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

[Translated from Japanese]

<Begin Segment 1>

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.

<Begin Segment 2>

TY: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

YI: I had eight brothers and sisters, but one died. So, seven.

TY: As a result, you became the second among the seven children.

YI: Yes, I became the second. I have younger sisters, one, two, three, four. Four sisters. I had one younger brother, but he died. A younger sister also died. So now, there are two of us in America.

TY: Is that right?

YI: Yes, there is one in California. There are two in Japan.

Shinya [Mrs. Ichikawa's son]: The two in America are Mrs. Kimura and you?

YI: Yes?

Shinya: Those are the two.

TY: Oh, the two in America you are talking about are...

YI: There is one in Shimonoseki. Then, another in Takarazuka in Osaka.

TY: The two in America are you, Mrs. Ichikawa, and your sister.

YI: I and a sister who is twelve years younger. She lives in Fresno, California.

TY: Is that right? Well, I understand that you were raised by your grandmother. You were very close to your grandmother, weren't you?

YI: My grandmother?

TY: Yes.

YI: Yes, my grandmother took care of me very well. Since there were many children, my mother was busy taking care of my younger siblings. So my grandmother took me with her wherever she went.

TY: I see. You created a picture book of your life for your family in the past, didn't you?

YI: Yes?

TY: You wrote a picture book for your family, didn't you?

YI: Oh.

TY: The book is entitled My Life.

YI: Oh, yes. My grandchildren wanted to know about my life. As a legacy. I wrote it when I was eighty.

TY: So, written on the first page are your memories of grandmother.

YI: Oh, yes. The first page. When I was four or five, I drew a picture of the time I visited my grandmother's place. So I wrote about it. That is the earliest and foremost event that I recollect.

TY: Could you tell me about it? That memory.

YI: I don't remember that well, but we took a train -- about an hour and half train ride. We got off the train and walked along the country road for a while. My grandmother grew up in a temple, and so we went to that temple. I remember seeing a field full of rengso [Chinese milk vetch] in full bloom. I remember that. I also remember taking a bath there.

TY: Did your grandmother live with you in your house?

YI: What?

TY: Did your grandmother live with your family?

YI: What about my grandmother?

TY: Did she live with your family?

YI: With me?

TY: Yes.

YI: No. My grandmother used to sleep with me. I have a lot of memories of my grandmother. I don't remember too well, but she loved me very much.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TY: Yes. So, you started going to school, an elementary school.

YI: When I turned six, I started going to an elementary school in our village.

TY: What was it like?

YI: Well, at school, I was a timid girl and cried often. I cried easily. Then, there was arithmetic. I didn't like arithmetic at all. I could not do it. The teacher would ask a question all of a sudden. Since I did not know the answer, I would give some number anyway -- the wrong answer. Then tears would flow. Because I didn't like it. Then, arithmetic was called sanjutsu, but nowadays it is called sansu. I hated that subject.

TY: How large was your school?

YI: What?

TY: How many students were there at your school?

YI: A class in those days... Let me see. Probably there were about eighty of us. Half boys and half girls.

TY: Really. Did you have uniforms? At the elementary school.

YI: What did you say?

TY: Elementary school.

YI: In those days, there was none. Just regular clothes. We wore kimonos. We didn't have school uniforms.

TY: Then, did you have school uniforms at the middle school?

YI: From elementary school?

TY: From middle school.

YI: We did not have school uniforms. My sister who was six years younger was the first to have a school uniform.

TY: Was it western-style?

YI: What?

TY: Did it become western style clothing? The school uniform.

YI: Yes, it was. Since then. In my days, we wore only kimonos. Moreover, it had to be the one with tsutsu-sode, straight sleeves. The school rules forbid the long sleeves or rounded sleeves.

TY: Oh, is that right?

YI: And then, the sleeve had to be straight. Also, hakama which is a skirt, had to be in maroon color, the color of that sofa. That was the only color allowed. On that skirt, there was a half-inch tape around the hem, about four inches above the hemline. That was the mark of my girls' school.

TY: Was that the girls' high school you went to?

YI: I went to the elementary school up to the sixth grade. Then there was an entrance exam. In those days, you could not go to a school unless you passed the exam. I was lucky and passed the exam. I studied at the girls' school for four years.

TY: You went to the elementary school for six years and then to a girls' high school.

YI: After I finished the sixth grade, I went to the girls' high school in a neighboring town commuting by train for ten minutes. There was no girls' high school in my town. The train was full of villagers as well as people from nearby villages. After getting off the train, I had to walk for about twenty-five minutes. The school was in a town far from the station. Now when I think about it, that was quite a trip. I had a big bag to carry.

TY: Yes, I see. You had to carry all those textbooks?

YI: Yes, those books. I commuted to the school.

TY: Then, after finishing the elementary school, the girls went to girls' high school.

YI: Elementary school, then girls' high school. The boys went to middle school. The boys and girls were separated. Separate schools. Equivalent to a junior high school here. Nowadays, they study together.

TY: Yes, they do.

YI: After the war. In my days, we studied together only at the elementary school. By the time we were ready for girls' high school, we were separated.

TY: What happened to the pupils who did not go to girls' high school?

YI: Most people who did not go to the girls' high school in the village. There were seven or eight people to took the examination, but only one person didn't pass. So that person went to another school which didn't require an examination to enter. Everyone who didn't pass went to this school, a technical school.

TY: As for those who did not go to higher schools, was it because of economic reasons?

YI: Those were the people who did not pass the exam. There was the entrance exam. Furthermore, your ranking in the exam would be posted -- the names were posted. I was sorry that there was one girl, a doctor's daughter, who did not pass, so she went to another school.

TY: Those who failed... you said earlier that the majority did not go on to higher schools, did you not?

YI: Yes, in my village. In those days, to be admitted to a school, similar to a junior high here, you were required to take a test. Besides you had to pay money. Tuition. That's why the majority did not go in my village. Those were farmers. Also, in my days, people did not think the girls should be highly educated. That was a bad custom. They said that the girls did not have to study. They said that highly educated girls are a problem. What a strange country it was. So people said the girls did not need higher education and did not allow the girls to study.

TY: But in your case, your father was an educated man. He was a priest.

YI: Yeah. Only certain families allowed their daughters to go to girls' high school. In my village.

TY: What kind of families were they?

YI: What?

TY: What kind of families sent their children to middle school or girls' high school?

YI: Well, in my village, somewhat well-to-do families did. A temple, a doctor or businessmen. They were mostly children from those families.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TY: Then, I understand that at a middle school, or a girls' high school, you had to study English?

YI: Yes, English. Those one year senior to us did not study English. No English education. After I enrolled, English was offered. But it was very difficult for us to learn English. We never used it. And nobody really liked it. But my father told me to study English hard. I did not dislike it. As I learned to read, I began to comprehend a little better, but it was very difficult for me to learn to write or converse.

TY: Why do you think your father emphasized English education?

YI: I wonder why. But he had an English dictionary. He even taught me how to use the dictionary to look for difficult words. I wonder if he himself had studied English before, since he owned a dictionary.

TY: In your neighborhood or region, was there somebody who had been to America?

YI: I don't think there was anyone in my village. There was one person in a neighboring village who had lived in America for a short time. I wonder where he was. There was one family. Someone had been in Denver. He must have done some work related to lumber. After returning, he started a lumber mill. He returned from America with two children. He was the only one. There was this unmarried man in the neighboring village, and I heard he had been to America. But in those days, we did not hear much about people who went to America.

TY: Then, you rarely heard success or failure stories because there was hardly anybody.

YI: That's right. I was young and did not pay attention to such things. I never imagined that I would go to America.

TY: But there were many people who emigrated from Yamaguchi Prefecture.

YI: Well, they encouraged emigrating to Brazil. Go to Brazil. Go to Brazil. There were many posters on the telephone poles and at the railroad stations. In those day, Japan was a poor country. Therefore the unemployed were encouraged to go to Brazil. I saw many posters with a map of Brazil.

TY: Is that right? How old were you, Mrs. Ichikawa?

YI: I was already old enough to go to a girls' high school. So I bet there were many who went to Brazil, but there were very few who went abroad from my village.

TY: I understand you had an English language teacher.

YI: My English language teacher was a woman. She was really nice. She was a good teacher. As soon as we entered the room, she would say, "Open the book," in English. Also, she said, "Stand up." That made it easy to learn. She also taught music. She taught us simple English songs. She was replaced by a male teacher. He emphasized grammar. We remember more of what the first teacher taught.

TY: You said you sang English songs.

YI: Yes, English songs. Something like "I can dance and I can sing." We learned it. I still remember that song. It is a wonderful idea to learn English through songs.

TY: I agree. By the way, was the English class mainly on America or England? Do you remember which?

YI: We had textbooks. So we studied following the textbook.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TY: Okay. Now I would like to hear more about your mother, father and grandmother. What kind of values and ethics did they emphasize? When you were a child, your parents and grandmother must have emphasized certain values and ethics. The rules like, "Do this," and, "Don't do that."

YI: Let me see. My grandmother or father did not say, "You should not do this or that." My father or mother were not very strict.

TY: I have read before the book you wrote about your life for your family. In it, you wrote about a bully in the elementary school, a principal's son. Do you remember that ?

YI: There was this mean boy. He caused a lot of trouble.

TY: At that time, the principal got angry. Is this the book on family upbringing?

YI: Yes. I remember that he took his son out into the hallway and beat him.

TY: What kind of book was this book on family upbringing? I heard that he used the book on manners.

YI: That book. The book on morals.

