Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Museum of San Jose Collection
Title: Eiichi Sakauye Interview
Narrator: Eiichi Sakauye
Interviewer: Jiro Saito
Location: San Jose, California
Date: February 8, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-seiichi-01-0028

<Begin Segment 28>

JS: When you got here, what was Japantown like?

ES: Well, Japantown, the greater portion was boarded up, but some portions were subleased. And like I said earlier, subleased to pawnbrokers. So that's when I found out that these, that's where the stolen property came to. But I, I walked to Chinatown, I spoke to these merchants and so forth, not identifying myself as Japanese, they thought probably I was Chinese or Filipino. Because there were other ethnic groups in large number in Japantown.

JS: Was there any reason why you wanted to keep your ethnicity a secret?

ES: Well, there's no reason to hide my int-, I mean, ethnic background, but supposing I get in trouble, you know, that'll make it bad for everybody.

JS: You were one of the few Japanese here, then, at that time?

ES: Yes. There was another family which is very close to, to me, came to Cupertino one month earlier.

JS: Oh, who was that?

ES: James K. Yamamoto.

JS: Now, what condition was your farm in?

ES: My home place, which was taken care of, was beautiful, just the way I left it. But the other farm was just eyesore.

JS: And why did that become an eyesore?

ES: Well, labor shortage and... it's primarily labor shortage, but when one has more than he can take care of, which land he's gonna neglect, that's how it turned out.

JS: What kind of farm problems did you face to get operational again?

ES: After I came back?

JS: Yeah.

ES: Well, I had no problems disposing my fruit, because they didn't discharge me from my organization which I belonged.

JS: Which was the...

ES: Santa Clara Pear Association.

JS: Now, while you were gone then --

ES: Pear Leagues.

JS: -- who was taking care, I mean, Mr. Seely was taking care of your property, but was he also harvesting the fruit and, so they didn't rot on the vine, I mean, on the tree?

ES: Well, he harvested fruit, but he had no connection with the association I belonged to.

JS: How long, did it take very long to get your farm back and running again, or not?

ES: Well, home place I had no trouble. I stepped in the day he left.

JS: How about the other park?

ES: Other farms it took me three years to get it back in production.

JS: And the other park, what kind of crops around those?

ES: They were all orchards.

JS: Okay. Pears or a variety?

ES: All pears.

JS: Did you... excuse me. Did any non-Japanese -- other than Mr. Seely -- help you to reestablish your farm after you got back from Heart Mountain?

ES: Well, I had no real contacts to reestablish my farm outside of the business relationship we had with the merchants.

JS: Did anybody help you in terms of setting up your farm again or anything like that?

ES: No, because the home ranch was just perfect.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Museum of San Jose. All Rights Reserved.