Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Toshio Inahara Interview
Narrator: Toshio Inahara
Interviewer: Dane Fujimoto
Date: February 3, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-itoshio-01-

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: My name is Toshio Inahara. I am a Nisei, and my occupation is in the field of medicine, and by training, I am a vascular surgeon. My father came from Japan from a small village called Shimoda in Gifu-ken. He was born in 1889 of a family of four sons and two daughters. He was the youngest of the boys. He first came to America in 1907 at the age of seventeen or eighteen. He came through Mexico as I understand for a short time and came to Washington to be with his older brother who had already been here for some time, and he worked in a lumber mill, and so my father joined him. They were here for several years, and his older brother, Takashiro, returned to Japan before my father. I don't know how long my father stayed, but I can recall him talking about fishing in the streams around there using a grocery string in the fishhook. So he learned how to fish very young. As a matter of fact, he lived right next to a stream called the Nagara River in Gifu which is known and quite famous for cormorant fishing or called ukai, and I have been fortunate enough to see this event on two different occasions. The Nagara River is fairly large and is a beautiful stream that's clear, rocky bottom, and this is where he grew up.

After he returned to Japan, we really don't know what he did, but he did go to Kyoto, and he became an apprentice to learn, make Japanese confections, and he stayed with us for quite some time because he next returned to America in 1919. So somewhere between the time he returned to Japan and the time he returned to America, he learned this trade, and he was very good at it. He was married in 1919, and they both returned to Seattle in 1920. I was born the following year. My father worked in a kashiya in Seattle, the name of Sagamiya, and he stayed here for I believe two years, and then he moved to Portland and worked in a kashiya here. I believe it was run by a family named Hiromura, and he was here for another two years I believe, here in Portland. My second brother was born named Ken, Kenji. He then returned to Japan for a short period in 1925 where my third brother, Yosh, was born. And after several months, he returned to Seattle again and then moved to Tacoma where he opened his own shop, and the shop was called Fugetsu. And by this time, I was four or five years old, and I remember quite well. As a matter of fact, I can still recall meeting my maternal grandparents when we were back there in 1925. Unfortunately, I was never able to meet my paternal grandmother, and we have a photo of her which was taken on her 88th birthday, and she died the following year. The kashiya that he opened in Tacoma was located as I recall, I still remember the address, it was 1510 Broadway. And this was in the Japanese town because there were quite a few Japanese businesses and many people lived there. I think the main reason was the lumber mills.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Well, I started grade school in Tacoma, and this was quite a traumatic event because I could not speak any English, and I struggled through this. However, my favorite subject as I recall was arithmetic, and I still can remember the teacher's name which was Miss Pitcher. Because of my English was so poor, I had to take tutoring after school. And in addition to going to public school, we went to Japanese school because they had a very large Japanese population, and I can recall going to school from after public school from 4:30 to 6:30 every day including Saturdays which was an all-day event. I also went to the Buddhist church there because my parents were Buddhist. We had a, since we had a large Japanese population, there were a lot of kids that I played with, and our favorite games were playing the samurai game. I can still remember such names as Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. So that kind of stayed with us, with me.

The events that I cherish in Tacoma was that my father had a wonderful array of showcases with all kinds of Japanese confections. He had tsukamochi and made kakimochi, all kinds of omanju and yokan, okashi, different kinds. We lived in Tacoma until 1931 for about five years. He also bought his first car which was a 1930 Model A Ford. It was a kind of olive green. After he learned to drive, he taught my mother how to drive, and she would go out on Sundays and drive, practice her driving when the streets were empty. Japanese school was a lot of fun because we used to have picnics, and we would go to a place called Dash Point and Steilacoom, and they have all kinds of what we call undoukai.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: By 1931, my father had four sons, and he felt that he would rather have his boys grow up in the country rather than in the city. So in spite of the fact that he had a very successful business, he decided to move to Oregon, and he sold the business to a family named the Fukuis, and we moved to Banks, Oregon. I can still recall the trip. It took us like ten or twelve hours to drive from Tacoma to Banks. The roads were two lane roads. It was very winding. And I can recall, we arrived in Banks about midnight, and we stayed with a family by the name of Kagas, and apparently my father knew Mr. Kaga because they were from the same ken. I remember that this was in the fall of the year because they had a farm, and I can remember helping digging potatoes which was the first time I've been on a farm like this, and it was quite a revelation. I can remember my mother making French fries at that time. We stayed with the Kagas until our house was ready which was about seven, eight miles away from here, a place called Hillside. This was a beautiful little valley, and it was a center of prune orchards, walnut orchards, dairy farming, and my father rented thirty acres on which to raise strawberries. Well, transferring schools from Tacoma which was the Central Grade School to Hillside School was quite a shock. They had a one-room grade school and one teacher, and she taught all eight grades. There were probably twenty-five or thirty students in all. But, we made the transition, accommodated, and I can still recall we were pretty, my brothers and I were pretty ratty bunch of boys, and we were called on the carpet a number of times particularly for swearing, and we were threatened to be kicked out of school. [Laughs]

But nonetheless, we got accustomed to the school, and we introduced baseball to the school, and I was the pitcher, and my brother, Yosh, was the catcher, and brother, Ken, played shortstop. We didn't have enough boys to fill all the spots, so we had three or four girls playing with us. But it was quite remarkable that in spite of a few number of people we had, we played games against other grade schools such as Gales Creek and Thatcher, and we usually won. And the other thing that I still remember is that in traveling to Gales Creek or to Thatcher which is a neighboring school, I took the entire team and others, too, on the back of our truck, it was a stake-body truck, and I would drive the truck to the other schools. And to think that I was doing this when I was in grade school, you know, it's unthinkable in this age.

Any rate, it was nice growing up in the country. It was quite a change from a city life. One of the things I remember is our neighbors had all kinds of apple trees and pear trees, and you would sit up in the trees and eat apples, go pick berries. We would go hiking into the woods, and we found a number of Indian arrowheads, and we had quite a collection. We would go hike over the mountain which is about I'd say five, six hundred feet, hike over the mountain, go down to Gales Creek, and that's where we learned to swim in pools, and I can still remember Gales Creek had all kinds of trout that we swam among.

The farm did not go too well for my father because it was during the Depression. We had hired Filipino laborers, and we had a couple of, kind of scary traumatic events since I was only about twelve. One night a mob of people came up with torches and demanded that we get rid of the workers, and it was quite a scaring event because there was quite a large mob. Finally, my father agreed that he would watch them closer so that they would not be roaming around the countryside and then agreed to let them stay. The other scary event was that one year the berry pickers went on a strike, and this was quite threatening, and it was quite scary for us boys. But nevertheless, we enjoyed the country and living in the country. We built a treehouse, we did our own gardening. And because the winters were colder at that time, we would always have snow, and so we built our own sleds, and I can remember making my own skis out of lumber fours, so we had quite a time growing up.

