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

[Translated from Japanese]

<Begin Segment 1>

TY: I would like to ask you again about the time before you went to camp.

YI: Camp?

TY: Yes. Just before you went to camp. At the last interview, you told us about your childhood, your marriage, coming to the U.S. and living in Fresno, having children, returning to Japan for two years and coming back to Seattle in 1936 when your husband became a minister of a Buddhist church. Then you talked about how people adopted American traditions. You started celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas at home when your children got older. So, I want to know where you first lived after coming back to Seattle.

YI: Oh, there was a house owned by the church. We lived there.

TY: At that time, the Buddhist church was at 1012. 1012... 10th Ave. and Main.

YI: Same as now. After the war, we returned to the same place as now.

TY: Then, where did you live when you came to Seattle?

YI: The place we lived when we went to Seattle was first somewhere up Main Street. What was the number? Two or three blocks toward downtown. They built the Yesler housing project there. Small houses. So we had to move out. We had bought a piece of land. Before then. A long time ago. So we built on that land, but when the building was completed, a war started. So we didn't use that one. It was new. But we went to the camp. To Idaho.

TY: So you lived in a house three blocks toward downtown from the current church. I hear that some single people were living at the temple, at the old temple.

YI: Oh, that one. It had an upstairs and some young people were living upstairs. Some workers.

TY: How many were living there at one time?

YI: Let me see. The number of people?

TY: Yes.

YI: There were not very many. There might have been four people. There were many rooms. In those days, churches had living facilities and country people lived there to go to school or to work. Every temple did.

TY: Every temple? Then, what happened to those people when the temple moved?

YI: Huh?

TY: Your temple moved, didn't it?

YI: Oh, those people moved elsewhere. The new temple did not have such housing facilities.

TY: Then, did you serve meals?

YI: Huh?

TY: Did you provide meals for them?

YI: Which temple?

TY: Meals. Did the temple provide meals for those people who lived there?

YI: No. They ate somewhere else.

TY: Did they do their own laundry?

YI: Uh-huh. In the neighborhood, two people were working at a laundry shop called Grand Union. It was quite big. That was run by two Japanese men. The boarders were working there. Two of them.

TY: How about the rent?

YI: Huh?

TY: Did the temple charge rent?

YI: Yes, yes. Because it was owned by the temple.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TY: I see. By the way, when I saw a yearbook of the Buddhist church the other day, there were some photos of social dances, a play and a party.

YI: Is that right?

TY: Someone explained to me about those photos. I understand the temple had some social activities.

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: Some fun activities. In addition, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts...

YI: Yeah, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts...

TY: Camp Fire and basketball...

YI: We had a kindergarten, too. It was where you have your office now.

TY: Yes. By the way, are there Boy Scouts in Japan? I mean, were there any in Japan? At Japanese temples?

YI: Yes, there are.

TY: Were there? A young people's group?

YI: They come over here when there is a convention.

TY: You mean they come here from Japan?

YI: Yes. The boys of our temples in Japan.

TY: Since a long time ago?

YI: The Boy Scouts.

TY: Has it been that way for a long time?

YI: Since the end of the war.

TY: I see. It started after the war. Then, it was an American side which started having Boy Scout meetings at the temples, wasn't it?

YI: There is a church called Senrei Church. It's a Baptist church. They started a Boy Scout group quite early. Then a man came to us to suggest that our temple start a group, too. He registered his son and the group started right away.

TY: I also found that you had a Camp Fire group and a drill team. What are the Camp Fire Girls?

YI: Oh, that's right. We had a Camp Fire group.

TY: What kind of organization is it? What are the Camp Fire Girls?

YI: I don't know much about it since I didn't stay long after it started. I wonder if they still have a Camp Fire group. Is there one?

TY: So I see your temple had many activities for the children. Was it for the second generation as they grew older?

YI: In those days, they were still... when I came, some of the second generation were still small children.

TY: Then they were meant for the children...

YI: They went to a "Ureshiya Camp" during summer. It was next to a river in the Tacoma area. My children, including Satoru, went to the camp. They camped. Boy Scouts. No, Cub Scouts. For little kids.

TY: Then a social dance party was for the adults...

YI: That was at the end of the party. They didn't just hold a dance party. They danced at the end of the party.

TY: Then, just like the Baptist church had a Boy Scouts group...

YI: Yes, Senrei Church was there well before us.

TY: Was there any resistance to starting a Christian-promoted organization, an organization which Christians were spreading?

YI: I guess the Christians started those organizations. By the way, Koyasan in Los Angeles started the organization quite early.

TY: No resistance from the temple members?

YI: I think not.

TY: None.

YI: What about from the members?

TY: Resistance. Did anybody resent that it was a Christian organization?

YI: No. No. Not at all. That was a national organization, you know.

TY: "For the Sake of the Children?"

YI: Uh-huh. It has nothing to do with our church.

TY: I see. So how were you involved in this?

YI: Yes?

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

<Begin Segment 3>

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.

<Begin Segment 4>

TY: By the way, you mentioned that you played the organ at the temple.

YI: I am not very good at playing the organ, but I played some at funerals.

TY: What kind of music do you play?

YI: At the funerals. I did not get any formal training. I took some lessons hurriedly when my husband told me that I would have to play the organ once we arrived in the U.S... so a little.

TY: In Japan?

YI: Uh-huh. I learned from a female music teacher at an elementary school. So I was not very confident, but played at the funerals.

TY: We don't play the organ at funerals in Japan, do we?

YI: I suppose not.

TY: In that sense, too, it looks like the Temple adopted the American traditions.

YI: We play music at the weddings, don't we?

TY: Yes.

YI: In Japan, too. Although you may be using a record now.

TY: Then, at the Temple weddings, you played music...

YI: Uh-huh. In the old days the wedding march was the same. So I played at Etsuko's daughter's wedding. But nowadays, people want the music they like when they have a wedding at this temple. That means you have to learn music and practice for each wedding. I don't have time for that. So we ask a musician who specializes in weddings.

TY: I understand there was a youth group band.

YI: Shinya was a member of the band. It was called Skyliner. Akira was a member, too.

TY: How old were those band members?

YI: I don't understand.

TY: Were those members at a junior high age?

YI: Yes. When the band was formed at the temple, Shinya was one of the youngest members. How old were you?

Shinya: Thirteen.

YI: He was about thirteen.

TY: Then was the band organized after the war?

YI: After the war.

TY: How about before the war?

YI: The temple didn't have one before the war.

TY: There was no band. Also the children sang songs.

YI: They sang their own church songs.

TY: Did they do that before the war, too?

YI: Yes, we did that. The first generation people sang songs together at the end of the New Year's Day parties. We sang a new year song: "First time, first..." We all sang that song together and then asked those who could sing well to sing more. They all sang with full heart. It was fun. Most of the second generation could still sing in Japanese and sang Japanese songs. But hardly anybody sang English songs. The second generation people wanted to hear some English songs and so asked why they didn't sing more English songs. The answer was that if they sang in English, everybody would find out how poor their English was and it would be too embarrassing. [Laughs]

TY: You mean the first generation.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

TY: Changing the subject, did you have any interesting experiences or embarrassing stories when your children started school? Handing the wrong things to your children to take to school, or any other funny stories?

YI: Well, there must have been some, but I don't remember any more.

TY: Satoru was at school age when you and your family returned to Seattle, wasn't he?

YI: What about Satoru?

TY: When you and your family returned to Seattle in 1936, Satoru and other children were school age, weren't they?

YI: Oh, yes. He just entered kindergarten. Kindergarten.

TY: Then your children grew older and one by one started going to school.

YI: I told you this before, but Shinya was born during a pitch dark night two days before the war started.

TY: That's why he is named "Shinya."

YI: Because of the blackout, we couldn't turn on the lights.

TY: You said that a midwife came to your home.

YI: Yes, the midwife came. Her name was Mrs. Beppu.

TY: With only a flashlight. You must have had a hard time. The war started and you didn't know when the baby would be born.

YI: No. We usually know. Since we know a baby is born after nine months. A midwife will tell you on which date a baby will be born.

TY: I see. So you didn't worry too much? During such a hectic time, you didn't worry when the baby would be born?

YI: No. Some women might get confused about the dates and end up waiting for one month or so. It must be very boring. My children were born on the due dates or near then. All of them.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

TY: I see. So you and your family returned to Seattle in 1936. Did you come to stay here permanently or...

YI: I didn't think about such things. Then the war started and we were sent to a camp in Idaho. Then my husband was taken to an internment camp and then to Crystal City in Texas. We were told that our family could be reunited, so we went there. Then we were told that those of us who wanted to return to Japan by a government ship were free to leave. Many people who came from Peru returned to Japan. Then our family talked about returning to Japan since our future seemed hopeless in the U.S. We once thought about returning, but some of our children didn't want to go back. Then the office told us that if we were to return to Japan at that time, we would not have enough food to survive and we would suffer. They said that we would be better off in the U.S. So we decided to stay here. I'm glad we stayed. I hear that those who returned experienced a great deal of hardship.

TY: Without enough food.

YI: Although they became rich later. For a while they suffered greatly.

TY: Then, you didn't think about the future when you returned to Seattle. You just came because you were told to do so.

YI: We returned to the temple again. To the same temple.

TY: Yes. By the way, you said before...[Interruption] During the last interview, you said that none of the first generation people came here to stay permanently.

