Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Harry Ueno Interview
Narrator: Harry Ueno
Interviewer: Emiko Omori
Location: San Mateo, California
Date: February 18, 1994
Densho ID: denshovh-uharry-01-0001

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EO: -- going, being sent back to Japan, and what your parents were doing.

HU: Well, I born in Hawaii. They call the Hamakua district, Pauilo, Hawaii.

EO: When was that?

HU: That was April 14, 1907. And I was four years old, we moved to the place called New House. That's another bigger camp, that's a plantation camp. And we stayed there for, I was four years old, move out there. Then we stayed there 'til I was seven. I started going to school from six year old. Walk about two-and-a-half miles, three miles to the school. The place called Pau Hau. They had a sugar mill out there and they had a grammar school there. And I went there for almost a... oh, year and a half; I went to the Japanese school eight o'clock in the morning. Nine o'clock I went to the grammar school, American school, then go back to the Japanese school three to five o'clock, another two hours. Then come home, walk home. In wintertime, already dark. But it's a long walk, but we get used to it every day. Then about, I was seven years old, we moved to the place called Kalapa Maoka, that means Higher Kalapa Village. And my old man get out from plantation and he leased a little ranch there and raised watermelon. Then he leased another ground for the sugar cane. And well, I went to school toward Manaker Mountain, you know, that high mountain there. They had a great shot there and right now they have a big observatory there. So the same way about we have to walk more than two miles to the school. So sometimes we have to get up about six o'clock in the morning to start school because the Japanese school is right next to the American school and we have to start at 8 o'clock in the morning, the same way, and an hour later, we have to go to American school 'til three o'clock and then go back to Japanese school in another two hours, and walk home. So the time we walk home is about, almost seven o'clock. So we were very busy attending school. [Laughs] Then Saturday, we'd go back half a day for Japanese school only. We had a neighbor, Portuguese children, in the same class but we never hardly had time to play with them because we go in a different time to school, come home different times, so we never get together.

EO: Were your parents contract workers?

HU: Was, my parents immigrated to the Hawaii in 1900. And my older brother born in 1902 and I born in 1907 so all that time about, let's see, thirteen years he was a contract worker for the plantation. Then after that he get out on his own. But he was lucky to raise some sugar cane in 1913. Because during the wartime, sugar cane is very important for the navy. They use a lot of sugar for the black powder in the naval guns. So sugar price jumped up to three, four times higher than was, been. So I stayed there 'til I was a little... eight, third grade I finished in Hawaii. And so the Japanese school, too. I finished the third grade. And I was about, not quite eight years and four months. My old man said, "You go back to Japan." So I went to the Japan with my uncle. My uncle lived in Maui, Lahaina they called the place. He was much younger than my father so he went back to Japan for, get his bride. So I accompanied him to Japan. That was the beginning of the first, World War I, 1915, August. There already, war was on. The time I went back to Japan with one of the NYK ships... the Tenryo maru, the biggest ship between the United States, Hawaii and Japan, passenger and freight, too, I guess.

EO: Were you in Hawaii during any of the strikes? Sugar cane strikes?

HU: No. No, I never thought my old man had a strike on the sugar cane field. They had someplace, depending on the district, you know. And the place we were in, they never had a strike, as far as I know.

EO: And where did you go back?

HU: I went back to the Hiroshima. That's the home of my father or grandfathers living there for generations there. My grandfather's ancestors were boat, fishing boat builders, so they've been there for maybe five hundred years or more, the records show. I went back there in August 1915 to Japan, and I stayed Hiroshima for, let's see, about six years. Then I went to the, my aunt's home in Fukuoka; that's a southern island. I went to school there for a year; I graduated eighth grade there. Then I went back to Japan, my parents come back from Hawaii. He was very successful. Very few people those days, they could have made enough money to go back to Japan. But one of the, he was a lucky one, one of... And then we didn't have no farm or nothing. I raised by the, my grandparents, you know -- grandfather and grandmother. Then I met my parents and I had my younger brother come back with my parents. My older brother, he finished high school in Hilo, Hawaii, and went to the Milwaukee for some private school there, electric, he wanted to learn more about electric.

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