My name is Toru Sakahara and I'm a retired lawyer and I'm over eighty years old so my recall is somewhat retarded. [Laughs]

DG: Excited here to be able to talk to you because you are a second generation Japanese and there aren't too many of them left anymore that knew the old timers. So, Toru let's start with you and tell me about where you were born and when and what you know about your parents and grandparents?

TS: Well, my father's name was Tojiro Sakahara and he was born the fourth son of Yasumatsu and Yoshino Sakahara on January 23, 1894. He entered the United States at Seattle. That was in September of 1908. He was a farmer and later manager of the Puget Sound Vegetable (Growers Association).

DG: Now he was only twelve years old when he came?

TS: That's correct. And he came to join his parents who were farmers in Fife at that time. Later he became manager of the farmers co-op marketing firm in Sumner, Washington. He (naturalized as a U.S.) citizen under the name of Tom T. Sakahara.

DG: Okay, let's stop there a minute, Toru, and let's just talk about your grandparents, because I think it's particularly significant that both of your grandparents were here and they came to where?

TS: To Fife, in, near Tacoma, Washington and the property that I was born at, that I was living at when I was born, is bounded by a highway between Fife center and Sumner, Washington. The other boundary is a creek and we lived in what looked like a u-shaped piece of property about twenty-nine acres. Across the creek at first my grandparents, followed by the Watanabe family, then the Kinoshita family next to them, and across the highway was the Berns, a Norwegian family.

DG: So there was quite a community of Japanese families there. Was your grandparents or your father's family one of the first ones there?

TS: Well, my father's family had a grocery store.

DG: Oh.

TS: And that's all I know about it. We left much, much before I became aware of hardly anything.

DG: Do you know what your grandparents did in Japan before they came? Where did they come from?

TS: My grandparents on my father's side came from Osaka and my grandparents on my mother's side came from Kumamoto.

DG: 'Cause see, 1908 and 1912, they were some of the first families that were here in the United States, 'cause before that it was mostly single men.

TS: Well it's odd that soon after they came the Fife community, the Japanese community, had a Fife Farmers' Association, also a Fife Japanese Language School. So these are some things I found out later but I wasn't aware of that.

DG: So how many families I wonder needed to get together before they formed a Japanese School?

TS: Well, I don't know. At this time, Fife is a sort of a family community with all the farm lands under garden and black top. But the (early) population of Fife was mostly families living on five, ten, fifteen, thirty, forty acre pieces of land that they farmed.

DG: So what did they farm, what did they do?

TS: Mostly row crop farming.

DG: So both of your grandparents, here they farmed?

TS: (The farmers were) mostly Japanese, but there was one Italian company that had about hundred or hundred fifty acres in which large number of Italians worked cooperatively.

DG: So did your grandparents come with the idea that they were going to go back to Japan or did they start putting down some roots here?

TS: The roots, I suppose, were those of us who are still around.

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