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

<Begin Segment 1>

CO: Well, let's just start from the beginning here, because your, actually, your family would be considered the first to come over practically, one of the first pioneers.

JO: Yes, they were pioneers. My father came to this country in 1887. He was a stowaway. And my mother came over in 1907 during the Gentleman's Agreement period.

CO: Do you know anything about your father's stowaway experience?

JO: Well, yes. He showed up one day in, on the waterfronts of Nagasaki. He had already cased the ships and he knew one of the American ships was just waiting for the morning tide. When it was very late that night, he boarded the ship up the regular gangway when everyone was sleeping and hid on top of the deck. Of course, he was discovered when the ship was on the high seas and taken to the captain. He was, the captain was a very compassionate sort of person and assigned him as captain's boy. That's how he came to America.

CO: How old was he and do you have any idea of why he did this?

JO: He -- yes, he was sixteen years old and just about ready to go into the Japanese army. He was born in the rural village of Katsusa, which is toward the end, southern end of Shimobara peninsula. And people from the rural district were against the Japanese conscription law. So many of the people who came to the United States, whether they say it or not, came to escape the military.

CO: So he's now discovered. Could they have shipped him back? How did he finally make it over here?

JO: Well, I imagine they could have shipped him back into Honolulu because the ship pulled in there. But I think that they allowed him to, the captain allowed him to come to San Francisco. San Francisco at that time was the only port on the Pacific coast.

CO: Hmm. Seattle wasn't in existence?

JO: Huh?

CO: Seattle wasn't...?

JO: No, there was no ship to Seattle or no Canadian port, either.

CO: And what did he do after he got here?

JO: That is the mystery. [Laughs] Because for the next nineteen years we have no record of him. Although we know that he's been here and there and everywhere and he was well-known in the Pacific Northwest. But that period is lost except what I can gather from bits and pieces and from my own memory.

CO: And when did you come into the picture?

JO: I was born the 27th of November, 1912, in the rural village of Winslow. Well, it was a township at that time, and today it's the principal city on the island. And I was the third son of my mother and father.

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