Tag Archives: Tokyo

The Hiroi Family during WWII

Originally from Tokyo, Hiroi’s family suffered great loss as a result of the air raids that destroyed the city and killed hundreds of thousands of people during World War II. Listen as he describes how his family fled Tokyo to start a new life in Tōhoku, his first impressions of American soldiers, and his feelings about the war.

This clip has been slightly edited from the original interview for clarity. A transcript of this clip can be found below. And a full transcript of our interview with Hiroi can be found here[forthcoming].


Paula Curtis:  If it’s alright, I’d like to talk a little bit about the war time, but, about that time, what kind of memories do you have?

Hiroi Michiaki:   What…

PC:         The war time.

Hiroi:   What time?

PC:         The war time. War.

HM:       Ahh when we were at war. The war time. Of course I didn’t do any of that. War. I was absolutely against it. Mm. But even so, everyone was killed. Not one of my classmates is alive. Everyone was killed in the air raids. And the people of my neighborhood, too, all of them, there’s no one left.

PC:   And your family, at that time…?

HM:         My younger brother and mother, even now their whereabouts are unknown, but I think they died. When a notice came, it was said you [could] confirm [a death], you know. But I can’t confirm theirs. In the air raids, everyone had burned to death, and it was impossible to tell what was what, whom was whom…. And since it was said that since their death couldn’t be actually confirmed, we couldn’t get a notice. It was said they were missing (lit. “whereabouts unknown”)… And even now their whereabouts are, well, unknown.


PC:         Where was your home at that time?

HM:       Mmm, properly speaking, in Tokyo, Kōtō ward, Ooshima. It was a place called Ooshima, but it was “Ooshima-machi 3-chōme, #400.” That was our permanent residence.

PC:         And what kind of life did you have?

HM:       The same. The same as now.

PC:         Which is to say…?

HM:       Mm. My father, well, he made many things.

PC:         Then, at that time [he made] Edo-style tops, um—

HM:       Yeah. During the war, things that “unnecessary”, so-called “luxuries,” were forbidden. And, hmm, we received this sheet, like a label. If you didn’t post that, you couldn’t sell [anything]. And they were allotted, how many [you received] per month. So you couldn’t [sell] anything more than that, and furthermore, as if that weren’t bad enough, we were required to make–what do you call them?– military supplies, for use during the war.


PC:         Ohh…  Did you or your family contribute in some way to the war?

HM:       Not really effort, but everyone, mm, at that time we couldn’t say anything. If we did, the military police would come and we’d be arrested, and if we did something bad it was terrible. And everyone, well, it was that way for all Japanese people. Everyone would say “We’ll win! We’ll win!” and be happy. But there were a number of people who said that there was no way that Japan could win, and they’d be arrested. So no one could say anything, and in their hearts absolutely hated war. And family, workers, everyone who felt that way withered away, and most died, and there was no compensation. In my home, too, even though everything–my parents and siblings, our property–was lost in the raids, there was no compensation. Not a single word of apology. I want the emperor to apologize, you know. And, at Yasukuni Shrine, you know, why does the Japanese Prime Minister visit it? It’s strange, but nothing can be done. I feel a great sense of discomfort about that. More than the people of Korea and China, I get angry [about that].

PC:         And just after the war, what were your neighbors’ impression towards America and Americans where you lived?

HM:       Mmm. At first… it was the first time I’d seen them, so. Hahaha. Americans… Umm… We didn’t know that Japan had lost the war. That is, our home  [in Tokyo] was burned down in the air raids, so we came here, deep into Shiroishi mountain, mmm there’s a place called Kamasaki hot springs, [famous for] Yajirō kokeshi, there’s a place called Kokeshi village, but, on the other side of that mountain, there was a small cabin, a small mountain cabin, and we lived there. It was a place without electricity or water. Umm… We were there not knowing at all that the war was lost. And when my father went to the town of Shiroishi, somehow the atmosphere of the town had changed, and when he asked, they said Japan had lost. And there, he said that we couldn’t pass the winter in that mountain cabin, and so we came down and moved to the town of Shiroishi, but that time was the first time I saw American soldiers, and man, their Jeeps…! They rode them in and I was like “Ooooh!” and was so surprised. Hahaha. “What is this?” I wondered.