TY: What kind of the book was that?

YI: We had a book on morals in those days. The things we had to obey were listed one after another. There were pictures of people who followed such moral lessons. We had to have good manners and be respectful of the elders. When you have to show respect to the elders, you walk behind them. Stories of people of long ago who obeyed these rules... Another story was about a little girl who threw trash on the street. Her father who saw her doing this told her not to do this, but to put it into a trash can. And we have to obey such things... Also there was a picture of somebody bowing in front of the altar. You have your ancestors, and you must respect them. For all these things that we had to obey, there was a course on morals. Nowadays we do not have such a course.

TY: Was there such a class in school?

YI: Uh-huh. Morals. It was taught by the principal at my country school.

TY: By the way, in those days, you said that women didn't have to go to school. That...

YI: Yes, there was such a bad custom. They said that girls did not have to study much.

TY: But in your family, you were allowed to receive a higher education.

YI: No, in my family, my parents did not say such a thing.

TY: Then, you didn't feel there was anything in particular that you were expected to do as a girl?

YI: I don't know. My father was rather open-minded and did not preach traditional values.

TY: But the people with the traditional values would say that women should simply get married...

YI: Yes. Most people thought that the girls should just learn how to cook, cook good rice, cook well, learn flower arrangement... That should be the women's job. Women should be obedient to their husbands. In those days men were considered dominant over women, and men were respected more. When I was a child. So when a girl was born, people would be disappointed and say, "Oh, another girl." And I had many sisters.

TY: Girls were born one after another.

YI: I remember my father saying, "Oh, another girl. I wish we had a boy."

TY: Did your father say that?

YI: What?

TY: Did your father say such a thing? Even your father?

YI: What?

TY: Even your father said such a thing...

YI: Yes. Such a trend prevailed in Japan. Too many girls. If you had three daughters, you would go bankrupt, they said. There was a saying that if you had three daughters, you would lose your family fortune.

TY: But when it comes to education, your father was open-minded, wasn't he?

YI: Yes, in that area. But Japan had such a system in those days, and my father probably thought like everybody else.

TY: Did your younger sisters go to a girls' high school?

YI: Yes, all of them did.

TY: Then, since your mother was a daughter of a dry goods store, did your mother go to a girls' high school?

YI: My mother did not go to a girls' high school. In those days very few girls went. But I think my mother went to a sewing school. She was very good at sewing. She was fast. She could sew up a kimono in one night. She was very fast.

TY: Did you take such a class, too?

YI: Yes. The girls' high school had many subjects. The regular girls' high school taught sewing, cooking, history, etc. Each subject had a different teacher. They taught everything.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TY: I see. I understand that your father passed away when you were eighteen.

YI: Yes, when I was about eighteen. It was probably the year when I graduated from the girls' high school.

TY: What did you do then? There must have been many things to succeed your father. Since your father was a temple priest...

YI: Yes. My father knew he was dying when he got sick. So my father wrote a letter to the cabinet members of the temple and asked them to take care of the temple because he was dying of an illness. I remember that he wrote the letter. He became ill in spring and died in fall on November 11th. He was only forty-eight.

TY: He died young.

YI: He was forty-eight or forty-nine.

TY: Yasashi, you did take care of the temple affairs...

YI: My elder brother was still in college in Kyoto. He had another year to go. He could not return home before he graduated. Until then, there was nobody. We asked nearby temples for help. To help with services. Finally we found a temple priest in the neighboring village who had extra time. He walked to our village and helped with the services. He saved us.

TY: Then when your brother graduated...

YI: My brother returned home after graduation, got married and did the temple work.

TY: Then until that time for one year you had to get help from different places.

YI: Yes, for one year it was difficult.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TY: By the way, I heard that you met your husband through your brother.

YI: Oh, yes. Reverend Ichikawa was in the same class as my brother. So my brother introduced him to me.

TY: How did it go?

YI: In those days, we called such an introduction miai. I met him at my cousin's place. I did not know Reverend Ichikawa at all. He was from Nagano Prefecture.

TY: Oh, did he come all the way to Yamaguchi Prefecture?

YI: Yes, he did. I met him at my cousin's house. I had decided to leave everything up to my brother. I told him that I will not go anywhere except to a temple.

TY: Is that right?

YI: I said, "I don't care how poor the temple is. If I marry a farmer, I cannot do anything. I don't want to marry a farmer. I cannot do any business. I know something about temples, so I will not go unless it is a temple." I was thinking along that line since I was a little girl. Even if it's a poor temple, it's okay. I like to go to a temple. I did not tell this to the others, but my mind was made up.

TY: Not because you were told by your parents?

YI: I had made my decision. But my younger sister who is below me did not like temple life. She married a banker. She liked a more flashy lifestyle. She is still alive. She is hospitalized now.

TY: Is that right? Then you two were quite the opposite. You wanted to marry a priest, and your sister did not want to marry a priest.

YI: Moreover, my sister disliked country life. She wanted to go to a big town and marry someone other than a priest.

TY: Is that the sister who lives in Takarazuka now?

YI: What?

TY: Is that the sister who lives in Takarazuka now?

Shinya: It is Aunt Kana, isn't it? Takarazuka.

TY: The one in Takarazuka?

YI: Yes, she lives in Takarazuka.

TY: She lives in Takarazuka.

YI: She had a stroke and cannot talk. What a pity! She has an outgoing personality. She was not particular about anything.

TY: What is the age difference between you and your sisters?

YI: Well, there are about three years' difference. The sister who lives in California is twelve years younger because there are other brothers and sisters.

TY: That's the youngest sister?

YI: No, there is a younger one. In Shimonoseki. The one in California turned eighty the other day. She lost her husband recently.

TY: So, you met Mr. Ichikawa and both of you...

YI: Yes, I suppose. Mr. Ichikawa must have agreed. I did not have any particular wishes in those days. Since I left everything up to my brother, I thought Mr. Ichikawa was not such a bad person.

TY: Then, after you met him for the first time, how much later was it that you decided to get married?

YI: Well, I socialized with him for about a year. During that time he worked as an English language teacher in Niigata Prefecture. My husband.

TY: Is that right?

YI: Yes, he was an English language teacher.

TY: Then he must have been good at English.

YI: Yes, to an extent. Well, English conversation was difficult for him, but he could read and write quite well.

TY: Was Reverend Ichikawa from a temple family?

YI: Yes, a temple in Nagano Prefecture.

TY: Was it also a Shinshu sect of Buddhism?

YI: Yes. They went to the same college, and that was the connection.

TY: He went to a Buddhist university.

YI: Yes, Ryukoku University in Kyoto. It was a Buddhist university, mainly of Shinshu sect. It has grown into a big university now and teaches everything.

TY: I see. But in those days it was a Buddhist university.

YI: In those days it was called Ryukoku University. Ryu means "waterfall"; Koku means "valley." The reason the university was named Ryukoku was that it was taken from the name of a mountain. Most Buddhist temples are named after mountains. My family's temple is called Sairenji. On top of that is Mt. Tokoku. All the temples. Ryukoku University was named after Mr. Ryukoku.

TY: From there. The kanji for "waterfall" has a water radical and a dragon, doesn't it?

YI: Ryu is the Chinese character for "dragon." Underneath it, is "valley." Ryukoku University.

TY: So now you were going to get married. Did you exchange a wedding gift according to the tradition?

YI: Yes. We had a ceremony at Mr. Ichikawa's home. I don't remember clearly because it was not written precisely, but I think we got married in the middle or end of June. Then, at the beginning of July we came to America. It was the third year of Showa, 1928.

TY: Did you go to Nagano to get married? So you traveled to Nagano to have a wedding ceremony?

YI: Yes, to Nagano. I went for the wedding. I stayed there at their temple for about a month. Then we came here.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TY: How soon did you learn that you were going to America? Did you already know that you were going to America?

YI: Yes, I knew about it. Before that time, Mr. Ichikawa visited once. The head minister of the Hongwanji, that person... at that time I think he was attending college.. and would like to take you there... was working as a school boy. Mr. Ohtani, it is said. He was working as a school boy.

TY: What is a school boy?

YI: School boy? Someone who works and goes to school. We say "school boy" over here, too, don't we? Someone who goes to school while working for a family. For that family, he took their daughter to kindergarten, did odd jobs and went to college.

TY: Is it the same as shosei in Japanese? Is it different from shosei?

YI: What?

TY: Shosei.

YI: Yes, you could say shosei. I don't know if he taught the children. I believe they had somebody else as a shosei. Someone who helps with the school work. Reverend Ichikawa did some errands, took the children to school and took care of small jobs.

TY: In exchange for room and board.

YI: He was given a place to sleep and fed. Before Mr. Ichikawa, there was a teacher, Mr. Shimizu, who was working there, but quit the job and came to America as a minister. So there was a vacancy. He urged that we go.

TY: Do you mean, to go after the graduation?

YI: "Since I am quitting to go to America, why don't you take my job?" he said. So he went there and after graduating from the University, he also came to America.

TY: Then, did you already know about it when you met him? That you were coming to America if you married Mr. Ichikawa?

YI: Yes, I knew about it. Therefore, he said, "Since you are going to America after we marry, you have to learn some English." He sent me some books. I tried many things, but it was hard for me to learn. [Laughs]

TY: What did you think of going to America?

YI: I never imagined that I would ever come to America. But, well, since my husband was coming to America anyway, I came.

TY: How about your parents and grandmother?

YI: I suppose they all agreed.

TY: Didn't your grandmother miss you?

