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-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

MA: Can you talk a little bit about the, the miso business that your parents reestablished in Salt Lake City? Was the name still Fujimoto Company?

GO: Uh-huh.

MA: And how did they, was their stuff still in San Francisco? Did they have to go back there?

GO: Yeah, they had to have everything shipped here. See, the final grinding of the cooked soybeans and the activated rice as such... so that was done with, like a hamburger machine, a huge... and stored in huge 400-pound barrels and kept for several months before they sold it. It had to be aged anyway. Sometimes if you keep it too long, it goes darker and darker, but then taste might changed a little bit, but it's still miso flavored. Some people like to use that to pickle vegetables and make tsukemono.

MA: Who were the customers for the, for your company? Was it the Japanese Americans in Salt Lake City, mainly?

GO: All over, 'cause New York, east didn't have any, Chicago didn't have any factories, so it was all over.

MA: Oh, that's interesting, so they were able to expand a little bit more.

GO: Uh-huh. And they probably knew about our miso company, too.

MA: Who were the, were the workers in the, in your company? You mentioned earlier that a lot of Nisei men who came out of camp initially worked there.

GO: Uh-huh, and younger Isseis. My mother's sister's husband always worked in Salt Lake, anyway, he worked for the miso company until they moved to San Francisco one more time to take care of the property there, the Nakamoto family had two sets of, there were two buildings where they used each floor not for one family, but like a hotel, 'cause that's what they needed, is more of the single room type places. And it was, you know, part of Japantown.

MA: In general, how did you feel you were accepted by the Salt Lake City Japanese American community coming from Topaz?

GO: Well, there weren't any, a huge number of Japanese living in this area, so I didn't feel any different. Of course, it was a new area for us, so there might have been a little feeling of, "Oh dear, these people are, don't know anything," or something like that, but it was fine.

MA: Were there many families who came from Topaz like yours, Japanese American families that settled in Salt Lake City?

GO: No, not many. That's why I'm sitting here today. [Laughs]

MA: So most, it seems, went back to the West Coast.

GO: Yes, uh-huh. See, my dad decided that it would be, the loss would be, for staying here instead of moving to California, would be the prepaid freight they would offer, he would offer. And, but I guess it didn't make that much difference, there was a miso company in L.A. already, and I'm sure there was one in Seattle. But San Francisco only had one, my dad's.

MA: How was the business in Salt Lake City compared to maybe in San Francisco before the war? 'Cause I feel like it was smart for your dad to establish in Salt Lake City because he could have, he could sell, then, to people on the East Coast or maybe the Midwest. Did you notice a difference in terms of the business volume?

GO: Well, I really don't know. I think my dad prepaid all freights so that it would be easier to order from his company and any other. And being that far, it wouldn't make any difference whether you're ordering from Seattle or L.A. or San Francisco, anyway.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.