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Title: Toshi Nagamori Ito Interview
Narrator: Toshi Nagamori Ito
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Laguna Woods, California
Date: November 9, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-itoshi-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: 2010, we are at the residence of the Ito family in Laguna Woods, and we have Tani Ikeda on video, we have James Osamu Ito in the room, we'll be interviewing Toshi Nagamori Ito, and I will be interviewing, my name is Martha Nakagawa. Let's start with your father's name.

TI: All right, my father's name is Seiichiro Nagamori, and therefore by "ichiro" means that he was the firstborn.

MN: Now, which prefecture is he from?

TI: He's from Tochigi-ken.

MN: And how about your mother? What is her name?

TI: My mother's name is... well, in her school years, she was called Okei-san, but her name is Kei. She just used Kei. And they didn't use Keiko in her era. And so her friends would call her Okei-san. And my father called her Keiko.

MN: And is she also from Tochigi-ken?

TI: No, she's from Yamagata-ken.

MN: And what is her maiden name?

TI: Her maiden name is (Hiraoka).

MN: And your mother had a very interesting family upbringing. Who was she raised by?

TI: Well, her real mother, her biological mother, I mean, was old when she had her. So she was adopted by her eldest sister who was married and didn't have any children. And she was a sickly person, she often went to live with her grandmother during the sick periods. And so she was really raised by her own mother, but she referred to her own mother as "Grandmother."

MN: And your mother also, she graduated from high school and then attended a Methodist college in Tokyo which was really unusual for females in Japan at this time. How was she able to get so much education?

TI: Well, I know she didn't want to marry the person that her family had picked out, and so in order to "escape," so to speak, I think she used the ploy that she wanted to go to college. And she went to Tokyo, and went to Aoyama Gakuen, which was a Methodist college at that time.

MN: So her family didn't have a problem with her going by herself to Tokyo, unmarried? There was no protest?

TI: No, I guess not. She lived in the dormitory at the college.

MN: Do you know how she funded her education?

TI: No, I don't.

MN: Do you know why she chose a Methodist college?

TI: No. [Laughs]

MN: And then, so while she was attending this Methodist college, your mother accepted Christianity.

TI: Yes.

MN: Do you know how she came to this decision?

TI: Yes, because a lot of the instructors were American Methodist missionaries to Japan, and so under their influence, she became a Christian.

MN: Do you know if the rest of her family had a problem with her becoming a Christian?

TI: I don't know that. I guess they didn't protest because she was able to do it.

MN: Most Japanese women at this time went into college or high school to find a good husband. But your mother became a teacher at Ei Jogakkou in Hakodate, Hokkaido. How did her family feel about her going off and doing this job by herself?

TI: Well, I don't know about that either, but that's what she did.

MN: I understand, just talking to my own mother from Japan, if women at that time weren't married, people talk and gossip, "Oh, there must be something wrong with her." Do you know if your mother faced those kind of criticisms and harassments?

TI: Well, I suppose she did, because she was pretty old when she came over to the United States.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.