YI: I heard this later, but my grandmother said, "How did we allow her to go to America?" But she never said that to me. She said that to somebody else. I was told later. My grandmother missed me. She took care of me since I was little.

TY: She must have. Since you knew you were going to America, what about your trousseau and other things?

YI: I did not buy much. And I wore a kimono to come here. So when we stayed at a hotel, it was the Aki Hotel operated by a Japanese. One day the Mrs. of the hotel there offered to take me shopping to [inaudible]. She took care of me.

TY: By the way, you had to apply for a visa. To come to America, you must have applied for a visa. Immigration was banned in 1924, and the Japanese were not allowed in those days, were they?

YI: You are right. When I came, the Japanese were not allowed to immigrate, but we could come because my husband was a minister.

TY: Yes, you had a special visa. How long did it take? The application for a passport and a visa?

YI: Let me see. How long did it take? I don't remember. I think we embarked in Yokohama. I wrote something there. I signed a paper.

TY: Was there a physical inspection, too?

YI: Physical inspection? Today, I had a urine test. Also a stool sampling. Then the eye exam. I had those.

TY: So you passed. Your husband, also.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TY: Then to Yokohama, you went from Nagano Prefecture to Yokohama...

YI: The father and the mother came all the way to Yokohama to see us off.

TY: The Ichikawas?

YI: Ichikawas. I remember that from the deck I saw the mother crying.

TY: Now, will you tell me something about the ship. What was the name of the ship?

YI: The ship was Korea-maru.

TY: What is Korea?

YI: I wondered what Korea means and found out that Korea means the country "Korea." But it was a Japanese ship.

TY: Were all the crew members Japanese?

YI: Yes, they were all Japanese. Why did they name the ship Korea, I wonder? It was written in Hirakana.

TY: Was maru in the Chinese characters?

YI: I don't understand why it was called Korea-maru.

TY: Since the crew were all Japanese, did they serve only Japanese food?

YI: Let me tell you. We came in the second class. There were the first, second and third classes. The second class had all Western food. I had not eaten any Western food before and so could not eat them.

TY: What kind of food was served?

YI: I don't remember very well, but roast beef and chicken, I suppose. Just once they served Japanese udon, noodle soup. I thought that was delicious. At the beginning I got seasick. I was nauseated and could not eat. So I asked a waiter to bring rice to my room. He brought only rice and pickle everyday. The third class passengers were served mostly Japanese food. Miso soup, white rice, cooked vegetables and so on. I later regretted not asking for third class meals.

TY: Even if it was a lower class, you liked the meals better.

YI: Because there are Caucasian people among the first and second class passengers, they serve mostly western food.

TY: Then were there any American crew members?

YI: Probably. Since there were Caucasian passengers. Although there were Japanese passengers, too.

TY: Because it was after immigration was banned, do you think there were fewer Japanese passengers?

YI: That is right.

TY: I heard that long ago, there were all kinds of people. Before 1924, there were picture brides, immigrant workers, etc.

YI: In those days, the Japanese were all workers. Nobody traveled in the first or second class.

TY: What kind of people were in the first class?

YI: I wonder what kind of people were there. Probably a consul or somebody in a high position.

TY: How about the second class? What kind of people were in the second class?

YI: In the second class, there were a few Caucasians. Well, among the second class passengers, there were Japanese people, too. Maybe businessmen or someone like that.

TY: How about the third class?

YI: Well, in the third class, you know, workers, people who planned to work [inaudible]...

TY: By the way, was there anything special when you crossed the date line?

YI: What?

TY: When I interviewed somebody else before, that person said there was a special event when he crossed the date line. Was there such an event? A celebration or something?

YI: I don't know.

TY: When you traveled by ship, it took about two weeks, didn't it?

YI: Uh-huh. It took about twelve days.

TY: During that time, was there any party or a special event?

YI: Let me see. We hardly had anything in the first ship. When we returned, there was something, I think.

TY: Since you had never seen America before, what did you expect?

YI: Anyhow, when I saw the Caucasians in San Francisco, they all looked the same. [Laughs] I still remember that. No matter who I looked at, they all looked the same. Their faces. That does not happen any more. In those days, women had red lipsticks on. The cheeks were red. That was a popular make-up style.

TY: In America?

YI: Yes, in America. Also short dresses. Nowadays some wear short and some wear long. But in those days, if a short dress was in fashion, everybody wore a short dress. If a long dress was in fashion, then everybody wore a long dress. Everybody looked the same.

TY: How was America different from what you had expected? Was it different? What did you imagine America to be?

YI: No. When I saw a picture of an American, the women wore large bonnets and their dresses had puffed sleeves. That was the only picture I had seen. So I thought that everybody wore that kind of dress. Then it was very different. Everybody wore a hat , but nobody wore that kind of a huge hat. Besides nobody wore a long dress like in the picture. I thought it was very different.

TY: Also the land is vast, isn't it?

YI: But if you look at the pictures of the Japanese people who had come here much earlier than us, they wore that kind of dress. You can still see the pictures of the people who wore long dresses with puffed sleeves and wore huge hats.

TY: But by the time you came here in 1928, that was out of style, wasn't it ?

YI: Small hats were in. But almost everybody wore a hat. People nowadays rarely wear hats.


<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TY: So now you arrived in San Francisco Harbor. From there you went on to Fresno, didn't you? How far is Fresno from San Francisco?

YI: In those days it took seven hours by train. I don't remember exactly. Fresno is a ways inland.

TY: When you got off the ship in San Francisco, what was your first impression? What kind of first impression of America did you have?

YI: The first impression? Let me see. Well, we got off first in Hawaii.

TY: Oh, is that right?

YI: A short stopover in Hawaii. We went to a big temple there and did sightseeing in the city. The flowers were so beautiful. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the flowers and thought maybe the flowers in the heaven would look like these. After that, when we got off in San Francisco, there was this gentleman who came to see us. I bet he was the person who came to the ship every time the Japanese got off. I have not seen him for a long time. He offered to take us somewhere. He took us to a Christian church. I did not understand English. I remember feeling extremely bored.

TY: Christianity was already introduced in Japan in those days, wasn't it?

YI: Yes, it was.

TY: In those days, generally speaking...

YI: In small villages, there were no churches but the services were held at private homes. Christianity had been in Japan for quite a while.

TY: Then it spread all over Japan in that way. By the way, speaking of the procedure when you arrived in America, was there any strict inspection when you entered the country?

YI: No. Not especially.

TY: Since you already passed the physical inspection.

YI: Uh-huh. The report had been sent already from Japan.

TY: So you took a seven-hour train ride to get to your home in Fresno.

YI: Yes, we rode the train.

TY: What did you think about during the trip?

YI: Well, we started seeing more countryside. Fresno in those days. It is a big town now, though. My husband came to work at the temple there.

TY: Was San Francisco a big city in those days, too?

YI: The temple? Because it was the headquarters.

TY: The one in San Francisco. Of America as a whole.

YI: San Francisco is still the headquarters. Of our church. It celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.

TY: Oh, is that right?

YI: In August. There was the centennial celebration.

TY: You received the announcement for that?

YI: Yes. Etsuko went.

TY: Is that so? By the way, you told me that you did not like the western food served on the ship. Were you worried that you would be eating that type of food from then on?

YI: But when we arrived at the hotel, we were served all Japanese food. I was so relieved. Even the rice bowl had the exact same design as the one I had used at home.

TY: You must have felt relieved. Particularly in a foreign land.

YI: I thought we would not use chopsticks here. I thought we had to use knives and forks. Since I did not know how to use them, I practiced using a knife and fork before I came. Then I was served with chopsticks. What a relief! This time when we went to Fresno, the people we met were all Issei. So no matter where we went, we were served Japanese food. Besides we rarely ate western food at home. All of these made me feel at home. But that was a hot place. I had a nosebleed for the first time in my life.

TY: Oh, because it was so dry.

YI: Yes, it was dry.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TY: So you said that there were many Isseis in Fresno. Were they all engaged in farming?

YI: Fresno?

TY: Japanese Issei and Nisei in Fresno.

YI: Mainly engaged in the hotel business.

TY: Oh, is that right? In Fresno?

YI: Japanese were in hotel business. There were farmers a little distant from the city. Grapes. In those days, all grew grapes. Vineyard. They made the raisins. Because it had hot weather. Now I understand they grow a variety of fruits. There are no Isseis left. There was a Japan town. There was an area where Japanese businesses lined the streets. In those days.

TY: In Fresno?

YI: At the time when Issei were alive. You could find anything. A tofu store, a bookstore, a grocery store, anything. But, nowadays, not many Niseis or Sansei are engaged in such business.

TY: Were there that many Japanese to form a Japantown?

YI: There were quite a few Japanese.

TY: And I heard about that...

YI: I did not know. Anything.

TY: Then when you had difficulty eating the meals aboard ship, you must have worried about the food here.

YI: I thought I would have to eat only American food.

TY: Then you found Japantown and you could buy even tofu.

YI: Ministers... our church was quite big. There were four or five ministers. They gave services and taught at the Japanese language school. My husband also taught at the Japanese language school. Two or three years ago, a woman visited me from Fresno and told me that she had learned from Reverend Ichikawa. She has children and grandchildren now.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TY: So how many members were there in your church or temple? In Fresno.

YI: Let me see. It was quite big. I don't remember exactly, but the women's organization had about one hundred people in membership.

TY: That many? Speaking of the location of the temple, was it located in Japantown? In a downtown area?

YI: Most temples are located in Japantowns.

TY: Well, the Japanese farmers must have lived far away then.

