Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Alley Watada Interview
Narrator: Alley Watada
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 15, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-walley-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: Let's, let's talk a little bit about your family background. Tell us first, your father's name.

AW: My father's given name is Matajiro Watada. But, at early on, as he came in to start farming he took on the name Arthur. And so when they all got their citizenship, he used the name Arthur Matajiro Watada.

RP: And where did, where did your father come from in Japan?

AW: He came from Fukui-ken, which is on the Japan Sea side and Fukui-ken, it's a prefecture. And he was born in a village called Matsubara.

RP: And do you have any background on him as far as his family life in Japan?

AW: No I don't. I do know that my grandfather came to United States in the, probably early 1900 or somewhere around there. And he had asked my father to learn the English language and to come to United States and join him here. So, probably in about 1914, '13 or '14, he came to United, my father came to the United States and joined my father here in Colorado.

RP: Your grandfather had settled in Colorado?

AW: He came here... I don't know if I would use the settled, word settled. I think at that time many people from Japan came here to make a living and hope to make a lot of money.

RP: Did he have plans to go back to Japan?

AW: I believe they all did, yes. Certainly after my father got married and my grandfather went back to Japan.


RP: We were talking about your, your grandfather, and he went back to Japan...

AW: Yes, he went back to Japan but I don't know what he did for a living back there. This is a story that my father had told us about. That he went back to Japan, and so my father and my mother stayed out here and farmed.

RP: Oh they did.

AW: Uh-huh.

RP: And those were the only members of your father's family to come to the United States?

AW: Of my father's family, that's correct. That's correct. My father had one sister and she remained in Japan. So, yes.

RP: Was your father an only son?

AW: Yes, that's correct. There was a... that's right. There was just two in the family.

RP: Okay. Tell us a little bit about your father. What do you remember the most about him?

AW: Well, I think the thing that my father had always emphasized to us as we grew up was education and helping the society. That... and, as I look back at it, I could see that he himself practiced this very strongly. In terms of education he wanted to make sure that we were doing okay in school and since he didn't speak the English language fluently, he couldn't help with, with the homework. But yet, nevertheless, he made sure that we attended school. And then in terms of helping the society, I do know that he was very active in the Japanese community, the civic activities. And he himself was influential or took a lead in developing organizations for the people of Japanese ancestry. He helped develop the school, the Buddhist temple, and even at the, when I was a youngster at the Platteville school, he, I'm not quite sure what the day was, I mean what the purpose of the day was, but he would made it certain that we had, he had a display of Japanese memorabilia, whether it's dolls, paperwork, things of this nature. He brought it to school as an educational material for other students. So this is back in the '30s, before the war, and so my, my father was, I think, very, felt that this was very important and to try to teach everybody what we, the, his history.

RP: And build a bridge between, between the two communities?

AW: Probably, yes, yes.

RP: Create understanding and eventually tolerance --

AW: That's right.

RP: -- between different cultures.

AW: Uh-huh.

RP: That's extraordinary.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.