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-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

MA: I'm curious about the miso factory. What was the name of that company?

GO: Just Fujimoto Company.

MA: And was that started by your grandparents?

GO: Uh-huh. I don't know how he got the recipe, or he must have knew somebody, known somebody in Japan to give it to him. And it's never been changed, it's the old-fashioned way of making the activated rice first. And that activated rice is all you needed to make sake. And that was the main ingredient, plus boiled soybeans and salt and whatever. Then they laid it, left it for a few months, and it would be ready.

MA: And especially when you were growing up, I mean, how many people worked at this factory? How big was it?

GO: Oh, it wasn't that big. I would say including traveling salesman and office worker, maybe barely ten at any time. My grandmother was in and out, as soon as she sent me off to school, she would walk up the hill to the cable car and ride downtown, and then she'd be home by the time I got home. I never, never went home to an empty house.

MA: Your grandmother was always there?

GO: Yes.

MA: And what was your father's role at that time in the company?

GO: He took over the office work. My grandfather was still alive when he came back and married my mother. I don't know too much about their married life. I take it that it wasn't that simple, you know, to try to get acquainted with a total stranger as a wife and husband.

MA: And during that time when you were sort of young, who were the main customers for the miso factory?

GO: All Japanese.

MA: Was it just in San Francisco or all along the West Coast did they sell to...

GO: There was another miso company in Los Angeles, and I believe one in Seattle. Now, I don't know how large the Seattle one was, but my dad, miso was always shipped out, anyway. First the rural, people in the rural area would buy it by the hundred-pound barrels, and the most common household, it would even be a ten- or twenty-pound wooden tub.

MA: I see, so he would kind of sell it in bulk.

GO: That's right, and then later on, they used cardboard and plastic containers, one pound, two pounds, five, ten.

MA: Was there a delivery service that would take the miso around?

GO: No, it would be just, well, there was a city salesman who would, uh-huh. But most of it was just mailed out, shipped out.

MA: And the workers that worked there, were they mostly Japanese Americans?

GO: Yes, they were.

MA: Nisei?

GO: First it was Issei.

MA: Isseis?

GO: Uh-huh. And then gradually Nisei -- oh, right after the war when they were reestablishing the company, the young people coming out of there moving back from camp life didn't have a job, so if they were friends of friends or something, my dad used to accommodate them, offer jobs to them. There were also Filipino worker, I think there were three or four Filipino workers.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.