YI: In those days, there were not many temples. So a reverend would go to outlying areas to conduct the service.

TY: What kind of service was it?

YI: The reverend went on Sundays to talk, to teach at Sunday school or give a howakai which is a sermon. A sermon was given also in the evenings. The ministers went out to outlying areas from Fresno, but they don't have to do that now because there are many temples.

TY: Do the temples in Japan have a sermon or other services on Sundays?

YI: Yes, they do in Japan, too.


TY: I would like you to talk about Fresno again.

YI: As I said before, the church, the temple in Fresno was quite large and had four or five ministers. And the ministers were mainly engaged in temple affairs -- the work which had to do with Buddha. But it also had a Japanese language school. There were several Japanese language schools in Fresno and in the countryside. The ministers worked in those schools. In Japanese. The Nisei went to Japanese language schools and therefore quite a few of them speak Japanese. Though when it came to third and fourth generations, fewer and fewer people can speak.

TY: Well, if there were five, four or five ministers, then Reverend Ichikawa was not the only one with a wife, was he?

YI: There was a head minister above me. He was from Hiroshima. His name was Mr. Kyogoku. He was wonderful. He passed away, but his daughter still lives in the Washington, D.C. area.

TY: You said earlier that there were about one hundred members in the women's organization.

YI: Yes. There were between eighty and one hundred.

TY: What were the functions of the women's organization?

YI: The women's organization?

TY: What kind of functions did it...?

YI: Oh, that. Same as now. President, secretary, and someone to handle money, accounting. That was all for the cabinet officials.

TY: What kind of things did the women's organization do?

YI: What kind of things... We had a monthly sermon. A minister gave a talk. We visited the sick people, visited some patients in the hospitals. Sometimes we learned a craft or something else. Also we had a temple picnic. Nothing has changed. What the temple does is the same.

TY: Then, as a minister's wife, did you have a big role to play in the women's organization?

YI: The women's organization...

TY: Within the club. Some role to play. As a minister's wife.

YI: Oh, I see. In those days, the wife of the head minister was the president, and so I did not do anything special. After she moved away, I did mainly... nowadays, the wives of the ministers do not necessarily become presidents. The president is elected among the general members. All the officers. Even now as we speak, a women's group meeting is being held. Etsuko is the English secretary. They need the minutes in both languages. Still. Etsuko is the English secretary, and somebody from Japan is writing in English. I mean, in Japanese.

TY: You said that you had Sunday schools and visited people on Sundays. Do they have a Sunday school in Japan?

YI: Yes, we've always had that in Japan. Although it was not very prevalent. In recent times most places are doing it. Sunday school. There are various meetings. The youth group, the women's group and other groups. The temples are more active these days.

TY: Even before you came to America, did the temples have such youth group or women's group?

YI: Yes, there were. We had a women's group. My mother was the leader. The priest's wife took care of the group. We had a flag for the women's group.

TY: In your family. Your mother must have been very busy. With seven children and also the women's group.

YI: Yes, with so many children, I bet she was very busy. That's why I was taken care of by my grandmother. Because my mother was too busy.

TY: But then, when you grew older, did you help with the women's group?

YI: Do you mean the women' group business?

TY: When you were a child, as you got older...

YI: I did not do anything. When I was a young girl. I was not even a member of the women's group.

TY: What is the age to join the women's group? Were there age limits?

YI: Well, mostly married people. In those days, the due was only five sen or six sen. The annual due. It was so cheap, less than ten sen.

TY: With the money, did they have a dinner or something?

YI: America was much more advanced in that area. More than Japan. In America, we copied what the Caucasians were doing. From the olden days.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TY: What were the major differences? What were the major differences between the Japanese temples and the Fresno temple?

YI: Let me think. There does not seem to be much difference nowadays. In what they do.

TY: But when you arrived in Fresno...

YI: In those days, it was more advanced here. It was much more active here. Not much in Japan, though there might have been some which did many activities. In the countryside, the temples did not engage in many activities. Although there was a women's group, all it did was to get together once a month and listen to a lecture while drinking tea.

TY: Were there any American members at the temple?

YI: Americans? In the old days? Well, there were one or two Caucasians.

TY: With those people, was the sermon still given in Japanese?

YI: No. At that time, I think it was in English. Oh, by the way, there was this artist by the name of Yuseki Tsurumi. This artist from Japan, Tsurumi something came to Fresno. We have a photo of him at home. In that photo, there were four or five Caucasians with him. I guess those were government related officials. Maybe, that's why they were there. When he spoke at the temple, four or five Caucasians were in the photo.

TY: Did the Sunday school consist of mostly the second generation children?

YI: Uh-huh. In those days they still spoke Japanese. My husband spoke at Sunday school all in Japanese. Nowadays you have to speak in English. Those were the days of Japanese language. The parents were all the first generation. They could not speak English.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TY: What kind of house did you live in? In what way? What kind of housing did you get after you arrived in Fresno?

YI: We rented a small house and lived there. Then Satoru was born there.

TY: Your first son, Satoru.

YI: He will be seventy in February next year. Since we came here one year earlier, we have been in America for seventy-one years.

TY: Yes.

YI: Although we returned to Japan for two years.

TY: You have lived in America for seventy years...

YI: I don't think I will ever return to Japan. My husband, Reverend Ichikawa, obtained the citizenship long ago.

TY: So, Satoru was born and then Etsuko was born...

YI: Yes, another boy, Kazuya, was born. Akira was born in Seattle. After we came to Seattle, Akira and Hiroko, a girl, were born. She lives in Port Townsend. Then Shinya was born. In the year of the war.

TY: I hear that you took some English lessons in Fresno.

YI: Yes, I went for a short while. About one month. But it was so difficult and then I got pregnant, pregnant with Satoru. So I quit.

TY: Can you tell us about that English language class?

YI: The teacher of the English class was Miss [inaudible]. She was a German and tall. I could write in English but could not read. There was this Chinese woman who could talk but could not write. She did not know even ABC. I remember that the teacher said you two should be combined.

TY: Then you could read and write. [Laughs]

YI: "You can write some but cannot speak. She can speak but cannot read."

TY: It would be perfect if you could be combined. By the way, I would like to ask you about the ceremonial traditions. Were there any differences between Japan and Fresno in terms of weddings, funerals and festivals.

YI: Let me see. Since it was the raisin growing area, there was a raisin festival. There was a parade.

TY: Was it a festival in Fresno?

YI: The festival in Fresno. Among the Caucasians, there seemed a lot of festivals. When I first came to San Francisco, someone took me to a carnival in Alameda. Then I was put on a ride which rotated a way up high. I was so scared. I had never been on anything like that. I still cannot forget about that experience. Also, I was on a ride which flowed down fast from a high place. Then it would suddenly stop. Those are my memories.

TY: Was that after you arrived in San Francisco and before you went to Fresno?

YI: Before we went. A minister said that he would take us to a carnival in Alameda. He put us on that ride. I was so scared. It goes round and rough at a high place. Sitting on a chair. I felt sick. I hated it. [Laughs]

TY: I hear your husband was also on the ride.

YI: It was fun to ride such a thing when I was a child. But it is scary when you grow old.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TY: Speaking of that, you arrived in San Francisco and stayed at the Aki Hotel.

YI: We stayed for one month.

TY: You stayed that long?

YI: The reason was this. We were originally to go to Berkeley. To a church in Berkeley. But then the ship was delayed. Then some other minister went there. We had nowhere to go. The head minister had returned to Japan [inaudible]. So about one month we had nothing else to do. So we went to the temple every day. We played ping pong. We were tired everyday. Then [inaudible] and we had no money. We spent all our money to buy the ship boarding tickets. So we went into debt immediately. We repaid slowly after we moved to Fresno. We never had much luck with money from the beginning. [Laughs]

TY: You said that the ship was delayed. How many days was it delayed?

YI: I wonder why it was delayed.

TY: Even if it was delayed, it must have been only a matter of a few days.

YI: Because of our wedding and other circumstances, the delay was caused not by ship but by the Ichikawas. [Laughs]

TY: You never know what happens in life. [Laughs]

YI: We kept having mistakes from the beginning. [Laughs]

TY: Then, you spent one month in San Francisco sightseeing and shopping for clothes...

YI: We went around San Francisco everyday. Going up and down the hills. We were young. Then it happened that there was a convention for the young people. In Arameda or somewhere. There we met a head minister of Fresno temple, Reverend Kyogoku. He asked us which temple we were going to. We told him that we had nowhere to go. Then he told us to come to his temple. So we went there.

TY: That's how you ended up there. Because of that chance meeting...

YI: Because of the connection. Reverend Kyogoku apologized and asked us to take the night shift. So after we went there, Reverend Ichikawa would go out at night. I felt so lonely. I was new in the area. There was another house in the same yard. The house of a photographer. The wife was of the same age as I and spoke Japanese well. Because she was there...

TY: Was she of the second generation?

YI: She was second generation. She spoke Japanese well and was also a member of the temple. She was Masami Kaisho.

TY: When you were taken for shopping after arriving in San Francisco, it was the first time you wore western-style clothing, wasn't it? Or did you wear the western style clothes in Japan, too?

YI: At that time, I went shopping for a toothbrush. How much was it? Fifty cents or sixty cents. In those days. A toothbrush. I was flabbergasted. I had never bought such an expensive toothbrush in Japan. I was totally in shock.

TY: Who took you shopping? Shopping for such daily needs? Did some minister's wife in San Francisco take you? Shopping. Shopping in San Francisco.

