Densho Digital Archive
Topaz Museum Collection
Title: Grace F. Oshita Interview
Narrator: Grace F. Oshita
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Date: June 4, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ograce-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

MA: So today is June 4, 2008, I'm here with Grace Oshita, and we're in Salt Lake City Utah. I'm Megan Asaka, and the videographer today is Dana Hoshide. So, Grace, thanks so much for doing this interview.

GO: I was reminded the other day when they awarded me, that I talked for forty years, so I should remember something.

MA: This is gonna be great, thank you. So I just wanted to start off by asking you, when were you born?

GO: January 2, 1925.

MA: And where were you born?

GO: San Francisco, Lane Hospital, it's still there, I think. They don't call it Lane anymore... Pacific, California Pacific Medical Center. My son is an M.D. there.

MA: And what was your name at birth?

GO: Grace Fumiko Fujimoto.

MA: So I wanted to ask a little bit about your father. What was his name?

GO: His name was, given name by his friends was Eddie, Edward, and then Kanta, K-A-N-T-A, Fujimoto.


MA: So where was your father from in Japan?

GO: Okayama. My grandparents came first. It must have been after the San Francisco earthquake, because they never spoke about it, and so I figured it must have been 1910 or after. So fortunately, they weren't affected by it.

MA: So your grandparents came first, and then sent for your father later?

GO: Yes, uh-huh.

MA: Okay. When your grandparents came over, what type of work did they, were they involved in?

GO: Let's see. I have snapshots of a little storefront, and one side is a grocery store, middle is a bathhouse, and something else. It was a tiny, tiny, business. In other words, I guess they wanted the privacy of a bathroom, which the hotel didn't have. One per floor, probably.

MA: And this was in San Francisco Japantown?

GO: Well, there was no Japantown, it was a, actually, one street down, down the hill from Chinatown, which was... is that Powell Street or was that... I think it was Powell Street. Anyway, many Japanese lived in that area until, somewhat centralized area, I don't know who decided to move in there, but quite a few lived in the Bush Street, Buchanan and Bush Street area.

MA: About how old was your father when he came over to the U.S.?

GO: He finished his, all his formal education, including, I imagine, they used to call it kotoshogyo, in other words, would it be high school or college ranking, commercial college.

MA: Okay, so he finished that, and then after he was done with his education, came over?

GO: Uh-huh. And then the sister, older sister, graduated from teachers college.

MA: Did she also come over to the U.S.?

GO: Yes, together.

MA: And what about your mother, your biological mother? When did she come over?

GO: A few years later, my grandparents went to Japan to, quote, to "select" her and be introduced to her, and brought her back as their son's wife. I don't know how they made it. [Laughs] That was their way, I guess.

MA: And your mother, you told me on the phone that she passed away when you were young?

GO: Yes. She was in poor health, and my grandparents were always busy running the businesses: a huge grocery store in Japantown, and then the factory in the industrial areas. So she was sent back to Japan, and first of all, she was staying with my dad's cousins, but one letter that I have, one of the last letters says, "I'm sorry, but I can't stay with them any longer. I'm going to move to my sister's, in with my sister."

MA: I see, so she went back to Japan?

GO: Well, not, this was, I don't know, a number of years after.

MA: And how old were you when that happened?

GO: My grandma always said, "Well you haven't seen your mother since you were about three years old."

MA: And your father remarried, is that right?

GO: Yes, not until just before the war, 1940.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.