Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Setsu Tsuboi Tanemura Interview
Narrator: Setsu Tsuboi Tanemura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-tsetsu-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so we're going to start. First, today's date is Thursday, November 12, 2009. On camera is Dana Hoshide. I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda, and we're in Seattle at the Densho studios interviewing Setsu Tanemura. And so, Setsu, the first question is the basic one. Can you tell me when and where you were born?

ST: I was born on February 28, 1930, in Portland, Oregon.

TI: And what was the name given to you at birth?

ST: Setsuko Tsuboi. No middle name. That was one thing I used to ask my dad: "Why didn't you give me another name?" [Laughs]

TI: And did he have a response?

ST: Oh, yes. See, all my friends had American names that they could be called by. And here I had this name "Setsuko," which was difficult for all Caucasians to pronounce. And I said, "Why couldn't you give me a nice American name?" And he said, "It's a good Japanese name," you know, "and I chose it." And he said, and so then I had to ask him what did it mean and everything. So he gave me this elaborate, you know, meaning. He said, "Well, 'Setsu' means a holiday, but," he said, "it's just not an ordinary holiday. It's one of the major holidays." And I said, "Oh, which one is that?" And he said, "Well, Girl's Day is on March 3rd." I don't know if that's the real reason, but then that's what he gave me, so I accepted that.

TI: That's good. Well, but growing up, did you ever have a nickname?

ST: No, never did. People just shortened my name down. Most people used to call me "Sets." I hated that. [Laughs]

TI: And what did you like to be called? "Setsu" or "Setsuko"?

ST: Well, when I got old enough to be more demanding, I said, "I want to be called "Setsu." I didn't want to be called "Sets."

TI: Good. So tell me about your, your sister, your sibling. I think I know about your sister.

ST: Yes. She is five years older than I am, she was born on March 8th. And when, so when she was... the thing is, I always used to tell her, because I went to live at the age of two with the Browns, she never had to endure the problem of having a kid sister tagging along. I used to tell her, "Well, you were lucky I wasn't tagging along. I only came home and visited on summer vacations for a short time, and you had to take care of me then," I says, "but I wasn't there. You never had to take care of me until I came home when I was eight years old." And she said, "Yeah, but..." you know. [Laughs]

TI: So she was born March 8, 1925.

ST: Yes.

TI: And what was your sister's name?

ST: Miyo, Miyoko. She has a very pretty name, it means, one of the characters means "beautiful."

TI: Now, did she have a middle name?

ST: No, no.

TI: At least your father was consistent. [Laughs]

ST: He was consistent, yes.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.