Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Judy Murakami Interview
Narrator: Judy Murakami
Interviewer: Carolyn Nayamatsu
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mjudy-01-0002

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CN: And we have a mockup of what Japantown looked like around 1940 Portland, and I think the Somekawa Mercantile Store is right there? It was on what street?

JM: It was on... it's on Third Avenue. [Reading] "The Somekawa Store, which was first called the George Somekawa Store and later was called Nichibei, was on Third Avenue between Northwest Everett and Northwest Davis in Japantown."

CN: And there's what looks like a fairly thriving Japantown in the 1940s.

JM: Yes, it was. There were a lot of different businesses in that area.

CN: Okay, and then on your father's side is Nomura.

JM: On my father's side.

CN: I mean your father's. You want to talk about your father's side?

JM: Okay, on my father's side, my father's parents were his father Frank Jiro Nomura and his wife's name was Kiyo... let's see, what was her name? Her name was actually... on my father's side, her father was named Frank Jiro Nomura, and his mother was named Kiyo Takeda Nomura. They also have an interesting background. My grandfather, Frank Jiro Nomura, actually had learned English in Tokyo, they were from Tokyo. And when they got married, he and his wife, my grandmother, came to the United States on their honeymoon. They came partly because the economy wasn't doing very well in Japan, and when they were sitting, the story that has been passed down is that when they were sitting on the wharf in Portland, they thought that this would be a great place for them to settle down and start a new life and have a family. And so they ended up staying in Portland right after their honeymoon.

CN: And what did they do in Portland?

JM: They had actually several different jobs. At some point, because my grandfather did know English, he was able to work as an assistant to a chef in a restaurant, in a hotel restaurant, and my grandmother worked in some Caucasian lady's homes and tried to learn American customs and also help take care of the American lady's household goods.

CN: And they had how many children?

JM: On my father's side, Frank and Kiyo Nomura, they had four children. The oldest one was Ruth... excuse me, the oldest one was name Paul, and then Ruth, and then my father Howard and then the younger sister Elsie. They were all named American names partly because, I think, of their connection with the Caucasian community. I've heard that they were given biblical names, or American names, because of that.

CN: Now your mother's... so on the other side of the family, how many children?

JM: On my mother's side, the Somekawa's side, there were six children. The oldest one was George... excuse me, the oldest one was Arthur and then my mother Emi and then a brother George and then two daughters Aya and Aida, and then my uncle, Carl Somekawa.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.