Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hiro Heidi Inahara Interview
Narrator: Hiro Heidi Inahara
Interviewer: Betty Jean Harry
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: July 2, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-ihiro-01-0001

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BH: Today is Wednesday, July 2, 2014. My name is Betty Jean Harry, I'm a volunteer with the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. I'll be interviewing Heidi Inahara as part of the Minidoka Oral History Project. We're in Portland, Oregon, our videographer is Ian McCluskey. So let's start with a few personal details, Heidi. When and where were you born?

HI: I was born in Portland, Oregon, in Montavilla, which is in East County.

BH: And what name were you given at birth?

HI: Hiro Shiogi, that's it.

BH: Okay. Now you go by Heidi. So how did that come about?

HI: Well, when I went to college, people kind of massacred the name (Hiro). And actually, it's a boy's name. So I went to Pacific with my friend Reiko Miura, and she wanted to get a different middle name, too. So I picked Heidi and she picked Robin, and that's where it started.

BH: You still kept with the H and she kept with the R. And when's your birthday?

HI: February 2, 1928.

BH: And were you born in a hospital, or were you born at home?

HI: I was born at home with a midwife.

BH: Okay, right, most people were at the time. Let's talk about your parents. What was your father's name?

HI: His name was Kikuo Shiogi.

BH: And where in Japan was he from?

HI: He was from Miyada-mura in Nagano-ken.

BH: And what kind of work did his family do in Japan?

HI: I think they were farmers, his brother, and I think he had a couple of sisters.

BH: Okay, a brother and two sisters. Did your dad have an opportunity to become educated before he came over here?

HI: No. They were very poor, and so I think that's the reason they gave him a few bucks, actually, about fifteen dollars, and sent him across the ocean.

BH: Did he come by himself?

HI: No, he came with his brother, the two of 'em.

BH: The younger brother?

HI: The older brother.

BH: The older brother, okay.

HI: They landed in Seattle.

BH: And they came here to find jobs?

HI: Right, find any kind of jobs that were available. He did a lot of different kinds of work, like dishwashing, houseboy, worked in the sawmill and whatever job they could find.

BH: And when did they come to Portland, or how did that come about?

HI: I'm not sure what year it was, but they weren't married yet.

BH: Okay. And what was your mom's name?

HI: Her name was Tsuneko Karaki, and she was from the same town in Nagano-ken.

BH: Okay, and what kind of work did her family do? Were they farmers as well?

HI: I'm not sure. I didn't hear too much about that.

BH: Okay. And did she have any brothers or sisters?

HI: Yes, she had about five sisters and two brothers. And one brother was in the war during World War II and he died, and then another one had TB and died. So five sisters were left. I met them all, in fact, they all came here together to visit us later on in years.

BH: How nice. How did your mother decide to come to the United States?

HI: Well, it was a picture marriage. I don't know when, but she was only nineteen at the time.

BH: And was there an age difference between...

HI: Oh, yes, about thirteen year difference.

BH: What kind of person was your father? What was he like?

HI: He was a very mild-mannered, gentle person, worked hard. I don't think, I can never remember a time that he raised his voice at us.

BH: Wow. And your mom?

HI: She was a little more boisterous. But she was a wonderful mom, and worked hard on the farm, too.

BH: So when your mom came over, was your dad still up in the Seattle area working, or had he already come down to Portland?

HI: I'm not sure about that.

BH: But eventually your dad was working a farm out in the Montavilla area. Now, at that time, the Isseis weren't allowed to own property. So was it in somebody else's name, or was he leasing?

HI: I think it was in my brother, my oldest brother, I think it was in his name.

BH: Okay.

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