YI: Yes. Most people planned to return after four years. But they could not make enough money or got sick, and so ended up staying here. Those who made fortunes returned. And they had gorgeous houses built in Japan.

TY: Seeing that, some came here to pursue their dreams. Also, you said that people rented houses instead of buying them. Because of that, they sent their children back to Japan.

YI: So most Japanese did not own homes. Even in town, there were only a few families who owned homes.

TY: Was that true in Seattle, too?

YI: In Seattle, also, only a handful owned their own homes.

TY: Since they expected to return to Japan some day, they sent their children back to Japan to get an education.

YI: Yes. Because they thought they would return.

TY: That's why they sent their children back to Japan.

YI: But they kept having children and it became more and more difficult to return.

TY: Then, the second generation grew older and the Japanese community expanded. People settled down.

YI: When you have children and then grandchildren, you don't want to go back any longer.

TY: But until then, for a while...

YI: They worked hard so that they could go back.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

TY: By the way, I understand that they were not allowed to apply for citizenship yet. I mean the first generation people. The first generation people were unable to apply for citizenship during that time.

YI: That's right. You were not allowed in those days.

TY: That's part of the reason...

YI: Then, after the war, the Japanese were allowed to apply for citizenship. So many people took the test. Then those over fifty could take it in Japanese. People who knew those things well taught at night schools. But I was not fifty yet then, and so I could not take it in Japanese. But I didn't know that you could take it in Japanese when you reached fifty. So thinking that I could not understand English well, I postponed it. Then a Japanese woman who is working over there told Etsuko that you could probably use some Japanese. She also wrote down for me about twenty typical questions. So I studied those questions a little bit, and took the test.

TY: Then you've got your citizenship.

YI: I received a letter from the office saying that they wanted to grant me citizenship and asked me to come as soon as possible.

TY: You have been living here for as long as seventy years.

YI: Addressed to the Japanese.

TY: When did the letter come?

YI: Huh?

TY: When did the letter arrive?

YI: It also came to me.

TY: Recently?

YI: No. It was when I was living in Seattle.

TY: Way back then?

YI: Quite a while ago. It said, "We want to give citizenship to as many people as possible in your group, and so please come to take a test."

TY: Because you were not allowed to take it before...

YI: It was in my mind all this time but I didn't take it. Since all my children are American-born...

TY: Also your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

YI: My health deteriorated and there is no chance that I would return to Japan to live. So I went. I think I had to tell the Japanese government office that I was naturalized and so I sent a letter.

TY: To a Japanese consulate?

YI: I asked to have it recorded that I became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

TY: Oh, did you send it to Japan?

YI: Yes, to Japan. My husband took the test in English a long time ago and became naturalized.

TY: Did he do it soon after the Japanese people were allowed to apply?

YI: [Inaudible]

TY: The Japanese people were not allowed to apply for a long time, weren't they? For citizenship.

YI: Uh-huh. We couldn't apply.

TY: Then, did he do as soon as you were allowed?

YI: Even young people did not have it. The second generation.

TY: The second generation people had it.

YI: Did they?

TY: Yes.

YI: The first generation, those who came from Japan, didn't have it.

TY: Yes. Then your husband took the test in English before he became fifty, didn't he?

YI: Yes, because he could understand English.

TY: Could he read and write also? Of course, he read and wrote, also, right? He also had reading and writing skills.

YI: Uh-huh. Conversation was difficult for him, but he could read and write in English.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

TY: The Japanese people living in the U.S. must have endured a lot of hardship, including those things you mentioned. They were all the first generation and couldn't speak English well, worked all day long, then had their children grow up in an entirely different environment and as a result their language and culture were different from those of their children. Also they experienced various forms of discrimination. Your husband must have touched upon such issues during his sermons at the Temple, what kind of things did he talk about?

YI: Huh?

TY: About such an environment?

YI: Some couldn't even go back to Japan. One of my friends had three or four children. When her husband died of an illness, she came to us for advice. She still had a very young child. Somebody from my prefecture told her to go back to Japan with her children. So she was in a quandary. If she needed money (to return), the prefecture association would help her. But probably she didn't want to return because she came to my husband for advice. My husband told her to stay in the U.S. and endure the hardship. I'm glad she did stay here.

TY: So, did she do well here? With a lot of help from others? How did she overcome the difficulties?

YI: Her children?

TY: Yes. With those children.

YI: I guess she worked for others and also probably the people from our prefecture helped her. All her children are smart. She raised them well. I am so glad she decided to stay.

TY: By the way, did your husband talk about any hardship or discrimination during the general sermons?

YI: No. In those days, since the parents had to work and they couldn't work well with small children around. So they sent their children to live with their grandfather and grandmother in Japan. They sent money from here. Or their uncles and aunts took care of them. There were many such cases. The siblings were separated. Out of five children, three would grow up in Japan and receive a Japanese education. When you had them come back here after the war, the siblings could not get along because they had different educational backgrounds. As I said before, a young man once told me, "Don't ever separate your children and send some back. I am really having a problem now." He returned. Then he came here after he grew up. He could not get along with his other siblings. Their values were different. It's a real pity. But many people had a lot of children and sent them back to Japan. They gave their children a Japanese education.

TY: You had seven children, but...

YI: I didn't send them back.

TY: You wanted your children living with you. I asked you this before, but you said you didn't experience discrimination very much.

YI: Yes. I don't think I was discriminated against very much.

TY: Was that because you were at the center of the Japanese community? As a family member of the temple?

YI: Well...

TY: Did you hear any stories from other people? Other people's experiences of this or that?

YI: Well, sometimes in the newspaper, in the Japanese language newspaper were articles about some Japanese people's houses being burned down or something like that. But I don't think it was that bad. I think the U.S. is great. Particularly in that area.

TY: I assume you are talking about prewar experiences. Once I heard from a second generation Japanese American who said that he had excellent grades and went on to a university. But he could not find a job after graduating from a university.

YI: Before the war, the second generation Japanese Americans could not find a job, although they went to the University of Washington. Could be discrimination. So they went to Japan. Some of them worked for Japanese companies there.

TY: Is that before the war?

YI: Yes, before the war. It doesn't happen now.

TY: I personally heard that a person with an engineering degree could not find a job in his field...

YI: By the way, after the war, many went there because of the demand for English.

TY: What did you think about that? About the people who studied hard and achieved excellent grades but could not get a job...

YI: When you spent so much money to study... you could get a job here... but that won't happen now.

TY: You and your husband both received higher education and believed in education. I assume you wanted your children to be well-educated. How did you react when you heard the stories about the second generation Japanese Americans, that they could not get a job even with a college degree?

YI: It is not that way nowadays.

TY: Didn't you worry about it when Satoru and others were still children?

YI: No. At that time, many people already worked in the Caucasian community.

TY: So you didn't worry about their education.

YI: No, I didn't worry about it very much.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

TY: Changing the subject, I heard that some people believed you could be successful if you went to Manchuria. Manchuria was occupied by Japan in those days.

YI: Many people went to Manchuria. I mean Japanese people.

TY: Is that because they were discriminated against in the U.S.?

YI: Is that right?

TY: I understand that some people said you could succeed easily in Manchuria. Did you hear someone say so?

YI: Well, I don't think so.

TY: I was told that was so.

YI: I heard that a neighbor across the street went to Manchuria.

TY: Was he a neighbor in Japan?

YI: In Japan. They encouraged us to go to Brazil. There was a large map at a railroad station. "If you don't have a job, go to Brazil," the poster said.

TY: I hear many people went to Brazil.

YI: Yes. Many went in those days.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

TY: By the way, I asked about this before, but your husband visited farmers in Bellevue and performed services.

YI: There was no bridge in those days. There was a ferry service.

TY: So it took a long time to travel. Did he go regularly or on request?

YI: No, he had a schedule. He went to Bellevue once a month, then, what was that, to Winslow on the coast, and Vashon. He went to three places.

TY: To Vashon, too?

YI: Uh-huh. No one of the first generation lives there any longer and so we don't go there. The woman who lived there as a child in those days tells me often that she really enjoyed listening to Reverend Ichikawa's sermon at Sunday school.

TY: Nowadays it is much more convenient to travel, so they can visit the temple in person.

YI: Those towns were in the countryside and there was no entertainment, not even a movie. So he took a short 16 mm movie with him to show.

TY: Oh, he did that sort of thing, too.

YI: They must have really enjoyed it because people come to me to talk about those days.

TY: Then in what form did those farmers, people who received your husband's services, pay the remunerations?

YI: Let me see. The temple is a little different. Most people don't know how to give remunerations to a church, I mean temple. If they want to give some remuneration to my husband, they had to give a separate envelope addressed to "Reverend Ichikawa." If there was only one envelope, he did not take it himself. Because there would not be one for the church. If there were two, then he would take one for himself. The first generation knew how to give money to the temple, but the second generation didn't understand. A second generation man came to the temple and after the service asked, "Reverend, how much today?" My husband said, "No, there is no set fee. Just a love offering." He told me that story with a laugh.

TY: So he received remuneration in cash...

YI: In cash.

TY: Etsuko once wrote an essay about growing up as a member of the Temple family. In that paper she wrote that your family received a lot of food from the farmers and never ran out of food...

