Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yasashi Ichikawa Interview II
Narrator: Yasashi Ichikawa
Interviewer: Tomoyo Yamada
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: November 20, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-iyasashi-02-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

[Translated from Japanese]

TY: Well, let's talk about the Boy Scouts. There were many members -- I mean children members.

YI: [To Shinya] In Boy Scouts, how many members were there when you joined?

Shinya: Forty or fifty.

TY: Forty or fifty. Quite large.

YI: Quite large. There are some photos here.

TY: Then, who led the group? Who was the leader?

YI: A Caucasian came.

TY: Is that right?

YI: The head was. He always came whenever there was a Boy Scout event.

TY: How did you find him? The Caucasian leader. How did you find him?

YI: The Boy Scouts selected him.

Shinya: But Mr. Imanishi led our temple group.

YI: Oh. Oh. He was the main person. He passed away recently. He was a Nisei. Second generation.

TY: Then he was a little older Nisei.

YI: Uh-huh. He grew up here.

TY: Then he could speak both Japanese and English.

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: He must have enjoyed those activities.

YI: The Nisei in those days could speak Japanese quite well.

TY: A young Nisei. Because he could speak both English and Japanese. Then did he do it because he liked it?

YI: I guess so. He must have liked it. My Satoru also worked as a leader, wearing a Boy Scout uniform.

TY: I see. Then, the children participated in those activities. I mean, your children. How were you involved?

YI: A Nisei minister was in charge of the Boy Scouts at our temple. Reverend Matsunaga. He was mainly involved with the Boy Scouts. He passed away. His wife is also Nisei and still lives in California.

TY: Let me see. The first generation people had no experience with the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

YI: Uh-huh. The first generation didn't know anything at all.

TY: In that case, did the parents learn about the system "For the sake of the children?"

YI: I think they are good. What you learn in those organizations becomes very useful when you grow up. They learn quite good things.

TY: Besides, you make friends.

YI: And, for Buddhists and Christians, there is something for your religion.

Shinya: It's called Sanga Award.

TY: Sanga Award?

YI: Then you get some kind of paper.

Shinya: You study Buddhism...

YI: You have to know well.

TY: You mean in the Boy Scouts?

TY: About your own church.

TY: You mean in the Boy Scout group at your temple.

YI: Buddhists have to learn and memorize things about Buddhism, and Christians have to do so about Christianity.

TY: For that purpose also, Reverend Matsunaga led the group properly...

YI: Reverend Matsunaga taught everything.

TY: Was it a common practice among the various temple organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts?

YI: Huh?

TY: There were various groups for young people. For boys and girls. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts...

YI: Some joined the Boy Scout group although they were not temple members. The Boy Scout group of our temple.

TY: Because their friends asked them.

YI: Yes, because of their friends.

TY: Did they have to study, too?

YI: Uh-huh. Since they joined the Temple Boy Scout group, they must have been inclined toward Buddhism. If they were Christians, they would have joined a Christian church group.

TY: From the first generation's point-of-view, their children experienced many things that they did not know.

YI: Uh-huh. Yes, the children did.

TY: Were there any parents who worried about their children becoming too Americanized?

YI: Yes, since they were learning so many things. Also, every child did that thing, to say something with a raised hand. At the flag.

TY: Yes. Did the parents worry? Because their children were experiencing many things that they did not understand.

YI: Uh-huh. The children become more knowledgeable.

TY: The parents had to learn to keep up, didn't they?

YI: Uh-huh. Many of the first generation parents did not have much education. They couldn't write even in Japanese. In those days.

TY: Is that right? They couldn't write even in Japanese?

YI: No, there were many women who could not write in Japanese. So they could not sign the papers. Because they couldn't write. They couldn't write their own names in Japanese. They couldn't write in English, either. So the only thing they could do was to check. That was all they could do.

TY: But you had a good education, didn't you?

YI: Yes.

TY: Did those people ask you or your husband or other educated people to write letters for them?

YI: Writing a letter?

TY: Yes, writing a letter or something for them.

YI: Well, not very much. They didn't write letters.

TY: Because they were busy? Then you weren't asked very often?

YI: No. Not much. No such thing.

TY: Then how did those people stay in contact with their families in Japan?

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