Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Pearl Yoshikawa Interview
Narrator: Pearl Yoshikawa
Interviewer: Carolyn Nayematsu
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ypearl-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

CN: My name is Carolyn Nayematsu, I'm with the Twin Cities Japanese American Citizens League Oral History Project. And today we're here to interview Pearl Yoshikawa. Pearl, where and when were you born?

PY: I was born in Vancouver, Washington, on April 25, 1926.

CN: Okay, and what was your name at birth?

PY: It was Pearl Yoshiko Takaki.

CN: Takaki, okay. Pearl, you have a, your family background is one that's a lot older, it goes back into the 1880s. You are a direct descendant of the first Japanese pioneer in Oregon. So we'll spend a few minutes talking about the first Japanese American pioneer to Oregon who was Miyo... what's her name, Miyo?

PY: Iwasaki.

CN: Okay, and she came into Oregon because a Scots person, McKinnon brought her over. Andrew...

PY: Andrew McKinnon.

CN: Andrew McKinnon. And they brought Miyo and her...

PY: Tama Nitobe.

CN: Who was considered her daughter right?

PY: Yes.

CN: There is some question as to whether or not she's adopted. You believe that she was her daughter.

PY: I think so.

CN: Okay. And Tama had four children, am I correct?

PY: Yes, four, no five. He had about three daughters and two sons.

CN: And you are, one of the sons is your...

PY: The oldest son is my father.

CN: Is your father. And your father's name was?

PY: Maxwell.

CN: Maxwell. And can you tell me a little bit -- okay, so that's your father's side. Your mother's side is, your mother actually grew up in Japan, correct?

PY: Right, apparently she was born in Japan and they went over to Hawaii and that's where her mother passed away. And so she was taken back to Japan and brought up by her grandmother. And so she remained in Japan for about sixteen years, and by that time Grandpa Uchida had remarried to a younger wife and moved over to America and eventually settled in Gresham, Oregon.

CN: And Miyo Iwakoshi settled also in Gresham, Oregon?

PY: Yes, outside of Gresham.

CN: Is that the place that's called Orient?

PY: Yes, apparently they named the area Orient. Because of them, but they're not quite sure whether the name was already settled as Orient or whether they acquired.

CN: And recently in the last few years there has been some attention about Miyo, and discovered Miyo, is that correct?

PY: Right, they're trying to figure out the origin of the pioneer in that Northwest area. And some people were very much interested in looking up their background and they even traveled to Japan to find out some of the roots and I really admire them for doing all that.

CN: Right. Because to come to Oregon or to the United States in I believe it was 1880... there were no other Japanese here, correct? Now when you remember your great-grandmother, did you speak Japanese to her? Did she speak English?

PY: I think they spoke English most of the time but we were able to speak Japanese, because our parents only spoke Japanese. Well. I don't know, my biological father, I don't know whether he spoke Japanese or English.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.