Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Richard Sakurai Interview
Narrator: Richard Sakurai
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: July 24, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-srichard-01-0002

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RP: I'd like to talk a little bit about your family background starting with your father. Can you give us his name?

RS: Masaru Sakurai.

RP: And do you know roughly when he was born and where?

RS: Yes, he was born in 1897 in Hiroshima, Japan, Yagimura, and his father, after my father was born, his father... after my father was born, his mother, my father's mother, my grandmother died very shortly after that. So when my father was a little boy my grandmother died. So my grandfather remarried my stepgrandmother and came to this country to work and left my father behind in Japan to be raised by his grandparents. And so he, my grandfather and my stepgrandmother were here in this country working like a lot of immigrants do, and my father grew up in Japan. When he finished the standard number of school years in Japan he decided he would come to this country too. So he came to join my grandfather and my stepgrandmother in this country in 1912. And they started working like a lot of people do in the fishing industry, in the lumber industry, in the railroads, did all the standard labor things that immigrants did. And eventually turned to farming, turned to becoming a farm laborer and of course he discovered that's what he wanted to do more than anything else, so eventually he started farming on his own.

RP: What do you remember most about your father in terms of his qualities, his personality?

RS: Well, he was, of course, an only son and was raised from the time he was a little boy by his grandparents. His parents were in this country so I would characterize him in many ways as a spoiled little boy, spoiled kid who never grew up. I think, and I understand from many different sources, my father was a very smart kid. He was always the best in every class that he attended and so forth. But he also was somewhat naughty and he was a spoiled kid and he wanted to do things his way. So even though he was by far the smartest kid in every class, he was always ranked number two. This is stories that I get... he was always ranked number two because he was always naughty as well as smarter. And this is throughout his life, the Japanese system is that the son is, the males are the predominant and in a marriage the father is the boss and everybody else is... and that's typically what happened. He was the one that said what was on and I think he cared for us kids, but he also cared for himself a great deal. I mean that spoiled kid part of him kept on for most of his life and he lived to be ninety-eight years old. So until he was in his nineties he was, still wanted to be the domineering person in the family.

RP: He never outgrew that initial personality.

RS: No.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.