Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sharon Tanagi Aburano Interview I
Narrator: Sharon Tanagi Aburano
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Megan Asaka (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 25, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-asharon-01-0003

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[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TI: Okay, so tell me, so Tanagi was the family name, what was his first name?

SA: Koi.

TI: And I'm sorry, and your mother's first name?

SA: Was Fuyo (...).

TI: Okay. And how did the two of them meet?

SA: Well, (it was arranged by) a baishakunin, (a "go-between"), you know, like they do, omiai these days, (through meetings and) interview. (...) They weren't as well-to-do as my mother's family, (...) but I think it's because he came out of a good family with a samurai background. (...)

MA: Sharon, you mentioned that your mother had converted to Christianity in Japan. Was your father also the same, converted to Christianity?

SA: No, he really didn't accept the Lord until, I think, 1973, (...) after the internment. But I've always thought that when my mother died, my sister and I were talking about this, what legacy did she leave us? And actually, the only two things that (we) really had, because this was after (World War II) and there was nothing material, (were) two things. It was the knowledge of the Japanese customs and culture, and the other one was the legacy of Christianity.

TI: So when you say "knowledge of Japanese culture and customs," what, how did that come across? How did she do that?

SA: Well, my mother observed (all Japanese celebrations, she) was very conscious that we should have soba New Year's Eve, and we (had Girls and Boys Days and we) still do observe that. (...) And of course, the only time we closed the store (was) on New Year's Day, as did a lot of the Japanese (merchants in Seattle).

TI: So let me, I'm jumping around a little bit here, but let's go back to your father. And first, what kind of work or business did your father's family have in Japan?

SA: (They were) just farmers, (but landowners, too).

TI: Okay, farmers. So why did your father decide to come to the United States?

SA: Well, you know, he's not the first son. The first son always inherits the land and everything (so the others usually leave). And just like all wars, at the end of the (Russo-Japanese) War, they (came) back (and didn't) know what to do. And about that time, there was contract labor. They were all through Japan trying to recruit (laborers) for America, and of course, he and two of the brothers (signed on). Actually, there was a third person that came in with him, but he actually was not related. That's another thing that was added to my father's (...) alien charges, that they had smuggled in a fellow. And he was going under the name of Tanagi. So all these things tallied up, it's kind of sad, (and this is why he was interned as an "enemy alien" by the Department of Justice).

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.