Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Jim Hirabayashi Interview
Narrator: Jim Hirabayashi
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: October 2, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-hjim-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

CO: It's always sort of easier to start from the beginning. Tell us about your prewar life and where you were living and something about --

JH: Well, I was born in a little village called Thomas, Washington, which is between Seattle and Tacoma. Grew up in a small truck gardening farm. We had about eight acres. Grew vegetables like peas and carrots and celery, broccoli, tomatoes, things like that. That's where I was... I was born in a house that my father built on a piece of land that he and his friends acquired. There was a group of a small Christian sect, by the name of mukyokai. Mukyokai means non-church. And this non-church movement was started in Japan by a early Christian by the name of Uchimura Kanzo. Uchimura Kanzo came over to the States in the late 1800s and attended places like Amherst Theological Seminary, was converted to Christianity, but he didn't like the hierarchy in the church. So that he went back to Japan to start what's called the non-church movement. And it was one of his disciples that ended up in my parents' village. So that when they decided to come to America, they all went to learn English from this disciple by the name of Iguchi. And he must have taught them English and converted them to Christianity. So that this group is, doesn't have any priests, no hierarchy. The people just get together and do the service themselves. So I don't think it's any accident that my brother Gordon eventually becomes a Quaker, because the Quakers are quite similar. That's the kind of setting that I grew up in. And we attended the local public schools, the grade school. And then, after eight years of grade school in the village of Thomas, we all went to Auburn Junior High School. Auburn is the nearest town where there's a local high school.

CO: Were these vegetables sold at the Pike Place Market, by any chance?

JH: Well, we have to go back a little further than that. When my father first migrated to America in 1907, he initially worked in the railroads. And then he eventually drifted into Seattle. And they, he and his friends started farming at a place called Pontiac, is the way they pronounced it. Pontiac. And Pontiac later was to become the Sand Point Naval Station, I don't know what it is now, but it's on the edge of Lake Washington. And my father talks about in the early days, where they would load up the horse and wagon with vegetables and then take about an hour or so to get into Pike Market to sell. Later on, I've seen pictures of Mr. Katsuno, who was my father's friend. He had a truck, and this must have been back in the, around 1920 or so. And he used to drive, once they got cars, so that's what I remember them saying about Pike's market. I guess it started somewheres before that. I'm not sure when it started.

CO: You went to Auburn...

JH: I went to Auburn Junior High School and then attended the senior high school in my sophomore year. And it was at the end of the sophomore year that we were interned.

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