Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Nobuko Omoto Interview
Narrator: Nobuko Omoto
Interviewer: Joyce Nishimura
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: October 22, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-onobuko-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

JN: Could you start by introducing yourself and telling us a little about how, what life was like on Bainbridge before the war?

NO: Yes, I'm Nobuko -- they call me Nobie -- Sakai Omoto. And I was born on Bainbridge Island, December 20, 1923. And my father was a farmer and we lived in a shack according to standard now, because it was across the street from where the McDonald is now. That's where I was born. And I heard, probably you heard of Dr. Shepherd who was a doctor on the island and helped all the Issei ladies have their babies at home. Uh-huh, and since our parents didn't speak English very well... although my father did get around speaking broken English, but Mother didn't speak very much English. So, the Japanese were kind of a close-knit community. But until I went to, started school at Lincoln grade school, I didn't speak English very well. And I know teacher said, "Nobuko, speak English." [Laughs] Because Japanese girls get together and speak Japanese, you know. I remember that very clearly, but...


NO: I didn't have very many Caucasian friends because the Japanese were so close-knit and they did everything as a picnic or gathering, you know, as a Japanese community. Then after I started school, I had a lotta other Caucasian friends and they were all good to me, and all the teachers were very good and I liked school. So interesting because I didn't know very much then. No radio, no newspaper. But at school you get the Weekly Reader and reading books and math and, so it was really something new to me and I really enjoyed it. And well, I'm, my father and mother had six children, one son and five daughters, and I'm the third child. In 1929, my father started clearing land, you know, the old-fashioned way, horses and dynamite. The first 5 acres where the Commodore school is now. My father... many people were interested in that land during the war, but my father said, "My six children got good, free education in America," so he is gonna practically give it dirt cheap to the school. That's where the Commodore school is. And during the next ten years he cleared more land, and I think there is approximately 25 acres there now, which is all now a part of the Bainbridge Island School District. And that was a given at nominal cost also. You know, my brother and my father got together and... well, I told you we lived a simple life, but we enjoyed it.

JN: Tell us about your family and their occupations in 1942.

NO: Well, we were still... I was a student and my father was still farming. And the sad part is he cleared land because the old place where he was renting wasn't very, was all worn and the soil would get pretty old. So, and the, where he planted that last crop was full of blossoms, you know, because it was the first year of picking. And the sad part is he wasn't able to harvest it due to the war. But the Filipino that took it over said it was a bumper crop. So that was a, we were fortunate we had someone to take care of the place while we were gone. But I was a student, and I don't know, I think my sister helped work in the office part-time and my younger sisters were all in school and I think my brother was helping on the farm at the time.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.