YI: Yes, that's right. We never suffered from lack of food. People brought all kinds of things. In the countryside there were many farmers. They brought vegetables. Sometimes they brought a huge amount of vegetables, more than we could possibly consume. We gave them away or pickled them for special occasions at the Temple. Come to think of it, the temples used to live on the food from the parishioners. Although I don't think they do now as much as in the old days.

TY: In addition, the essay written by Etsuko said that your husband loved to buy books, he enjoyed reading books...

YI: Oh, is there such an essay?

TY: Yes, Etsuko wrote it.

YI: You say Etsuko wrote it?

TY: Yes. Her father...

YI: That one, what do you call? There is one called BCA. It comes from the headquarters. It has photos. Is that the one?

TY: Yes, that's the one.

YI: He loved books. He was crazy about books. Even if he had no money, he still wanted to buy books.

TY: Do you mean beyond his allowances?

YI: That's why we didn't have much money. Because he bought books with the little money we had.

TY: Did he buy Japanese books?

YI: Yeah. Mainly Japanese books. He placed orders to Japan quite often. He was giving away books written by famous authors.

TY: Did he order these books?

YI: In those days. Nowadays you can buy them at the headquarters. Various books. In San Francisco. They did not sell books in those days. So you had to place a special order.

TY: That must have taken a lot of time.

YI: That's right.

TY: How did he get a list of such books? Was it in the newspaper?

YI: Yes.

TY: These are the books available...

YI: Uh-huh. My sister's husband also loved books. He bought one after another. Not only the books of his own church but also those of other churches. Even newspapers. So many people sent him books.

TY: Those books must have been expensive because they were special orders.

YI: They were expensive.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

TY: By the way, I hear that the women's society was quite active then. What kinds of activities did you do?

YI: The women's society of the temple?

TY: Yes, what kinds of activities did you do?

YI: What we did in the women's society? The women's society cooked meals for special services, and sometimes -- what do you call it -- learned to make various things. There were many talented members and we learned from them. Embroidery and such. Once a month we visited a hospital in Seattle. Also we visited sick people at home.

TY: When you did that, did you mainly visit the Japanese members? Or all the patients...

YI: Now everybody. In those days there were many people with this lung disease.

TY: You mean tuberculosis.

YI: There was a big hospital in the north, in Farland. Every month we visited there and took sushi with us.

TY: Regardless of membership, to Japanese people...

YI: Yes, also to non-members. All the patients. Japanese patients.

TY: To Japanese patients.

YI: There were many of them. There were times we didn't have enough time for everybody and had to postpone till the next time. We don't have that disease very much these days.

TY: You mean tuberculosis, don't you?

YI: Tuberculosis.

TY: That is a contagious illness. That must have been difficult. By the way, what kind of things did you do in daily life?

YI: My husband?

TY: No. Mrs. Ichikawa. You.

YI: I had many children and so I was mainly a housewife. [Laughs]

TY: Then, you got up in the morning...

YI: I did laundry, cooking, and sometimes attended a women's society meeting. I didn't help much.

TY: The temple members helped you out.

YI: Everybody helped me. There were quite capable people among members.

TY: But diapers alone, you must have had a tremendous amount. You had small children. It must have been hard work just to wash diapers.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

TY: By the way, you said this before, but in 1939 the temple had to move because of a low-income housing project on Yesler Way.

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: I'd like to ask some questions about that. How was it decided? Who made the decision and how were you informed of the decision?

YI: The temple we have now?

TY: No. Moving out. Because of the Yesler Way project, the temple had to...

YI: Oh, that. That land was owned by a Caucasian woman. So I think they returned the land to her.

TY: Were you leasing it?

YI: Yes, we leased the land. The temple owned the building only.

TY: Then, well, until a new one was built, you moved to the Budokan.

YI: Wait a minute. The Buddha statue was...where was it? Was it Dearborn? There was a big hall a little this way from Fourteenth over there. What kind of hall was it?

TY: You mean the building next to the Japanese Language School?

YI: Judo or something. We rented that.

TY: You were there until a new one was built.

YI: Until a new one was built.

TY: So in 1940 the land was purchased where the current temple is. And a plan was made to build a facility to accommodate various activities. On March 16, 1941, construction began on the main temple hall.

YI: Oh, is that right?

TY: Yes. Can you tell me more about these things?

YI: But somebody brought the temple history book and showed it to you.

TY: I saw it. About seven months later in October, the Buddha statue was moved. You said you remembered being pregnant with Shinya at that time. There was a Buddhist convention in the same year, 1941.

YI: Is that so? When we moved, when people carried the Buddha statue and moved the Buddha house to the new temple, I was pregnant.

TY: In October, you were about seven or eight months pregnant. You were pregnant with Shinya. But that year the temple experienced the moving of the Buddha statue, building a new temple and a convention one after another. It was a very busy year for the temple members, wasn't it?

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TY: Then on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed. Do you remember the day of the Pearl Harbor bombing?

YI: What?

TY: The first attack, Pearl Harbor.

YI: Oh, yes. That day, we had a party or something. It was Sunday, wasn't it? Then someone told us what the radio said. That Pearl Harbor was bombed. We were all surprised. Some of us were in Portland. YBA, a young men's theater group. Stage play. They were performing in Portland. Then the war started and so they returned right away. They were all surprised. Then all the important people in town were taken away by the FBI.

TY: Were they expecting it?

YI: Nobody knew.

TY: But some people might have felt a war might start...

YI: Some people might have guessed a war would start... the Consulate General and ambassador returned one after another. We felt there was something going on. But we never expected a war would start that early. So we were all surprised.

TY: Well, as you mentioned, from the next day on the Issei were taken away by FBI. How did you hear about that? How did you know those people were arrested?

YI: Nobody did anything illegal. There were no spies. That was only because this country was afraid, but it did not achieve anything. Though they arrested the Issei men and others...

TY: Then how did you find out what happened?

YI: I think they didn't like the Japanese style. That's why they arrested Japanese Language School teachers first. Buddhism was also a problem, because it was different from the American style.

TY: Then were some of your temple members arrested?

YI: Yeah. Buddhist ministers who worked at the same church for a long time were all arrested. New ministers were not arrested. Christian church ministers were also arrested.

TY: Even Christian church ministers?

YI: Because they were Japanese.

TY: Japanese organization...

YI: Because they were heads. But that did not serve anything.

TY: Yes, but at that time many people were taken...

YI: Yeah. The U.S. was afraid.

TY: Then you saw all those people who were active in the community arrested one by one, and you must have thought your husband would also be taken away soon. Didn't you worry when your husband might be arrested? How soon would he be taken?

YI: No. He was late. It was hard for him to just wait calmly and so he said he wished they would come soon. [Laughs]

TY: So he was arrested at the end of April. It was three or four months after.

YI: Was it the end of April? Was he in Missoula first?

TY: Yes.

YI: Oh, well...

TY: He went to Missoula first. In Montana. Then he went to Louisiana.

YI: Yes, he went to Louisiana.

TY: He went to Livingston and then Santa Fe, New Mexico and finally Texas...

YI: Crystal City.

TY: He went to many places.

YI: Our family got together there.

TY: So you spent restless days for four or five months. Wondering when your husband would be taken away. Did you pack his bag ahead of time? So that he could be well prepared, sort of, when he was arrested.

YI: I was not surprised.

TY: So you were prepared with his bag.

YI: The FBI pulled out the photo albums, books and the like upstairs and inspected them. One of them had a photo of Kyoto taken when he was at college.

TY: At Ryukoku College?

YI: I don't know why but they took only that photo.

TY: FBI? What kind of photo was it?

YI: I don't know why, but they didn't take any photos of students or teachers, but there was one photo of Kyoto city. They took only that one.

TY: Did they take that one? Just a photo of the city?

YI: In those days the Issei were afraid and burned all the photos of the famous military personnel. We didn't have any such photos in the first place and so we had nothing to burn.

TY: I heard those stories, that they burned photos and documents.

YI: Anything with a Japanese flag on it. It made them look like "Japanophiles."

TY: I hear there were people who burned their books and other possessions.

YI: Uh-huh. They were afraid and burned books.

TY: Was that because they were told by others to burn, or...

YI: Yes. Yes. It was all for nothing. Looking back.

TY: I understand some people burned very valuable family documents.

YI: Huh?

TY: Some people burned historical documents of their families.

YI: That's right.

TY: I heard that they regret burning them and wished they had those very valuable documents now.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

TY: By the way, for four or five months before your husband was arrested, he extended a helping hand to other temple members whose husbands had been arrested. He offered help to those whose husbands had been taken away, didn't he? Do you remember that?

YI: What did he extend?

TY: A helping hand. Help. To help those...

YI: Oh, oh. Let me see. He could not help with those the FBI arrested. There was nothing to do. It was a government order.

TY: But wives were left without husbands. With children.

YI: But most of them returned eventually.

TY: Did he give a service at the temple until he was arrested?

YI: What?

TY: Was there a service at the temple? Reverend Ichikawa.

YI: There was a service.

TY: Just like before?

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: Then what kind of things did he talk about in a sermon? People must have been restless after the war started.

YI: Oh, Reverend Ichikawa. The war started and in the end, Japan lost. He said that we were sorry, but Japan lost.

TY: What did he talk about when the war started?

YI: Huh?

TY: What did he talk about right after the war started?

YI: I wonder what he did when the war started? Anyway, by May everybody had to move out. People brought their belongings to the temple to store. The area behind the temple was full of things. Then the Marine Corps, soldiers who had something to do with the sea, they took that area for housing.

