Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Patricia Mariko Morikawa Sakamoto Interview
Narrator: Patricia Mariko Morikawa Sakamoto
Interviewer: Rose Masters
Location: Monterey Park, California
Date: May 19, 2015
Densho ID: denshovh-spatricia-01-0001

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RM: This is Rose Masters with Manzanar National Historic Site. We are in Monterey Park right now on May 19, 2015, and I'm sitting here with Pat Sakamoto. And we're going to do an oral history in which she talks about not only her own life, but her mother's life. Pat, do I have your permission to record this interview?

PS: Yes.

RM: Great, thank you. I guess, you know, usually I start out with asking for your birthdate, but I want to start with your mom. I want to start talking right away about your mother. Could you tell me when she was born and where?

PS: March 3, 1922, in Montana.

RM: In Montana, and what part of Montana was she in?

PS: Well, see, I always get confused there. I never can remember where she was from. I have it all written down, though, trust me, but I didn't look that up before I left this morning.

RM: Well, how about, do you know how her parents came to be living in Montana?

PS: Her father worked for the Great Northern, and after he had worked for several years -- I think it was more than just several, it was a long time -- he decided he would go back to Japan and find a wife, which would be arranged for him. And he brought my grandmother back with them. I have actually the thing from the ship when she arrived. And I don't think she was, didn't know, had no idea what it was going to be like in Montana. It wasn't even near anything, it was in the middle of nowhere.

RM: Did they have a farm there at that time?

PS: No, he just worked on the railroad. He was like a foreman, and she ended up just a housewife. From what my mother's older sister said, my grandmother had melancholy, a bad case of melancholy. So she had three children, Ben, Sueko or Shizu, and then she had Hide. And when they were pretty small, she went back to Japan for a while to visit and she didn't come back for five years.

RM: Oh, wow.

PS: And then he insisted she return, and that's when... she had one more child named Tadashi, and then my mother came after that, she was the last one. But by then my grandmother wasn't functional, so my mother went to live with a rancher in the area, the Nordquists, and she lived there from the day she was born until she was eight years old.

RM: So I want to ask you about a lot of the things that you just said, but first let me make sure that we get your grandparents' names on the record. What was your grandpa's name?

PS: Hirano and... how come I can't remember? Because I never met him, he died before... but I know my grandmother's name was Mume.

RM: Mume Hirano.

PS: I don't know what her maiden name was.

RM: Do you know what part of Japan she was from?

PS: She was from Aichi.

RM: Was your grandpa from the same region?

PS: No. The reason why he picked that is from what my aunt told me, was there were supposed to be beautiful women from that part of the country. And he decided to go where there were beautiful women, and she was actually from a higher station in life than he was from. It was just that she was a spinster, by then she was like twenty-two or something, she was older.

RM: What did her family do in Japan?

PS: I think she was in an orphanage.

RM: Oh, she was in an orphanage, wow.

PS: Or she worked at the orphanage. That's all my mother ever said. She never really knew exactly what her mother did.

RM: Do you know what your grandpa's family in Japan did?

PS: Don't know.

RM: Or why he decided to come to the U.S.?

PS: He probably, like a lot of the men, if you weren't the firstborn, then you had to find your life for yourself. And there were better opportunities, probably, here in this country, the United States.

RM: Do you know what year it was that he came over?

PS: No. Had you told me earlier, I could have looked it all up.

RM: Sorry.

PS: I have it all written down.

RM: We can add notes to the oral history later.

PS: Okay.

RM: And do you know what year he and your grandmother got married, approximately?

PS: No, I didn't even bother to look at that.

RM: We'll look that up later.

PS: But I know my mother's oldest brother was twelve years older than she.

RM: Okay, so that would make him born in 1910. And that's... what was his name?

PS: His name was actually Bin, B-I-N.

RM: Oh, okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.