Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Irene Najima Interview
Narrator: Irene Najima
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: August 4, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-nirene-01-0028

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MA: One more thing I wanted to ask you about was going back to Japan and seeing your family's hometown recently. I know that Scott sent me photos of your trip and seeing the cemetery, and can you talk a little bit about that trip?

IN: Well, it has always been the dream of Scott to take a pilgrimage, and he wanted to take his nephew of his heritage. So the day came where I was well enough, and Peter was -- that's my grandson, Peter -- was old enough to more or less absorb the culture and understand. So the three of us went back and our primary goal was not to see Kyoto or Tokyo, because we had seen it before, but to show our grandson and to go back to (Fukuoka-ken), to the village (of Tanushimaru). And it took a lot of research and investigation to make it back there. And Scott hired a gentleman who would be our guide. He was a, he spoke English fluently, but he helped us get back to the small village, Ishikaki.

MA: And I'm sorry, was this the first time you'd been back to Japan since in the '30s?

IN: Yeah, that's the first time I went back to Fukuoka, the village.

MA: To Fukuoka. Okay.

IN: And when we go there, of course, my cousins that were my age, remembered me, and they greeted me. They gave us a grand party. And believe it or not, because my -- and I say this with pride -- my father had made a wealthy family. They still maintained the wealth of the community, very wealthy. But the old village was gone, and they had built a new home, gave us a grand party. And it was my goal to go back to that church where my father's name -- in those days, your birth and everything was registered at the temple. So then, we went back to that particular temple and the minister was gone, unfortunately, but the minister's wife was there. And yeah, she says my father, Juhachi Takano, was a great contributor to the church. And she showed us the different gifts he had given, a huge golden lantern and things like that. But I was surprised, I looked on the side of the church and my father's name was written as one of the benefactors. I didn't know that. So, I said to myself, my father wanted recognition, and there it was.

MA: Yeah, that's great. So is there anything else you'd like to share? Any memories that you'd like to talk about?

IN: Not really. It was, I think, for me, I'm eighty-one, and it was a long journey. A lot of grief, a lot of disappointments, but all in all, I think I'm satisfied with my life at this point.

MA: That's great.

IN: I have to say that. And I leave with a lot of peace in my heart. Because I see you younger generation and the opportunities that you people have gotten, you know, compared to my mother and father. We've come a long ways, and that's what's important. So I leave and when my day comes, I think I'm pretty much at peace and happy.

MA: Good. Well, I think that's a great way to end the interview.

IN: I think so.

MA: And I want to thank you so much for talking with me today. It was a wonderful story and it was great meeting you, too.

IN: My pleasure.

MA: Thank you.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.