TY: So, as you said earlier, the newly built temple hall was rented out to the Marine Corps.

YI: Yes, they used that place.

TY: When you worked hard to build a new temple and then had to give it away... how did you feel?

YI: We had a wonderful general contractor. He watched the temple for us.

TY: So the Marine Corps moved in to live there.

YI: Huh?

TY: So the Marine Corps moved into the temple. What did they use the temple for?

YI: After the war?

TY: Well, during the war, the Marine Corps borrowed the temple, didn't they?

YI: They used our temple.

TY: Yes. What did they use it for?

YI: Well, I heard that they paid all the rent. The head person who built the temple, a Caucasian person, he took care of it all. He was a really nice person.

TY: Well, everybody had to move out of their homes before they left for Puyallup. I understand those people left their belongings at the temple.

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: What kinds of things did they leave at the temple?

YI: Well, we didn't know what to take. Japanese stores sold goods really cheap saying we would need them at camps. But we actually didn't have to buy those things. We bought a lot of shoelaces. Because some people said we would not have them at camps. Since a lot of people lived in camps, stores sprang up. Those stores sold everything we needed. Even candy.

TY: But you didn't know that before you left, did you?

YI: We stayed in Puyallup for a while and then to Idaho.

TY: To Minidoka. Then...


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

<Begin Segment 15>

TY: Okay. Now, let's go back to the times just before and right after the war started. You said that you spent those days without knowing if and when your husband would be taken away.

YI: Yes.

TY: How did your children react? Were they worried? Since other fathers were...

YI: Let me see. Well... just before we left, one of my daughters -- did I talk about this before? -- just before we left, she contracted the chicken pox. A childhood illness. It is contagious. It was Hiroko, the one who lives in Port Townsend now. Then another girl, a Japanese girl, contracted it. Then a Health Department official came and told me that we could not take her with us. "Either your family stays here or this girl stays here." I didn't want to stay there when everybody else was leaving. Besides, I had six other children. So I felt sorry for her but I left her with the Health Department. The other girl went there, too. After we arrived at the camp, Shinya got some rashes. Small ones. But they did not become worse. Then a drug store man and a dentist told me to cover him with a blanket so that others would not notice. So I hung a blanket inside the house so that people would not see us. Shinya had some rashes. But he healed rather quickly. Then Hiroko was brought to us by the Health Department. They said she was cured.

TY: How long did it take for Hiroko?

YI: Huh?

TY: How long did it take before Hiroko could return to her family?

YI: Oh, she remained in Seattle.

TY: How many days did it take before she came to Puyallup?

YI: Well, probably ten days or so.

TY: She must have missed her mother.

YI: Yes. I felt sorry for her. A man held her in his arms and took her in a Health Department car. They gave her a piece of candy. She was still small. He passed away.

TY: Then the arrest was made in late April. In late April, 1942, your husband was arrested by FBI.

YI: I wonder which date it was. It was at the end of April.

TY: He was prepared. Then finally he was arrested.

YI: FBI took him away.

TY: How did the children respond? Of course, the children must have been sad.

YI: The children and I were left alone.

TY: Yes. Did the children understand the situation?

YI: I don't know. Probably not. Satoru was only thirteen. He might remember that time his father was taken away.

TY: By the way, why do you think your husband was not arrested till almost May?

YI: Why he was left alone? I wonder why? Maybe because there were so many and his turn was late. He said he wished he could go soon. He couldn't concentrate. He couldn't work well, he said.

TY: Then after he was arrested, you had to raise seven children by yourself.

YI: What?

TY: You were left alone with seven children. Then you knew you were going to Puyallup.

YI: Where were we going?

TY: Puyallup. To Puyallup.

YI: Oh, yes. We were going to Puyallup.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

TY: You were going to an Assembly Center. How did you know that?

YI: What?

TY: How did you know that?

YI: We went by bus. From over there.

TY: Did you hear from others? From other people?

YI: No. Together.

TY: Well, how did you know that? That you had to go?

YI: Because we had to go. All Japanese.

TY: Then, were your children all right? You had children of various ages.

YI: Well, it was for everybody. Some people, people in Idaho or Denver, could leave of their free will. There were some who went there because they didn't want to go to camps. Some people.

TY: Before you went to the camp, did you think about going toward the east? Or did you not move to another area because you didn't have relatives?

YI: Well, if you had relatives, you could go there and work in farms.

TY: Your family didn't have relatives in the U.S, did they?

YI: Besides, all the members were already (at the camp).

TY: Yes.

YI: At the camp. There was a service there, too.

TY: At that time, Satoru was thirteen years old, Etsuko eleven, Kazuya nine, Noriko seven, then Akira, Hiroko and Shinya. They were four, two and one. They were very young. So according to their age...

YI: Shinya was just born in December of the previous year.

TY: Only six months old. And also some people had to close down their businesses. A lot of hardship.

YI: Yes. We didn't own anything. But business owners had a hard time. They had to close down.

TY: Yes. Then you had to go to Puyallup. Did you know you were going to Puyallup?

TY: Puyallup?

TY: Yes. When you moved out, the destination...

YI: We all went there first. There was a horse race track there. I heard there had been horses there.

TY: Well, the Issei were the enemy of the American people, but the second and third generation had U.S. citizenship. They had to move out, too...

YI: No, everybody took it. So some Nisei who were a little older said they would not move out. Those who refused to move out were sent to prison.

TY: What did you think about that? They were American citizens but they had to go (to camp).

YI: There was no such law, they said.

TY: What did you think about it?

YI: We didn't have U.S. citizenship and so we had to go.

TY: But those second and third generation people with U.S. citizenship also had to go. What did you think about it?

YI: Well, according to the law, we may not have had to go. But you know, if you stayed, you might have gotten hurt. That would be worse. I think it was better for us to go. Some strong-minded people went to a jail. And here were Mr. Ando or Mr. Abe, who studied law, refused to go and were in a jail for a long time. In Seattle, Mr. Gordon Hirabayashi did not go, either. So other Nisei all over the area refused to go. But at the end they were all released from the jail. Of course, according to the law, they should not have been in jail. They were Americans born in the U.S. There was no law to send them there.

TY: By the way, I hear that you had to pack your things without knowing where you were going or for how long. And you could take only what you could carry by hand.

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: Then you had small children and there was a limit to how much you could carry by hand. Your luggage...

YI: What?

TY: You carried your belongings with you when you moved out of your house.

YI: Oh, yes. Clothes and such.

TY: Since you had small children, you could not take very much, I assume...

YI: That's right.

TY: The amount of things you could carry yourself.

YI: I wanted to take as much as I could. So I bought a sleeping bag and other things. I stuffed everything into a cloth bag and another bag and carried them.

TY: You carried your child on your back and carried bags with your hands.

YI: I think there was a limit to the amount of luggage you could carry. I still have the old bag with a number on it.

TY: Is that right? The bag from that time?

YI: Yes. From that time. There were numbers for each family.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

TY: Speaking of your children, it must have been difficult with children of various ages. I mean packing for them. Each child must have needed different things.

YI: That's right.

TY: You had seven children of various ages. Did you have to carry a lot of diapers?

YI: Toward the end, when we moved to Texas, they gave us diapers. Paper diapers.

TY: But you didn't know that before you left.

YI: I didn't know.

TY: Also, what kinds of things did you have to leave behind, that your children wanted to take with them?

YI: Well, let me see. My children wanted only small toys.

TY: I heard a story that a family had to leave a pet behind.

YI: That's right. You could not take your pets with you.

TY: Also you could not take the piano with you and had to leave it behind. By the way, when was the first time you were contacted by your husband after his arrest?

YI: Let me see. I wonder when it was. We were already in Idaho at that time. We went to Puyallup... was that in May that we went to Puyallup? We didn't stay in Puyallup for too long. We were already in Idaho by the next Spring.

TY: I heard it was several months.

YI: Yes, it was probably for three or four months.

TY: Weren't you contacted by your husband before you went to Idaho?

YI: What?

TY: Contact with your husband. Before you went to Idaho?

YI: No, we couldn't contact him until then.

TY: You must have been worried.

YI: Yes, in a way. But there were many other Japanese people with him.

TY: Other husbands?

YI: Yes. Besides, we heard a lot of things.

TY: What kinds of things did you hear?

YI: All those taken had a church of their own, ate together and did craft work as well. In Idaho, too, there were native trees which people polished and made various things from.

TY: You had limited things available.

YI: We had a celebration for Buddha's birthday called "Flower Festival." We had a special service. The other day I read an article written by a minister. It said that he wanted to celebrate "Flower Festival" on Buddha's birthday but there was no Buddha statue at the camp, and that some skilled person carved a Buddha statue out of a carrot. [Laughs]

TY: A carrot. [Laughs]

YI: He carved very well with a knife.

TY: Out of a carrot. [Laughs]

YI: Carrot Buddha.

TY: So they celebrated with the carrot Buddha.

YI: Because there was no statue.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

TY: By the way, when you left for Puyallup, you walked to a bus stop and took a bus there. What do you remember about it? What do you remember most?

YI: Well. Puyallup. Puyallup wasn't too bad. But when we moved to Idaho, the ground was mud. That was a real headache. If you carried something by hand or wore boots, the ground became muddy. Really bad. They built housing where sagebrush grew. They just removed the sagebrush and built buildings. So it was really muddy. It was sticky and muddy.