YI: There was a store in front of the hotel. In San Francisco, only when I needed to buy clothes, a mistress at the hotel took me. But I hardly went shopping. I didn't have money. [Laughs]

TY: So then, you were to go to Fresno. If you had not met the minister from Fresno at that time, what do you think would have happened?

YI: We might still be wandering around in that area. It so happened that there was a convention for the young people. The minister came to the meeting. We knew him a little. Since he asked where we were going, we answered, "We don't know. We don't know where we are going."

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TY: Didn't you think about going back to Japan?

YI: No, we didn't think about going back.

TY: You wanted to manage here.

YI: Uh-huh. I was determined to stay here at least for ten years before I visited Japan again. Reverend Ichikawa got homesick when his mother died. We decided to return suddenly. After five years. For the time being.

TY: Then, were you planning to live here permanently when you came to America? You said you were determined to stay put for at least ten years.

YI: Well, I am not sure. I did not think one way or the other. In those days nobody came to America to live permanently. That's why they didn't buy a house even if they had money. Only a few families bought houses. Even in Fresno.

TY: They all planned to go back some day.

YI: Those with houses must have decided to stay here permanently. Everybody lived in the rented houses.

TY: By the time you came here in 1928, the second generation children must have grown quite old.

YI: The second generation?

TY: Some older second generation.

YI: Let me think. Some older children were in high schools.

TY: Even so, did they want to return to Japan?

YI: Everybody planned to stay here only for three years, but ended up staying for life. It was difficult to return. They had not saved enough money. The children became older. There were many people like that.

TY: Did the children understand what the parents were thinking?

YI: The parents wanted their children to be educated in Japan. So when the children became a certain age, the parents sent them to Japan. The children. Some parents felt the children were a burden when they had to work. They sent their children to the grandparents or uncles and aunts. They sent their children to Japan to receive a Japanese education.

TY: The parents were thinking of returning a little later.

YI: Then when the children completed their education in Japan and matured to a certain age, they returned here. In those days, American money was worth twice as much. Compared to Japanese money. So when you saved some money, you would send that money to Japan and ask the relatives to take care of the children. Because American money was worth much more. If you had many children, you would send two to Japan and keep the remaining few here. In those cases, the children who completed Japanese education would return home here, but could not get along with the remaining siblings. Those educated in Japan had different values. Therefore, a young man told me once, "Mrs. Ichikawa, never separate the children and send some back to Japan." He said, "Since I was educated in Japan, I don't get along with my brothers and sisters."

TY: Those children hardly knew their parents.

YI: The children would be distant from their parents. The young man admonished me never to do that.

TY: Did it happen while your children were still young?

YI: He was sent back to Japan when he was little. He returned to America after graduating from a middle school, a high school. But he was having a problem with his siblings here. The parents would be worried, too. So he told me not to do that. He said it was not good.

Shinya: Mom, how old was your child? The age of Satoru. How old?

YI: Oh, you mean when I returned to Japan?

TY: When you were given such advice. The young man told you. A Kibei.

YI: My husband's elder brother did not have children. They did not have a son to succeed the temple business. So, he wanted Kazuya, our second son who lives in California now, to stay there. He did not dare say that to me. My husband told me later. But the elder brother never mentioned. He could not ask. He could not say, "Will you leave one of your boys, the second boy, here to succeed the temple business?" He could not say it.

TY: Was that while you were in Japan?

YI: Uh-huh. I would not have left him even if he had asked.

TY: A returnee gave you such advice. Never do it.

YI: He told me when I lived in Fresno. I didn't think about his advice, but I didn't want to give up one of my children for a Japanese relative. No matter how many children I might have. My brother-in-law did not dare ask me. To ask me to leave one of my children with him. He said nothing.

TY: Then you lived in Fresno.

YI: This time, we lived in Kobe for about two years. He was not thinking of going back to America. Reverend Ichikawa. So there was a big temple in Kobe. He worked there. About two years. Then Reverend Matsuyama, head minister in America, visited us for some business and told us, "The head minister in Seattle is going to be the head minister in Canada. Will you please go there to replace him?" He asked if we wanted to go and we accepted.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TY: You lived in Fresno for five years and returned to Japan.

YI: We returned to Japan once. We lived there for two years. Then we came to a temple in Seattle.

TY: Your children, Satoru and others, were still very small when you returned to Japan, weren't they?

YI: How many did I have at that time? My daughter who is in California was five months old. She was a baby.

TY: You returned to Japan with three children.

YI: I went back with three children. A girl, Noriko, was born in Japan. In Kobe. She was five months old or three months old. Since she was born in October... November, December. She was five months old. I came to Seattle with four children including the baby.

TY: When you returned to Japan... did Satoru and the other children miss America?

YI: The only time was when we lived in Kobe, they wanted soda crackers. You could not find soda crackers in the countryside. But many Caucasians lived in Kobe and so the American goods were available. So I went downtown where streetcars ran, found a store and bought the crackers. The American white crackers. The children said, "You found them!" I bought that for them.

TY: They remembered the food.

YI: Yes, they did. They wanted those crackers.

TY: So Satoru was about five years old when you returned to Japan. When your oldest, Satoru, was seven, you came back to Seattle...

YI: When we came to Seattle, he was in kindergarten.

TY: It must have been hard for you. To travel by ship with small children.

YI: Yes. With four children. But I was healthy. I did not think much of it.

TY: You have a daughter who was born in Japan. Was her name Nobuko?

YI: My family do not have English names. The first generation parents named their children in Japanese. Later, they gave English names because the children wanted them.

Shinya: Mom, the name of your daughter who was born in Japan is Noriko.

TY: Noriko?

Shinya: Her name is Noriko.

YI: She doesn't have an English name. Now I understand she wanted an English name. Do you know Port Townsend? In Washington. My daughter, Noriko, no, Hiroko lives there. Somebody told me, "Your daughter Hiroko is using the English name Mary." I said, "I don't know." That person said that she made up an English name when she introduced herself. So he asked if Hiroko was Mary. Now I understand. She wanted an English name just like everybody else. She was very young. "My name is Mary," or "Gloria." She picked a name every time she met a person. I was in shock when I heard that. She really wanted that, I guess.

TY: Since you did not plan to live here permanently, did you give Japanese names to your children?

YI: I think so. Nowadays even the first generation Japanese have names like George or James.

TY: So Noriko was born in Japan. But no Japanese were allowed to immigrate to America after 1924.

YI: When were they allowed to enter again? Much later, I suppose.

TY: Satoru, Etsuko and other children had U.S. citizenship. You and your husband had proper visas. Then, how did Noriko enter into America?

YI: I wonder how Noriko entered this country. Since her parents had valid visas, probably she could come with us. She was only a baby.

TY: So you had to do all the paperwork.

YI: That's how we could come.

TY: You boarded the ship at Yokohama again. By the way, when you were asked to come to Seattle, did you reply right away? Or did you need some time to think about it?

YI: Reverend Ichikawa must have given a lot of thought. Since we had three American-born children, he must have thought that we would be better off living in America.

TY: Did he ask for your opinion? Or did your husband decide and that was it? Did you discuss this with your husband?

YI: The headquarters took care of it properly. Hongwanji Temple, the headquarters in Japan, ordered my husband to go to America as a missionary.

TY: That's how you came to Seattle. Was there anything different in the application process to come here, compared to five months prior?

YI: Well. I don't think there was really much change.

TY: Again you took a physical exam...

YI: People in Seattle were very kind.

TY: The first time you traveled in the second class, you did not like the western food served on the ship. How about this time to Seattle?

YI: What?

TY: You said that when you traveled in the second class of Korea-maru, you did not like the western food on the ship.

YI: Yes, I did not like it at all.

TY: How about this time?

YI: Once we arrived in Seattle, all the food served at the parties was Japanese. In those days, mostly Chinese food was served at the wedding receptions. Many second generation people got married one after another. All the receptions served Chinese food. Some served Japanese but Japanese food was more expensive. Here many friends and others were invited. All were done in Chinatown. In Seattle. Many parties were like that.

TY: Which class cabin did you reserve this time to come to Seattle? What kind of food were you served?

YI: The first time was Korea-maru. This time, it was Hikawa-maru. Hi is a Chinese character for "ice." Kawa is the same "kawa" of "Ichikawa." It was "Hikawa-maru," though soon afterwards the ship was put out of service. My sailing was the last service.

TY: Why do you think that happened?

YI: I wonder why. Was it too old? The year I came was... 1900... March in 1936. That was the last time. I read in a Japanese paper that it was turned into a hotel. In the Yokohama area.

TY: By the way, did you order Japanese food on board?

YI: Oh, I remember. We did not buy the second class cabin this time. We had children. We came by the third class and were served Japanese food.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TY: So you arrived in Seattle. Wasn't it very different from Fresno or San Francisco?

YI: Yes. Seattle was a little colder and had a lot of rain. At first I was surprised how often it rained. When I said, "It's raining again," Reverend Ichikawa said, "This city has mostly rain. So don't think about it." I still remember that.

TY: It was very different from Fresno, wasn't it? Fresno is hot and dry.

YI: Fresno may be big but mostly countryside. Seattle is a big town. Now we have Betsuin. It was located more toward downtown. More down the street. Although still on Main Street. One or two blocks down the street. When small houses were built as a project on Yesler Way, the temple had to move. It was leased. From a Caucasian. The building was destroyed and small houses were built instead. So we have now a new temple.

TY: America and Japan. Your children were born in Fresno, Kobe and Seattle. Were there any differences in birthing practices?

