Interview with Joe Ohori
Date of Interview
Joe Ohori lived on Powell Street in Vancouver until he was nine. His mother operated a corner store/grocery store about a block away from their home. Joe's mother and brother worked in the store and his father worked as a long shoreman on a ship (worked at the pier, unloading and loading ships). He was a member of a union, so he was never discriminated against. Joe talks about going to school in Vancouver and the people he remembers going to school with. They went to Strathcona Public School during the day and then Japanese Language School in the evening. Joe talks about different activities he did as a kid, including going to Stanley Park, going to the beach, and then going to the movies. A highlight that Joe remembers were the Asahi Baseball games.Majority of the plant that can be found in Toronto today, Joe attributes to his father. Joe talks about his parents, including their backgrounds and how they ended up in Canada. His mother was Uta Sumioka and his father, Watabu Ohori. They were both from Hiroshima and Joe talks about the process of getting their Canadian citizenship. He talks about different celebrations they had in Vancouver, celebrating some events like Christmas because they went to the United Church.
Joe describes about boat travel and naval training in Japan. Joe talks about how it was not unusual for children to be sent back to Japan to be educated. Many felt there was no future in Canada due to discrimination. Joe lived in Hiroshima, Japan from age 9 to 19. and remembers Japan being fun. Talks about how students in Japan didn't know where Canada was - they just assumed Joe was from far away. Talks about how students who came back to Japan from the United States were discriminated against because people thought they could be spies. During the WWII, Joe's family was interned in Tashme. During the war, Joe was in Japan and he wasn't able to keep in touch with his family because he was travelling a lot. When the war started, in middle school, they were taught how to carry a bomb and how to jump into a tank. He talks about surviving Hiroshima. Joe was injured, burnt his face, arm, and leg, and was barely conscious when the war ended. On August 6, 1945, the bomb fell, and then August 7, they moved to a cottage they owned up north. He lost consciousness around August 9th and then wasn't fully conscious again until September and was without medical aid. During the Hiroshima bombing, Joe was in between a collapsed building and another streetcar that burnt when a bomb fell. The next day Joe travelled right to the centre where the atomic bomb exploded.
Joe returned to Canada shortly after that. When he got to Toronto, he lived with his parents for a short time, then he got a job in Ottawa at the Embassy. Worked there for some time, then he came back to Toronto to work for a Japan national tourist organization. In 1951, he moved to Vancouver and joined Pacific Airline. Then in 1971, he moved back to Toronto to join Furia Travel. Finally, he worked to Japan Travel Bureau. Joe Ohori worked for the Canadian Pacific Airlines in the 1960 and was part of a team that was instrumental in cultivating Canada as the destination for skiing especially for Japanese travellers. Link to short clip: https://vimeo.com/430458977
Length of Interview
2 hr 53 min
World War II
World War II
Attack on Pearl Harbour
Powell Street, Vancouver, BC
Japanese language school
Kika (Nikkei educated in Japan)
Asahi Baseball Team
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC)
Number of Physical Tapes
For uses other than research or private study, researchers must submit a Request for Permission to Publish, Exhibit or Broadcast form.
Joe Ohori, interview by Lisa Uyeda, September 15, 2011, 2011.258, Sedai: The Japanese Canadian Legacy Project Collection, Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre.