Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Betty Tanakatsubo Interview
Narrator: Betty Tanakatsubo
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 15, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-tbetty-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So after getting married you then came to Chicago to live with your husband. So tell me about Chicago and the Japanese community in Chicago after the war. What was that like?

BT: I don't know. In terms... well, you figure the Japanese group was the JACL right, organized. And then we had what they called the Resettler Committee who helped with what we used to do help with the housing and getting job and any legal problem that you had, they would check into it.

TI: It sounds like it's almost like a follow onto the WRA office.

BT: Right.

TI: Housing, jobs.

BT: Very similar.

TI: And then legal issues. Now was the Resettler Committee financed at all by the government?

BT: Yes.

TI: But it was run by Niseis?

BT: Uh-huh.

TI: Now were you involved with that too?

BT: No.

TI: This might be a good time to talk about your friend, Aya, because I hear a lot about the Japanese who resettled to Chicago, and rarely do I hear about a native Chicagoan that's of Japanese ancestry. But you had a friend, can you tell me about her and do you know how her family got to Chicago?

BT: Well, her father I'm not too sure, but he ran, I don't know whether he came directly from Japan or what, I'm not too sure about her father's background other than the fact that he ran a restaurant and occasionally she would have to help out.

TI: Do you know the name of the restaurant?

BT: No, I have no idea.

TI: How about Aya's last name?

BT: Fukuda, well, it used to be... she's a Fukuda now, she's married, her married name is Fukuda, I'm trying to think of her maiden name, offhand.

TI: Okay, that's okay.

BT: Okay.

TI: So her father had a restaurant.

BT: And she occasionally would have to help out.

TI: Now what did she think about growing up in Chicago before the war? I mean, there were hardly any Japanese?

BT: No.

TI: So how was that for her?

BT: Well, I don't think she realized that such thing took place in terms of segregation. Being a native Chicagoan, they don't write in the paper all these minus thing that the U.S. government did to the Japanese people on the West Coast area.

TI: So how aware was she of what was going on on the West Coast and in the camps?

BT: Well, I think after she got to know some of the Japanese people, I think she realized what took place. Until then she says," I was ignorant about the whole situation."

TI: Even though she was of Japanese ancestry?

BT: Yeah, like she thought she was white, she was a white person. She says, "I didn't think I was any other nationality. I always considered myself a white person," but she had no Japanese friends.

TI: So how did she feel when all of sudden thousands and thousands of Japanese Americans and Japanese started coming to Chicago?

BT: I don't think she was negative about it. In fact, I think she enjoyed being and seeing more Japanese and she's able to relax. Whereas with the other groups, you're not quite accepted at that time even though they act like your friend, actually you're not too sure. But with the Japanese people she says she felt very comfortable.

TI: Now from your perspective you were friends. Did she seem a little bit different with her upbringing as a native Chicagoan versus someone from California who resettled in Chicago? Could you tell the differences?

BT: No, I think her parents taught her the basic traditional upbringing and so she... I don't recall her ever saying negative about the Japanese people even though she thought she was a white person. But I think she felt very comfortable with her Japanese friends, which is great being exposed to a Japanese community or having Japanese friends.

TI: Well, and finding friends like you, and unfortunately she passed away a few years ago otherwise it would be great to interview her.

BT: Oh, yeah, we miss her, we miss her. She was such a lovely person. Not only that, when I had to give a eulogy at her service, I mentioned the fact that she was such a dedicated teacher. Now you don't find teachers like that anymore, a lot of them are very indifferent about it. That's a job and they put their nine to five and out the door. But she was very dedicated to the student and if she found a student that was behind she put that extra effort to help this student. And this is something that I admire her.

TI: She sounds like a remarkable person.

BT: Yes.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.