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-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: And so describe how your father's family came to America.

LI: I don't know whether it was my father that wanted to come or my grandparents, but I think they wanted him to learn some English, and also to go to school over here, of course. And then he stayed with his uncle and auntie who were already here. They were quite elderly also, but they took him in.

TI: And do you know about when this happened, your grandparents and your father came to...

LI: He was about (sixteen), I believe, and he was born in 1987.

TI: So 1887.

LI: I mean 1897.

TI: So about 1899 would be when they were... if I did the math right. So about the end of the century. And where did they go, the three of them?

LI: I don't know exactly, but I imagine my grandparents stayed with his aunt and uncle as far as I know. It was somewhere in the country, I'm sure.

TI: But you're not sure where in the country?

LI: Gosh, I really don't know.

TI: And so your grandparents came, and it sounds like then they returned back to Japan?

LI: Yes, uh-huh.

TI: But your father stayed?

LI: Stayed here, right. And when it was time, he went to Benson High School (and graduated).

TI: Did your father ever talk about how it felt to stay, yeah, left in America?

LI: I really don't know. I've never asked him, I guess.

TI: But he was able to stay with his aunt and uncle?

LI: Yes.

TI: And was that aunt and uncle on your grandmother's side or your grandfather's side?

LI: My father's side. They went in an old Ford, we have a picture of that, and I think he was driving, actually. But he went to Benson High School and graduated from there.

TI: So the picture of the Ford was your father driving this?

LI: I think it was my father who was driving it.

TI: And so what, do you know what your uncle and aunt did, what kind of work they did?

LI: No. Oh, I think they were on the farm. That story, let's see... out on Highway 26, I'm pretty sure it's way out there.

TI: And we're kind of going far afield extended family, but do you know their names?

LI: Oh, my goodness. I must have it somewhere, but I'm really not sure. (Kobayashis).

TI: Yeah, we're going pretty far afield. So your father comes to America with his family, he's about (sixteen) years old, his parents return but he stays. And then you mentioned he went to Benson High School and graduated from there. And so what did your father do after high school?

LI: High School? He became a machinist for the Union Pacific Railroad, but in between that time, I can't say for sure, but he went to the... let's see, he was a judo instructor, and then after that, he went to the Western School of Chiropractic and became a chiropractor. I think that's it.

TI: So that's a pretty wide range. So both judo instructor, chiropractor, and also a machinist.

LI: Yeah, he was a machinist, I think when my parents were married, if I'm not mistaken.

TI: So it sounds like being a machinist was a pretty good job.

LI: I think so. And Emmanuel and our home was very close to (the Union Pacific Railroad).

TI: And that was the hospital.

LI: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.