Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Miyoko Uzaki Interview
Narrator: Miyoko Uzaki
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Fresno, California
Date: September 11, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-umiyoko-01-0001

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KL: My name is Kristen Luetkemeier, I'm with the Manzanar Oral History Project, and today is September 11, 2014, and I'm here in Fresno in the home of Marion and Saburo Masada with Saburo's sister, Marion's sister-in-law, Miyo Uzaki, for an oral history interview. And Mark Hachtmann is in the room, Saburo and Marion are also in the home, and we're going to be talking today about Miyo's experiences growing up in Caruthers, California, and her time in Jerome and Rohwer, Arkansas, and then her, the rest of her adult life later. I'm really happy to be here. Miyo, I just want to confirm that we have your permission to record this interview and make it available to the public.

MU: Okay.

KL: Okay. Well, thank you. Just so we can place you in time a little bit, would you tell us first your name at birth and when and where you were born.

MU: My name is Miyoko -- people call me Miyo, short -- Uzaki. My birthday is January 15th, I was born 1920. Yeah.

KL: And let's, I want to ask you about your parents and your grandparents, so let's start with your mother. What was her name?

MU: Her name was Nobuye Onishi.

KL: Would you spell Nobuye Onishi?

MU: O-N-I-S-H-I.

KL: And Nobuye is N-O-B-O-Y-E?

MU: N-O-B-U-Y-E.

KL: And where was she born?

MU: She was born in Japan, in Kagawa Prefecture. That's the little island just south of Osaka.

KL: What do you know about her family?

MU: She has two sisters. She's got a number of nieces and nephews. Her mother was, let's see, she was, she died when, after coming back from Manchuria.

KL: Her mother was in Manchuria?

MU: Yeah.

KL: Why?

MU: A number of Japanese, when Japan was powerful, many of the Japanese went to Manchuria.

KL: Do you know what she did there?

MU: No, I have, I hadn't heard.

KL: Do you know her name, your grandmother's name?

MU: Her grandmother? Her mother's name was Hatsu, Hatsu.

KL: And Hatsu was the one in Manchuria?

MU: Huh?

KL: Hatsu is the person who went to Manchuria?

MU: Yeah. My mother was just a young girl, coming back to Japan.

KL: So your mother was in Manchuria, too?

MU: For a short time.

KL: What do you know about Hatsu? Did you meet --

MU: Hatsu? I really don't know too much about her.

KL: Did your mother say what kind of mother Hatsu was, what their...

MU: She was, she was mother of one son and three daughters, and she was a very gentle type of person. Other than that, I don't know too much about her.

KL: Do you know who Nobuye's father was?

MU: I don't know. My father had a brother.

KL: Your father. What about your mother's father?

MU: Mother's father? He was, I think he was a mayor of the, Toyohama, that's the little town that they lived in.

KL: Do you know his name, your grandfather?

MU: No. I have a picture of him, but I don't know his name.

KL: Do you know what their family background was? He was a governmental official, but did they have a type of work that was...

MU: No, I don't think so. He was in the public office, and so other than -- oh, I think my mother's family had a shoyu, that's, shoyu factory. That's the Japanese liquid that they use for, in cooking. Other than that, I'm not, I'm not aware.

KL: She had a couple siblings.

MU: Me?

KL: Your mother had --

MU: Oh, my mother had a brother and had two sisters.

KL: Did they come to the United States, too?

MU: No, no, they stayed in Japan. My mother's the only one that came. Actually, her aunt was here, married my father's brother and she was lonesome, so she was told -- this was before Prohibition went into effect, and so she said, "You can come and your husband could make wine and get rich on it." But then Prohibition went into effect, so... [laughs]

KL: Did he know how to make wine already, your dad?

MU: Well, I remember his having a great big vat with Muscats and trying to make wine. I remember helping him make beer, and sometimes the cap wasn't on good and it would shoot up. [Laughs]

KL: I've been making cider at home, and I'm worried about exploding caps. What was your aunt, what was Nobuye's aunt's name?

MU: My aunt's name?

KL: Your mother's aunt.

MU: My mother's aunt?

KL: The one who called her here.

MU: It was her sister-in-law that called her here.

KL: Okay. What was her name?

MU: What was her name?

KL: I hear Marion saying Kiyo.

MU: Kiyo, yeah, that's right.

KL: Kiyo Masada. And were they close already?

MU: Yeah.

KL: Your mother and her --

MU: Yeah. And then we lived just a few miles from each other, so we always got together for special things.

KL: Why do you think your aunt thought to invite your mother to come?

MU: She was lonely.

KL: And had they known each other in Japan?

MU: I think so. They lived in the same area, so...

KL: Okay, so let's talk about your father a little bit. What was his name?

MU: Ihei, I-H-E-I.

KL: And who was his brother, that Kiyo was married to?

MU: Teisuke, T-E-I, su, S-U-K-E. Teisuke.

KL: And who were their parents? Or what was their life like in Japan?

MU: I don't know too much about that.

KL: Do you know why --

MU: My mother's father was a, he was the mayor in the little town that they lived in. That's about all I know.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.