Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Museum of San Jose Collection
Title: Richard Onishi Interview
Narrator: Richard Onishi
Interviewer: Kristin Okimoto
Location: San Jose, California
Date: October 25, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-orichard-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

KO: This is an interview with Richard Onishi, owner of Onishi Florist, at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 535 North Fifth Street, San Jose, California, on October 25, 2004. The interview, conducted by Kristin Okimoto, is part of a visual history project called "Lasting Stories: The Resettlement of San Jose Japantown," a collaboration between the Japanese American San Jose Museum and the Densho Project of Seattle, Washington. Thank you, Mr. Onishi, for taking time from work to participate in this interview with us today.


As mentioned, we will be discussing your life history with a focus on the post-World War II resettlement era and the Japanese retail business which you own, Onishi Florist. All right, Mr. Onishi, let's start with your prewar background, with your parents. When did your mother come to the United States?

RO: My mother and I came to the United States from Kauai, Hawaii, in 1936.

KO: And your mother was from what prefecture?

RO: My mother was born in Hawaii, her mother was born in Hiroshima.

KO: Okay. And why did your mother come to the San Jose area?

RO: Well, she wanted to seek a new beginning, so we came to San Jose where she met my stepdad, Mr. Onishi.

KO: And they got married in 1937?

RO: 1937, correct.

KO: Okay. And what occupation was your father?

RO: My stepdad was a gardener, and my mother did domestic work.

KO: And their financial situation at the time?

RO: They were quite poor at that time.

KO: Were they involved with any Japanese organizations?

RO: Before the war, my dad was active with the Buddhist church, and my mother wasn't that active.

KO: And your father's occupation?

RO: He was a gardener by profession, and then after that, he started a nursery.

KO: Did he do some reporting before?

RO: My dad reported for the New World Sun, and then after that he worked for the Hokubei Mainichi. He did this on the side.

KO: And what language did you speak in your home?

RO: I spoke primarily English.

KO: So you, you spoke. Your father?

RO: My father spoke to me in English, and my mother spoke to me in English.

KO: Do you know any Japanese?

RO: Very little.

KO: Okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2004 Densho and The Japanese American Museum of San Jose. All Rights Reserved.