Well, after finishing grade school there in 1934, I went to Forest Grove High School. I think I was the only Japanese at the school. But nevertheless, I went out for sports and played baseball. I played varsity baseball; and eventually, I was elected the freshman class president. One of the courses that I still remember which was an excellent course was a course in agriculture, and this is a course where we learned how to judge animals, how to judge quality cows, dairy cows, beef cows, beef cattle, how to judge sheep, chicken. We learned how to ascertain butter fat in milk. We did the test ourselves. We went out and learned different kinds of trees, shrubs, and learned how to splice rope, tie knots. It was an excellent course. Unfortunately, in 1935, we moved from Hillside to a place called Laurelview. This was about six, seven miles south of Hillsboro. And as a result, I had to transfer to Hillsboro High School as a sophomore, and I finished out my high school years there. Here, I met the Iwasaki family and the Tsugawa family, and Art Iwasaki was in my class, and George was a year behind us. I played sports here too. I played varsity baseball and junior varsity football. I could still remember that I had to ride my bike home every night since the bus had already left. So at Hill High, I became the sports editor for the school manual, and so I got to travel with the athletic team.


DF: And growing up playing the samurai game, will you explain what the samurai game --

TI: Well, we carried wooden swords and chose up sides, and we would hide, seek, and then use the wooden swords to simulate battle.

DF: And the names you mentioned, those are names of different characters?

TI: They are famous shoguns. Well in 1936, my father moved again to an area called Helvetia meaning Switzerland, and we rented a large acreage of sixty acres from a Swiss Issei, Ruffner, Fred Ruffner. And we had a very good luck year, and my father harvested a bumper crop of strawberries which amounted to five tons per acre which was unheard of because the average was around two, two and a half tons. In 1939, because we increased our acreage to seventy acres and because they were so busy, I had to drop out of school. I had attended University of Oregon in 1938 for one year. And at that time, my father suggested that I enroll as a pre-law major, and so I did. But of course, the first year or two in college is pretty much general course. But in 1939 as I say, we were so busy that I was, I had to drop out of school to help, and the big problem was to obtain labor, berry pickers.

And I don't recall where I got this lead, but I went up to Vancouver Island, Canada, and contacted an Indian tribe at a place called Nanaimo, and I met the chief and made arrangements to bring the tribe down to our farm. So I had to make arrangements for approximately 150 people to travel down to Victoria by bus and then by ferry to Seattle and then by train to Portland and then by bus and truck out to our farm. And we had already had a berry camp where we had what we call bunkhouses. But of course, the bulk of the camp was made up of tents, and we had to supply wooden stoves, water facilities, and so on. And the Indians, of course, their diet consisted mainly of salmon, and so I had to find a source for them, and there was a fish cannery. I believe it was in Washougal, Washington, and I would go over there every several days and get huge, large boxes of salmon head which were being discarded, and of course, the Indians thought this was the best, and so we got along very well. At the end of the season, harvest season, I took them back again the same route back to Nanaimo, and this was quite a learning experience for me because I was only eighteen or seventeen.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Well in 1939, after our harvest, my parents decided that they would give me a trip to Japan. So my mother and my youngest brother, Hisao, he is the fifth boy, fifth son, the three of us went to Japan on a ship called the Hikawa Maru. And this was from Portland to Vancouver then to Yokohama, and the trip was two weeks on the ocean, and my poor mother was sick all the way over, but my brother and I, we had a great time. We stayed in Japan for two months, in July and August, and we met our relatives, and the other thing that I still remember is how hot it was. It was very humid. And my aunt, my mother's older sister, then took us to Korea. We went to Seoul because her husband had a large farm, so we were there for a few days. Then she took us into Manchuria, the three of us by train from Seoul to a city called Mukden which I believe was the capital at that time. I think Manchuria was still occupied by Japan. From Mukden, we took the train down to a port city called Dairen; I think now known as Port Arthur. Dairen had quite a history with the Russo-Japanese War. The Russian fleet was harbored at Dairen and during the war, they built quite a fort, fortress in this perimeter of this port. I went through all the concrete fortress. It was quite impressive; I can still remember. The port was quite a large bay with a very narrow inlet. And the history is that the Japanese fleet came in and sank a large vessel at the opening and bottled up the Russian fleet so that they could contend with the fleet that came from Europe. So it was quite an interesting bit of history that I'd learned.

When we came back to Japan, and I believe about September the 9th or 10th, we came back to the United States. And this was just when the war was starting in Europe, and we were fortunate on getting back here before the restriction of travel. In 1940, my parents wanted to build a house as they had purchased a tract of land just north of Hillsboro out on First Street which is now known as Glencoe Road, so I remained out of school and acted as a general contractor and hired a carpenter. His name was Vick Bachelor, and he had a younger assistant, and the two of them was our main builder. I obtained subcontractors. We had a five-acre plot; and initially, it was densely wooded, so we had to take, make a clearing for the house, and I can still remember taking down those trees and using a bucksaw if you know what this is. It's a hand saw that you, two people operate, pulling it back and forth. And so we made cord wood, many, many cords, and I can remember we sold the cord wood for ten dollars a cord.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Well, we cleared the area for the house and the garage, and it took us about a year and a half to build, and we finally completed the house at the end of 1941. And as we were clearing the yard and getting ready to move in, our neighbor from across the road came over one Sunday afternoon and told us about December 7th. We were shocked. Any rate, we moved into our new home in January of 1942 and was only able to stay until May.

In March of 1942, I volunteered to join the United States Air Force, and the requirements at that time was that you had to have one year of college, and you had to pass a physical as well as a written examination. So I did, I passed both. And when it came to time of induction, I went down to the Portland airport with the rest of the group and was going to sign up. Well at that time, they told me that they weren't taking any inductees of Japanese ancestry. Well, I was quite shocked with that, so I went to our attorney in Hillsboro, attorney by the name of Paul Patterson. He was very prominent in politics in the State of Oregon, and he eventually became the governor of the state. He intervened on my behalf but to no avail, and I was classified 4-C as "enemy alien," and that's the way I remained the rest of the war. Meanwhile, we tried to move out of the West Coast area, and in order to do this, you had to obtain a travel permit. So I can remember going to the federal building in Portland nearly every day trying to make this arrangement. And what was required to obtain a permit was that you had to have a point of destination where you could go to and to live. Well, several families got together, and we were able to obtain a place in Vale, Oregon.

And so our permit finally came, and on May the 2nd, 1942, our family and the other families individually, we moved. I can remember we loaded up our car that we had. We loaded up a truck that we had. We had a ton and a half Chevrolet truck, and we moved out on May the 2nd. And because we were concerned that we may not be able to buy gasoline on the way, I loaded up 50-gallon drum of gasoline on the back of the truck. And instead of going on the main highway, Highway 30 as it was at that time, the same as 84 now, we went through Bend, through the back way, and we traveled at night. We finally arrived in Vale early the following morning, and then from there, we moved directly into Ontario; and here, there were seven of us, five boys, my parents, we had no place, no destination, no place to stay. We immediately looked around and found a vacant building just in the outskirts of Ontario on the road to Nyssa. This building was a former hatchery, and it was a single building, single room and just had a kitchen faucet. It had a concrete floor. So we moved into that building, partitioned the building for rooms and built an outhouse, and we stayed there and began working for a farmer just close by as common labor. This was in May, so we worked the rest of the year and learned how to grow onions and sugar beets. We harvested potatoes.

