Katsugo Miho
522nd Field Artillery, 442nd RCT

Youth

Swimming, fishing and crabbing, picking fruits, and catching birds, are popular pastimes.

On his newspaper delivery route, Katsugo regularly stops to challenge friends in a game of marbles.

Family activities include: picnics in Iao Valley, school performances, the Fourth of July, the Emperor’s Birthday, and New Year’s.

As Boy Scouts, the Miho boys go to places beyond Kahului.

On a family trip to Japan, Katsugo meets his eldest siblings.

Beach

Kahului was right next to the harbor. The beach was a very big part of my activities. Growing up, several friends of mine, not only town boys but camp boys, we go swimming. We stayed out on the beach until dark, until we know that our parents would be calling for us. Especially during the summer months, we just stay on the beach.

Boys at beach. Katsugo Miho is in the middle; also in view are the Kinoshita and Toda boys. Kihei, Hawaii. August 18, 1935.
Boys at beach. Katsugo Miho is in the middle; also in view are the Kinoshita and Toda boys. Kihei, Hawaii. August 18, 1935.

If it’s not swimming, we go fishing. Fishing was a big part of our pastime because there were spots on the harbor that under the wharf we could go and fish from. We used to do a lot of fishing under the pier. That’s how I learn how to catch the yellow manini [reef surgeonfish]. Yellow manini were the ones that we go for or kumu [goatfish] or moano [goatfish]. Every so often, July and August, we’ll have the halalu [young akule, young big-eyed scad fish] running or we go crabbing for white crabs from the pier. That was very popular, crabbing. Those activities were always available to us.

Activities

My involvement was with the town kids basically. But there were a couple of [others].

The library was located in Wailuku. There was a period of time when almost every Saturday we would go to the library. We had to walk that long walk all the way around the Kahului Bay. It’s called Beach Road. It was about a two or three miles from Kahului to the library.

My newspaper delivery was time consuming. My favorite recollection of newspaper delivery is that playing marbles was a big growing-up game that I was involved with many years. So, in delivering the newspapers, I had to schedule my delivery so that I know at a certain point of my delivery, I’m going to stop and play marbles with particular individuals who were my classmates. That would take maybe sometimes half an hour, sometimes one hour. So my delivery was extended.

We had this game, it was made out of broomstick. It was a short handle and then there was a shorter stick that was cut as a bevel. You would lay it on the ground and you had to hit on the bevel, with the handle and it would pop in the air. It’s called peewee. That was a popular game.

Besides that, we would catch birds once in a while when one came near the chicken coop area. We had that Japanese sticky mochi. We would stick it onto the wire, near the chicken farm, and the birds would perch on the wire. You know if they’re perched on the wire, that’s it. We just go up there and get the birds.

Picking Fruits

Other occasions, especially during summer months, we didn’t have money for extravaganzas. So a lot of these munching had to be seasonal. When the guava season was there, we would go picking guavas in Iao Valley. We had to go all the way up to the Iao Valley, about three miles from Kahului. But that was our summertime activity basically.

Plum, that was one of our favorite. It was not as sweet, it was kind of bitter. But anything to munch on, we would go and pick these plum season, which was a lot of fun. We used to make juice out of it.

There was one other fruit that we used to go and pick. I remember we used to call momi [mamee] apple. There were a couple of trees in Iao Valley. And, of course, a long ride was going out to Hana side, where there was mountain apples.

But the one thing was that we, this was always learned the hard way, eating too much green guavas. That was terrible. All of us learned the hard way.

But it was fun. Considering now you don’t have kids walking three miles just to go have fun up in the valley or anything like that. But it was a regular thing for us during the summer months.

Picnics at Iao Valley Stream

That Iao Valley Stream, up Iao Valley, was the favorite picnic grounds for the families. The AJA families did more picnicking than any other community’s families. Iao Valley was a favorite picnic grounds for the families. We’d go up there on many, many, many occasions just to eat teri[yaki] beef. I remember cooking on the hot rocks, the teri beef. You cook it on the rocks and make a big fire and put the teriyaki on the rocks to cook it.

Miho family on a picnic in Iao Valley on the island of Maui when Dr. Takakusu from Japan visited.
Miho family on a picnic in Iao Valley on the island of Maui when Dr. Takakusu from Japan visited.

The stream was very fresh, you could drink it right off the river. There weren’t people worried about pollution those days.

Events

[The family would see] the plays, shibai, and all that. We would have certain occasions when the school would put on, once or twice a year. We would put on these community functions where different classes would perform different dances, different things. These were basically for families.