TY: In addition, you had to walk with your small children. At that time, Shinya was not even one year old...

YI: He was just a baby.

TY: He was not even one year old.

YI: We first lived in house # 25, but a temple member suggested that we move to house #13 so that she could take care of my baby. So we moved to #13 and everybody helped me to take care of Shinya.

TY: How far was it between houses #25 and #13?

YI: I wonder how many people were there. There is a book over there.

TY: There is a group photo in the book.

YI: You must have seen it.

TY: Yes, by block.

YI: A book for our block.

TY: So how many rooms? You had eight people, didn't you? Total.

YI: Huh?

TY: Including Shinya who was a baby, the Ichikawas had eight people in total.

YI: My family?

TY: Yes. In Minidoka, you and seven children.

YI: They gave us the biggest room.

TY: Did you still get only one room?

YI: Huh?

TY: Did you have only one room?

YI: Yes, one room. The host room was small, just for a couple. The next one was big, and then two small rooms. The last one was big.

TY: So you took care of your children. By the way, was the restroom close by or far away?

YI: Temple?

TY: Restroom.

YI: Oh, that. There was a building for that. Where everybody gathered and talked. What was that building called? Don't you know?

TY: Where everybody eats meals?

YI: Huh?

TY: Where everybody eats meals?

YI: That's a mess hall. There was another building. There we took lessons, taught lessons and performed plays. There was a building for that.

TY: I heard that there was a long waiting line for the restrooms and mess hall...

YI: There was a restroom and a laundry. But we didn't have washing machines. We did it by hand using a washing board. Although some people brought a washing machine. A neighbor offered me the use of a washing machine but I didn't use it.

TY: You washed everything by hand. Of seven children...

YI: Yeah.

TY: Since your children were small, it must have been difficult to take care of their bathroom needs.

YI: Restroom, too.

TY: Even if your child wanted to go to the bathroom, there was a long line.

YI: No. A friend of mine was in charge of cleaning the bathroom and restroom. They gave everybody a job. We got paid some monthly.

TY: Did you do some work?

YI: I couldn't work. I had to take care of my children.

TY: I understand. Because your children were only one year old, two years old and four years old.

YI: But there was somebody who took care of our welfare. Since I had many children and had a lot of expenses, he applied to the office for me. So I received some money every month.

TY: Then your older children were thirteen, eleven and twelve. Satoru was thirteen. Couldn't he work at that time?

YI: When he was thirteen? No, he couldn't. This one (Shinya) was only a baby.

TY: How about Satoru?

YI: Satoru was about thirteen. He got paid a little for digging potatoes. Satoru and Kazuya, I mean.

TY: Another thing I heard is that it was difficult to discipline the children in the mess hall because of the long waiting line...

YI: We lined up. Everybody did at the mess hall.

TY: So there were some unruly children at the tables, I heard.

YI: No, the children were with us.

TY: I heard many stories of unruly children. It was difficult to discipline children. I was told it was very difficult to teach table manners. Because children sat far away from their parents, out of their parents' sight. Parents could not sit by them.

YI: Children didn't make it. But they colored Easter eggs and displayed them. A play was performed at that big mess hall.

TY: It must have been very difficult. Were you worried about your children's manners? Or were you just too busy?

YI: The children also had to go to school.

TY: So then...

YI: From kindergarten up. There was a person in charge of baby food. They gave us baby foods. Just like Caucasians. They were very good at those things. But, the problem was that the ingredients were not very good. We had dried shrimp every day. The soup stock was made of dried shrimp. Some camps, one at Tule Lake, California, served sashimi, I heard. I never ate sashimi at my camp.

TY: Then you got news about other camps?

YI: I guess so. And then, Columbia smelt, a small fish. We don't see that fish very much these days. We got that fish at the Columbia River. They served that fish often.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

TY: By the way, I was told that the United Buddhist Church was started in 1942. A Buddhist service was started at Minidoka camp in 1942. Do you remember it?

YI: What about Buddhism?

TY: A Buddhist service at Minidoka camp in 1942.

YI: Oh, that's right. Every Sunday we had a speech.

TY: What kind of person officiated the service?

YI: There were ministers who had been arrested and put in the camp.

TY: Were they the ministers who had not been arrested by FBI?

YI: There were some who were not arrested. He gave a sermon in place of others. Reverend Terakawa passed away there. In Minidoka. He wore boots and walked in deep snow to give sermons.

TY: I was told that a Bon Festival was also held in 1943.

YI: Was there a Bon Festival? I don't remember any more.

TY: By the way, do you remember about the loyalty questions?

YI: Huh?

TY: Well, the loyalty questions. A lot of questions. You must have received a questionnaire.

YI: Really?

TY: Do you remember that? The questions regarding your loyalty toward the U.S. or Japan.

YI: I don't know much about it.

TY: Depending on how you answered those questions, you were sent to a different camp.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

TY: Also at a later time some Nisei men enlisted in the army. I wonder if some members of your temple youth group enlisted in the army.

YI: Yes.

TY: Did you know some of them?

YI: To where?

TY: Some from the youth group of your Seattle temple...

YI: There were some.

TY: So there were some who enlisted in the army. What did you think of that?

Shinya: Yes, there were.

TY: Were there?

Shinya: Yes.

TY: What did you think of it? You knew those young men. Those you knew through the temple enlisted in the army.

YI: The young men I knew?

TY: Yes, the young men you knew. You knew them before. The people you knew at the Buddhist temple enlisted in the army, didn't they?

YI: Well, I don't know.

TY: Do you remember the 442ndcombat team?

YI: Who?

TY: Do you remember that some Nisei men enlisted in the army?

YI: Oh, that time. Their parents were really worried. Of course they would worry. Their sons were going to fight against the country where they were born. Their own country. Some parents objected. But those boys were born in the U.S. and so they had to go. Most boys went. But a few didn't go and were put in jail.

TY: Among those who enlisted, were there some who belonged to the Buddhist temple?

YI: Yes, I suppose so.

TY: You probably heard about someone you knew who was injured or killed in the war.

YI: I wonder if most of the 441st [Ed. note: 442nd] Battalion were boys from Hawaii.

TY: I heard there were many from Hawaii. Because of that...

YI: They were sent to the front line.

TY: Also I heard that among Japanese Americans there were some difference in opinion between those who sided with the U.S. and those who sided with Japan.

YI: I guess there was some.

TY: What did you think about it?

YI: Nothing in particular. You were caught in between. Really. But those boys were born in the U.S. and were citizens. So they naturally... those young men who were sent back to Japan by parents and educated there did not want to enlist in the army. Some of those went to jail.

TY: Did you hear about such arguments?

YI: Huh?

TY: Brothers fighting with each other.

YI: Yes, I heard. Philippines or somewhere. One brother was in the Japanese army and another was in our army. I heard such a story. One brother became a Japanese soldier and the other an American soldier. We shouldn't have a war.

TY: I was told that in 1944, the second year in Minidoka, a Jodo-Shinshu temple was created. Were you still in Minidoka at that time?

YI: Minidoka?

TY: Yes. I was told that a Jodo-Shinshu temple was established in Minidoka.

YI: Really?

TY: Yes. Then probably you were not there at that time.

YI: I didn't know that it was started in Minidoka.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

TY: Yes. By the way, I found this. This is a letter addressed to your husband in Crystal City. It tells about your family.

YI: Is that right?

TY: Yes. So this is the way you were communicating with each other.

YI: I understand that there is a copy of all the letters in Washington D.C. I heard that when he went to see the office, he was told he could get a copy of the letters any time he wanted. The father's letters.

TY: Besides these telegrams, how did you stay in contact?

YI: Huh?

TY: Besides these telegrams, how did you contact your husband?

YI: Mostly letters. It was bluish paper. You had to use designated paper. Besides, there were certain things you were not supposed to write. Things you were forbidden to discuss. About the camp. What it was like in the camp. If you wrote such things, they cut them out.

TY: So they read your letters.

YI: Some part was cut out. Someone who could read Japanese must have examined them.

TY: They censored. How often did you write to each other? Exchange of the letters?

YI: I wonder how long it took.

TY: Because of the censorship, it must have taken a long time.

YI: Because they had censorship.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

TY: Yes. How did you find out that you were going to Crystal City? How did you learn that you would be joining your husband?

YI: Well, in our case my husband went there first. We joined him later. It was that way with every household. At that camp, a Japanese person was head of the camp. Germans and others were there, too. There were not many of them, though. It was just like the other camp.

TY: Were there any differences?

YI: Not much difference. The only thing was that we had a mess hall here and cooks cooked for us, but over there you had to cook yourself. So you had to go grocery shopping and cook yourself. There is a store called Anzen here, similar to Uwajimaya. The owner of that store was working in the grocery department. We were given coupons which were a form of currency valid only in the camp. With coupons we bought food, clothes and other things. They gave us glass cups. But the floor was cement and the glasses would break easily if you dropped them. I had small children. If you showed broken pieces, they would give you a new glass. They said, "You bring broken pieces all the time." [Laughs] But we couldn't help it because the floor was cement.

TY: You had to clean up every time a glass was broken.

YI: If a child dropped a glass, it would break easily. But because I cooked there...

TY: So you had your own kitchen?

YI: We grew vegetables nearby. We also planted flowers. They made it really beautiful.

TY: So each family had their own kitchen?

