Densho Digital Archive - Akiko Kurose Interview I (denshovh-kakiko-01-0023)
Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Akiko Kurose Interview I
Narrator: Akiko Kurose
Interviewer: Matt Emery
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 17, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-kakiko-01-0023

<Begin Segment 23>

ME: Now another relationship that you had, that we haven't found out about yet, is with your husband. When did you guys meet? Did you guys meet in camp?

AK: He was my brother's best friend. [Laughs] So, and I was his sister's best friend. It wasn't anything mysterious, or... we just knew each other. And he used to come and visit my brother all the time. And so he was like a big brother to me, then I married him. [Laughs]

ME: Before the war you guys knew each other?

AK: Yes, yes. And he used to be my brother's best friend, so they'd, he'd come over all the time and visit. And he liked the freeness and the warmth of our family. And so, he just became like part of our family, so I decided I might as well marry him. [Laughs] And he was much older than me, so I was lucky. I played the role very well, and I let him baby me and take good care of me. [Laughs]

ME: What year did you guys get married?

AK: In 1948.

ME: You had come back to the Seattle area...

AK: Uh-huh, and he was discharged, and he came back to the Seattle area. After we got married we went to Chicago to live... for a couple of years because his parents were there, and he was the only surviving son. But, he decided he did not want to raise children in Chicago and he missed the Northwest. So we came back here.

ME: What was he like?

AK: He was a very generous, giving person. He was very progressive, but certain things I felt like, hey... he had these cultural biases that I hate to say, he says like -- I'm a fast walker and he'd always say, "My goodness," he says, "I should have married a woman from Japan. You're supposed to walk ten paces behind me, you're always ten paces before me." [Laughs] Things like that. But he was very hospitable, too, so we took in lots of kids, and he was very good about that.

ME: It sounds like he fit in perfectly with your family.

AK: He did, he did... and so it was really nice. And that was what was really fortunate for our family, because all the kids, and all the kids' friends would interact with them and feel real comfortable. And he'd be real helpful.

ME: Unfortunately, we can't interview him for our own archives, but I want to know how you would like him to be remembered.

AK: Well, he was a strong community person. He believed in helping youth, he loved to help youth. He coached basketball at JBC for many years. He was a very -- what would you say -- understanding person. I would not be considered a perfect Japanese wife; I was always taking off, going to school and whatever. But I was very fortunate, I loved school and so he allowed me to take classes all along. And I was in school from day one. [Laughs] And I've been going to school ever since. And so while I was raising six children, I'd take off to evening classes. And then, in the summertime -- one summer I decided to take some courses up at Bellingham, I left him with six kids for two months and went to school. And the biggest complaint was, my kids would say, "Dad makes stew, but there's more vegetables than meat in that stew, and he won't give us anything else 'til we finish that stew." [Laughs] And like his... he'd make meatloaf, and they said, "Dad doesn't make hamburgers. He just lays out all this hamburger on a tray and cook it like a big meatloaf, and then he'd cut it up and eat it." [Laughs]

And so, he was very good. So I was very fortunate. And some of his friends would complain, and said, "Boy, if we had a wife like Aki, we'd leave her. Junks, you're crazy." [Laughs] But he was very supportive with me during the postwar years because I was very active in the peace movement. And with the veterans and the NVC people and everything, it wasn't the most popular stance. But he always supported me and stood by me. And, well, he didn't know about these demonstrations; and there was going to be a peace march and he says, "Well, I hope I don't see you going out there." And I just laughed, and I says, "You know I'm going to." And he says, "Yeah." And when he came home and nobody was home, and he says, "Hmm." And so he says, "I go out and watch," and so he came down and watched the peace march. And he saw me, then he saw Hugo, then he saw Guy, then he saw Ruthann, and then he saw them holding Paul and Marie's hands all marching, he says, "Well, if you can't beat 'em, you might as well join 'em." So he joined us. And so, he was very good about that and I don't think, at that time many Nisei men would have done that.

ME: Because he got right in there with you...

AK: Yeah, uh-huh, uh-huh. And so, as I say, I was very fortunate. I don't know about him being that fortunate. [Laughs] I didn't keep a very neat house. [Laughs] Took off to classes all the time. But he really encouraged me. And so, I was able to go to school all the time, and worked real hard in the peace movement; and he supported me on that, so I... and he was real supportive of the kids. When they got into trouble, he always stood behind them. He was never judgmental about other people's kids. And that I felt was very fortunate, because sometimes in a community people start criticizing other people's children if they don't conduct themselves the way they should or whatever. But he wasn't that way, so, and especially with me. [Laughs] Because, I realize now how lucky I was in -- you know, I was pretty selfish because I took all the classes I felt like taking. I still take classes.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.