Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Atsumi Ozawa Interview
Narrator: Atsumi Ozawa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 17, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-oatsumi-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So for the last few hours I've been talking to you, and your life has been a very interesting life. Starting in Huancayo, Peru, and going to school in Lima, then the war, going to Crystal City, then Seabrook and then Chicago. There were some hard times, when your mother had the miscarriage, your father's death. What do you learn from all this? Is there something that, when you think about what life, what's important in life, what do you think is the most important thing in life? When you think about your whole life and what keeps you going, you're a very positive person, I notice. And so I'm thinking, what's your secret? What makes you, what's so important to you?

AO: Gee, important to me? Let's see... gee, what could I say? [Laughs] I don't know. I guess going through life like, so many different happened to us and we went through, and everything that happened to us, so maybe that made us being strong.

TI: So the difficult times actually made you strong.

AO: Probably, yeah.

TI: And then your mother, what happened to your mother?

AO: Oh, my mom? My mom, she was very nice, very kind, an only child, so I think she was raised very... how would I say? Being only child, maybe she was a little spoiled probably. But very hard worker, she really worked very hard. Oh, and then when Heiwa Terrace, you know Heiwa Terrace in Chicago? When they opened the place, I think my mom was almost the first one to move in that place. Because at the time, it was so funny, lot of Isseis, they didn't want to move there because they didn't want to be burden of the government, so they didn't want to move. But my mom just went there, and oh, she really liked the place and she enjoyed it. And then she went to the daycare at the JAC almost every day. I think... oh, she belonged to the church, almost every Sunday she went there. So I think... and at the age of ninety-one, she passed away, ninety-one.

TI: Now, where did you... her remains, after she died, where did she get buried, or where is she?

AO: She's buried. She's buried in the cemetery...

TI: In Chicago.

AO: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: And how about your father?

AO: Same. My father, my grandmother and my mother. But you know, when my father died in camp, the urn, we had to bring it to Chicago. And then for a while, I don't know why we kept it at the Buddhist temple, I think it was, and then we buried him.

TI: Earlier you talked about you've returned to Huancayo a few times. How has Huancayo changed over all these years when you go back?

AO: I think it's changing to the better. I see better places, and yeah, I think it's changing, it's getting better.

TI: Do you see still some Japanese people in Huancayo?

AO: Yes.

TI: Some of the old families that you remember, anyone that you recognize?

AO: I think they were there, but no, we didn't even go visit them. But we stayed there, and we didn't go see my (friends), so we did more shopping and things like that.

TI: Because it'd be interesting to ask them if they knew what happened to you and other Japanese Peruvians who left, it must be kind of a mystery to them what happened.

AO: Yeah, I think so. If we would have met some of the Peruvians that used to know my dad, I wonder what they thought. I wonder.

TI: Interesting. So I'm at the end of my questions, is there anything else that you want to talk about that maybe we forgot or that's interesting? Or, Chieko, is there another story that I should ask her about? Anything else?

AO: Chie, you remember when you came to Chicago?

TI: Anything that I should ask your sister before we stop.

Off camera: Well, when I went to camp, I mean, when we were gonna leave camp, we had to learn English.

TI: Oh, this is when you left Crystal City, you mean?

Off camera: Yes. Somebody made a card with a picture, like a table, and on the back it spells "table." You have to learn through that and put it together in a sentence. Just before we left camp, we had to know how...

TI: Some basic words. Yeah, so let me ask you, so leaving Crystal City, do you remember those little flash cards, maybe some English?

AO: No, I didn't...

TI: So it was more your sister had to do that.

AO: Yeah, probably, uh-huh.

TI: So for you, is there anything else that you want to, Atsumi, say? Anything about... when you think about... "Densho" means to "pass on stories to future generations," so when you think of maybe a hundred years from now, people wanted to ask, know about your story, anything else you want to say?

AO: The same thing what I mentioned to you, I think that's about all. Funny thing, I have three grandchildren, but I don't know, they never ask me. They know I came from Peru, but I don't know, maybe they're not interested. Or I don't know what it is.

TI: I think maybe later on they might be interested.

AO: Probably, probably.

TI: And what's going to be nice is we'll have a DVD for them. We'll make extra copies.

AO: Oh, how nice.

TI: And they'll have it, so they can learn about their grandmother's life. Because I think your life is very interesting, very special.

AO: Oh, you think so?

TI: Yeah, it is. And I've listened to lots of stories, and yours is very special.

AO: Oh, really?

TI: So thank you so much for talking with us.

AO: Oh, thank you. Gosh, I hope... too bad that I cannot explain very nicely.

TI: Oh, no, you did a really, really good job.

AO: Thank you.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.