Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Lilly Kobayashi Irinaga Interview
Narrator: Lilly Kobayashi Irinaga
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: April 27, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-ililly-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Saturday, April 27, 2013, we're in Portland. Observing in the room we have three observers. We have Todd from O.N.E., we have Valerie, who is training to be an interviewer, and we have your son Mike, who's listening in. On camera is Dana Hoshide, and then I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda.

LI: Oh, I thought it was "I," but it's "A." [Referring to TI's nametag.]

TI: No, it's actually "I." They misspelled it downstairs, so it's Ikeda.

LI: [Laughs] Okay, I thought so.

TI: So why don't we start with just tell me when you were born.

LI: 4/5/29.

TI: So April 5, 1929, so that makes you eighty-four years old?

LI: Uh-huh, it's forty-eight reversed. [Laughs]

TI: Yes, yes.

LI: I can't believe I'm eighty-four, that's why. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, so when people ask you how old you are, you say forty-eight in reverse?

LI: Yes.

TI: That's funny. And where were you born?

LI: Portland, Oregon.

TI: Okay, and do you know where in Portland you were born?

LI: Emmanuel Hospital.

TI: And what was the, kind of, address when you were born? Where were your parents living? Or what part of town?

LI: I think it was 55 Northeast (Borthwick St.) near Emmanuel. Northeast.

TI: And what was the name given to you at birth?

LI: Lilly Mikie, M-I-K-I-E.

TI: And Kobayashi was your maiden name?

LI: Yes.

TI: And any significance to those names, either Lilly or Mikie?

LI: Well, maybe because I was born so close to Easter, perhaps. I'm not definitely sure.

TI: That make sense. The lilies are coming out, the Easter lilies. So you just celebrated your birthday a couple weeks ago. So let's start with your father first. So what was your father's name and where was he born?

LI: He didn't ever like his name, so when he got his citizenship, he turned it over to Toru. Otherwise it was Toraichi, "number one tiger." He didn't like that at all.

TI: Oh, interesting. So what was it before Toru, what was it again?

LI: Toraichi.

TI: Toraichi.

LI: It meant "number one tiger," I guess.

TI: Interesting. And do you know why he didn't like it? He just didn't like it?

LI: He just didn't like it.

TI: And where was he born?

LI: Okayama, Japan.

TI: And what kind of work did your father do, or your father's family do in Japan?

LI: I don't know what their job was back then. I just met my grandmother, he had passed on, but I really don't know what they were doing.

TI: And how about brothers and sisters of your father?

LI: He was an only child.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.