Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Betty Morita Shibayama Interview
Narrator: Betty Morita Shibayama
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 27, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-sbetty-01-0012

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AI: So we're continuing our interview with Betty Shibayama. And Betty, just before the break you had talked a little bit about some of the... all the Japanese things that your family had. And you had the Japanese dolls that are traditionally set up at New Year's time and you had some kimonos and Japanese clothes and other things. And that reminded me to ask you about, as you were growing up, did your family do a lot of celebrations for, with Japanese community like Bon Odori time during the summer and New Year's time and that kind of thing?

BS: Well, I remember New Year's, that a few families would get together, and I assume they came to our place. And the families would come and then the parents and older siblings would do mochitsuki. And then the younger children like us, we'd get together and we'd just play and have, have a lot of fun. And that was something that we looked forward to. And...

AI: Oh, for people who don't know about mochitsuki, could you explain a little bit about that?

BS: Well, it's traditional for Japanese celebration to have this rice cakes, pounded rice cakes. They're rice that's, it's rice that's steamed and then it's pounded, there's a big, I don't know, what would you call it? They'd make it out of wood, I guess, and it had to be carved out and then they'd have these big mallets, mallets, wooden mallets. And there'd be two men that would pound into this rice, they would put rice in this wooden... I don't know what you call it.

AI: Kind of a large bowl-shaped thing.

BS: Uh-huh. And then they would pound it, and someone would be in there to turn, turn the rice and then it would be pounded to a certain consistency, and then it would be shaped into... I think they'd roll it first and then they'd cut it off and then the women would make little cakes, and some of 'em may be filled with azuki, the red beans, and some of 'em would just be plain. I think they would make larger ones for decoration that... I don't know if that's Buddhist or Shinto, that they would put it... they would have like a graduated, like three I guess, three of 'em, larger, three pieces. And then, and then they would have like maybe a tangerine on top and they'd put it in front of the Buddhist altar or whatever, or it'd be part of the decoration, New Year's decoration. But it was something to look forward to, very good to eat, too. [Laughs]

And then we had picnics. I remember picnics and what would you call, undokai? I don't know if that's races and contests and we would have picnics. And that was a Japanese community celebration that, in the summer that sometimes we'd go to Lost Lake, Oregon. And then they would have things at the Japanese Community Center. I guess that's where we had our Methodist Church services. Then they would have, I guess they would show movies, and then they have talent shows and plays put on by Japanese school, 'cause I remember my older brothers and sisters being in plays. And I can't think of anything else that we did as a community.

AI: It sounds like quite a bit of activity.

BS: Uh-huh.

AI: And so did you have a feeling that you and your family were part of this larger Japanese American community?

BS: Oh, yes, yes.

AI: Well, and what about interaction with other, the larger Caucasian community?

BS: Well, we really didn't, other than my parents' work, with work, but other farmers, but I don't remember socializing with them outside of school.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.