We looked around to start our farm for ourselves, and we found a farm to rent in an area called Oregon Slope, and there was an old house there that we moved into. We continued working, my father and the five of us boys, so we had quite a large crew. We wanted to start farming, but the problem was the non-availability of equipment. Everything was rationed, so I applied to get a tractor and was fortunate in getting a permit to buy a tractor. So we bought a John Deere and looked around and bought other equipment like disks, plows, harrows, seeders, and then had to learn how to irrigate because this was all irrigated farming. And of course farming here in the Willamette Valley, there is no irrigation. So this was a very new experience, and oftentimes, very trying. But nevertheless, we continued to work. We raised, our main crops were onions, potatoes, and sugar beets; but also we grew lettuce and celery and carrots, but eventually ended up with three main crops that are grown there. I was able to buy another tractor which was a Caterpillar D2, and we learned to operate that. We would work, do tractor work for other farmers; and with the five sons, we would take turns, and we would work 24 hours a day running that tractor.

Well, we farmed for two years. I was there until 1944, and I wanted to get back to college. And by that time, I had decided that I wanted to go into medicine. One of the reasons was that whether you're in military life or in civilian life, if you are in medicine, your occupation doesn't change. My younger brother, Yosh, decided that he wanted to be a pharmacist, so he left a year before me and went to University of Michigan. I visited him one time, and I thought well, "He's going to be there, I'll go to the University of Wisconsin." So I applied to Wisconsin and was accepted. It was very difficult to leave the farm in 1944 because in September, we had thirty acres of onions that was ready to be harvested. We had thirty acres of sugar beets that were to be harvested a little later, and we also had potatoes to harvest. And here, I had been fully responsible in overseeing the farm by that time, and so I was very undecided as to whether or not that I should leave at that time. But my parents talked me into leaving and going to school anyway, and I turned over the farm to my next brother, Ken.

Well, I can remember the trip to Madison, Wisconsin. I took the train from Ontario, and here it was in September. As soon as I got into Colorado, I got into a snowstorm that was quite a shock. But any rate, I finally got to Madison, Wisconsin. I didn't know where to stay. So there was a YMCA on the campus close to the campus, so I stayed there for the first week or two, enrolled in school. So looking around, I finally found a vacant fraternity house. It was named the Triangle which was an engineering fraternity house, and this house had been vacated because of the wartime conditions, and there were few students. So I was able to rent a room in this Triangle fraternity house and had a roommate, got a roommate who was a football player. This big strapping fellow was from Green Bay, Wisconsin. We got along very well. As a matter of fact, he had invited me to go home with him to Green Bay, and so I went up to see, meet his family.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: The campus of the University of Wisconsin was a beautiful place. It was sitting next to a large lake called Lake Mendota. And every winter, this lake would freeze over, and the ice would be so thick that the cars would drive on it, and they also had ski sailing, and of course all the students were ice skating. In the meanwhile, I was attending classes. I got a job working in the kitchen of a sorority house, sorority houses. I would work different, one place to another. But eventually, I ended up working for, working at the girl's dormitory called Elizabeth Waters. I worked down in the dishwashing room and that was my job. So I stayed there and worked all the while that I was going to school until 1944, '46. I also met many, many new friends. I had a friend who lived in Janesville, Wisconsin, and he would invite me to his home on holidays. Other times, I would go to Chicago by train as a friend of mine who went to University of Oregon was living in Chicago, Harry Fukuda. So I would visit him from time to time. The winters were extremely cold as you know; be in the summertime, it is extremely hot and humid, but I went to school five continuous semesters from 1944 to '46

I applied to medical school at the University of Oregon, and I think one of the most pleasant surprise, happy moment, was when I learned that I was accepted at the school. And I had anticipated they would ask me to come in for an interview, but fortunately, I was able to be accepted without the interview. Well, after school was over in spring of 1946, I was pretty much broke. So in order to get back to Ontario, I hitchhiked all the way from Madison to Ontario, and this took me about a week, but I found that the truck drivers were very kind to pick up hitchhikers. Of course one thing that helped was I had a suitcase with the University of Oregon logo on it which made it easier for them to recognize me. But after I got back to Ontario, this was in June, I worked the rest of the summer on the farm. And then in September, I moved to Portland to begin the medical school.

Well, in medical school, it was quite a lonesome experience here because I didn't know anyone. I rented a single room in the basement of an apartment, and this room was just large enough to hold a single bed and a desk, and the bathroom was down the hall. Well, I stayed there for three years, and then I was married in 1949, and we moved to a larger apartment. My wife came out from San Antonio, Texas. During my senior year, I worked at the Saint Vincent's Hospital as an extern, and this paid me a meager salary of fifty dollars a month.

After we were married, we bought a car, and this was a 1930 Model A Ford for which I paid 125 dollars.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

Off camera: Okay, so you had just bought your car.

TI: We just bought this Model A Ford, and we had a hard time with it. It wouldn't start. Most of the time, it wouldn't start. There was a crank that I used to try to crank it, but this was difficult. So what I would do was I would park it on a hill when I stopped, and I would run it down the hill to start it. So we played with this car for a year or two. I finally had to abandon it, and I just, I had the junk man come and pick it up. [Laughs] Yes, I met my wife in Chicago when I was still a student at Wisconsin, and whenever I came to Chicago to visit my friend, Harry, somehow I met her, and then she moved away. She moved to Cleveland, so our correspondence was only by mail. She later moved to San Antonio to be with her sister and the family and her family too. So she came to Portland in 1949, and it was a savior for me because she supported me from there, thereon, which was a blessing.

DF: What did Shizuko do during that time?

TI: Pardon?

DF: What did she do, where did she work?

TI: She worked at the university in the x-ray department, so it was convenient. We lived by the university medical school, and I graduated in 1950 and became an intern at Saint Vincent's Hospital. The salary for an internship at that time was fifty dollars a month. So you can see I needed some of the support. I then remained at Saint Vincent's Hospital to take a residency in general surgery starting in 1951. And by that time, I was qualified to take the board examination in basic sciences for the State of Oregon which I did and got that out of the way. I stayed in general surgery residency until 1955. And during my last year in training, I developed an interest in vascular surgery which was a very new field just coming into prominence. And the reason my interest was aroused was that I saw a young boy in the emergency department who was bleeding from a groin wound, and what had happened was his brother had thrown a pair of scissors and the point of the scissors stuck into the femoral artery in the groin, and he was bleeding quite profusely. I stopped the bleeding by just applying pressure, and then the surgeon who I was working with decided that he would eventually tie the artery because of his experience during the World War II, and of course this meant interrupting the main circulation to the leg. But fortunately, the boy, was I believe eight, was young enough that he would develop circulation around the ligature, tied-off artery. And another event that occurred was that the patient came in in shock, and what had transpired was that he had a ruptured aneurism from which he was bleeding, and he bled to death. And this of course meant the artery, the aorta had ruptured, and at that time there was no way to repair this kind of a problem.