YI: Let me think. In Fresno there was a birthing clinic. A Japanese midwife worked there. I gave birth there. When we came to Seattle, there was this lady, Mrs. Beppu, who came to our home. My children were born at home.

TY: In Fresno, did you have your three children all at such a birthing clinic?

YI: Most Caucasians gave births at a hospital. And nowadays it is customary to give a birth at a hospital. But we Japanese who were the first generation gave births at a birthing clinic run by a Japanese. There were two such clinics. But when we came to Fresno, we were told most people had babies at home. So I asked Mrs. Beppu to come to my home, too. That's how I had babies.

TY: You mean in Seattle.

Shinya: Seattle. In Seattle.

TY: How about in Kobe?

YI: There were two houses behind the church. We lived in one of them.

TY: In Kobe?

YI: No, in Seattle. Now those houses are gone. They were demolished. It became that... where you sometimes work.

TY: Oh, yes. The building on Jackson.

YI: Reverend Ichikawa created a preschool there. But, probably the business got tough. There are many preschools. That is why it is now rented, I think.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TY: By the way, when there was a wedding, a minister traveled to the wedding, didn't he? When you lived in Fresno, if somebody who lived far away was to get married...

YI: They came to Fresno often. To the church in Fresno.

TY: Oh, when they got married. People came all the way to the temple.

YI: Oh, yes. They came to the temple.

TY: Didn't the ministers go to such functions in other areas?

YI: People got married in front of Buddha at the temple.

TY: Were there any differences? The wedding ceremonies at Fresno and Seattle.

YI: Not much difference. Even in Japan many people get married at temples. It is not like the old days. Now everybody gets married at a temple.

TY: In your days in Japan, where did people get married?

YI: In Japan. Mostly at home in the old days. It was home mostly, but nowadays, at a shrine or a Christian church. Probably they feel it is more fashionable. But quite a few people get married in Buddhist temples, too.

TY: Uh, the temple was your house...

YI: At the Ichikawas' temple. It was the temple.

TY: Oh, yes. Your family had a temple.

YI: At Ichikawas' temple.

TY: But ordinary people...

YI: Most people got married at home.

TY: But in America, did most people come all the way to the temple to get married?

YI: Uh-huh. It was a temple.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TY: Now, when your husband came to Seattle as a priest, did he have a different role than when his was in Fresno? I understand there were five or six ministers in Fresno.

YI: At that time, Reverend Ichikawa was the only one there.

TY: In Seattle.

YI: Seattle had a large membership but there was only one minister. Since then, the number increased. When a new temple was built, there were three. Three people. Minister.

TY: The old one on Main and tenth...

YI: The one on Main Street.

TY: Ten... what was the address? Do you remember the address? Of the old temple. In Seattle.

YI: No, I don't think so. It is there. There is the temple history book there.

TY: At the old temple, Reverend Ichikawa worked alone...

YI: Yes, he was alone in those days.

TY: Then how many people were in the membership? Members?

YI: I wonder how many members were there. The women's organization alone had about one hundred people.

TY: As big as Fresno?

YI: Yes, as big as Fresno.

TY: I heard that the membership grew later. It increased later.

YI: Seattle had quite a large membership. The second generation had grown since we came here. There were three ministers. They were busy. One of them was second generation.

TY: How did he of the second generation become a priest?

YI: I wonder how. Probably because his father was a minister.

TY: Did he study here?

YI: His father came from Japan. From Kumamoto Prefecture. He became a minister. Then his son, a Nisei, became a minister.

TY: By the way, was there any difference between Fresno and Seattle in terms of the surroundings around the temples.

YI: There was little difference. In terms of the system. No temple is very different. In their activities. Of course the teachings were the same. I read the reports, but the women's organizations were not different.

TY: When you lived in Fresno, the ministers went visiting farmers who lived far away.

YI: They went there because there was no temple there.

TY: Same here. Although Bellevue has become nowadays...

YI: In those days there were many Japanese farmers in Bellevue. Also there were many Japanese farmers in Winslow, Bainbridge and Bellevue. (The ministers) visited them once a month. They were the first generation people.

TY: The traveling must have been difficult without the bridge.

YI: Yes, it was. You went by ferry. To go to Bellevue, you rode a ferry.

TY: Did you go, too? Or...

YI: Uh-huh. He rode that. My husband.

TY: Oh, by himself.

YI: Yes. Bellevue has become a huge town now. With large buildings.

TY: If you can avoid a traffic jam, it takes only five or ten minutes by car to get there.

YI: There are two or three bridges. A lot of stores are there now. Japanese stores. So it has completely changed.

TY: So there were many farms there.

YI: When I was living in Seattle, Bellevue was nothing but farms.

TY: Now skyscrapers everywhere.

YI: Once in a while you see a house of a Japanese farmer. Though it was a town, it was nothing more than a small country town.

TY: Now you see skyscrapers everywhere in Bellevue.

YI: All those tall buildings. The other day, a few years ago, I attended a wedding of Satoru's daughter and stayed at a hotel there.

TY: There was a big difference, wasn't there?

YI: I was surprised. It was completely different.

TY: It must have been.

YI: It is same the same in Japan. The area behind the temple of my birth place was nothing but farms in the past. There were rice field and vegetable farms. Now I hear that the area has turned into a residential area.


<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

YI: There are some prefectures from where not many emigrated. My prefecture did not send out very many immigrants, but there are many who came from Hiroshima.

TY: There are many from Yamaguchi, too.

YI: There are many from the regions of Yamaguchi Prefecture close to Hiroshima. My region is closer to Kyushu. There are few from that region. From Shimonoseki. There are many from Kumamoto. From Kumamoto. Kagoshima.

TY: How about Miyazaki?

YI: There are quite a few from Kagoshima.

TY: How about Miyazaki?

YI: Funatake?

TY: Miyazaki Prefecture.

Shinya: Miyazaki Prefecture.

YI: Who?

Shinya: Miyazaki Prefecture.

YI: Yeah, Miyazaki Prefecture. My friend's husband came from Miyazaki Prefecture.

TY: Oh, really? A professor of University of Washington is the second generation whose parents came from Miyazaki Prefecture. What was his name? Mr. Miyamoto?

YI: Mr. Miyamoto?

TY: He is a professor.

YI: In Seattle?

TY: Yes.


<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TY: I would like to hear once again about your experiences when you came to Fresno and Seattle. I bet you had some kind of expectations about America before you came.

YI: I didn't have much expectation.

TY: Is that right? I bet you expected that America would be mostly Caucasians in terms of race. Did you think America would be a country of Caucasians?

YI: I knew that.

TY: Still you must have met some people other than the Caucasians. Hispanics or Native Americans.

YI: African Americans.

TY: Yes, African Americans.

YI: I did not give much thought to that. Nothing. I just thought there would be all Caucasians. I did not know that there were so many different races.

TY: Did you find out right after you got off the ship?

YI: I saw no one but Caucasians in San Francisco. That city. They were in a bad area.

TY: Were there more in Fresno or Seattle? Those people?

YI: African American?

TY: Yes, and others.

YI: In Seattle... There were many Mexicans in Fresno. It is close. In Seattle I lived on Rainier Way near the lake. In Medanai...the area called Medina.

Shinya: Madrona.

YI: Medo... the Rainier Way area. It was near the lake. It was the end of the bus route. The area was mostly Caucasians first and then more African Americans moved in while I lived there. Now I hear more Caucasians live there again.

TY: Were you surprised? To find the kind of people you did not expect.

YI: No, I was not surprised.

TY: You were not surprised. There were various kinds of racial discrimination. Against Asians, no, against Japanese. Didn't you hear about that before you came?

YI: A thing against the Japanese? Let me think. I did not hear much. Not much.

TY: Then after you came, after you started living here, did you experience any bigotry?

YI: Bigotry?

TY: Have you experienced any racial prejudice?

YI: Against Japanese? Let me think. I read in the newspaper about the anti-Japanese movement.

TY: You did not expect such a thing, did you?

YI: I had no idea.

TY: Then...

YI: I just lived among the Japanese.

TY: That's right. At the temple. It was the center of the Japanese American community.

YI: Since I lived at the temple, I saw only Japanese. I rarely saw Caucasians. There was a Caucasian Shinto group. My husband and Mrs. Pratt visited and talked to the group. Once a month. In those days there were quite a few Caucasians coming to the temple.

TY: Then you did not experience any prejudice?

YI: Since I did not understand English very well. The Caucasian group was named Byakudokai. In the olden days.

TY: Byakudokai?

YI: Byakudo. That means a white path. That was for the Caucasians.

TY: Was it in Tacoma?

YI: What?

TY: Was it in Tacoma?

YI: No. It was this way. From Tacoma Reverend Pratt came to our office. A woman.

TY: Did your husband give a sermon in English?

YI: No. He could read and write in English, but speaking was difficult. He rarely did. Since he spoke to the first generation. All the second generation also understood Japanese. In my days we used that almost always. Japanese. Among the second generation there were two or three ministers. They were often invited to give a talk. The very first person who became a minister is still alive. Where was he? Where? Reverend Tsunoda. Fresno or somewhere. He is still alive. There was one person who became a minister from Seattle area. Reverend Kumata. He went to Japan and died in Japan. He was once a head minister of the Seattle temple.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TY: By the way, you had seven children and when you came to Seattle, you had four children with you.

YI: At that time, I had four. Then three more were born here.

TY: Can you talk about parenting, parenting in Seattle or parenting in America?

YI: What in America?

TY: Parenting.