PC:         The attitude [towards them], what kind of attitude was it? For example, towards the Americans driving the Jeep.

HM:       Ahh… rather than what kind [of attitude]… We were surprised. We were shocked. And when I thought, “These were the people we fought with?” I also thought, “We couldn’t have beaten them, could we?” [laughs] I wondered why we did something so senseless. Rather, I was angry at the top people [in Japan]. Even though they were the elite, even though they should have understood us, why did they do something so absurd, so unreasonable, and kill Japanese people? Well… my home had done that and become the sacrifice, and no one, not the government, not the people connected to that government, no one said  a word in apology; they didn’t compensate us for anything. Rather [than the Americans], I was mad at them.

PC:         And your impression was what?

HM:       To the Americans?

PC:         Yes.

HM:       Ahh, I thought they were incredible. Really, umm… these people who were until yesterday enemies, I [didn’t think] they would be such kind people. And I couldn’t understand why we had gone to war. And um, at that time, in Shiroishi, along the national highway, we had rented the home of a farming family, and there we had set up a lathe, and the American soldiers had pipes, those sailor pipes, and smoked tobacco. We were asked to do those repairs, and my father often fixed them.


PC:         And after the war, um, how did your life change?

HM:       It entirely changed, and it was a terrible time. As I said just now, you know, there was no compensation, and we were, should I say, without means; we had no money, and even though we came here it didn’t mean we knew anyone, and we didn’t know the dialect here either. And there were many [troubles], and there were a lot of issues with the local people and we hadn’t made friends with them, but now I get along with them and they’re very kind. And I was really helped by them. In any case, there were terrible hardships [at the time]. There was nothing to eat, nothing to wear, the winter was cold. Often I thought I was going to die. Heh heh…

Postcard photograph of a soldier with Japanese children published Kinouya postcard archive, retrieved from Kinouya Postcard Collection.





テーマを明確にするためオリジナルのインタビューを少し編集したクリップとなります。このクリップを文字に起こしたファイルはこのページの下にあります。廣井のインタビュー全文はこちらにあります [ 準備中  ]。



ポーラ・カーティス:     よろしければ、あのう少し戦時についてお話したいと思いますが、あのう、その時についてどのような思い出がありますでしょうか。

廣井道顕:      何・・・

ポーラ:              戦時の時。

廣井:    何の時?

ポーラ:    戦時の時。戦争。

廣井:    あぁ。戦争中。戦争の時ね。あんなことするもんじゃないやね。戦争はね。絶対反対だよね。うん。だって、みんな殺されたんだもん。同級生一人もいないんですよ。みんな死んじゃったの空襲で。で隣近所の人も全部、誰もいない。

ポーラ:              で、ご家族はその時・・・

廣井:    弟と母親が、未だに行方知れず。死んでると思うんですけど。あのう、届けに行ったら、確認したかったって言われたのね。確認できないんですよね。もう空襲でみんな焼けて、どれがどれだか、誰なんだか・・・。で確認はできないって言ったら死亡届けはダメだ、行方不明だって言われて・・・で今でも行方不明のまま。

ポーラ:              お住まいはどちらでしたか、その時。

廣井:    うんとね、正式に言うと、東京都、江東区、大島町。大島っていう所なんですけど、大島町三丁目、の四百十番地、これが本籍地です。

ポーラ:   で、どのような生活をされていましたか。

廣井:    同じ、今と同じ。

ポーラ:    と言えば・・・

廣井:   うん、親父がこう、まぁ、色々な物を作って。

ポーラ:   じゃ、その時は江戸独楽の、あのう―、

廣井:   うん。戦争中でしたから、そんなに余計は、あのう、贅沢だっていうことで、あのう売ることを禁じられてて。で、あの、なんかね、こういう、ラベルみたいなシートみたいなものをもらうんですよ。それを張ったんじゃないと、売れなかった。で割り当てられて、月に何枚って。だから、それ以上のものできない状態で、あとはあのう、軍需品っていうか、戦争で使う道具の一部分を作らされてた。

