Densho Digital Repository
Friends of Manzanar Collection
Title: Grace Hata Interview
Narrator: Grace Hata
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: West Los Angeles, California
Date: March 16, 2012
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1003-10-14

<Begin Segment 14>

MN: Now, I know earlier you mentioned that you stopped odori lessons. How did you come about learning the jourouri shamisen?

GH: Mr. Nishimura, who lived next door, encouraged my mother to make me take this class in jourouri. And so he got everything, got my mother all excited about this jourouri, and I was sent to take the shamisen lessons. So I told my mother I don't want to sing, I just, I'll just learn the shamisen. And we did have one recital, and Mr. Koike came and carried all my doohickeys, and we did have one program where we really had to wear those outfits, and the teachers sang and I played the shamisen. [Laughs]

MN: Now, how is the jourouri shamisen different from a regular shamisen?

GH: (The shamisen is) larger and the bachis are larger. It's done to a storytelling. It's, it's not really very musical. It's supposed to be sort of background music for the storytelling.

MN: Where were the jourouri classes held?

GH: It was in camp, but down the block somewhere. I forgot exactly where it was. [Laughs] There weren't too many of us, but Mr. Nishimura, he was really into it. And he got another young girl, about my age, also taking shamisen, so there were two of us, but we were never together. We never had lessons together.

MN: Did you take regular shamisen lessons too?

GH: After that my mother had me take regular shamisen lessons for a short while.

MN: Same teacher?

GH: No, different, different teacher.

MN: Where were you getting these shamisen instruments? Were they made in Manzanar?

GH: No, I think they came in. They were shipped in from someplace, I don't where. [Laughs]

MN: And you said you performed a jourouri at Manzanar?

GH: Yes. [Laughs]

MN: What was that like?

GH: Gosh, nobody believed me. I was telling my friend's uncle, he just cracked up laughing. But so he said, "Well, prove it." So I did, and he just cracked up laughing. He couldn't stop. But it's just a certain part of the whole story that they emphasize, 'cause the whole story is so long usually.


MN: So who was your sanbasan?

GH: Sanbasan was Yoshida-san.

MN: Was she a regular, like did she deliver a lot of babies in the Gardena area?

GH: I think so.

MN: Did she deliver Hugo?

GH: Yes, I think so. I think we all went to her.

MN: Even Thomas?

GH: No, he was, I don't know who he went to. He was way before us, so I don't know. [Laughs]

MN: So let's go back to Manzanar, and I know, well, your mother was a cook at the restaurant and she must have still liked to cook at the barrack. What sort of things did she cook?

GH: Whatever she could get her hands on. Shinsan came into camp to see us once, maybe twice, she cooked up, on this little plate, electric plate, she cooked up udon that -- Mr. Koike's son, Ichiro-san, was with him too, so they both loved noodles so she made noodles. My brother Thomas, he doesn't eat very much, but Ichiro-san, he loved it and it just pleased my mother that he'd eat so much. So she used to do a little cooking like that, so we had cooking at home sometimes.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.