Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Roy Murakami Interview
Narrator: Roy Murakami
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: North Hollywood, California
Date: January 8, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mroy_3-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: Let's talk about your dad. First of all give us his, his name.

RM: Sego, or Segiro Murakami.

RP: Can you spell his first and last name?

RM: First name is S-E-G-O. That's, he made it, he made it legal so they would call him... Segiro is S-E-G-O-R--

RP: O?

RM: -O.

KP: S-E-G-I-R-O.

RM: I-R-O. I'm forgetting. But he uses Segiro Murakami. Sego.

RP: Sego.

RM: They call him, around the valley they knew him by Sego.

RP: And where did your father, where was he born in Japan and grow up?

RM: Wakayama-ken. That's near Osaka, out in the boondocks of Osaka.

RP: That's right on the coast, isn't it?

RM: Yeah, on the coast.

RP: And he... can you tell us a little bit about his family? Did he have other brothers and sisters?

RM: He had one older brother and two sisters. They're all passed away now.

RP: And they all stayed in Japan?

RM: Yeah, uh-huh.

RP: Never came to America?

RM: No, no. In those days the second one, boy, didn't inherit anything. So my grandpa called him over to get to work for him, see. He did a lot of things.

RP: Yeah, your grandfather was the first one to come --

RM: Yeah.

RP: -- to the United States.

RM: It was, went back from Canada.

RP: He went from Canada?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Oh.

RM: Loaf of bread, two loaves of bread and tried to run down... as we know, he was in Reno 1905 during the Russo-Japanese war. And he won twenty bucks because the guy told him that the Russians were too strong for Japan navy. And he got it because they sunk the Russian fleet.

RP: This was in Reno?

RM: Reno, yeah. He was bar... he was doing, working around the bar.

RP: So he'd gamble?

RM: Restaurant, yeah. No, he didn't gamble that much.

KP: Washing dishes I think.

RP: Huh. But he bet on the Japanese navy?

RM: Yeah he says... his name was Jo. They called him Jo at that time. He said, "Jo, I think Japan is gonna lose the war." And he says, "No, they isn't gonna lose the war." He says, "I bet you twenty dollars gold that he wouldn't, they wouldn't do it." And they bet it and he got the money.

RP: What was his Japanese name, do you know?

RM: I don't know of that. Jo is, I think Jo is the short name. My second son name is named Jo, Japanese, J-O. So that must, I think that's the one. It's in, it's in the history but I don't what it looks like.

RP: Did your father tell you about your grandfather? What kind of...

RM: No. Because he was gone and he passed away when he went back to Japan. He got influenza or something and then died.

RP: So he, he spent some time in Reno and then he moved down to Los Angeles?

RM: Yeah.

RP: And what did he do when he got down here?

RM: Oh, did a lot of odd things and then he started the nursery. And before 1919, because when 1919 came he... that's when he went back. No -- that's when he sold to my father, the nursery. And my father became...

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: He had done other things when schoolboy.

RP: There's a mention in this book about your grandfather immigrating to the United States as a result of an unsuccessful timber harvest in Japan.

RM: Yeah, probably. Mountains, there were mountains up there. And they, they do, still doing now. They're re-plants up there. Very good re-plants. I remember they had, we had to send money. My father had to send a little money, $15 or $75 every month, to send back to Japan. So that they could have you know. So they did pretty good, I guess.

RP: Helped them out.

RM: Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh. So, your grandfather started this nursery in Van Nuys?

RM: Van Nuys.

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: Tyrone Street.

RP: Tyrone Street.

RM: And then he sold to my father in 1919. My father took it over. Then he was doing it and then he got married in '30. That's when he moved to North Hollywood on Cahuenga Boulevard. And they used to call it Golden Nursery.

RP: Oh, it was called Golden Nursery, okay.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.