Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Hisaye Yamamoto Interview
Narrator: Hisaye Yamamoto
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary); Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: March 21, 1994
Densho ID: denshovh-yhisaye-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

CO: Hisaye, where were you born and when were you born?

HY: I was born in Redondo Beach, California, in 1921.

CO: And what did your family do?

HY: My folks were immigrants from Kumamoto-ken in Japan, and they were truck farmers, or truck gardeners, as they're called. And we grew mostly strawberries and tomatoes.

CO: And tell me about your schooling.

HY: Oh, let's see. We went to Japanese school most of the time, but --


HY: Okay, I went to kindergarten at South School in Redondo Beach, and we were, I was in about the fourth grade and we went to Japanese school in Redondo Beach. Redondo Beach Japanese School. And then we moved inland to Downey, California, and we went to... let's see. I went to Alameda -- yeah, my brothers and I went to Alameda grammar school. I had four brothers, and they were all younger. I was the oldest, and we went to Alameda grammar school, and then the year of the earthquake, 1933, the Long Beach Earthquake, I was already in junior high, I guess, and my brothers were still in grammar school. And I remember the Downey Junior High, which was on the same property as the senior high, being covered with scaffolding for repairs.


HY: My folks came from this... it wasn't a, Kumamoto was a province, so the smaller area was called Shimomashiki-gun. And the village was called Tomochimachi. And evidently, according to Yuji Ichioka's book, Kumamotos were very -- Kumamoto kenjin people were actively recruited for farm help in the United -- in California, so there was quite a few people from there. And we would have the -- when we were kids, we would have these village and prefecture get-togethers, picnics, big picnics, and there would be a lot of people there. And within the past few years, I read that people like George Yoshinaga came from exactly the same place, and I wonder who else, you know? [Laughs] Like Lawson Inada, the poet, I think one of his parents is from Kumamoto, his father, probably. And so we constitute quite a bit of the Japanese population in the United States.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.