522nd Field Artillery, 442nd RCT
Katsugo Miho, youngest of eight children, is born in 1922 in Kahului, Maui.
A dozen years prior to his birth, his parents, Katsuichi and Ayano Miho, with his sister, Tsukie, immigrate to Honolulu, Oahu. His eldest brother and eldest sister remain with grandparents in Hiroshima-ken.
A few years later, the Mihos move to Maui where Katsuichi is a Japanese-language schoolteacher, then bookkeeper and manager of Onishi Store [Onishi and Co., Ltd.].
[I was born in] 1922 [in] Kahului, Maui. Dog year [in the Asian astrological cycle].
Katsuichi and Ayano Miho
My parents [Katsuichi and Ayano Miho] came from Hiroshima[-ken], Japan.
No one really told me about this, especially my mother or my father — but I understand that my dad used to pass by my mother’s house on his way to school. Pretty soon he got interested in who she was and, maybe, as neighbors, they knew each other from different families. Because in Hiroshima, in that area, it wasn’t that big a town, yet. Today, it’s very modern and a lot of people, but the village was very small at that time.
Soon they got to know each other better, talking over the fence, so to speak. And unlike the custom at that time period in Japan, they had a relationship which was not with a go-between coming in introducing each one to the other before you start having a relationship.
But it got to a point where [Katsuichi] wanted to get married and found out that [Ayano] being the eldest girl and no son, the only way he could get married was to be adopted by the Miho family.
[My father’s family] name was Imamura and he came from just on the suburbs of Hiroshima, a military naval town called Kure, where [Admiral Isoroku] Yamamoto is supposed to have trained the pilots that bombed Pearl Harbor. Kure is the center of the naval establishment in Hiroshima. And I understand that my father’s side background was military. In fact, for a long time I had heard stories that a marine brigade in Hiroshima was known as the “Imamura Butai,” which is a Japanese marine brigade.
[I know] very little [about my father’s educational background], except that his family’s side [Imamuras] had strong connections with the military. However, I don’t know for what reason he himself was not involved in the military, became a schoolteacher.
When I first visited Japan, I visited this little primary school [in Kusuma, Hiroshima]. I visited this school back in 1966, when I first went to Japan. This school was there and a row of pictures of the principals of the school with my dad being the first one.
Most of the people in Hawaii who came from Hiroshima came from this district known as the Nihonmachi area.
Immigration to Hawaii
In Japan [my father] was a schoolteacher. He was married and he had three children when he decided to immigrate to Hawaii.
He asked permission of my mother’s father to immigrate to Hawaii, partly I guess because adopted husbands in Japan normally had a bad time in Japanese culture and society, especially back in the early 1900s.
My [maternal] grandfather was an established merchant, preparing and selling ajitsuke nori, this seaweed that they put on their own sauce. My grandfather did a lot of research into this seaweed to the extent that he went to Korea to develop his own sauce to spread over the nori.
Even today, my mother’s aunt, who took over the business, is still involved in the ajitsuke nori business in Hiroshima. But my dad was not a ajitsuke nori [merchant] so he decided to let his wife’s stepsister take over the business.
[My father] had three children at that time and my grandfather had allowed him [to immigrate], on the condition that he left behind one boy and one girl, the eldest son [Katsuto] and daughter [Hisae], with him in Japan to take over the business.
The third child was my elder sister Tsukie [Rosaline]. I think she was one or two years old. Around 1910, they moved to Honolulu, came over to Hawaii as an immigrant teacher. They first moved into Honolulu in the Palama district area.
In the beginning, [my father] was not teaching Japanese[-language] school. He [was] supposed to have gone to California to explore the possibility of going into farming or in raising bees. But that didn’t pan out because my mother got seriously ill. A doctor, who was one of the first doctors at the Kuakini Hospital here in Honolulu, who happened to be a relative of my parents, did a lot in saving the life of my mother.
His name was Katsugoro Haida and I was supposedly named after Haida. Not only that, because I was the number five boy [in Japanese, the number five is go], they stopped at Katsugo instead of the old-style Japanese Katsugoro. But I’m named after that savior of my mother, Dr. Katsugoro Haida of Kuakini Hospital in Honolulu.
Move to Maui
After a few years living in the Palama sector of Honolulu, [my parents] moved to Maui. It was there that [my father] started teaching Japanese[-language] school out in various camps. Maui was a sugar plantation where people lived in all these different camps. There were a large number of Japanese workers compared to other nationalities. A lot of the immigrants on Maui were from Hiroshima to begin with.
So [my father] taught in the Japanese[-language] schools in Maui until he decided to retire from teaching and became bookkeeper for Onishi Grocery Store [Onishi and Co., Ltd.], where he worked for many years until they decided to own their own small little family-run hotel [K. Miho Hotel].
Onishi Store, Nakashima Fish Market, Okada Fish Market, across the street from the hotel, had homes right behind the stores and we lived in the homes.All the Onishi workers lived in two two-story buildings and one side cottage. So we all lived there.
[I’m the youngest in a family of eight. I have three older sisters and four older brothers.]
My eldest sisters, both Tsukie and Fumiye, was very much involved in looking after the younger siblings, especially myself and my brother above me. But even my brother above me was three years older than I was. The one above him was also three years older. So between came me and my two older brothers, Katsuaki there was a three-year difference, and between myself and Paul it was a six-year difference. So being the youngest itself was another factor, but the age difference between my older brothers was far apart.
Fumiye was two years older than Paul, so she’s eight years older than I. And Katsuro was ten years older than I was. Tsukie was twelve years older than I was. So being the youngest there’s vast difference in age.
Katsugo Miho's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Katsugo Miho.