Over and above the Bon-odori. Fourth of July was a big thing. Emperor’s Birthday was basically not too big, but still it was celebrated, family style. So most of the functions were family affairs.

[Fourth of July] was a big deal in Maui. When I was doing some research on sumo, Bishop Museum, I found a picture of a inter-island tournament that was held in Kahului on Fourth of July. The picture showed part of the entire group of participants, plus part of the attendants. I would guesstimate that it was probably over two thousand people at this Fourth of July affair. All Japanese community. You had people coming from the neighbor islands. It was a big tournament.

I guess [my father] was part of the committee that worked on the whole gathering because Mr. [Takashige] Sado was the perennial boss for sumo. In fact, in the internment pictures, there was a picture that my father kept of sumo being held in the internment camp in Santa Fe. And I see Mr. Sado in the picture.

Boy Scouts

I had some very good friends as a Boy Scout. It wasn’t limited to Kahului camp or town, but we had this Maui Boy Scout gathering. So very early in my Boy Scout days, I made some very good friends who were my classmates as I went to Maui High School. I felt very comfortable with these friends, especially Eddie Okazaki and Wayne Sakamoto and Clinton Shiraishi.

We had Kahului troop, Paia troop [and] the Puunene troop and each town had their own troop. It was town, not schools. Kahului Troop Nine, I think my troop was troop nine.

We used to go out camping, right next to Pier 1 or Pier 2. Sort of like a park, for overnight camping. We would sometimes go there. Or we would go to Iao Valley for camping. Then Easter vacations, we used to go to Kaanapali, where the Kaanapali Hotel is now located. That was a big deal to go out to spend four, five days out there during the Easter week.

The beach that is now fronting the Kaanapali Hotel was the front and center for the Boy Scout camp. Alongside of that was the camping area for Boy Scouts. It was a big deal. We learned how to cook cabbage and corned beef. Tuna cabbage. That was our favorite dishes. And then going there, we would spend one or two nights, we would go movies, to Lahaina. Two miles or two-and-a-half miles.

The whole troop would go to Lahaina town to go take in the movies. But the thing about going back, you see, it would be about ten o’clock, ten-thirty, right? You have to walk past the graveyard. Old Japanese graveyard along, right along the highway. That was a long graveyard. At that time of the night, that was one of the so-called initiation for the younger ones. The camp was dark, the road was dark, and there were no street lights or anything.

Oh, that was something. The new ones were always twelve years old, right? The new Tenderfoot. We were just as scared as the younger but we had to act big and brave.

My leader was, for a long time [Takesue.] He was a postmaster. His wife was a schoolteacher.

Katsuro Miho

My brother Katsuaki and my brother Paul were also Boy Scouts. Katsuro, my oldest brother, was a Boy Scout. And as a Boy Scout, the first inter-island model airplane contest was held and sponsored by the [Honolulu] Star-Bulletin, when he was fifteen years old or sixteen years old. The winner was going to get a full, all-expense paid trip to Detroit. And Katsuro won the statewide [territorywide] model airplane contest. At that time, it was a big deal, big celebration, and all that. So he went to Detroit. The consul general came out to see him off. He met all kinds of bigwigs those days, ambassador to Japan, or some this and that. The fact that he was an AJA was a big deal.

Katsuro Miho winning the 1st Territorial Model Airplane Contest. Hawaii. Circa. 1928.
Katsuro Miho winning the 1st Territorial Model Airplane Contest. Hawaii. Circa. 1928.

He came back with stories of seeing talking movies. Oh, those days, we never heard of you can go to the movies and hear the voice. I remember him telling us that. It was from that time on that he had made up his mind that he would, after high school, he would go to the Mainland to go to school. But he was still a junior.

That exposed our family to the Mainland. Yeah, it was a big deal.

Employment

[I had some jobs,] during the summer especially. One of the more important jobs that I did growing up was in my senior year in high school.

Somehow, I was referred to the Bishop National Bank to replace the janitor who was going on a vacation. When I got on the job, the man that I was replacing during his vacation took me one day to teach me what to do. To this day, I recall his instructions. He said, “You don’t just mop any old way. There’s a system of mopping the floor.” The Bishop National Bank was the biggest bank in Maui at the time. It had tiled floors. He showed me how you rotate the mop section by section, throughout the floor of the bank so that you waste the least energy and time in doing the job on the floor.

