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-01-0020

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[Translated from Japanese]

DG: Until when was your mother around?

AT: Let's see, when did my mom die. At age eighty-eight.

DG: Eighty-eight, a long life.

AT: She lived long, didn't she? Instead, my father died relatively early, right? He died at age forty-two, at an unlucky age of men. So my mother went through hardships to raise us. And also, when you have girls, you receive offers of marriage from here and there. Then, my mother really didn't want to send us to strange families or we didn't want to go. Besides, parents would be worried to send their daughters if the other side wasn't capable. Then, Terao [Ed. note: Mrs. Terao referred her husband as Terao.] came back from the U.S., and he said that he wanted a wife. There was a grandma [Ed. note: Mrs. Terao called her obaachan (grandma in Japanese), but the lady was not her actual grandmother.] in the relatives of the Teraos. The grandma's relative was also related to our family. Sister, my mother's sister was married to the grandma's relative, so in this way, she came to my house once in a while. The grandma always said that when I got married, she would arrange the marriage. Then, Terao came back to Japan from here. The grandma said that there was a good girl, so she would arrange the marriage, and she arranged the marriage. Since it's the grandma, I was not worried. She used to be a maid at a palace, so she was very, very strict about manners. See, she came and complained about everything and anything I did, like, "Don't sit like that," or "Don't walk like that!" I always said that I didn't like Grandma Kobata coming over. [Laughs]

TY: You had been acquainted with the grandma since you were little, right?

AT: Oh, well, my mother's sister, she married into the family that was related to the grandma. Then, she must have felt like I was the child she should take care of since there were no children in her family. She came over all the time. She had some land farmed, so she said that some lettuce was grown, apples were ripe, pears were ripe, and so on, she had them in her yard. She had someone pick them. She put six or seven of them in a sack and brought them over saying that they were for us to eat and to offer before the Buddhist altar. So she came, but she just wanted to complain about me. [Laughs]

TY: But, she liked you very much, right?

AT: She liked me very much. She would say that the way I walked was bad and so on. Well, she used to be a maid at a palace, she was sent to be a maid at a palace to learn manners, and I told my mother that I hated when she came over.

TY: But, your mother must have been happy.

AT: Yes, I said so, but when I said to my mother, "I hate it when she comes over. That grandma only complains about me!" then she sighed and said nothing. She said, "Because she is a grandma, she complains, so you should listen to her without being upset." I don't know who heard it, but it reached the grandma's ears. [Laughs] The grandma complained whenever she came over, and she said, "Oh, Asano-san, I am sure you hate it, but when you get married and have children, someday you'll think that I was a good grandma. I come over and complain because I am looking forward to the day." She was a very good grandma. As I said before, she used to be a maid at a palace, and when she talked about manners [inaudible] when it was out, oh, she did not like that! Oh, she was such a precise person.

TY: That must have been because she was trained when she was young.

AT: She was trained. She did the same thing with me since she didn't have a daughter, so she came and complained about everything. But, me, I came to appreciate it later on.

TY: Just as the grandma said.

AT: Just as the grandma said. And, mother, when mother said something, I said, "Mom, you are complaining again." I didn't listen to what my mother said. I listened if the grandma told me. Isn't it funny? But, now I think about it, I think that my mother didn't complain too much because my father passed away early. I think that is why she didn't complain so much.

TY: Well, since the grandma was so strict about manners, she must have been happy when you started things like the flower arrangement and the tea ceremony.

AT: Happy, yeah, she was happy. I arranged flowers and put them in the alcove. As soon as she came over, she did like this to Buddha. The first thing she did. She greeted him. Then, she would look at the flowers in the alcove next to the Buddha's altar. "Today's flowers, they are fresh flowers and alive." Sometimes when flowers became like this, she said, "What's wrong with the flowers. They are dead. You shouldn't put such flowers in the alcove." My mother said, "Grandma complained again." [Laughs] The grandma had too much time to spare. I was the only young girl among her relatives. She just wanted to come and complain. She used to be a maid at a palace, and she wanted me to do exactly what she had gone through then. But, even if she came with the intention to train me, there was no way I would do it. Because she was a maid at a palace, about everything, like, "When you walk, take this certain numbers of steps." Or "Do it this way," who could do such things? One tatami mattress, I was supposed to take four to five steps, but I just strode in one big step. [Laughs] She was a good grandma. She was related to the Teraos. She also became related to my family because my mother's sister went into the family, so we became relatives. The grandma said that she was going to arrange the marriage to the Teraos, and so she did.

TY: So the grandma arranged the marriage. After you met Mr. Terao, your husband, how long did it take to marry him?

AT: Well, it didn't take that long, it didn't take more than two months.

TY: Two months. Two months after the first arranged meeting.

AT: And having fun... Because he was in the U.S., all over, he said, "Let's have fun. Let's go to some places," and he took me to places. With the grandma, three of us. We went to see here and there, and then, there is Hakata in Kyushu, right? The bronze statue of Mr. Saigo, you know the big one, I wanted to see it. When I told him so, he said, "Then, we should go see it by way of a visit," and we went with the grandma, and we saw it. It was nice.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.