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: Then did you have your own bathroom?

YI: But we didn't have a toilet. We had to go outside. Because we had small children, we used a chamber pot at night. We didn't want to go outside during night. Then in the morning we emptied it. We went to the regular toilet during the day.

TY: Yes. I hear the waiting was not as long as in Minidoka.

YI: Yes. We were there probably for a year and a half.

TY: I mean the length of a waiting line for the restroom.

YI: What is it?

TY: A waiting line for a restroom.

YI: Toilet?

TY: Yes. A waiting line.

YI: There was a separate building for that. We were divided by blocks. Each had a number.

TY: Yes. There was a school, too.

YI: There was a school.

TY: So could Satoru and other children continue their education?

YI: There was a swimming pool. Everything was there. There was a hospital, too.

TY: Were those all inside the camp?

YI: Huh?

TY: Were they all on the camp compound?

TI: Crystal City.

TY: They were in Crystal City?

YI: Inside the camp.

TY: Including a pool?

YI: Including a pool.

TY: By the way, how did you obtain the coupons?

YI: Oh, coupons. They made them. Red and other colors. Ten cents was red, fifty cents was yellow and such. They gave us this currency.

TY: So did they distribute coupons to everybody?

YI: Uh-huh. Their rules. How many people in a family, how many children... the government gave us amounts according to their rules. We could buy clothes with them.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

TY: Also, besides Germans, and the Issei arrested by FBI and their families, people from Peru and other Central and South American countries were there...

YI: There were many Peruvians there.

TY: I would like to know more about those Japanese people from Central and South America.

YI: Huh?

TY: Can you tell me more about those Japanese who were from Central and South America?

YI: Huh?

TY: Can you tell me more about those people? People who came from Peru...

YI: I don't know much about the people from Peru. They went to school with our children. Japanese Peruvians went to school with our children.

TY: They were brought from Peru. They speak Spanish in Peru and so they could not speak English, could they?

YI: I guess so. What language was that? In Peru? It's called something...

TY: Spanish language. How did they communicate with the American government? Did the Japanese Americans help them by translating between Japanese and English?

YI: Yes. All of the adults spoke Japanese. They were from Japan. I don't know about children.

TY: Were there quite a few of them?

YI: Yes?

TY: Were there many from Central and South America? Japanese. How many of them were there?

YI: Peru?

TY: Yes.

YI: Well, there were quite a few. There were people in my neighborhood who were from Peru or California. But still there were more who were from this area. Some were from Hawaii. People were from all over.


TY: Let's begin again. Are you ready? We were talking about the Japanese people in Crystal City who came from Peru. You remember Japanese people from Peru and other countries, don't you?

YI: Yeah. There were some Germans and a few Italians. There is a book over there.

TY: About Crystal City?

YI: Huh?

TY: About Crystal City?

YI: About the camp. Shall I loan it to you?

TY: Let me see. I also heard that Satoru drew a picture at that time.

YI: When you finish, you can take it to Satoru.

TY: I hear that Satoru drew a map. A map of Crystal City.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

TY: By the way, when it became possible to return to Japan, I understand that some wished to return.

YI: Yes. We first signed the paper. But only Etsuko would not sign. She didn't want to return. Meantime, as I told you before, the office...

TY: Why did you want to return?

YI: If we stayed, we weren't sure whether we could return to our temple or not. Then my husband's mother died. He must have felt homesick when his mother died. He wanted to return once.

TY: So Satoru and the others all agreed except for Etsuko...

YI: So we returned to Japan once.

TY: Yes.

YI: Oh, no. We didn't return at that time.

TY: You did in 1934.

YI: We returned from Fresno. His mother died at that time.

TY: In Crystal City you decided to return...

YI: We made that decision once.

TY: This is the paper your family signed.

YI: That's right. We signed it.

TY: This is the application to return to Japan. The youngest two children didn't sign, but Akira and the older children signed it. Do you remember this?

YI: Akira signed here, didn't he?

TY: Yes.

YI: I don't think Etsuko signed.

TY: Etsuko signed it, too.

YI: Did she sign after all?

TY: Yes, she did. But in the end, your application...

YI: So she did. When your siblings and parents were returning, you couldn't stay by yourself... she must have signed because she was a minor. But I am glad we cancelled.

TY: If your family had returned to Japan, you would have suffered greatly.

YI: If we had returned, we would have been in trouble.

TY: But by that time many families already returned, didn't they?

YI: We returned once and then came to Seattle.

TY: Yes. By the way, when you heard that Japan was in trouble, many Japanese Americans and Japanese people had already returned to Japan, hadn't they?

YI: That's right. Since we heard that rumor, many returned. They wanted to return at all costs. A ship came. A ship to take us home. They told us when a ship would come. Many people from Peru returned.

TY: For Peruvians, the choice was to return to either Peru or Japan. They could not stay in the U.S.

YI: Some of them remained. The Japanese Peruvians who stayed were sent back to Peru by the American government.

TY: After the war?

YI: They sent them back. Some of them remained in the U.S. with the help of friends. There is Mr. Kawabe in Seattle. A businessman. An important man. You know about Kawabe House, don't you? He is the one who paid for its foundation. He was a smart businessman. He gave jobs to some of those people. He ran a store.

TY: When you were in Minidoka, were there people who wanted to return to Japan?

YI: Who wanted to return to Japan?

TY: Also in Minidoka?

YI: Let me see. I don't think many people returned from there. There was no ship.

TY: Then it was only after you arrived at Crystal City and those things started to happen...

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: Then, if you were to return to Japan, where were you planning to go?

YI: If we were to return to Japan, we planned to visit first my husband's home in Nagano Prefecture. Then he would look for a job or something to do.

TY: But then you heard a rumor...

YI: I am very glad that we cancelled the plan. If we had returned, we would have been in a big trouble. We would have been a big burden on our families and friends.

TY: So what kind of things did you hear? Probably you heard that there was a great food shortage (in Japan).

YI: Yes. Most people didn't know, but top people in the office knew that Japan had lost the war and didn't have enough food to feed people. So people in the office told us that we had better not return.

TY: Are those people in the office Japanese or Japanese Americans? Or Americans?

YI: I'm not sure, but probably Caucasians. They must have told some of the key Japanese people.

TY: So the story spread throughout the entire community.

YI: There was a head person in the camp.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

TY: By the way, as you know, on August 6th and 9th in 1945, atomic bombs were dropped in Japan.

YI: Yes?

TY: On August 6th and 9th in 1945, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. How did you hear about this?

YI: People must have heard from the radio.

TY: What did you think of that?

YI: What?

TY: What did you think of the fact that atomic bombs were dropped?

YI: Of course, we heard on the news that the atomic bombs were dropped.

TY: What did you think when you heard of it?

YI: I wonder what I thought... it is really sad.

TY: Yamaguchi Prefecture is close to Hiroshima. Didn't you worry about your family?

YI: Even if they were close to Hiroshima, they were spared. But a friend of mine died in Nagasaki. Because of the atomic bomb. She was a school teacher.

TY: So did you learn that at a much later date?

YI: Yeah.

TY: Then the war ended and Japan surrendered unconditionally on August 15th.

YI: Huh?

TY: Japan surrendered unconditionally on August 15th. When the war was over.

YI: On a ship. Mr. Yoshida was a prime minister, wasn't he? Mr. Yoshida. He signed the document. I hear that ship is now turned into a hotel or something.

TY: Is that right?

YI: Somewhere in Tokyo, in the sea.

TY: By the way, many families returned to Japan as you told me just now. Many families returned to Japan, didn't they?

YI: Uh-huh. Mainly people from Peru.

TY: But you decided to stay in the U.S. You and your family decided to remain in the U.S. You said you are happy with the decision, but do you know anybody who returned to Japan?

YI: After that?

TY: Yes.

YI: Well, my husband returned twice. I returned only once in 1959. A group of temple members decided to visit Japan with Mr. Kawabe as leader. We toured temples in Kyoto by bus. We did some sightseeing here and there.

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

<Begin Segment 26>

TY: You came here in 1928 and have lived here for almost seventy years. Yet, did you return to Japan only twice?

YI: Are you talking about me?

TY: Yes.

YI: No, I returned to Japan only once after the war ended.

TY: At that time. Only once when you visited as a group.

YI: At that time only my husband and I went. Our children had to attend school. We arranged for a babysitter.

TY: Yes. Then did you have a chance to see your mother and grandmother again?

YI: Mother?

TY: Yes.

YI: Yeah, my mother was still alive.

TY: How about your grandmother?

YI: My grandmother was gone.

TY: She passed away?

YI: I asked my mother and elder brother to come to Kyoto to do some sightseeing with us. We walked around together, here and there.

TY: Did you have close contact with your family in Japan?

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: How often?

YI: Huh?

TY: How often did you write to them? I am asking about your contact with the family in Japan. Since you came to this country, you hardly returned to Japan.

YI: After the war?

TY: No, before, during and after the war.

YI: Before the war, we returned once.

TY: For two years.

YI: Once.

TY: Yes.

YI: After we lived there for two years, we came back here. To Seattle.

TY: So you kept in touch with your family through letters.

YI: I have been with my family all the time.

TY: I mean, your Japanese family. Your mother, sisters and brothers.

YI: My mother and siblings had been in Japan.

TY: Have you kept in touch with that family through letters?