ポーラ:              へ・・・ 先生かご家族はなにか戦争に対して努力しましたか。

廣井:   努力どころかみんな、もう、そのころは何も言えなったしね。言うと、すぐにあの憲兵が来て捕まえに来られるし、悪い癖なんかやったら大変だったんだよ。でみんな、まぁ日本人全部そうだったんですけど。みんな「勝つんだ・勝つんだ」って言われて喜んで、いたんですけど。であのう一部の人は絶対日本なんか勝つは 勝てる訳がないなんていう人結構いて、そうするとみんな捕まっちゃうんですよね。だから皆何も言えなくて、心の中ではもう絶対戦争なんか嫌なのね。だって家族、働き手 みんなと、も、持ってかれちゃって、ほんで亡くなって、何の補償もないし。うち辺りも親兄弟、家財産、空襲でみんななくなっても、何の補償もない。一言の謝罪もない。天皇陛下に謝ってもらいたいのね。で、あの、靖国神社で、あのほら、日本の総理大臣がなぜお参りに行くか。ほんと不思議でしょうがない。すごい違和感を感じますね。あのう、韓国とか中国の人たちが怒る、以上に、腹が立つのね。


ポーラ:   で、あのう、戦後の直後、お住まいは、あ、お住まいの住民はアメリカやアメリカ人に対する感想がどの感じでしたか。アメリカとアメリカ人に対する。

廣井:   ううん。最初ね初めて見たから。へへへ。アメリカの人ってね。であのう、日本が戦争負けたこと知らなかったんですよ。というのは、あのう、空襲で焼け出されてからこっち来て、あのう白石の山の奥、うーんと鎌先温泉ていう所がある、弥治郎こけしっていう、こけし村っての今ありますけど、その陰の山の中に、あのー、小屋があって、小さな山小屋があって、そこに、住んでて、電気も水道何も何もないとこだったんですけど。あのう・・・戦争に負けたっつうことを全然知らないでいて。うんで親父が白石の町に行ったらなんだか、町の様子が変だっていうことで、で聞いてみたら日本負けたんだって。であのう、そこで、山小屋では冬は越せないからって言うんで、下に降りて白石の町の中へ移ったんですけど、その時はじめてアメリカの兵隊さんを見て、あの、ジープ、ねぇ!乗ってきて「オホ―」とビックリして。へへへ。何だこれはと思って。

ポーラ:   態度が、あのう、どのような態度でしたか。その、あの例えばジープを運転しているアメリカ人に対して。

廣井:   いやぁ・・・どんなっていうよりね。びっくりして。たた、たまげてたね。で、この人たちと戦ってたんだぁと思うと、勝ってるわけないのになぁと思ったもんね。(笑)なんであんなめちゃくちゃなことやったのかなと思って。むしろ、当時の、偉い人たちの方に、腹が立ったもんね。偉い人なのに分かりそうもんなのに、なんでこんなむちゃくちゃな、訳の分かんないことして、日本人殺して。まぁ、うちだって、そうやって犠牲になったって、誰も、その、政府、の関係者の人、一言の謝罪もないし、何の補償もないし。むしろそっちの方に、腹が立ったのね。

ポーラ:   先生の感想は何でしたか。

廣井:   アメリカの人に?

