Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yasashi Ichikawa Interview I
Narrator: Yasashi Ichikawa
Interviewer: Tomoyo Yamada
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: October 16, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-iyasashi-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

[Translated from Japanese]

TY: Well, first of all, let's go back to the time of your birth. Is that all right?

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: Tell me the date and year of your birth.

YI: Shall I say it in Japanese?

TY: Yes, in Japanese.

YI: Eighteenth of July. I was born in 1907.

TY: What year in Meiji?

YI: July 18th in Meiji 40.

TY: During the hot summer month.

YI: Yes. My mother must have had a really hard time. [Laughs]

TY: Well, were you the first?

YI: I was the third. I had an elder sister who died at the age of four. Though I don't remember because I was a baby.

TY: Then, did you have an elder brother?

YI: Yes.

TY: So, you had an elder brother.

YI: I had a brother who was a year older than I. He passed away.

TY: Yes. I understand you were born in Shimonoseki. In Yamaguchi Prefecture.

YI: What?

TY: You were born in Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

YI: Yes, I was born in Ozuki of Shimonoseki City in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

TY: What kind of town was it?

YI: What?

TY: What kind of town was it?

YI: My father. My father's job?

TY: Yes.

YI: He was a priest. A Buddhist priest. Shinshu sect.

TY: Shinshu sect. Then, did your father come from a temple family?

YI: Yes.

TY: For generations?

YI: Yes, for generations. He was from a temple family.

TY: Then, how about your mother? Did she come from a temple family, too?

YI: No, she was the daughter of a dry goods store owner.

TY: Yes, that is... isn't Shimonoseki a port town? It is near a strait.

YI: My place was a little inland. You had to go about one ri [about 2 1/2 miles] before you could reach the sea.

TY: Oh, really? But still, were there some stores and other businesses?

YI: Yes. My grandmother came from a neighboring town. It is called Chofu. The town is by the sea.

TY: Oh, I see. Then, there were dry goods and other stores.

YI: Yes, a dry goods store. It sold material to make kimono -- fabric for kimono.

TY: So you grew up in a Shinshu sect temple family. Can you describe how it was at home? What kind of a residence was it? Was the residence inside the temple grounds, or was the house near the temple?

YI: My mother's?

TY: No. Your home. Mrs. Ichikawa's home.

YI: Oh, I see. My home was connected to the main building of the temple. My family's home. It was connected.

TY: Then, who cleaned the temple?

YI: A memorial service?

TY: Cleaning and maintenance of the temple.

YI: Oh, I see. Cleaning was done by my family.

TY: Then, did the children take turns cleaning the temple?

YI: Not when I was small. But when I got older, I did some cleaning at the family home.

TY: What did your mother do? Was she busy helping with temple work?

YI: My mother did not do the temple work very much. She helped with some small tasks.

TY: As a wife of a priest, your mother must have had a difficult time.


YI: And, my father, well, it was my father's job to take care of the affairs of the temple, change the flowers for the altar, clean the building, etc. In those days. Yes. The only thing my mother did was to offer a "ki" of rice, called obuppan, to Buddha early in the morning.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.