Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Dan Hinatsu Interview
Narrator: Dan Hinatsu
Interviewer: Betty Jean Harry
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: March 7, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-hdan-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

BH: Today is Friday, March 7, 2014, my name is Betty Jean Harry, I'm a volunteer with Oregon Nikkei Endowment. And I will be interviewing Dan Hinatsu as part of the Minidoka Oral History Project. We're in Dan's home in Portland, Oregon, our videographer is Ian McCluskey. Also present today are Todd Mayberry, Director of Collections and Exhibits at Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, and Marlene Kato Wallingford, another volunteer. So, Dan, let's start with a few personal details. When and where were you born?

DH: I was born in Portland, Oregon. My folks lived in Oswego, but brought Mom into town because of the midwife and so on.

BH: And you celebrated your eighty-eighth birthday, what, last year?

DH: Eighty-eight? Yes. I didn't celebrate it. [Laughs]

BH: But you had your eighty-eighth birthday.

DH: I had my eighty-eighth.

BH: What name were you given when you were born?

DH: Well, I was born... my dad Sataro and my mother Chiyeko, Chiye. And I was born in 1924, April.

BH: And what name did they give you?

DH: Daisuke.

BH: And are you aware of any significance to that name?

DH: No, it's because of the way Japanese writing is, part of the dad's name, kanji is the same used in my name.

BH: The dai part?

DH: Dai, yeah. No, the suke.

BH: Oh, okay. What was your father's name?

DH: Sam Sataro Hinatsu.

BH: And where in Japan was he from?

DH: He was born in Hinatsu-cho in the city of Hikone. It's a bigger city, in Shiga-ken in Japan.

BH: So Hinatsu-cho...

DH: Is a city. There's also Hinatsu mountain, Hinatsu Street, when I went back there and found all these different Hinatsu names all over the place. That's because the family goes way back during samurai period, and somehow the samurai group, the southern part, like Hikone had a war against the Tokyo group, the shogun period. And they lost, so the lord told them to become a farmer, because that's the next highest to, in the social chain next to samurai, so that's how his family started farming in Kawase.

BH: Did your dad have any brothers or sisters?

DH: He had one older brother and another brother, younger brother, and two sisters.

BH: And do you happen to know their names?

DH: [Laughs] I can't remember, but yes, I have it somewhere.

BH: That's okay. Did your father have an opportunity to become educated before he came here?

DH: Well, yes, he was, he went to grade school. But Mother, she was educated because she was already, when they got married, she was twenty-five and he was twenty-nine.

BH: How did your father decide to come to the United States, to America?

DH: Well, my dad came with his uncle, and his uncle was gonna put him through education in Canada or somewhere. And he came through Canada and went to school there, and then the kids teased him so much that he quit school and then he got a job with the railroad, being an oil boy, oiled all the wheels. And later on, he moved to Whitefish, Montana. There he did some logging, and after working on the railroad, logging, then somehow he went south, came toward Oregon, and he found a place here in Oswego, Oregon. And with his friend, they farmed it with a partner. And then after he established well enough, then he decided to go to Japan and get married. She was waiting for him all this time.

BH: Did they know each other before he came here?

DH: Yes, they were neighbors.

BH: Okay.

DH: Not to farm, maybe.

BH: You mentioned that your dad was made fun of at school. Why was that?

DH: That's because he was older and he was already fourteen or fifteen, and in grade school the kids teased him because he was too big to be in grade school, in first grade.

BH: And that's because he came not knowing very much English?

DH: Yes.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.