ポーラ:   はい。

廣井:   いやあ、素晴らしいと思ったね。いや本っ当にあのう・・・きのうまで敵だった人が、あんなに優しい人たちだとは。それでなんで戦争しちゃったのか、理解できなかったし。それであのう、あの時は白石の、国道沿いの、農家の家 借りてて、そこでやっぱりろくろを回してたんですけど、アメリカの兵隊さんが、あのうパイプ、あのマドロスパイプって、あの、タバコを吸う。それを修理を、あのう頼まれて、よく親父直してたけどね。


ポーラ:   で、あのう戦後になって、あのう先生の生活がどのように変化されましたか。

廣井:   もうガラリと変わって、えらい目にあったね。今言ったように、ほら、なんの補償もないんで、裸一貫っていうか金も何もないし、こっち来たって知り合いがいる訳じゃないし、で言葉もこっちの方言が全然、分からなくて。で色々あって、地元の人たちとなかなか、こうなんつうの、仲良くなれなくて、でもいざ仲良くなったら地元の人たちはすごく親切でねぇ。それで助かったんですけども。とにかく、えらい苦労したっていうか。食べるものもないし、着るものもないし、冬は寒いし。よく死ななかったなぁと思ったね。ふふふふ・・・。

Postcard photograph of a soldier with Japanese children published Kinouya postcard archive, retrieved from Kinouya Postcard Collection.


The Early History of the Hiroi Family

On May 19th, 2014, we sat down with Hiroi Michiaki in Akiu, Miyagi prefecture, Japan, to begin our oral history interview. We began with Hiroi’s early life as a child in Tokyo. In this audio clip Hiroi describes his childhood days, family members, and the historical origins of the Hiroi family.

This clip has been slightly edited from the original interview for clarity. A transcript of this clip can be found below. And a full transcript of our interview with Hiroi can be found here [forthcoming].


Paula Curtis: Sensei, when and where were you born? Where are you from?

Hiroi Michiaki:  Tokyo.

PC:     Which part of Tokyo?

HM:    Ah. In Tokyo, um, today it’s a place called Kōtō.

PC:     Could you talk a little bit about your life as a child and your family?

HM:    Mm when I was a child. It was fun, when I was a child. Ha ha ha.

PC:     Why is that?

HM:     It was that I had a lot of friends, and there were a lot of places to play in my neighborhood. Because it was Tokyo’s shitamachi. *

[Tokyo’s shitamachi was known in the Edo period (1600-1868) as an area in which commoners lived, full of business districts, known for a kind of “downtown” atmosphere, and which was in popular imagination the originating place of “true” Edo culture.]


PC:      Could you explain a bit about your family’s history?

HM:   Ah, family. The Hiroi family?

PC:     Yes.

HM:    The family of the Hiroi… Family… Well, if it’s family, I have parents and siblings, but… [do you mean] the history of the Hiroi?

PC:     Yes.

HM:     Or…

PC:      Well, is okay [to talk about] both?

HM:     Well, my family was my father, my mother, and also I had two brothers and a younger sister. My mother and my sister,* in the war, they went missing in air raids. Even today their whereabouts are unknown. Right now my younger brother is in Yokohama, and my sister went to Osaka to get married, but she died, died of illness. Now, my younger brother is running around the world… In America… he’s an honorary citizen of Seattle, and it seems he has his own corners in museums in France and Germany. And also in Finland… it seems my younger brother has made it in museums and art museums. But I haven’t gone so I don’t know.

[* Here Hiroi mistakenly says ‘sister,’ and later corrects himself to say “younger brother” in another part of the interview.]


PC:      And the Hiroi family [line]?

HM:    The Hiroi family, it was something. Edo… err… it was the Sengoku period. Tokugawa Ieyasu’s Battle of Sekigahara… Tokugawa Ieyasu won, and when he moved to Edo, on the way from Sekigahara returning to Edo, the descendants of the Hiroi family… Mmm. I’ve forgotten where the place was, but in the old days there was a family called “Watanabe,” and they lived in a village called “Hiroi,” and there they were doctors. And Tokugawa Ieyasu won and returned to his castle, or I should say he was returning to Edo and on the way [Hiroi] made his acquaintance. I don’t know why he made his acquaintance, but [the Hiroi descendant] was invited to come with him to Edo, and it’s said that because he was from that Hiroi village he was called Hiroi and not Watanabe. And he was employed by Tokugawa Ieyasu’s grandson… was it Iemitsu? And for generations he was, what should I call him, the private doctor of the bakufu, in the private residence, he held the highest rank of a doctor. That’s the story. There’s a book published, but, shall I show you the book?

