Densho Digital Archive
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Title: Atsumi Ozawa Interview
Narrator: Atsumi Ozawa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 17, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-oatsumi-01-0018

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TI: And so what year were you married?

AO: What year? Okay, let's see, what year? I think I was maybe twenty-two when I got married.

TI: So twenty-two, that would be 1950?

AO: Yes, 1950.

TI: And was he about the same age or was he older?

AO: Older. Three years older.

TI: Okay, not too much.

AO: But you know about this Kibei, there's a lot of family, they have a very hard time, because they send only the oldest son to Japan to be educated or maybe they sent the youngest one. And then when they came back to United States, they weren't able to communicate with the rest of the family, and they felt real bad, I think, not to be able to communicate. And the brothers and sisters were having a good time because they knew English. But the ones that came from Japan, they didn't know any English, so they must have had a very hard time and kind of maybe emotional problem or something.

TI: So it was really hard for Kibei?

AO: Yeah. But my husband's case, the whole family went to Japan. He had three brothers and one sister, they all went together. So...

TI: And then how many of them came back? Was he the only one who came?

AO: No, everybody came back.

TI: Back to the United States. To Chicago?

AO: Yes, in Chicago.

TI: And so that's why he stayed in Chicago.

AO: Yes.

TI: Because I was thinking if he spoke Japanese, why he didn't go up to maybe Los Angeles where there are more Japanese and he can speak more Japanese there?

AO: No, I think his father was in Chicago, his father, so that's why they came to Chicago.

TI: Okay.

AO: But even in his case, he says he was nine years... no, when he came back, I think he must have been twenty-two years old, twenty-two, but he says all his friends that he used to play when he was little, they were working in the office and they were having a real good job, but he started from the beginning, you know, from working at the factory, because he didn't know any English. But then he found a place in a steel company, and having a lot of knowledge in Japanese, in math and everything, I think he was doing real good. So the boss put him in charge, to be in charge of one department, and they sent him to school. So he become an electrical engineer. Yeah, and then he worked there for thirty years in the steel company.

TI: Now, did he work on his English also? Did he go to English classes or anything like that?

AO: Oh, he went to night school, yeah, he had a tape recorder, he'd play over and over and over. [Laughs] Yeah. But he was, he remembered quite a bit, I guess, because he was nine years old when he went to Japan. That helped, I think.

TI: Now, how did, in Chicago, the Niseis, the ones who grew up in the United States, how did they treat you and your husband? Because you were a little bit different because you didn't grow up in the United States, English wasn't your first language. So how well did they treat you and your husband?

AO: You know, when we're in camp, I think the Niseis (from) the mainland, I think they looked us down little bit. I think, I kind of felt it. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. But I felt like that. But no, well, mostly we associate, I guess, with, I don't know, with people who spoke Japanese, I think.

TI: Yeah, so you didn't associate too much with the Nisei from the mainland so much?

AO: No, but he belonged to a church, Tri-C Church, and yeah, his friends... I think he picked up his English very quick.

TI: Because in Chicago, in the Nisei community, the mainlanders, they had lots of activities. They had parties and dances, they had sports leagues. So I'm learning all these things about Chicago. Did you and your husband participate?

AO: Yeah, we used to go to dances. We used to go to dances.

TI: And when you went there, it was okay? They would accept you okay?

AO: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: Good. Now, how about other Japanese Peruvians? Are there very many in Chicago that you know?

AO: Not too many, I don't think.

TI: So you have your family, your family was all Japanese Peruvian. Anyone else?

AO: Maybe there's a few, a few families. Mostly they moved to California or to Hawaii, different states.

TI: Now, did the Japanese Peruvians ever have, come together, like a reunion?

AO: Yes. Once every two years. But then (I attended) only one reunion (in San Jose in July 1984), but they have, they used to have a reunion in Japan and California and San Jose, I think. And then in Las Vegas, the last one was in Las Vegas. They even went to Peru for a reunion in Peru.

TI: When was that? Do you know how long ago?

AO: Oh, gosh, I think, I don't know if I could... (Narr. note: In Lima, Peru, July 1995 and May 1999.)

TI: Oh, that's okay. Do you know when the next, are they gonna have another one soon?

AO: They say now everybody's getting kind of old, and I don't know, maybe that was the last one in the Las Vegas. Probably that will be the last one, they were saying.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.