YI: Yeah. My husband's and mine. With my family and my husband's family, we have been exchanging letters.

TY: Are you still writing to them?

YI: Since my family is dying off, I don't get replies to my letters very much. They are too busy. Besides, their health is deteriorating.

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

<Begin Segment 27>

TY: Okay. So after the war, in March 1946, you returned to Seattle from Crystal City.

YI: Uh-huh. Forty what?

TY: Forty-six.

YI: Forty-six. That's right.

TY: Almost a year since the end of the war.

YI: We returned in '46.

TY: Why didn't you return to Seattle right after the war ended?

YI: When?

TY: Well, the war ended on August 15, 1945. You didn't return to Seattle for almost seven months.

YI: We were still in Crystal City. After we left there, we immediately returned to Seattle.

TY: Why didn't you leave right away?

YI: Huh?

TY: Why didn't you leave Crystal City right away?

YI: To where?

TY: Why didn't you leave Crystal City right away?

YI: .....

TY: When the war ended, you were allowed to return to Seattle. What was the reason that you and your family still stayed there for almost a year?

YI: No. The reason was... after we were allowed to return, people left one after the other for Seattle. Nobody remained there.

TY: Then how did you return to Seattle from Crystal City?

YI: It was by train. The government sent us home by train. Everybody.

TY: How did you feel when you left Crystal City?

YI: Well, I wonder how I felt. Since I had a baby and small children, I was busy taking care of them. But my husband was with us this time and so I didn't worry. When we left for the camp, he wasn't with us, but many people helped us.

TY: So you joined your husband and returned to Seattle with all your family members. Right after you returned to Seattle, where did you go?

YI: There were two houses behind the temple, owned by the temple. They were old. We lived there. In those days most people didn't have a place to stay and so we rented to others, too. Many people together. There was this big house where three or four families lived together. That was the way (we lived) for a while.

TY: By the way, the temple was rented out to the Marine Corps during the war, wasn't it?

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: Did they rent those houses, too? Who was using those houses?

YI: Oh, the rented houses. I wonder who used them. I don't know much about the rented houses.

TY: But when you returned, were those houses ready to be lived in?

YI: Yes. Though they were old-style houses.

TY: By the way, when the Marine Corps left the temple, I heard that it was messy and things were missing...

YI: That's right. The temple didn't have flooring material installed yet. The other areas were fine. The temple had a big hall and so it was used for big events. They used the temple's gym. They still do now. There are no big halls in Seattle.

TY: Then is it not true that the Marine Corps left the temple in a mess? Wasn't there any problem while you were away from the temple?

YI: Well, there were some dirty areas left behind.

TY: I heard there was some graffiti on the walls.

YI: Some of the belongings that (Japanese) people had left at the temple were missing. I have no idea who took them. I left brand new shoes in a trunk, but they were missing when I opened the trunk. But fortunately the typewriter was not stolen. My husband was happy.

TY: Because he needed that for his work.

YI: My guess is that those black people opened our suitcases. Those soldiers.

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

<Begin Segment 28>

TY: Well, as people returned to Seattle, they started rebuilding the community. Their own lives...

YI: Then we celebrated the completion of the new temple. There were many celebrations and parties. We gradually settled down.

TY: Since the new temple was completed just before the war, hardly anybody used it. After people returned, they cleaned the temple all over again...

YI: That's right. We got more people.

TY: What did you do to rebuild the temple?

YI: Temple?

TY: Yes. Since it was newly built and then people returned. So that you could use the temple again?

YI: Temples are big. So when people returned from camp and didn't have a place to stay, they often stayed in temples. But in Seattle people didn't stay in the temple. Instead, the two rented houses were used for that purpose.

TY: There were many families who lost various things when they were evacuated during the war. Many lost their businesses or apartments.

YI: Lost what?

TY: Seattle people who were evacuated lost houses or businesses. Many people lost various things because of the evacuation.

YI: Oh, did they lose things?

TY: And also businesses.

YI: Some people had their kind neighbors watch over their possessions. Those people didn't lose anything. But if you just locked up the house, you would have things stolen.

TY: When they returned, they must have had a hard time looking for jobs and other things.

YI: If you didn't have tools...

TY: Do you remember how things were in those days?

YI: Huh?

TY: When people returned to Seattle, they found things missing or didn't have enough or couldn't find a job. I bet they suffered a lot of hardship.

YI: I guess so. We cooked ohagi at the temple to celebrate the autumn equinox. But apparently the pots' enamel coating was partially peeled off while we were away. The pots produced some poison. As a result, all the people who ate ohagi became nauseous. In my family also, one of my children was coming down from upstairs and threw up. I also heard that a Christian church also used old pots and had food poisoning from ohagi. It is scary. So you shouldn't use really old things. Since we were away for two or three years, rust or something caused it.

TY: Because you used those pots... you had trouble with missing things and also trouble with the things you had. A lot of trouble.

YI: That's right. So we threw them away.

TY: By the way, was there any special services for people who couldn't find a job or for families who didn't have basic stuff?

YI: I wonder how they did. I don't know anybody who was really in trouble. Then, six months or a year later the economy improved greatly. Those who bought hotels enjoyed great success. Financially.

TY: Recovered.

YI: Uh-huh. Recovered. Those who ran hotels in those days were prosperous, I hear.

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

<Begin Segment 29>

TY: So people recovered financially and also emotionally from the camp experiences. But I hear that those who sided with Japan or those whose children did not enlist in the army or refused to enlist were treated coldly by other people.

YI: Oh, were they?

TY: Yes. Do you remember about the people who sided with Japan or anything like that?

YI: I haven't heard much.

TY: You haven't. Some people said that their relationships suffered as a result.

YI: That might have happened. When there were so many of us. Some people insisted that Japan had won when they knew it had lost.

TY: Yes, but...

YI: They insisted Japan won. They must have realized at the end. They were called "Win Group."

TY: Can you tell me more about that "Win Group"? Do you remember anything?

YI: Huh?

TY: What is "Win Group"?

YI: People who insisted that Japan won were called "Win Group."

TY: Did they insist that even after the war ended?

YI: Yes. Yes. When we all knew that Japan lost, they didn't want to admit it.

TY: They wanted to believe...

YI: Of course nobody wants to believe Japan lost.

TY: Yes.

YI: But the reality was that Japan lost, so what could you do?

TY: So you didn't hear anything in particular about people who suffered because of their positions during the war? Because they didn't enlist or sided with Japan?

YI: Since you were born long after the war, you don't know much about the war. Somebody said in a book that we had to tell our stories.

TY: I agree.

YI: To young people.

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

<Begin Segment 30>

TY: So, in about ten years, the Japanese American community was rebuilt...

YI: Yeah. By that time we were settled and could do many things.

TY: Also the Japanese people were allowed to apply for citizenship.

YI: Uh-huh. We could obtain the citizenship. Things improved.

TY: As you said earlier, people over fifty could do in Japanese...

YI: Uh-huh. People over fifty. Most first generation people got it at that time.

TY: Since they decided to stay in the U.S....

YI: Uh-huh. Now that they decided to stay. Otherwise, you feel unsettled.

TY: But you postponed because you were not fifty years old yet and therefore could not apply in Japanese.

YI: I wonder what happened. The other day, Etsuko said I should have applied when I passed fifty. But that thing escaped my mind completely. Just that, when I turned fifty, I still could not speak English very well. I never could speak English very well and so I was afraid to go.

TY: But did you want to all this time?

YI: Huh?

TY: Did you want to obtain citizenship all this time?

YI: What?

TY: When did you start wanting to become a U.S. citizen?

YI: I wanted it for a long time. My husband took it long ago. I was the only one without it. In my family.

TY: In your family. That's right.

YI: So I wanted it. But I could not speak the language. I couldn't answer in English. I was afraid to go. Once I signed a paper at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Then they told me to come on a certain date for a test. But I didn't know anything about the government. So I asked them to postpone indefinitely. That was the end. It was such a hassle for people without citizenship up until a certain time. Every New Year's day, people without citizenship had to fill in a form. Even now you have to do it once every few years. It is much easier than before. It was every year in those days. You had to take the form to a post office or a bank. You had to sign the form there.

TY: But finally this year, in 1999...

YI: Yeah. I feel good that I got it now.


YI: By the way, one of my daughters, Noriko, was born in Kobe. We brought her here when she was five months old.

TY: Oh, then Noriko, too?

YI: She was scheduled to go to Canada when she was in a junior high school. But because she was not a citizen, she couldn't go. So everybody cancelled the trip. Other students did. She got her citizenship when she turned eighteen.

TY: Can you repeat that? Noriko was born in Japan and so she didn't have citizenship.

YI: Because Noriko was born in Japan, she didn't have it.

TY: So as you told me, in junior high school...

YI: The school said so. I don't know exactly, but since she was not a citizen and there was too much trouble, everybody cancelled. They did.

TY: Cancelled a trip to Canada.

YI: In junior high school.

TY: Did they change the destination or cancel the trip all together?

YI: Uh-huh. You can't take a citizenship test until you become eighteen. You have to be eighteen.

TY: Then she did when she turned eighteen. So you were the only one left.

YI: Yes. She and I didn't have one. The rest of the children were born here.

TY: Yes. But on November 4th of this year...

YI: Uh-huh. I obtained it. I am so relieved. [Laughs]

TY: Congratulations.

YI: Thank you. There is a beautiful certificate over there. A big one. Of citizenship.