YI: What? Something about here?

TY: Parenting in America.

YI: Portland?

TY: No. You raised seven children in Seattle. That experience.

YI: Well, I had a lot of work to do in the women's organization. But I had many children and so I could not do much to help. I did visit a few sick people or visit someone at a hospital. Others took me along when we visited a family.

TY: When you returned to Seattle, your older children, Satoru and others, started going to school, didn't they?

YI: No. They went to school while we were at the old temple. Even before the war, they were going to school. Garfield School. Then they went to a high school. Then they went to the University of Washington.

TY: You had a conference at an elementary school between a teacher and a parent. The one where a teacher and a parent discuss a child's grades and other issues...

YI: When Shinya was in the elementary school, I went once.

TY: Didn't you go to other children's conferences?

YI: Well, since all the talk was in English, I would not understand anyway. But once I went with Mrs. Kusakabe, wife of a dentist. To a PTA meeting.

TY: Then what did you do with the language?

YI: I did not understand the language, but I don't know what I did. I don't remember. [Laugh]

TY: Is that right?

YI: The previous elementary school to which the Japanese went is being used as a Native American Center. It was called Bailey Gatzert.

TY: Is that right?

YI: Bailey Gatzert school was built near the Betsuin Temple. The principal of that school was Miss Mahon and she was very kind to the Japanese. The Japanese people made a Japanese kimono for her and sent her to Japan.

TY: What were some of the happy times and difficult times in raising the children in America? What was the most difficult thing about raising the children in America?

YI: Let me see. First of all, I had nobody to help me.

TY: Because your family were all in Japan.

YI: Yes. We didn't have any grandparents. Some people suggested that I hire a school girl to baby-sit, but we didn't have money to hire. But because everybody, the members, were very kind to me, I could survive.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TY: By the way, there are some holiday activities such as Thanksgiving...

YI: Yes. When we lived in Fresno, we didn't know much about those things. But when the children went to school, they learned about those activities at school. So when we lived in Seattle, we baked a turkey on Thanksgiving Day. We did everything. Etsuko and other girls were old enough to cook. They did all the American cooking such as baking a turkey. Noriko baked, too. All of my children helped.

TY: Did you start celebrating those holidays after the children became big?

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: Then, the Independence Day on July 4th or Thanksgiving Day...

YI: One of the ministers I knew in Fresno... his child was asked by a teacher at school what they had eaten for Thanksgiving. The first generation people did not cook turkey or holiday dinner for Thanksgiving Day. So the daughter was embarrassed. They did nothing special. So the minister's wife told me that we had to cook turkey or the children would be embarrassed at school because a teacher would ask a question.

TY: How did you learn how to bake the turkey? You must have been surprised to see a turkey. It is so big...

YI: Exactly. It is disgusting.

TY: Did you bake in the oven?

YI: We baked in the oven.

TY: How did you learn how to bake? How to bake turkey. How did you learn how to bake turkey?

YI: Cooking? Oh, that. It is all in a book.

TY: You followed the instructions...

YI: The children had English books. They read the books and cooked.


TY: Please tell us about the Japanese language school. The Japanese language school in Seattle.

YI: I don't know anything about the Japanese language school in Seattle.

TY: Did your children all go to a Japanese language school?

YI: They went to a smaller school. It was called "Home School" and was a private home. A minister of the church went to teach there.

TY: Then, how about the Japanese language school on South Weller St.?

YI: That downtown... there is a big one now.

TY: In Seattle?

YI: We didn't go there. There were many smaller schools. There was one in front of the old temple, which was called Ishii. He ran a school. The couple we knew also ran a school. It was called Toko School. It was on Yesler. The other side of the temple. The small schools were usually run by former school teachers or people with education. Those first generation people taught the children.

TY: Were those schools open on Saturdays?

YI: What?

TY: Were those schools open on Saturdays?

YI: Uh-huh. On Saturdays.

TY: They went to the regular American schools from Mondays through Fridays.

YI: Since there were no school on Saturdays. It was a Saturday school.

TY: Then on Sundays they go to church or temple.

YI: Many children of the temple members went there. To "Home School." It rented a second floor of the temple member's house.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TY: Going back to American holidays, you talked about the turkey on Thanksgiving Day. There are other Christian holidays such as Christmas or Easter commonly celebrated in America. What did you do about those?

YI: We celebrated, too. We decorated the home. The second and third generation people decorated in American style. Even the members of the Buddhist temple decorated. We hung beautiful things. Everybody did it.

TY: Did you also celebrate at home?

YI: Yes. The children learned at school. So we did some.

TY: Did your husband say anything about that? About celebrating Christian holidays at the home of a Buddhist priest?

YI: What about Buddhism?

TY: About celebrating Christian holidays at the home of a Buddhist.

YI: Well, even if you are a Buddhist, it is an American lifestyle. These days everybody decorates the home and celebrates Christmas.

TY: It is a common holiday for a family, isn't it?

YI: Yes, that's why. Even if you don't know the birth date of Buddha which is April 8th, everybody knows Christmas, the Christian birth date, including Buddhist children. [Laughs] It cannot be helped. They grew up in this country.

TY: Did you do anything special on April 8th?

YI: Oh, on April 8th, every temple has a lot of activities.

TY: I bet you were busy preparing.

YI: We put together a small shrine decorated with live flowers. We poured sweet tea over the Buddha statue.

TY: Did the women's organization do most of the preparation for those?

YI: No, the temple did most of the work. The church people. The women's organization helped. We also made some sushi and had a party. Also food.

TY: When was the busiest season at the church -- I'm sorry -- at the temple?

YI: Well, I think it was the flower festival.

TY: How about Obon?

YI: Obon was also busy. We did Obon dance.

TY: When you were there, was there Obon, Obon dance?

YI: Yes, there was. We always had that. Even at the old temple. From the time of the first generation. But we did not have any food booths in those days. Here too, when I came here first, the only food booths were hot dogs and something skewered like meat. Now we have much more. You see a variety of food booths.

TY: In Seattle?

YI: Here.

TY: In Portland?

YI: There were many booths in Seattle, too. Satoru said that it was too much work and too tiring. They would reduce the number of booths. They had a beer parlor. According to the newspaper this year, there was a beer parlor, but there were not as many as in the old days. But there is also a display of bonsai or embroidery in the building every year.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TY: By the way, we discussed the anti-Japanese movement before. You told me that you experienced very little prejudice. But it is a fact that there were many people who experienced such prejudice.

YI: My family?

TY: No. In general.

YI: Other people? No. There were many people who had many children. The first generation did not practice birth control very well. But they raised their children very well in spite of the poverty. I heard that some children of other races did bad things or stole this or that. I heard those types of stories, but I hardly heard anything bad about the Japanese. Even if we were poor, the parents were taught well in Japan not to steal and what not to do. Their children also learned that from the parents. The Japanese children rarely did anything bad. We were fortunate. We were poor but we raised the second generation very well.

TY: Did you teach those types of morals at the Sunday school, too?

YI: Morals? Well, if you listen to the stories of Buddha, you will naturally learn morals. You will not do anything wrong.

TY: How many children were there at the Sunday school?

YI: What?

TY: How many children came to the Sunday school?

YI: Let me think. I wonder how many came when I lived there. There were many who came. We had a separate picnic for the Sunday school. For the children. At Lincoln Park. There was also a picnic for the entire temple membership. Here too, when I came, there were two picnics. The Sunday school picnic and the whole temple picnic. They might have put those together into one now.

TY: The children must have had fun. Getting together once a week.

YI: Uh-huh. There were athletic meets, too.

TY: Who organized such athletic meets?

YI: The temple leaders and the youth group organized them. We used Lincoln Park very often. The women's organization had its own picnic. Nowadays there is one for the entire temple. In the olden days, we had a Sunday school picnic, the women's organization picnic... full of picnics. [Laughs]

TY: I understand you took your own lunch for that.

YI: Yes. Everybody brought their own lunch.

TY: Instead of the women's organization making the lunch for everybody...

YI: No. You bring your own. If you didn't have a car, the temple arranged for a bus. They rented a city bus.

TY: Was it all arranged by the temple?

YI: What?

TY: Did the temple arrange for the bus?

YI: The temple paid for it. If it was for the temple activity. In those days, the second generation children's activities were centered around the temple. It was the same at every temple. The temple was the center of the activities. It was a gathering place. The Japanese children in those days did not go to the Caucasian side very much.

TY: The parents must have felt safe if the temple took care of their children.

YI: There was one family among the temple members who espoused the American lifestyle. They invited us for Christmas or something. There was a beautiful tree. The wife was a piano teacher. [Inaudible] Another woman performed an American dance. There were some families living in the American style, but those were very few among the first generation.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TY: So, I understand that the lease expired and the temple had to move from the old location to the new location. A housing project started on Yesler. As a result, the temple had to move. How did you go about preparing for the move?

YI: Well, the construction work for a new temple started well before that. As the pictures show. So I had to move, too. People from the women's society came to help me.

TY: Who was involved in the design of a new temple?

YI: Oh, that. That was done mainly by Mr. Arai.

TY: Was he in the construction business?

YI: The general contractor was [inaudible]. A Caucasian. He lived long, but died several years ago. Now Mr. Arai's son is doing something similar. What was his name?

Shinya: Jerry.

YI: Jerry. Because his father was in that kind of business.

TY: When designing a new temple, did he study Japanese architecture?

YI: The Buddhist church had to have Japanese style. I bet people told him how to build the altar for Buddha. Because he didn't know.

TY: They had to move the Buddha altar.

