Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Roy Matsumoto Interview
Narrator: Roy Matsumoto
Interviewer: John de Chadenedes
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: September 6, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-mroy_2-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

JD: Why don't we start with you telling us a little bit about your parents, where they came from, and what led them to come to this country.

RM: You want me to tell what Grandfather did? Went to? Well, first, my grandfather was the youngest in the family, and in Japan, the eldest inherit everything. So other siblings have to work for him or his father to make a living. And since my grandfather youngest, he had to, he knows that he have to work for his elder brother. And only thing you get paid, he was given his room and board and maybe a little spending money. So he decided to go outside and make his own living. But at the time, he had his sweetheart, and so he want to go out there, so he decided to marry my grandmother. And they married, was happened to be teenage marriage, then had two kids, and one was my father. When he got married... well, when he was born, his father pass away, and his mother married, remarried to the people named Muranaka, so he had a half brother, so to me it's a great-uncle.

But anyway, what he did was, at the time, Japanese government advertised, so that, in Hawaii, the sugar plantation and pineapple, sugar field and pineapple plantation needed some laborer, so Japanese government advertised for volunteer to go as a contract laborer. So he volunteered, went to Hawaii with his wife, but he left two, his kids, including my father, and went to Hawaii. And he worked there for about two contract. Meantime, two child born, one is my uncle and one is my aunt. Then after his contract over, he sent his wife and two children to Japan. And he himself came to United States and landed in Seattle, Washington. He was born in Hiroshima, and Hiroshima is in southern Japan, warm country. And when he came to Seattle, he found out it was too cold for him to live, so he went down to southern California and he leased a hay ranch and started farmer. And right at the time, Japanese or Oriental cannot own land, therefore he leased a hay ranch, then he became... he became, what do you call, I forgot the word. Anyway, he became a truck farmer.

And since he was a pioneer for the Japanese to the United States, so he had many relatives in Japan. So he grew up in the same way, he's the youngest one, or younger one cannot inherit anything, so they also volunteered to go either Hawaii or came to the United States. And when my grandfather was born, the village where the land was... there's hilly country, and not many arable places. So farmers have to do some other work. Fortunately, there's Inland Sea, so they became fishermen, so they're, most of 'em are farmer and fishermen. So they have to go overseas or where to make a living, and lot of people, quite a few people came to my grandfather's place, as my grandfather was pioneer. The thing is, I forgot to mention, but the village is close relation, and most of 'em are related, in-laws and so forth, so they know each other. So therefore, that's why they come to my grandfather's place. So as my great uncle grown up and came to my grandfather's place, meantime, he called my father. Also, this happened to be late 1800s when he went to Hawaii and came there. So that would be early 1900, and I was born in 1913.

Meantime, my grandfather made a little money and made an early retirement and went to Japan to his wife. And while he was there, when I was about three years old, I remembered Grandfather treating me very well. And when I was five years old, he left for Japan. And I started to go to grammar school, but right now that's elementary school. But place called Fruitland grammar school in Maywood, California. And I was in the third grade, and summer vacation time, my great uncle came to our home and said, "Would you like to visit your grandfather?" So since he was very nice to me, I said, "Yes." So I thought summer vacation, visit my grandfather, so I agreed. Then I had one, my sibling, my younger brother, one year younger, he said he likes to go, too. And I was eight years old, so he and I went to Japan and saw my great uncle and saw my grandfather, and I was very happy seeing him, he was very nice to me. And my younger brother didn't remember him so well. But my grandmother, that's grandfather's wife, is very nice to my kid brother. And somehow, my grandmother is always giving me a hard time. The thing is, since we are young, my brother and I played, and I always tried to lose so that he'd be happy. But such as, playing chess or something like that, accidently I win, then he lose, and he'd get mad and cry and throw this, upset the chess. Any game, something like that. So my mother, I mean, my grandmother always come to me, think I'm just abusing him, so I had a hard time.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.