So I inquired whether around the country to see where I could take some extra training in vascular surgery; and fortunately, I came upon an opportunity to go to Boston to the Massachusetts General Hospital, and there was a vascular surgeon there by the name of Robert Linton who is widely known, he had done a lot of writing. He was a leader in the field at that time. I applied for a fellowship there, and I was very surprised that I was accepted to go to Boston to this hospital. Massachusetts General Hospital is a -- and it still is -- really a center of surgery, one of the leading centers. It is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. So in July of 1955, we moved to Boston, and the way we moved was I took my oldest daughter who was four years old at the time, and we took the train from Portland to Chicago and then to Detroit. I had, with help, bought a car in Detroit, a Ford, a sedan, and we picked up the car and then drove from there to Boston. I can still remember, it was so hot in July and my daughter was saying all the way, "Can I have a drink?" "Can we get some ice cream?"" It was difficult for her. But when we got to Boston, the summer heat was even worse, and they had a hot spell at that time, and we checked into a motel with air conditioning and just stayed there until we got oriented. I went out and rented an apartment and met my preceptor, my mentor, Doctor Linton and right away he wanted me to go to work. And my job as a fellow was to be on call to harvest blood vessels at autopsy, so I was on call from the very first day. But his wife, Mrs. Linton, was kind enough to babysit for me while I was doing this. We got to know them very intimately, and they were a wonderful family. Well, my wife came out later after we, after I was able to get the apartment. She flew out from Los Angeles. She had gone down there to be with her parents while I was gone, and she brought the two other children, and Jerry was just a year and a half, and Susan was only six weeks old, and so she had quite a time coming out. It took her eleven hours of flight time from Los Angeles.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Well, we finally settled in Boston, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me because I had, as I say, the Massachusetts General Hospital had so many famous surgeons, and they were the ones that were writing all the surgical literature at the time, and it was a real thrill for me to go see them, working in their operating rooms. I would go to other hospitals as well like the Boston City Hospital, Deaconist, the Boston Children's Hospital and observe these surgeons working. The surgeon at the Children's Hospital in Boston, name of Robert Gross, and he was the first surgeon in the United States to transplant a blood vessel which he did in the children, in the aorta in the chest. The first arterial transplant was performed by a Dr. Dubost in Paris back in 1944 replacing an aortic aneurism, so that was the very beginning of vascular surgery.

Well, Dr. Linton was doing this kind of work as well, and so I would be working seven days a week on-call at night, and the only day that I had off was a Sunday every other week, so he had a very busy service, and of course it was a great experience for me. In addition, it was my duty to conduct experimental surgery in the dog lab which I did after the day of surgery. And as a matter of fact, we developed an artificial blood vessel made out of a plastic called Ivalon. And we experimented, I implanted these artificial blood vessels in dogs and it, to work quite well. And by the end of the year, Dr. Linton decided to use these on humans. So we implanted a number of these in humans, and he followed them; and eventually, however there were other new blood vessels that came out which were better made out of, first made out of vingion cloth and next came the nylon material, and then the current blood vessels are made out of Dacron and Teflon. But initially, when I went to Boston, we were using human arteries, and after I harvested them, I would put them in packages, freeze them in liquid nitrogen. In the package, I would put in a small glass bead, and the purpose of that was that I would take the blood vessels over to MIT and have them sterilized by irradiation, and when the radiation hits the glass bead, it would turn black which would indicate that the package was sterile.

So my, our experience in Boston was not only all work, but we had some nice moments. We went to the museums there. We went to Cape Cod and saw the Plymouth Rock. We went into Vermont and Maine in the fall to see the colors. We saw the granite mine in Barre, Vermont, where they were cutting out granite which was quite an operation, and the thing that was very impressive in Barre, Vermont, was their cemetery. They had beautiful tombstones of all sizes, figures. It was quite impressive. Another interesting event that we had was to have, to watch them harvest maple sap to make maple sugar, and Dr. Linton's secretary knew the president of the Vermont Maple Sugar Association. So we went to his farm and went out in the woods with a team of horses and a sleigh with a huge galvanized tank, and we would pick up buckets of sap from the trees as it collected during the night and day and put them in the tank and bring them back to the concentration shed. And this shed was quite a large building, and the way they make maple syrup is that they have a large pan which was about, I would say, fifteen feet wide and about twenty-five feet long and has channels that starts at one corner, runs back and forth, and this whole pan is placed on a tilt so that the opposite corner is the most dependent. And under the entire pan, they have a huge fire going, and they would feed cord wood. And by the time the sap came down to the lower corner, it was concentrated enough that it was maple syrup. And the ratio of sap to syrup was fifty-five gallons to one gallon syrup, and then they would take the syrup and take it to the kitchen and further concentrate it so it became taffy-like, very thick, and this lady would pour this syrup on the snow, and it would crystallize, and we would have maple candy. So we had this, we would chew on this maple toffee and maple candy, and then she would offer us a dill pickle to counteract the sweetness. So we had a wonderful time watching how maple syrup was made.

The winter that we had in Boston was one of the most severe winters. I can remember while I was at the hospital, there was an alarm that came in and said everyone should leave the hospital this afternoon because of a snow warning. So I thought well, I have to go to Boston City Hospital to pick up something over there, so I left about two o'clock in the afternoon and went to the Boston City Hospital and picked up my materials. And I noticed that as I drove along the streets, traffic was getting slower and slower and there was getting more and more snow. And eventually, it was, the streets were blocked, and I tried to find my way around all these blocked streets. And finally, the snow was so heavy by evening that I had to abandon my car in the middle of the street just like everybody else. I got out, and I started walking to get back to our apartment which is about, I was about six miles or seven miles from the hospital. Well, eventually, there was no traffic on the streets, and of course, it was cold. I didn't have a jacket. I just had my white coat on. And so I took a blanket out of the car and started walking, and I would stop in at various stores that were open just to warm up. Eventually, I had to hail a ride from a snow plow, big truck plowing snow, and it took me until midnight to get home, and I walked home. I had icicles hanging out of my hair, my head. By next morning, there was three feet of snow on the streets, and all the cars were covered just like mounds. The traffic was at a standstill, but I went to the hospital on the trolley, on the light rail. That was the, quite an experience with the Northeast snowstorm.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Well eventually, my appointment as a fellow ended. It was to be for one year from July to June, but I stayed on an extra two months because Dr. Linton wanted some extra help. So finally, we left Boston at the end of August, and we drove back, and we stopped in Chicago for a day to visit with the Fukudas, and then we drove straight back to the West Coast. I can still remember one of the most beautiful sights was the seeing the Grand Tetons. You know the New England States have low hills and low mountains, and it was so nice to see the mountains of the Rockies again.

We came back to Ontario, stayed with my folks for a few days, and then came into Portland and came back to our house that we had. And the next month or two, I was busy applying for hospital privileges, getting an office started, getting my instruments for surgery, and a lot of little things had to be taken care of, the licenses and so on. By this time, I had taken the national board examination which you had to have to qualify for a license, and I obtained a license to practice in Oregon, in Washington, and also in California because I really didn't know where I was going to start practice. When I first started working in Portland, I decided to stay here. I was the first trained vascular surgeon in the State of Oregon, and at that time, many of the surgeons didn't believe that vascular surgery would stay. But of course, it has now become a separate specialty from the general surgery.