YI: Buddha altar?

TY: Yes. They moved the Buddha altar, didn't they? The Buddha statues.

YI: Oh, yes. The Buddha altar had to be arranged in a certain way. Inside the altar. You had to tell that to the general contractor. I guess they showed it in a drawing. Until the new one was built, Yesler Way... no, it was not Yesler Way. What was that? Fourteenth and where? Where Kendokai is.

Shinya: Weller?

Etsuko: No, after the war, we rented Kendokai...

YI: We rented Kendokai...

TY: After the war...

YI: Judo-kaikan or something is there. We rented that for a short while.

TY: That was after the war, wasn't it? Kendokai.

Shinya: I think it was after the war.

YI: It was before that. Because this temple was completed before the war.

TY: Oh, did you rent that, too?

YI: Wasn't it that judo place?

TY: Oh, that one on South Weller.

YI: Rainier or Dearborn. Where you go down the 14th a little bit. Dearborn?

TY: There is Budokan there.

YI: That hall is still there.

TY: Yes. The white building.

YI: That one. We rented that. Until the new temple was finished, we kept the Buddha statue there.

TY: When you moved to a new temple, did you have seven? I mean children. How many children did you have?

YI: At that time, not yet. Shinya was born after the new temple was built. There was a special Buddhist service to bring the Buddha statue from the temporary storage to the new temple. I remember I was pregnant with Shinya at that time. It was completed before the war. The hall did not have flooring material yet. They were just installing the material. Then the war erupted. Then the black people, mainly black people of the Marine Corps came to that temple. The soldiers. It became a housing facility for the soldiers. But everybody left their belongings there. They had to go to a camp so they had to leave their stuff there. People brought a lot of things to the temple. I also packed a lot of things into trunks and took them to the temple. When I returned from camp, the trunk which had a typewriter was stolen.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

TY: You returned to Seattle in 1936.

YI: We returned to Seattle in 1945 or so.

TY: I mean, it was 1936 when you returned to Seattle from Japan.

YI: That was 1936.

TY: That means, there were about six years, five or six years before the war broke out. Did you sense that a war might break out?

YI: After the war broke out, we went to a camp. We returned. Then Reverend Ichikawa retired, and he died. He died in 1968. Nineteen fifty-eight. Two or three years later, I came here.

TY: So, when you came to Seattle from Japan in 1936, there were still five years or so before the war broke out.

YI: That's right.

TY: Did you sense any sign that the U.S. and Japan might go to war?

YI: No. I didn't know very much. My younger sister lives in California now, and her husband had lived in America before. As a minister. He returned to Japan and married my sister. He felt that the U.S. and Japan might go to war and debated whether he should go to America or not. But he took a chance and decided to come here. Then a year later, the war broke out. So they have three daughters but the two oldest ones were born in camp.

TY: So that means your sister's husband could see signs of war. A sign of war starting soon.

YI: When he was a bachelor, when he was single, he came to America alone. He returned to Japan to find a bride and married my sister. He felt that a war would break out soon and wondered if they should go or not. But he took a chance. I am glad they did. If they had stayed in Japan, they would have suffered terribly after the war. We were taken to a camp, but we never suffered from a shortage of food. [Laughs] The government fed us without fail.

TY: Did your husband or other people know that a war was approaching?

YI: Well, just before the war, the government officials, ambassador and embassy workers returned quickly. Mr. Kurisu, the ambassador was Mr. Kurisu. All the top officials returned early. So probably people thought a war was inevitable.

TY: Was he an American ambassador in Japan?

YI: What?

TY: Mr. Kurisu. Where was he?

YI: Oh, a Japanese.

TY: The ambassador in Japan.

YI: The embassy workers got the news early. That a war was breaking out. So everybody went back.

TY: Did you sense that in Seattle? The mood in Seattle. Judging from the way things were in Seattle, did you think a war would break out?

YI: Do you mean the top officials?

TY: When you were living in Seattle and looked around you, did you imagine a war would break out?

YI: No, I didn't think so. Then one day, we were gathered for a temple bazaar or something. Somebody said he just heard on the radio. Pearl Harbor was bombed. We said, "You must be kidding." But it was all true.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

TY: So everybody was gathered at the church. For the first time... on December 7th.

YI: On that day, there was some special event at the temple. So many people gathered there. Then somebody said, "A war just broke out." We were all surprised. Everybody was surprised. Some did not believe it. They insisted it was a lie. [Laughs]

TY: What did you think?

YI: So nobody thought a war would break out.

TY: That's how you learned the news for the first time?

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: What did you think when you heard the news?

YI: Well, I don't think about things like that. Then we had a blackout. All the lights would go out. It was dangerous to use a light. So when Shinya was born, we could not use a light. The midwife had to lower the light to here, and that's how he was born.

TY: I understand it was two days after the war broke out. I heard that he was born two days after the war started.

YI: That's right. It was December seventh in this country. He was born on the ninth.

TY: In the dark.

YI: [Laughs] In the pitch dark. A woman said, "He is Shinya because he was born in shinya. Shinya means "in the depth of night" in Japanese. Though the two words use different Chinese characters. I might have thought of that (when I named him).

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

YI: Her son is already the head.

TY: Mr. Otani?

YI: That person's son.

TY: This is the new...

YI: That's right. It's the new temple.

TY: What year was this completed?

YI: This temple? What year was it? It was written. This is the old temple.

TY: Is this the old temple?

YI: It's been already seventy-five years since [inaudible]. It's been seventy years since the temple was built.

TY: In 1940...

YI: What year?

TY: This new temple was built on October 5th in 1941.

YI: Nineteen...

TY: Forty-one.

Shinya: Forty-one. October.

YI: It was a little before the war.

TY: It was completed a little before the war, wasn't it?

YI: Yes. Around that time.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

TY: Here is the photo album of the Betsuin, the Seattle Betsuin, which was published in 1954. Did you have a dance party like this at the church, no, at the temple?

YI: What?

TY: There is (a photo of) a dance party.

YI: Yes, in those days, we had a dance after a party. We always did that.

TY: At the temple? How often did you do? Once in a few months? Every month?

YI: Those were just parties. After some big parties.

TY: What kind of parties did you have, for example, at the temple?

YI: I don't know how to explain about the temple parties. After the weddings. And what kind of occasions did we have? They were having parties already when I came from Japan. It was new for me first.

TY: So you didn't do that in Japan.

YI: I had never seen it before. It's different now, though.

TY: These ballroom dances... social dances. Did you learn the ballroom dances after you came here?

YI: I don't dance. I did some Bon dances. I don't dance social dances. There were some good dancers among the first generation.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

TY: I see some plays here.

YI: Oh, the plays. There was a youth group called Lotus Youth Group. As part of fundraising, they performed once a year.

TY: What kind of a play was it?

YI: What?

TY: What kind of a play was it?

YI: What kind of what?

TY: What kind of story? What kind of story was the play? Was it a Japanese play?

YI: Uh-huh. Japanese. It was a Japanese style.

TY: Did both the first generation and the second generation get together?

YI: Not many first generation people participated. It was mostly the second generation.

TY: Did they all speak Japanese?

YI: They memorized the Japanese lines very well.

TY: Who taught the lines?

YI: There were some people among the first generation who loved this type of thing. They taught them, I think. I don't know if they are still there, but the costumes were stored at the temple. Also the wigs. I don't know if they still keep them.

TY: Because they performed every year?

YI: They don't do that any longer. They went around nearby temples and played. Just when the war broke out, they were in Portland to perform. Then they were told the war had just broken out, and so they returned quickly to Seattle without finishing the performance, a first generation woman once told me.

TY: They were in a hurry so they did not finish.

YI: And then, the (Japanese) people who were leaders in the Japanese community were all taken away by the FBI.

TY: I hear it started the following day. People were taken away. This says "Betsuin Elevation Service". What kind of service is this? It is written as "Betsuin Elevation Service" in English.

Shinya: (It was done) when the temple became Betsuin.

YI: When it became Betsuin. He was the head minister at that time.

TY: All the members came.

YI: Uh-huh. These people are all in San Francisco. He is called socho and he is the very top.

TY: Yes. You made such arrangements ahead of time...

YI: The bishop often comes to an important service.

TY: When did the bishop come beside this occasion?

YI: Let me see. To special anniversaries of the temple. We invite him for such an occasion. The current bishop, Reverend Watanabe, is from near my place. In Japan.

TY: Oh, is he from Yamaguchi?

YI: Yes, he is from Yamaguchi.

TY: This banquet. It was a dinner party for everyone, wasn't it?

YI: Those were all the first generation.

TY: Yes. Who prepared for this type of a large banquet?

YI: You mean the box lunch?

TY: The meals.

YI: I think we had restaurants prepare those. He is still alive. My friend's son [inaudible].

TY: Him.

YI: His name is Yukihiko.

TY: This is a Muen service.

YI: It is called a Muen service. Muen means "no relations." Nowadays everybody has a family. In the olden days among the first generation, there were single men who came here to work and died. It was a memorial service for those people. We had a memorial service once a year for those who died without families. But now everybody has a family. Still it is called a Muen service.

TY: Do they still conduct that service?

YI: We still do in the fall. It is a big service.

TY: To remember the people who died a long time ago.

YI: Yes, the people from a long time ago. There were three missionaries at that time. My husband and two other young men. He is the second generation.

TY: Mr. Matsunaga is the second generation.

YI: He died about three years ago. This is the person who returned to Japan and got ill. He was healthy before. He is from some place in Fukui Prefecture.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.