Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Asano Terao Interview I
Narrator: Asano Terao
Interviewers: Tomoyo Yamada (primary), Dee Goto (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 19, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-tasano-01-0001

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[Translated from Japanese]

DG: Today is May 19, 1998. We are here in the Nikkei Manor and we are going to interview Mrs. Terao. She has been living here for the last nine months, and the cam -- Tomoyo Yamada is going to do the interviewing, and the camera people are Matt Emery and Charlie Hamilton. So, go ahead.

TY: This is Dee Goto and Tomoyo Yamada. Today is May 19, 1998, Tuesday. We are going to conduct an interview with Mrs. Asano Terao at the Nikkei Manor. Thank you for the opportunity. First, please tell us your date of birth.

AT: December 3, Meiji 30 [1897].

TY: Born on the third. It was 1898 [Ed. note: mistaken for 1897], wasn't it? And, you are from Hiroshima Prefecture.

AT: Gion, Asa County in Hiroshima Prefecture.

TY: Gion. You were born in a place called Midorii.

AT: The place I was born was Midorii. My father passed away when I was seven... seven or eight. Then, my mother remained widow, and grandpas, both the maternal and the paternal grandpas took turns staying with us for a week to ten days each. Then, it continued for a while. Then, after it went on for a while, my father's brother -- do you know the Russo-Japanese War? He was drafted into the war. But, a bullet hit him here [Ed. note: Mrs. Terao points at her left collarbone], and when he cauterized the place with moxa, there was a mark like this, I heard it was where a bullet went through. Then, he was taken to the hospital, and at that time, he fell down where there was ice in Russia, and I heard his legs were numb from the coldness. So his legs were cut off, and a bullet went through here, right? The right hand was in the perfect condition, but the left hand was like this, well, he could move it and grab things with it, but it didn't move as much as the right hand. And, this hand was normal, but this hand became skinny, just bone and skin. There was no meat on it. But, well, he had a pension. Then, his wife, she said that she could not have fun if she stayed married to such a cripple, and she left him. She left him neglected. So, since it couldn't be helped, Grandpa and Grandma took him back in, and took care of him. But, Grandpa and Grandma were both old, and they were concerned about the future. But, my mother... my father suddenly had a heart attack in the middle of the night... one, no, no, about one thirty or two in the morning, he started saying that he felt pain in the chest, pain in the chest, like that.

TY: It happened in the middle of the night.

AT: He said so. Now I think about it, it was a heart attack. Then, since we lived in the countryside, even if we wanted to go see a doctor, since it was so rural, it was considered to be good if we had one nearby. So, we woke up an apprentice -- because we had a construction business -- we asked him to go get the doctor. And, by the time the doctor arrived, he had already breathed his last breath. Then, we found out that he had died of heart attack. And then, my mother was still young, right? So, the maternal grandpa and the paternal grandpa came to stay with us for a long time, cleaned around the house, made some vegetables, too, as a vegetable field was right in front of our house, they made some vegetables like green onions and small cabbages. Grandpas had already been retired, so both sides of grandpas stayed with us in the house, cleaned around the house, and made vegetables. In this way, they came in turn to stay with us. I remember, I used to say, "Grandpa, Grandpa, I like you." I remember that.

TY: Your mother came to... your father's brother, I mean, an uncle to you...

AT: That is...

TY: To look after him.

AT: He went to the Russo-Japanese War and got a bullet right here.

TY: So...

AT: He suffered from frostbite because he fell to the ground. When he was found, he had already had frostbite, and his legs were removed from here because his legs had frostbite. Then, his wife neglected him, saying that she could not have fun if she stayed with him, and she left him. So it couldn't be helped, and Grandpa and Grandma asked my mother if she could look after the uncle since she stayed widowed after my father died. See, I was there, to me, he was a real uncle. She agreed and looked after him since then, for a long time.

TY: She took him into the house. Father, your father and mother were both adopted into the Nagao family, right?

AT: Yes, yes. We call it adopting a son and his bride. They were related to each other. So my father came from here, and there was my mother, so he took her as his bride, and this is how they continued the family name Nagao.

TY: Why, why...

AT: Grandpa and Grandma in the Nagaos didn't have children. That's why they did it. When my mother became pregnant with me, they were very happy. It must be true since even the neighbors told me how well and thoroughly they took care of me. For example, when I went to school on cold days, an apprentice carried me on his back and put the books between me and his back, and said, "Hang on to my shoulders tight!" So I hung on to his shoulders, and this way, he took me to school by carrying me on his back. I would be punished by heaven for being spoiled like that! [Laughs]

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.