Mitsutaro and Moto Kobayashi
Mitsutaro was born in 1877 in a settlement called Shinya, a suburb of the city of Fukuyama, Hiroshima prefecture. He was a mechanical engineering graduate of Kuramae Technical College, now Tokyo Institute of Technology. He left Japan on a British ship in the company of the president of Kuramae Technical College and arrived in San Francisco on August 3 rd , 1904. After the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, he moved to Webster and initially worked for Seito Saibara.
Mitsutaro purchased twenty acres of land in Webster and planted Satsuma oranges that he ordered from Nagoya, Japan. His orchard failed in 1911 when a freeze killed his trees. However, cucumbers he planted between the orange trees were successful and his business grew.
Because of his prosperity, he wrote his family in Japan to send a “picture bride.” In 1913, Moto Shigeta of Osaka arrived in America and met Mitsutaro in Colorado Springs. Although their marriage had been officially performed in absentia in Japan, they met for the first time in Colorado and spent their honeymoon with a trip up Pike's Peak .
Mitsutaro Kobayashi and Satsuma oranges,
first child, Thomas, died shortly after birth, so the couple was especially
grateful when their first daughter was born in 1916. They named her Hope.
The Kobayashi's had 4 more sons and 2 more daughters. Since Mitsutaro
was often busy with marketing produce, Moto took the orders for harvesting
and directed the workers until Mitsutaro returned from Houston.
|Top row(L-R): Lily, Tokuye, Ty and Riki
Bottom row(L-R) Mitsutaro, Mitsu, Moto, Hope and Herbert, May 1937
(Courtesy of Hope Kobayashi)
UT Institute of Texan Cultures
|Mitsutaro and Moto Kobayashi family. Riki in Moto's arms. Children from left, Hope, Lily, Ty (father of John and Kathy), and Tokuye|
Moto Shigeta was born in Obama, Japan on November 13, 1889. She was born into a prosperous family whose business was whale oil for lamps. She remembers as a little girl having her own maid who in evenings carried Moto's lantern for her. Here at an early age she was trained in the tea ceremony.
At the turn of the century came the first major change in her life. Kerosene replaced whale oil for lamps, and her family was left without a source of income. Moto, because of her intellectual capability, was sent to the Christian School Baika in Osaka. At this Congregationalist school she learned not only regular academics, but also calligraphy, flower arranging, cooking, and poetry.
Meanwhile her future husband, Mitsuturo Kobayashi, graduated from the Tokyo Institute of Technology with a major in mechanical engineering. Because he has not the eldest son and to preserve the family ownership of land, immigration was an opportunity to seek his own fortune. Mitsuturo came to San Francisco. After the earthquake he continued his journey, until he came to Webster, Texas.
By 1913, he was ready
to marry. After marriage
negotiations, Mitsuturo (in absentee) was married to Moto. She was brought
to Colorado where he met her for the first time. (Lee's note:They were married
in Colorado Springs and honeymooned at Pike's Peak.)
Life was not always pleasant. The short interment at the beginning of World War II. Moto had several illnesses, but she always came home from the hospital. She experienced so many changes. Throughout it all she demonstrated great strength.
Moto wrote Japanese poetry. In the poetry we see her strength, her humor, her thanksgiving. Here are a few translated into English.
On Moon surface
hear voice of
person walking (on TV)
I open door
to make sure
it is same moon.
bring back stone
Dr. Overstreet made
old age body well
You brave doctor
I honor this