TI: After our return from Boston, it took us several months for us to, for me to get settled into my practice. My first office was sharing space with an orthopedic surgeon by the name of Dr. Orville Jones, and I rented a single room from him and shared his receptionist who was a very charming nurse by the name of Marge, and she used to book all of my appointments for me. This went on for two or three years, I believe, and I was waiting for the Lloyd Center to open which was, of course, the first major shopping center, and they had planned to have a doctor's office in this complex. So when this was opened in 1962, I moved into the office in Lloyd Center which was a good location in that it was centrally located because I applied for privileges at many hospitals which was scattered throughout the city. And I was on the staff primarily at Saint Vincent where I had trained, but also at Good Samaritan, Emanuel Hospital, Physicians and Surgeons, and several others around town, but also I did work at outlying hospitals such as in Vancouver Memorial, Oregon City, and of course, I had applied for academic status at the University of Oregon where I taught students and residents and also operating privileges at the Veteran's Hospital because they had a staff of students and residents. Well, as time went on, practice began to get busier, and my working hours became longer, and I found myself neglecting my family to the extent that I really felt guilty and felt badly about missing my children's birthday parties. I would have dates to go out to dinner with friends or to have friends come over for a dinner, and I would not be able to be there. But nevertheless, I felt that it was important to carry on my work, and I chose to go academic in my work meaning that I would keep records, accurate records of all the procedures, follow up on the patients to see what the long term results were and to record it, and then to tabulate series and write reports and apply to various meetings, societies where I could present my data. It was also important in our academic world to publish, and of course you had to have a series of patients of certain kind of work that you do, certain operations in order to report these.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: In order to explain some of the work that I did, I would like to touch upon the various diseases that affect the circulation. Primarily, we're talking about the arterial circulation, and there are two basic problems that can occur. First is the most common disease known as atherosclerosis or in lay terms, hardening of the arteries. And basically what happens in this situation is the blockage that occurs in the arteries as a result of deposits of cholesterol and calcium, the artery eventually shuts down, and when the circulation is impaired to vital organs such as the kidneys or the bowel or to the brain, that has a bad outcome. The second problem that occurs to arteries is that the arterial wall becomes diseased. It becomes weaker, weakened, and eventually dilates and ruptures much like a tire would when the walls are weakened, and it will blow out, and of course, with the result in bleeding, the outcome is not good. So in repairing these conditions, the arteries are either replaced or they're bypassed or they're cleaned out. And initially, when you first started vascular surgery, the arteries were replaced by human arteries which were harvested at autopsy, and when I started my practice here in Portland, I started a blood vessel bank in order to do this. Subsequently, there have been artificial arteries manufactured, and they are now widely used, and the main arteries are made out of Dacron and Teflon. When the arteries are diseased to the extent that the circulation is blocked, my endeavors were in the area where the arteries were cleaned out and the circulation restored. And the advantage of doing this particular type of a repair was that you ended up with the patient's own tissues.

The arterial wall comprised mainly of about three layers, and the inner layer, of course, is a very thin membrane. The second layer is more muscular which allows the arteries to contract. This is the layer in which much of the cholesterol deposit is made, and of course, it builds up in the lumen causing obstruction. The outer layer is a sheath which is the strongest part of the artery, and when you remove the diseased portion of the inner two layers, this layer is the one remaining vessel that functions as a normal artery. The big advantage of doing this operation is that when you leave the patient's own tissue, it is very resistant to infection and the complications of infection. The problem with this kind of surgery is that in large vessels, removing this material is well tolerated, the vessel stays open, but as the vessel gets tinier, smaller in diameter, the success there is not as good. And one is able to clean out the arteries all the way from the level of the kidneys, which is high in the abdomen, down to about the knees. The vessels in the thigh and around the knee is about the size of a cigarette, quite small, and when you open these arteries and clean them out and sew them back together again, we have a hard time keeping them open and the blood flowing. The segment of the artery is in the pelvis. It goes into the groin, also is fairly small, and the problem here is the access to these arteries because of the groin area, and also it is deep in the pelvis. And cleaning out these arteries here have not been generally successful because of the difficulty in getting to it and also the size.

I devised a method whereby this could be done more readily by dividing the artery at the level of the groin and bringing it back up into the pelvis and turn the artery inside out much as you would roll up your sleeves and remove the diseased portion. This turned out to be quite successful, and I did a series of these operations and then began reporting them as the results were very favorable and with minimum amount of complications. After my publications, I've noted that many of the European and South American surgeons have adopted this operation which I found out later, and the technique is now known as the Inahara technique. The procedure now is not being done very commonly because the easy accessibility of artificial arteries to bypass these diseased areas; and fortunately, the use of prosthetic arteries had been fairly successful too, but they do have a greater incidence of complications.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Over the years, as I became busier, I neglected my family so much that I felt at times that we should take some time and enjoy life with them. So in 1964, we decided that we would undertake skiing as a family event. So we went up to Government Camp one winter day. All the kids, my wife included, we all got skis and flopped around. We were looking like walking ducks. [Laughs] But any rate, all the children enjoyed it, and we began skiing every winter. So it's been -- it's been our practice to go to Sun Valley every January to ski for a week, we took lessons. We then went to the Bend area or sometimes down into Utah and Colorado in February and skied in various resorts. And in March during spring vacation, we always went to Whistler, and I can recall when we first started going to Whistler in the '60s, it was a narrow two-lane gravel road which was highly dangerous because it was so close to precipitous ravines. But nevertheless, all of our family has continued skiing, and I still ski in January over in Sun Valley, and our children have become expert skiers. As a matter of fact, my son became a ski instructor while he was in college. 1962, I began to experience some success, and I presented a gift to my father. I bought him a 1962 Cadillac Coupe. He was so proud of it.

In 1964, we took a trip up into the Puget Sound of San Juan Islands, and prior to doing this, I had taken a course with the, some organization here. I took a course in piloting and navigation, and I charted a 32-foot craft out of Anacortes, and we embarked upon this trip into the San Juans in the Salt Spring Islands. I took my father and my mother's mother, my wife's mother. We all slept on the boat, and my crew was my nine-year-old son. He's the one that jumped off the ship and secured the boat, secured the ship, but we had a great time. We stopped off at various islands. We picked up clams, oysters, did some fishing. I just about had a tragic accident there. We stopped at one of the islands to dig some clams, and I had moored the boat out there off shore, and as we were digging clams, the tide went out. When I looked up, I suddenly saw the ship tilting. I thought, "Oh my goodness, I got to get it into deeper water." So I just barely got the ship, the boat in deeper water and escaped the calamity.

In 1970, we took a trip into Canada. We rented an RV, the children are all small yet so that they were able to sleep in the RV. We first went from here to Spokane, and of course, I had never driven an RV before. It was, as I recall, it was a Dodge. When I left Portland and drove up as far as Pendleton, I notice the gas gauge was low, so I filled up. And much to my surprise, from Portland to Pendleton, it took thirty gallons, and I just couldn't believe I had used that much gasoline in such a short distance. But nevertheless, we went to Spokane and then to Montana, Flat Head Lake, and then we went to Yellowstone and then into Calgary. And luckily, we hit Calgary just at the time they were having the Calgary stampede. And of course at that time, the audience in the stampede, its numbers like 100 to 110,000 people every day, and there is no place to be found for lodging. And fortunately for us, we were able to drive up next to the stadium, park in a rental parking area and stay overnight, and we went into the stampede at nine in the morning, and we didn't get out until midnight. So we had a wonderful time seeing the stampede which was entirely unexpected. From there, we drove on to Banff and saw the beautiful Banff area, saw all the deer and elk. We didn't see any moose here, but we enjoyed Banff and then went to Lake Louise and saw the beautiful area there and hiked up to the falls. After that, we drove up to Jasper and stopped at the Columbia ice fields and stayed in Jasper where we saw all kinds of moose, wild goats, following which we came back down to the Glacier National Park in Canada, then through the Okanogans where we stopped and swam in some of the lakes there, and then finally we came down the Yakima Valley. And at that time, the cherries were in harvest, so we stopped and picked cherries on the way back and enjoyed the fruits. We stopped at the Grand Coulee Dam and finally returned home. That was a memorable trip for the entire family.