Being a janitor, I had to reflect at that point that it’s not as simple as it sounds, or you think. Even on the janitor’s job there was a method and a system. That was one of my early lessons that I had, even before I graduated from high school. That stayed [with me] all my life.

Of course, my earliest occupation was as a newspaper delivery boy. I think I must have done that from seven years old or eight years old for about seven to eight years. As a delivery boy, I knew exactly what was going on throughout the whole town of Kahului because although I would not deliver a newspaper to every household, I would have to pass every household to make my deliveries. For seven years I did this. So I knew just about any unusual thing that was going on in camp.

This was a Maui Jiji [Maui Shimbun], I think it was called. Mr. [Satosuke] Yasui, who was a very learned, educated man, he was the owner and the publisher. My father was one of the reporters, too. As such, I was forced to deliver the newspapers (chuckles). Rain and shine you have to deliver the newspapers.

Japanese[-language] school was in between. Around seven years old, I was still going to Japanese[-language] school. So it had to be worked out with my schedule with Japanese[-language] school as well as with all my athletic this and that. From seven to fourteen, I delivered the newspaper.

Miho Hotel

We had this live-in worker [at the hotel]. But she was also too busy, involved doing other things, so whenever I could, I was asked to do those things. We started off on shoe shining. It was something that I did and I got tipped. If shoes were dirty, I would clean the shoes for them and then I got tipped. There were some kids who were doing on the sidewalk as an income-producing effort. But in my case, I was limited to doing it within the hotel, only for our guests.

I had a small box with all the shoeshine paraphernalia. Those days [tip] was five cents. At the most, you know.

When I grew a little older, I did the bed sheets and whatnot, too. I did room cleaning, I would clean the rooms and change the sheets and beddings. I did those housekeeping tasks.

When I was going to high school, my mother was always busy and so I had a standard breakfast all prepared, which I had to normally eat in a rush, within five minutes to catch the bus. You always just catching the bus. But my standard breakfast was egg, rice, bacon. It was always prepared for me so as soon as I was ready to go, I would sit down, eat, and rush out.

Usually Mother had this all prepared outside there, then I would eat on the run.

New Year’s Celebration

My dad and I, about a week before the New Year’s, we’d go out for nori. And cucumber. You know, the sea cucumbers, namako usually winter seasons. Mochitsuki [rice-cake making] was a big deal. We had that stone [mortar] there for mochitsuki, for many years. My older brother, Katsuaki, did a lot of mochitsuki.

In fact, I think we used to do it at Katsuro’s place until they lost the paraphernalia. I don’t know what happened to it. Oh, I do. We got tired of him directing us what to do. Yeah, we used to go to Nisshodo, which is much easier.

[In Maui, Oshogatsu or New Year’s was] a big deal. Families used to get invited to different places. We used to go to different families to partake of the different kinds of food that they had available. As children, we didn’t hold back. We felt free to go to the immediate families to, to taste all the different kinds. Because different families had different things prepared.

Trips to Japan

My parents went back to Japan every so often. I don’t know how frequently. But I do know they had taken various trips to Japan.

When I was five or six years old, my grandfather was very sick. Well, he was laid down because he was paralyzed from a heart attack or something like that. So he was bedridden for some time. I have pictures of my trip to Japan when I was five or six years old. That was when I first met my eldest brother and sister in Hiroshima, both of whom never came to Hawaii.

Katsugo, Katsuto, Ayano, Hisae Miho. Japan. 1926.
Katsugo, Katsuto, Ayano, Hisae Miho. Japan. 1926.

My brother died around the age when he was supposed to go to university in Hiroshima. My sister lived until after the war. She was one of those who, after the Manchurian Incident, settled in Manchukuo, she and her husband. Her husband was an elementary school principal and they raised four children. She had four girls in Manchukuo when the war, 1941, the war broke out. And lived throughout the war and would have been one of these recent repatriates from China, years after. But in her case, she was very fortunate. The last boat leaving Darien back to Japan — she was on it. The family had given up hope as to locating them because everything was so hectic that we had no information where she was, or how she was doing during the war. She lost her husband who was a member of the Japanese Kwantung Army. Japan, all men had to serve, mandatory draft. He was a lieutenant and part of the Japanese Imperial Army who were force marched by the Russians. Thousands of them died on the way, on the road, and he was one of them. He lost his life on the road as a Russian prisoner of war. But my sister was able to come back. How they did it, I don’t know, but she came back with four daughters. That last ship that left with the survivors of World War II, at that time, from Manchuria. The Japanese immigrants.

Katsugo Miho's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Katsugo Miho.

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