PC:     Ahh, that’s right. Is it alright to look at it later?

HM:   Yeah.

PC:     Okay. Thank you very much.

HM:    Umm records… there’s a book of them. It’s the Kan’ei or Kansei period… a reference book. In there [the history] of my family is written. Yeah.


PC:     Well then, about your family now—are you married? Do you have children?

HM:    I’m married, but for some reason we couldn’t have children. Mm.

PC:     And your time as a child. What school did you go to? Could you [talk a bit] about your academic background…

HM:      School, hm… We were dragged into the war, so I didn’t go properly.

PC:     Where was it?

HM:     Umm. The last [school I went to was] Ooshima daini elementary school, wasn’t it. Before that… in Yonezawa there were mass evacuations and school evacuations, so I was in Yonezawa for half a year. I think it was half a year. And I returned to Tokyo and at that time when I returned immediately there were air raids, and families were scattered, and people across the country and walked about from place to place, and I couldn’t go to school properly. Mm.

PC:     Well, when you were in school, did you have a course or subject you were particularly interested in?

HM:    Ahh, I hated studying. Ha ha ha. I only liked gym.

PC:      Well, work, about work, before you became an Edo-style top artisan, what kind of work had you done?

HM:    Ahh… come to think of it, I did a lot of different kinds, but not for long. What did I do? I did many things. That is, rather than “doing” them, it’s better to say I helped. I worked but I didn’t receive any money.

PC:     Was there, umm, a work that you particularly liked to do? You did a lot, but was there one you really liked?

HM:    Ahh, in the end the work my family was doing was the best. I didn’t really have another that I liked. Mm.

Photograph of Monzen-nakacho, in 1935 from the”Archives for the Tokyo downtown area 100 years” published by Life Information Center and is under public domain license, retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.



2014年5月19日 日本の宮城県秋保にある廣井道顕氏の自宅にて、口述歴史インタビューを行った。まず廣井氏が東京で過ごした幼少期について聞き取りを始めた。この音声クリップでは廣井氏が自身の子どもの頃の話、家族のこと、そして廣井家の家系的歴史について述べている。

テーマを明確にするためオリジナルのインタビューを少し編集したクリップとなります。このクリップを文字に起こしたファイルはこのページの下にあります。廣井のインタビュー全文はこちらにあります [ 準備中  ]。


ポーラ・カーティス:         先生はいつ、どちらで生まれましたか。ご出身はどちらですか。

廣井道顕:      東京。

ポーラ:          東京の・・・

廣井:  うん、東京のね。えと今、江東区っていう所ね。

ポーラ:          あのう、子供の時の生活とご家族について少し、あのう、お話してくださいませんか。

廣井:  子供の頃ねぇ。楽しかったね、子供の頃。へへへ。

ポーラ:          なぜでしたか。

廣井:  やっぱ友達もいっぱいいたし、近所に遊ぶ所もいっぱいあったしね。東京の下町だから。あー、近所の人もみんな、なん、なんって言ったらのかな、親しいっていうか・・・可愛がってもらったって言ったほうがいいのかな。


ポーラ:          ご家族の歴史について少し説明してくださいませんか。

廣井:  あぁ、家族。うちの廣井家の?