Another vacation that we took, my wife and myself, in 1972, we took a tour with the Oregon Medical Group and this was so-called the people-to-people tour, and we went to Europe. We first went to Brussels, and the whole idea of this trip was to contact the physicians in that area and to talk to them about various aspects of medicine, what they were doing, what we were doing, and they were to show us their hospitals and clinics. From Brussels, we then went to Stockholm and had a nice meeting with the local physicians. We toured the city area, and then the next day, we flew to Leningrad. And just before we left Stockholm, our tour leader advised us to stock up on snacks. He says, "You are going to be needing them," and sure enough, we certainly did. We went to Leningrad and stayed in this very large hotel. I think it was something like a thousand-room hotel, and we went to see their museum there. Leningrad is known as a City of Canals; and indeed, there were canals all over the city. From there, we boarded the train and overnight trip to Moscow. You know, during this period in 1972, the Iron Curtain was still up, and as we got into Moscow, we were escorted by armed soldiers to our hotel. We had a tour of the city. We met with the local physicians in a meeting, discussed all kinds of medical, surgical problems. And I still remember that some of the operations they were doing were outdated that we had done some time ago back that were abandoned. They would not allow us to see their hospitals, and so they took us to their clinics which was not too informative. The next tour we went to Warsaw, and I remember at the airport as we walked out to the plane, this was at night, and it was raining, we were escorted by bayoneted soldiers, had bayonets on their rifles, and we were escorted out to the plane. And we got to Warsaw, we saw all kinds of photographs of the mass destruction of the entire city which was just unbelievable. We were able to meet with their physicians and had discussions. They took us to their hospital, and it was very, very old. They had large rooms with, I remember, single beds that were made out of iron posts, narrow beds, and there were many patients in a single room. It was disheartening to see how far behind they were in medicine.

We next went to Prague where the city was a little brighter. People were a bit more open; and as a matter of fact, we went to a restaurant, one of the waiters wanted to buy some dollars, and he would give me black market rates which was kind of interesting. It was a beautiful city, and we certainly enjoyed Prague. We next went to Berlin. We were to have gone to East Berlin first; but for some reason, we were not allowed to go in. We went into Berlin itself; and for the first time, we had a nice hotel where they had accommodations of a bathroom in our room. It was a wonderful change. We had a meeting with the physicians in Berlin and had a very satisfying exchange. One event that still, that I remember was that night that I, we arrived in Berlin, I wanted to take a sauna, and I asked the clerk, the hotel clerk where it was, and so he pointed it out to me, and I went down the hall and went into this sauna. Suddenly, I saw this lady lying on the shelf, and of course, she didn't have a stitch of clothes on. And I thought, oh my goodness, I'm in the wrong place. So I went back to the clerk, and I said, "That's a women's sauna." He says, "Oh no, they are all the same here, so you just go ahead and use it." That was an eye opener. [Laughs] After Berlin, we went back to Copenhagen and concluded our trip. That was quite an eventful trip.

Back in 1976, we went to Hawaii for the first time with our family, and I also took my parents because they had never been there before, and we had an enjoyable time. We went to -- mainly to the Big Island and came home laden with leis and orchids. My wife actually had some relatives in Hawaii, on the Big Island, Hilo, so we met them, and we drove around the entire island. I'm sure my parents really enjoyed the vacation.

Another vacation we had was notable was in 1977. My wife and I and some of our skiing friends decided we will ski in Europe. So we signed up with the tour, tour group, and first went to Italy, to Valgardena and skied there for several days, I think close to a week. And of course, we had heard about Valgardena and how nice it was, and the only thing about it was that we went to this hotel, it is called Post Hotel. We were shown our room, and it was a very small room. And the first thing we noticed that we had straw mattresses, and the bathroom was down the hall, and it was certainly not what we had expected. But nevertheless, the skiing was good, the weather was excellent, and we enjoyed our skiing. Our next stop by bus was to San Moritz in Switzerland, and of course this was a really, a big ski resort. It's open only during the wintertime just for skiing, and they had many fancy hotels. There's a lake right in the center of the village. Of course, it's frozen, but they conducted a horse race on this frozen lake every day, and it was quite an event to watch horse races on a frozen lake with snow on the ice. The skiing was excellent here, and we ran into Warren Miller's filming crew. And it just so happened that particular year, the snow was so poor here on the West Coast that Warren Miller had sent his team over to Switzerland to film the skiing events. They took with them these figure skating champions, or figure skiing champions over there, and we watched them doing their filming. San Moritz was a very luxurious place, and we certainly enjoyed their skiing. It had many mountains to ski on. And finally we finished and flew back to Geneva and back home. So that was our experience of skiing in Europe.

In 1978, I took my parents and one of my daughters, Susan, to Japan, and we met our relatives along with the tour of most of the main Honshu, and I had promised all of my children that someday I would take them all to Japan to see what Japan was like and then to meet our relatives. In 1998, I did the same thing again. This time I took my son Jerry and his wife Jody. Jerry is now an anesthesiologist. He lives in Spokane and works at the Deaconist Hospital, and they thoroughly enjoyed Japan. They took the Japanese cuisine. I think they stopped at every noodle shop in the railroad stations. Again in year 2000, we toured Japan again, and this time I took our oldest daughter Sharon and her son Matthew, who was just eight, and our daughter Lori who is now a nurse, and she lives in Haley just adjacent to Sun Valley, and she took her daughter who was ten. And of course, the grandchildren had a great time. They learned a few things about Japanese youngsters. They would all come up to them and start talking to them in Japanese, practicing their English on them. We met all of our relatives and had a nice tour that extended from Hokkaido down to Kyushu.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Well, so much for the vacations and trips. Continued with my work and presenting papers. I was able to join a number of surgical societies, and these societies, membership, it was by invitation only. And I first joined the Portland Surgical Society, which was composed of the general surgeons, and I joined in 1959 and later served as its president in 1986. The same year, I joined the American College of Surgeons, as by then, I had passed my boards in general surgery conducted by the American Board of Surgery. That was in 1957, and then in 1983, the Vascular Surgery Board was established, and so I passed that when it was first started in 1983. When I joined the North Pacific Surgical Society, that was back in 1966, I was the first Japanese to join this group. It is one of the oldest surgical society in the United States even though it is located in the Northwest. It was formed in 1912, and I have been a member since. Next, I joined the Pacific Coast Surgical Society in 1969, and again, I was the first Japanese to join this group and have been a member since. Subsequently, I have been, become member of the Western Surgical Association which is a general surgery society. In 1976, I joined the Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery. This is a national organization with membership of 1000 to 1,200. I was elected the president of the society in 1991 and gave a presidential address at the meeting in Kauai that year. In 1978, I joined the Society for Vascular Surgery. This society is probably the most prestigious organization in our field. It was formed back in 1944, and the membership is limited to professors of medical schools, and membership is limited to about 150 people. Because I was involved in early development of the field of vascular surgery, I and the professor at the University of Oregon co-founded the Pacific Northwest Vascular Society, and I was the president of that society for the first three years, and this is now well-organized in the large society here in the Northwest. In 1991, Western Vascular Society was formed, and I was one of the founding members.

