Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Marion Tsutakawa Kanemoto Interview
Narrator: Marion Tsutakawa Kanemoto
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: SeaTac, Washington and Seattle, Washington
Date: August 3 & 4, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-kmarion-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: And then, when were you born?

MK: I was born in 1928. Actually, should I go into the details of the --

AI: Yes, please.

MK: Oh, okay.

AI: Please do.

MK: My mother's birthday was in December, December 16 and she found that a disadvantage because in Japan, when you're born you're already one year old. And when the New Year comes everybody gains another year. So, within a month she was already two years old. And so, by that she learned that -- and I was born, actually, on December the 30th. And so because, knowing the disadvantage of a December birthday, well, she recorded, had the registry, birth certificate dated January 3rd. I'm sure if it was a boy, it would have been January 1st. That would have been okay. In these days, you know, for tax purposes you'd rather have it -- [laughs] -- another year. But it didn't really make any difference, I mean...

AI: So, in other words, your actual birthday was Jan-, December 30, 1927.

MK: Uh-huh.

AI: But if, if it had been recorded that way, then in the Japanese system --

MK: Right.

AI: -- just a few days later, on January 1st --

MK: Right, I would already be two.

AI: And so a two-day-old infant would be considered two years old in Japan.

MK: Exactly. And in those days that was very important culturally.

AI: And, well, you also mentioned that if you had been born a boy she might have put your birthday at January 1st. For those who don't understand, could you say a little more about that?

MK: Right, well, I guess, as we see it today, the girls were always one or two steps behind the men. The men were always taking the front, front seat and it was something that was very accepted. And so, (...) this is what they practiced.

AI: Right. So, if it was a boy, having, putting the birthday on the first of the month would have been proper, but being a girl, she considered that not quite appropriate and made it the third instead.

MK: Right, exactly. And so it took a whole twelve months before I became, became one, right? So (...) I was a slow learner, so I think it helped. [Laughs]

AI: Well, then, after you, you had two younger brothers, is that right?

MK: Right. That was Robert and he goes by Bob, and Richard.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.