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-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

[Translated from Japanese]

TY: I understand that no child was born for three generations.

AT: No, there wasn't any.

TY: They had adoptions for three generations, both sons and their brides.

AT: So, well, I was born, and they were very happy. They were so happy and took very good care of me. So, after I was breast-fed, I was taken to the grandma's. Then, I cried in the middle of the night as I got hungry. But, Grandma didn't understand that. She carried me on her back all night trying to calm me down, but it didn't work. Now I think about it, I was crying because I was just hungry and wanted to be fed with my mother's milk. But, Grandma didn't know that. I came to know it when I became older. Well, that was...

DG: Please explain what yoshi is.

AT: What?

DG: Yoshi.

AT: Yoshi?

TY: Could you explain the system of yoshi? What is it like?

AT: Well, it is natural for the husbands to tend to be modest.

TY: Why did they come to adopt yoshi?

AT: If I married into other family, they wouldn't have anybody to continue the last name Nagao. That's because I was the only child. So they adopted a boy. Then, the adopted person became a member of the Nagao family. Then, the children born to him would continue the family name. They wanted to pass on the family name and they had me, who carried the family blood, so they adopted a son to continue the family name. In this way, they adopted him to carry on the family name Nagao.

TY: So, the person was chosen from the relatives.

AT: Yes, from the relatives.

TY: In order to continue the family name.

AT: Yes, yes, yes, that's right. And, my guardian was called Takemoto. He was from the next village. This uncle was so rigid that people voted him for the village chief, but he declined the offer by saying that he had another family to take care of in another village, and that he couldn't accept the position. That was my guardian. When I was choosing which girls' school I wanted to attend, he ordered me to go to this school, not that school, like this. Well, he was such a strict uncle. He always came to visit us twice a month. He would consult with my mother and say, "Shizu," Shizu was my mother's name, "Shizu, when you give allowance to Asano, you have to ask her first what she is going to spend the money for. You have to do that." My mother would answer, "Yes, I understand, Uncle." In this way, my uncle raised me severely. But, even though he was rigid, I was selfish, as I was the only child. [Laughs]

TY: You had a guardian because your father had passed away.

AT: Yes. So, my uncle became my guardian. My father, after my father died. After that, they sent all the apprentices home, and they were thinking about selling the big house to someone who wanted to buy it, and moving into a smaller house. But, we lived in the big house for a long time. The house was so big that I had my own playrooms, one was a three-mattress room and the other three-mattress room was called the mid-room, which was located past the hallway and away from the bathroom. Those were my playrooms, and we used to display the dolls for Hinamatsuri in the room. I remember that very well.

TY: For three years, your mother remained widow, I mean, after your father passed away, your grandpa and grandma adopted a yoshi again, didn't they?

AT: At that time, grandpas came to stay with us, both my maternal grandpa and paternal grandpa took turns to stay with us for about ten days each, and they repeated that, but they were old, you know. My mother, her name was Shizuno. They said, "Shizuno, you are still young. Why don't you take a new yoshi?" They recommended that she remarry, so she took a yoshi.

TY: That was to carry on the last name "Nagao," wasn't it?

AT: The name "Nagao" remained, and me too, I carried on the name "Nagao" for a long time. We adopted a husband in our family, and my mother and he had a girl named Yoshiko. She was eight or nine years younger than I was. So we adopted the husband. Then, the adopted husband, the bank, he went to the bank and took out money and spent it. In Japan, you just need a stamp, stamp, a stamp at the bank. So...

TY: He stole the stamp?

AT: We aired books and clothes in summer. My mother used to place the post office account book carefully in a book then. When she unintentionally opened the book to see it without thinking, she took a look in the account book, then 20 yen had been withdrawn, 30 yen had been withdrawn, and sometimes 10 yen had been withdrawn. She thought it was odd when she saw it. The yoshi was back home helping because his family had a big farm. So my mother waited for him to return, and there was an uncle who was my guardian. He was such a rigid uncle. He was a man who could become the leader of a village, a town, but still he turned down the offer by telling people that he couldn't because he had another family to take care of. Anyway, when she saw the account book that she was airing, the money had been withdrawn without her knowledge. She thought it was peculiar -- the uncle's last name was Takemoto -- she explained the situation to Uncle Takemoto and asked him what he thought about it, then he said that it was odd. The yoshi was back home helping their big farm. They waited for him to return, and not my mother, but my uncle talked to him. Then, he replied that he was in urgent need of money and withdrew money from the bank without telling -- my mother's name was Shizuno -- without telling Shizuno, thinking it would be okay if he just paid her back.

TY: Shizuno is...

AT: Yes, there was a young woman he was seeing.

TY: So that was what he was spending money for. Shizuno is your mother's name?

AT: What?

TY: Who is Shizuno?

AT: My mother, her name.

TY: Oh, her name. Yes.

AT: Yes, it was, but this world is so full of variety. Then, my mother was so angry that she said, "I don't need you. Don't come back here anymore!" [Laughs]

TY: Who chose him, the second husband?

AT: Oh, that, I think it was Grandpa and Grandma. I don't know too much about it, though. There were go-betweens, you know. But the family was successful with a big farming business. He had brothers, too. He had brothers, and they were all successful and well mannered. But, he was the third boy, he spent money like water. So my mother finally sent him back home.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.