In 1972, because of the volume of vascular surgery that I was doing, a number of people suggested that I form a fellowship which means the teaching of vascular surgery specifically. So I elected to do this and started the training, one vascular fellow every year. To qualify to become a vascular surgeon, one had to finish a complete residency in general surgery which was at this time now five to six years of general surgery. Then this was followed by one year of vascular surgery. Our fellowship was at Saint Vincent's Hospital, and I was the director, and the fellowship was approved and certified so that the people who came out of the program were certified to become vascular surgeons. This program was continued for twenty years, and I have graduated twenty vascular surgeons. The program attracted candidates from many areas of course throughout the entire United States, but also from overseas. I had graduates come from Honduras, from Australia, from Ireland, and these people are now back in their countries and are holding academic positions. The fellow who came from Australia became the professor and head of the department at Penn State University.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So in all, with all this experience, I have thoroughly enjoyed the field of vascular surgery. Other than the procedure that I devised for an endarectomy which I mentioned known as the Inahara procedure, I have also developed a carotid shunt. A shunt is a device by which you route circulation temporarily through a bypass, and I conceived the idea, when you obstruct an artery, the organs can tolerate loss of circulation for varying periods of time depending on what the organ is. However, if you shut the circulation off to the brain, the brain does not tolerate but more than two or three minutes of clamping and shutting off the circulation. So one has to use a shunt to restore the blood flow while you are working on the artery which is open. The old method was to just merely place a tube within the artery, and to keep the blood vessel from leaking, you had to put a tourniquet around the tube in the artery. Well, this became a problem because when you're trying to clean out the artery thoroughly, you had to see both ends of the cleanout. And in order to do this, I thought that if the lumen of the artery could be occluded using a balloon inside the artery rather than a tourniquet, this would make the operation safer and more thorough. So I patented the idea and decided that I would try to build this particular shunt. And finally, I was able to get together with another vascular surgeon who also had the same idea and came to me to join in making this device. We got a third partner in, who was a businessman who was in the medical field, and we formed the company called the Ideas for Medicine and began manufacturing this device. This was the first shunt that were, it was made in this fashion, and it currently is still in use. Subsequently, we have transferred our company to another company since we both are retired.

The field of vascular surgery is rapidly changing, and I still attend meetings twice a week to keep up with the changes, but also to participate in the discussions of handling problem cases. Meetings are held at Saint Vincent's Hospital and also at the university. I have thoroughly enjoyed surgery in this field. And for the first six months or so, a year after my retirement, I still missed being in the operating room. But however, one has to accept the fact that you have to retire sometime. But if I were to do this over again, my life over again, I think I would still do the same thing. It's been a wonderful career.


TI: In performing operations of a vascular nature, we had to have a team. We had certain nurses that were trained specifically for this. At one time, I even hired my own nurse to work with me in the operating room, and also we had to have an anesthesiologist who was familiar with my procedures but also to give the type of anesthesia that would work best for doing vascular surgery. Well, this particular anesthesiologist was an Irishman. Of course, he was a graduate of Irish Medical School. He became an internist and trained in Switzerland. And after that, he decided to migrate to Canada and began practice as an internist, but he soon found out that this was not his field, so he quit his practice and decided to go to California. On his way through, he stopped in Portland to see a friend, and he liked the city so well, he decided to stay in Portland and also decided to change his specialty. He enrolled in the anesthesia residency program at the University of Oregon and became an anesthesiologist. But it so happened that he began working at Saint Vincent's, and we became a good team to do this kind of work. He had friends in Ireland, of course, and every summer for about five years, his good friend came from Ireland who was a thoracic surgeon, and he came to watch how vascular surgery was done here in United States because in Ireland, vascular surgery had not advanced this quickly. He would go back and do vascular surgery along with his chest surgery. Well, it turned out that he became the president of the Irish Royal College of Surgeons. He invited me to be a speaker at their meeting in Dublin, and so I accepted and went to Dublin and presented two papers. My wife and I flew to Shannon, and we had a little bit of bad luck as the Northwest Airlines lost our baggage, so we had to stay in Shannon until the baggage caught up with us. We then hired a car, rented a car and drove from Shannon through the south of Ireland, Cork, through the countryside and ended up in Dublin and stayed there for a week or so. After the meeting, well, I presented two papers at the meeting, and of course, English is the spoken language there, so we had no problems in translations or interpretations, but it was a fun trip. The Irish people out in the country are very kind. They are so hospitable. We traveled by car on narrow roads, so narrow that we had to pull off the road to let the oncoming car by. We stayed at bed and breakfast which was a nice experience. We had the Irish oatmeal every morning which is quite different than ours. We drove across from Dublin to Galway, and Galway was the home of this particular chest surgeon. His name was Des Necie. And we stayed there with him, and he showed us the countryside, showed us his hospital. And then we ventured down south again to Shannon and back home again. You know they drive on the wrong side of the road in Ireland, and this became a problem. Just before we got to Dublin, we were going through a small village, and we came to an intersection, it was a six-way crossing. And much to my confusion, I had a fender bender. It was embarrassing, but the party was very understanding. And I had caused damage to his vehicle, and he says, "Oh forget it, I just won't do anything about it." And I said, "No, please, get it repaired because I'm covered with insurance." So I talked him into getting it done, and I gave him all the information. But that was fortunately the only minor event that I experienced.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

DF: Will you talk a little bit about growing up? Do you see yourself as Japanese or Japanese American?

TI: Well, of course, when I was a boy, I was all Japanese. My parents spoke no English, and everything was Japanese at home, and so I became quite fluent. And furthermore, I attended Japanese school until I was in the fifth grade in Tacoma, and we did shuji. We learned all kinds of katakana. I could even remember we would have tests quite often, and the test consisted of writing as many kanji that you remembered. And I could remember that I would write up to 1,200 kanji from memory.


TI: After five years of Japanese school, we continued Japanese school after we moved to Oregon. We lived in Hillside, but we had to drive to Banks which is about five or six miles, and I would take all of my brothers and attend the Japanese school on Sunday. Our teachers, we had one living in Banks, a fellow by the name of Mr. Tsutsui who was very good, but we also had teachers come from Portland on Sundays. Mrs. Fukuda and Dr. Nakata were our teachers. There were probably around fifty to sixty students in Banks, and I don't know that we learned very much there because we were pretty rowdy, and it seemed like we would go to school just to get together with the other kids. So we did get to know the Japanese community quite well, and we had our annual picnics. We had Shogatsu get together, and we saluted the emperor in those days. It was quite an event. So we had a fair amount of Japanese culture until I was -- until I went off to college. And after that, my contact with the Japanese was very limited; and unfortunately, I've forgotten a good part of my Japanese language. I'm not able to read the kanjis anymore, but I'm still able to write hiragana, and I still correspond with my relatives in Japan fairly often, writing hiragana.