ポーラ:          えぇ。

廣井:  廣井家の家族・・・家族・・・。ま、家族だったら、両親と兄弟なんですけど、廣井家についての歴史、ですか。

ポーラ:          はい。

廣井:  それとも・・・

ポーラ:          ま、どちらもよろしいですか。

廣井:  まぁ、家族は、父親と母親と、あと弟が二人と妹*が一人いたんですけど。母親と妹一人が、戦争で、空襲で、行方不明。今でも行方知れずなんですけども。今現在は弟が横浜に、妹が大阪に嫁に行ったんですけど、これが亡くなって。病気で亡くなったんですけど、弟の方はもう、今世界中駆けずり回って、アメリカ・・・シアトルの名誉市民になっているし、あと、フランス、ドイツの博物館に自分のコーナーもあるみたいだし。あとフィンランドだかで、弟のやっぱ博物館だか美術館ができているんだそうですけど。ただ行ったことがないから分からないけどね。

* [ ここでは誤って『妹』と言っているが、インタビューの別の部分で『弟』であった、と訂正している。]


ポーラ:          そして廣井家は?

廣井:  廣井家はね、大変なんですよ。江戸・・・えーとね、戦国時代だ。徳川家康の関ヶ原って、あのう徳川家康が勝って江戸に移った時に、途中関ヶ原から江戸へ戻る途中で、あのう、廣井家の先祖が、うーんと、あそこはどこだか場所ちょっと忘れてるんですけど、昔はあのう渡邊っていう姓だったんだそうですけど、廣井村っていう所に住んで、そこで医者をやてたんです。で、徳川家康が勝って江戸に入城というか、こう勝って江戸に戻る時  途中で知り合って、どういうわけで知り合ったかは分からないけれども、で江戸に一緒に来ないかって誘われて、それであの、廣井村だから渡邊じゃなくて廣井って名乗れって言われて。で、徳川家康の孫の・・・家光かな、に仕えて代々あの幕府の奥医者って言うか、奥医法眼って、最高の医者の位を持ってた。っていう話で、それはあの本にも載っているんですけど、その本見せますか。

ポーラ:          あぁそうです。後で見てもよろしいですか。

廣井:  うん。

ポーラ:          はい。本当にありがとうございます。

廣井:  あのう記録・・・の本があるんですよ。寛永だか寛政・・・何とか図鑑っつうんだな。それにうちのこと載ってるんですけど。ええ。


ポーラ:          では、今の、あのう、ご家族なんですが、ご結婚されていますか。お子さんはいらっしゃいますか。

廣井: 結婚はしたんだけど、なぜか子供ができなくて、ええ。

ポーラ:      で、あのう、子供の時なんですが、どちらの学校を卒業しましたか。学歴について少し―、

廣井:              学校ねぇ。あのう戦争に巻き込まれちゃったから、ろくに行っていないんだよね。

ポーラ:          どこでしたか。

廣井:  うんとね。大島第二小学校っていうのが最後だったな。その前あのう、米沢に集団疎開って学童疎開ってのでやった米沢に半年ぐらい、半年くらいいたかな。また東京に帰ってきてから今度、戻るとすぐに空襲で、で家族散り散りになっちゃって、全国あちこち転々と歩いたらから、ろくに学校は行ってなかったですね。ええ。


ポーラ:          ま、学校の時は、特に何か教科や科目に興味がありましたか。

廣井:  あぁ、勉強きらいでね。へへへ。体育だけが大好きだったの。

ポーラ:          あのう、仕事、お仕事なんですが、江戸独楽の職人になる前、どのような仕事をすることがありましたか。

廣井:  あぁ・・・。そう言えば、色々なことをやりましたけど、長続きはしなかったですね。何やった?色々なことやったの。やったというか、手伝ったって言ったほうがいいのかな。働きに行ってお金をもらったことはなかったですね。

ポーラ:          ま、特に好きな、あのう仕事はありましたか。その色々しましたが、特に好きなのはありましたか。

廣井:  いやぁ、結局うちの今やっている仕事が一番よくて。他はあんまり好きなのはなかったですね。えぇ。

Photograph of Monzen-nakacho, in 1935 from the”Archives for the Tokyo downtown area 100 years” published by Life Information Center and is under public domain license, retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.