TY: Did you do it because you heard you could use Japanese?

YI: Uh-huh. I didn't understand all the questions in English. He told Etsuko that she could say those in Japanese. So Etsuko interpreted for me in Japanese. Giving answers was not difficult. How many states are there? There are fifty. You just give a number. Most answers were numbers. How many senators are there? How many years in a term? You say numbers in Japanese. I could do that. I could answer. I was asked six or seven questions.

TY: You said your husband took the citizenship test much earlier. Did he get it as soon as the Japanese were allowed to apply?

YI: Huh?

TY: You said your husband got it early.

YI: He had to take the test in English but he could understand English. You had to bring a person to take care of you. There was a young minister who already gotten his citizenship. So he took my husband there. He left his wife in Japan. Because he didn't have citizenship at that time, she couldn't come here. So Reverend Okuda got citizenship and then right away his wife could come. It is not so difficult any longer. There was another minister who left his wife in Japan. He said it would not be difficult to bring her over here. Because the minister was born here. Still now, in Shinya's family, a young woman from Sendai needs to go to the government office for papers or something. She has to go to the office in Tokyo. Otherwise she cannot come to the U.S.

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

<Begin Segment 31>

TY: I was told that 1954 was a special year for the Buddhist temple in Seattle. In that year the temple became "Betsuin"...

YI: Nineteen...

TY: Fifty-four.

YI: Then it was after we returned, wasn't it?

TY: Forty-five years ago. Yes, after you returned. I understand that the temple became Betsuin.

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: What kinds of things did you do?

YI: Betsuin is not much different from ordinary Buddhist temples. But the name sounds a bit superior. My husband said it was not necessary. Around here in North America, there are four or five Betsuin. They are big temples. Fresno, San Jose, Seattle, Los Angeles. There are about five of those. The others are simply called the Buddhist temples. Buddhist churches.

TY: Is it because of the size?

YI: Huh?

TY: Is it based on the size?

YI: Size?

TY: The size of the church.

YI: It's the same. It's just when it is Betsuin, the head of our temple, the very top of our organization, becomes also the head of Betsuin. It is called Gomonshu in Japanese. His temple's name will be added to Seattle temple's name. That's what Betsuin is.

TY: So then your husband became Rinban.

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: By the way, what is Rinban?

YI: Rinban is the head missionary of Betsuin. The position is called Rinban.

TY: So your husband became Rinban.

YI: Yes.

TY: Did he become Rinban because the temple became Betsuin?

YI: No. Betsuin has nothing to do with it.

TY: So what kinds of things did you do to celebrate?

YI: We did celebrate. We celebrated our becoming Betsuin.

TY: Do you remember how you celebrated?

YI: We had a big service and a bishop came.

TY: From Japan?

YI: No. Not from Japan. A bishop here. He is called Socho. He is in San Francisco. He came and officiated the service. With all the ministers present, it was a big service. Then we had a party.

TY: Your temple was rebuilt and has grown steadily.

YI: Uh-huh.

TY: The community was rebuilt and the Buddhist church became Betsuin. In 1960 your husband retired.

YI: What?

TY: It was 1960 when your husband retired, wasn't it?

YI: No. Later, probably 1961. Fifty... not yet sixty, but because he could not see well as a result of diabetes, he could not work. So he retired.

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

<Begin Segment 32>

TY: So then your husband passed away and you moved to Portland to live near Etsuko.

YI: Yes, I did. Just before my husband died, my child, Shinya, got married. Fortunately while my husband was alive, all the children got married. (After he died), I was alone without a job and nothing to do. So I came here. There were five grandchildren here. They were all young. Since Etsuko and her husband worked, I took care of them.

TY: You returned to parenting.

YI: Yes. I cooked and did laundry. I did all the housework. Now I have everything done for me. [Laughs]

TY: Aren't you happy that you could live near your grandchildren? You could watch them grow.

YI: The youngest was four years old.

TY: I hear they often came to spend the night.

YI: What?

TY: Your grandchildren often visited you...

YI: For about half a year, I lived in a nearby apartment alone. I came here every day and sometimes I came to help in the evenings also. So Herb offered to convert a carport into a room so that I could move in. I was very happy. They invited me to live with them.

TY: Since then, you have been living here.

YI: A visiting nurse comes to see me once in a while from a hospital. She asked me the other day how long I intend to be taken care of by my daughter. I said, "Well, if I become disabled, I will go into a nursing home. But right now I still can take care of my basic needs, and so I would like to live with them."

TY: You still cook for yourself.

YI: I can cook my own food and dress myself. I can manage those things. I am sorry for Etsuko. She has to take care of me. This old lady. Really.

TY: But I think she is happy she can live with her mother.

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

<Begin Segment 33>

TY: By the way, in 1980s, the American government issued a letter of apology to those who were sent to the internment camps and started the payment of compensation money.

YI: That's right. There is some kind of a stone park, near a river. Mr. Murata created it. There is writing on it by President Reagan. I think that is an apology; saying, we are sorry that we put you in the camps. He was the President.

TY: Many people participated in a movement for that, didn't they?

YI: I heard so. Well, they said such things... but whenever you claim something, you will face the opposition.

TY: That happens whenever a lot of people are involved.

YI: Yes. If you really think about it, you cannot know if it was good or bad that we went to the camps. If you had been left alone in town, you never know what could have happened. So some said we needed to be protected. Others said we were enemies. They all had different opinions. Anyway, one thing is that we didn't have to worry about food. Some people were so poor while we lived in town and didn't know how they could feed the children. Once in camp, you didn't have to worry about food. The government fed us. Some people had a better life. [Laughs]

TY: [Laughs] True.

YI: I heard such a story. "So-and-so had a tough life in town but here in this camp he doesn't have to worry anymore," they said.

TY: Really, there are so many different opinions.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

TY: By the way, you created a picture book as part of your eighty-eighth birthday celebration. To tell your story to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

YI: Yeah. My little story.

TY: Yes. I have borrowed that book.

YI: Where did you get this?

TY: I borrowed it from Etsuko.

YI: Oh, you borrowed it.

TY: Yes. This is first ...

YI: Uh-huh. This is my first memory.

TY: You already talked about this. You wrote about it.

YI: In my days we didn't have any toys to speak of. The children played with sticks or leaves. We made mud balls.

TY: Here in this book, you got married, came over to the U.S. and had children... your family must have been very pleased that you created a book about your life.

YI: Yes. Etsuko gave the book to the grandchildren.

TY: Yes.

YI: She told them that they could learn about their grandma in the future.

TY: So the text was written by Etsuko...

YI: She made many copies and distributed them among the grandchildren.

TY: The book also describes your camp experiences. The story ends when you returned to Seattle.

YI: Yes. When I was being interviewed like now, Shinya's eldest son wanted to know more about me. He wrote funny things in a letter.

TY: Yes. I hope this interview is also valuable to your family.

YI: I guess young people want to hear more about the past.

TY: I think so. You remember so well. [Laughs]

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

TY: We are conducting this type of interview with many people to benefit the future generations. Is there anything you would like to say to the younger generations?

YI: Something to request?

TY: Yes. To the younger generations.

YI: The young people are so smart these days. There is nothing an old person can teach. There is nothing to tell. To do this or that. I am the one who is learning from them. I am very happy that my children take care of me very well.

TY: That's right. You have a big family. You have grandchildren and great-grandchildren. How many grandchildren do you have?

YI: Grandchildren? The oldest is about thirteen. They are all very loving.

TY: How many grandchildren?

YI: I have nineteen grandchildren.

TY: Nineteen. And you have great-grandchildren, don't you?

YI: The oldest great-grandchild is already thirteen.

TY: Yes.

YI: I have fifteen or sixteen great-grandchildren.

TY: You have a big family.

YI: A big family. Only two of us came here first. [Laughs] Are you going to stay in the U.S. for a long time?

TY: Oh, in the future? Well, I think I will stay.

YI: Are you allowed to stay?

TY: Yes. I am all right.

YI: Oh, can't you stay here for a long time?

TY: Yes. I am all right.

YI: You can stay here if you marry an American, can't you?

TY: There are many ways to stay here.

YI: But your mother in Japan must be lonesome.

TY: Probably so.

YI: If she could come visit you sometimes.

TY: Yes. [Inaudible]

YI: You can come here by airplane in no time.

TY: In your day, it took two weeks to go back to Japan.

YI: Yes, by ship for two weeks.

TY: Have you heard of any accidents?

YI: Huh?

TY: Did you hear of any accidents on ships?

YI: Yeah. It took at least fourteen days by ship.

TY: Suffering from seasickness.

YI: Everybody used ships. There were no airplanes.

TY: By the way, this interview will be saved on record along with other interviews so that the future generations can learn.

YI: Although there is concern about an airplane crash, everybody flies everywhere these days.

TY: It is so convenient. Countries became nearer. In your day you had to take a chance and spend two weeks. Now it takes only eight hours. We also have telephones and letters...

YI: Now Japan has a great railroad system. They are fast.

TY: Letters take little time. Compared to your day, everything is so convenient.

YI: Everything is fast.

TY: Thank you very much for your valuable stories.

YI: Thank you for your hard work. I am sorry I couldn't tell you better stories.

TY: I believe your stories will benefit future generations. You must be tired. Thank you very much.

YI: Thank you very much. Please come visit me again.

TY: Yes, I will.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.