DF: Will you talk about, a little about your father's equipment at the kashiya?

TI: Yes. My father, of course, was the -- had a kashiya in Tacoma, and this particular mochi machine was quite large. The usu was made out of stone, and it was -- the whole stone was perhaps two and a half feet or so in diameter, and the hallow part of it was perhaps two feet in diameter, and the kine that pounded the machine was about six inches in diameter. It was lifted by a motorized mechanism, and they were able to pound about four to five pounds of rice at one time. Of course when he sold the store, why, you know, we no longer had that. But subsequently, after moving to Portland and after he retired from the farm, he opened a store in Portland, on Southeast Powell, and he bought another machine, it was very similar. It came from Japan, of course, and I remember I had to look for an electric motor that would operate this and was able to put it together, but it was, the mechanism was the same. And of course, you had to have a gas fired furnace or a stove to steam. It would steam about four saddles at one time, and I became acquainted with mixing the mochi, and I would do it all the time without risk. [Laughs]

DF: And where is that machine today?

TI: Well, the machine is now in Ontario. My younger brother took it with him, and it's over there now. It's still functional. And if I were to have access to it, I could still make mochi the old fashion way. I don't know whether or not you are aware that machine, I mean the mochi that's made by pounding like that, you know, tastes entirely different.

DF: Will you describe, you know, mixing mochi?

TI: Well, after the mochigome is steamed, if you flip it into the bowl which is a little tricky, you have to do it just right, and then you gather it together and kind of firm it down so when the kine drops, the rice doesn't scatter. You keep turning it, folding it in each time the rice is pounded, and it's steaming hot. At first, you use the shamoji to turn the rice, and also, you have to put a little water on the kine with each pounding. So you have to dip your hand in cold water, put the water on the kine, let it drop, turn the rice, and repeat and stay out of the way. And it takes about I'd say ten minutes to pound the rice into the final mochi state. Then you pick it up. It is still hot. And you know, it sticks so much into usu, that is hard to get it all out cleanly. But you pick it up, and then you put it on a bed of flour.

DF: And then you form it into balls.

TI: Then you form it into little balls, let it cool, and then package it. But the mochi that's made that way is very tasty.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

DF: How did your family avoid internment camps during the war?

TI: Well, as I mentioned, shortly after I was turned down to join the Air Force, I came into Portland daily to the federal office building and applied for a travel permit. And as I say, you had to have a point of destination that, where you could go to so that you would not be a ward of anybody or any government organization. And fortunately, they issued a few travel permits; otherwise, you couldn't move. So we were one of the very fortunate families that were able to pick up and move and be independent. Of course, Minidoka is not too far, you know, from Ontario, and we went to visit friends there quite often. And of course, we would take them fresh fruits which was a real treat for them.

DF: Were you asked often to show your permit to the authorities?

TI: No. No one ever checked on that. We had a permit, but no one ever checked on our legitimacy to travel. Although, I did have one event which we traveled without a permit, and this happened I think in January or February 1942. We had just moved into this new home in Hillsboro, and we had to have some furniture. And at the same time, the Iwasaki family had also built a home in Hillsboro. So Arthur Iwasaki and myself decided that we would go to Seattle to buy some furniture. So Art and I drove up to Seattle unannounced. I thought we'd go the back route, and, so we did get our furniture. And on the way back, I think we made a mistake. We stopped in Tenino which is off the main highway, and we went into a restaurant for lunch. And someone turned us in, and we were accosted by the local police. They questioned us quite extensively, and I thought surely we would end up in jail. But fortunately, we were able to come home, and that was you might say a narrow escape. I had another event that, where I did end up in jail. This was in Payette, Idaho. We had been, we had a farm established, and my brother was raising chickens for our own use of course, and he would get the chicks in the spring and raise them for the eggs and for the chicken itself. We also had, were raising pigs. And I happened to go over across the river to Idaho to Payette to some farm there to pick up a piglet. And I had the little pig on the back of the truck, and I was coming back through town of Payette. And all of a sudden, I was picked up by the police. And you know, I was going through a residential area and driving as I normally would, and he cited me for speeding and took me to the police station, and he wouldn't issue me a ticket. He decided that he was going to put me in jail. So I ended up in jail that night, and I had to call my brother to come over and get the truck and get the pig. Any rate, I spent the night in jail, so I have a criminal record.

DF: Will you describe visiting Minidoka?

TI: Yes. We had, of course, many friends over there from Portland, and we were quite surprised to see the facilities. Of course, you had to go through the gates to be checked out, they look through your car, see what you had. It was mainly food items. But of course, you couldn't stay there overnight. It was just a one day visit, and you would bring in fresh fruits and vegetables. And I don't know what else, but we would get together, maybe have a little meal, saw some of the facilities. We saw the kitchens that they, you know, they had, the dining areas. The stores that they had and the clinics and the little hospital. We also noticed the watchtowers that they had which were staffed with soldiers. The thing that really stays on my mind is that how muddy the road traveled was so, within the camp was so muddy, you could hardly walk around.

DF: So you were able to come and go to the camps and not be questioned?

TI: Yes. We were free to do that. We visited as often as we could.

DF: And who were you visiting?

TI: My college roommate, the Yoshitomis. Jack Yoshitomi was my college roommate, and Harry Fukuda who was there at the same year I was. Also, like Chuck Shimomura, I don't know if you know the family. He was an upper classman when I was going to the University of Oregon. We would, a group of us would always get together whenever my mother would send us a package, and she would send sushi and onigiri and things like that. We would have a get together and have a feast. I met, I remember meeting Sam Naito down there and George Azumano and Ise Inazuka. There were several others. I remember Hiroshi Shishido who was from Salem, he was there. We would, occasionally, we would go over to Corvallis to see people over there, the students.

DF: What do you know about Portland's Japantown or the Japantown in Tacoma? What happened after the war to the Japantown?

TI: Well you know, we lived out in the country. You know, Forest Grove and beyond is like thirty miles. Helvetia is like twenty-five miles. And you know, we seldom came to Portland, and it was a big event for us to come to the big city, and so I remember parts of the Japantown but not much in detail. I can remember once, one time we came in, there was a Japanese restaurant, and I think that was the first time I'd ever eaten in a Japanese restaurant, and I must have been about, I was a teenager then. I could remember going to a tailor shop in Japantown. This happened just the year that I entered the University of Oregon. My parents had thought that I need to have a suit in order to go to the university, so they had a tailor-made suit for me. I can recall it was oxford gray, double breasted, my first suit. But other than that, I don't remember too much about Japantown.


TI: I must say that I have had a wonderful life, and I had a satisfying career in my chosen field. But as I go through life more and more, I think about this particular idea. I've come to the conclusion that what one does with his life is perhaps satisfying to yourself, but the most important thing that you can do is to educate your children and leave a responsible citizen in this world, and this should be one's goal. What you accomplish in life really isn't that important. What you leave behind, I think, is the greater importance, and I have given this thought to my children. There is a saying that one generation stands upon the shoulder of the next to advance the cause of humanity, and I think this is the important accomplishment in a person's life.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.