Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kay Matsuoka Interview
Narrator: Kay Matsuoka
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 29 & 30, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-mkay-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

Alice Ito: Today is December 29, 1999 and we're interviewing Kay Matsuoka. My name is Alice Ito and Dana Hoshide is the videographer. So Kay, thanks very much for coming here today.

Kay M.: Uh-huh. My privilege. [Laughs]

AI: I wanted to start off with, just with some family background and ask you a little bit about your mother, her family, where they were from in Japan.

KM: My mother's name was Yoshiyo Kutsunai, and then she married my father Nakahara. And she came in the early 1900s, sometime. I really don't remember exact date. But she was married in Japan for seven years and it was a real nice family. They all liked her, but one of the sister-in-laws, said that, well, my, her brother was a chonan, "the first one that carries the name," and said that (they) have to have a child. And she was married for seven years and didn't have any. So that was the only reason she was sent back. And when she was sent back she was kind of disgraced, and all her belongings put on a cart in broad daylight, taken back. So she says, "I'm never gonna get married." But, in the meantime, her folks said, "No, you're the only one in the whole family that isn't married, and for a parent it's kind of a concern." And somehow her story got around and somebody said, "Well why don't she go over to America as a picture bride? Would you like to start then?" And she said, "Well, then nobody knows me. I have a brand new start, so okay." And so that's how it started. And the pictures were exchanged. And in the (meantime), well, they got their permits and everything all arranged and she finally came, landed in San Francisco.

AI: Do you, now where did she grow up? Where did your mother grow up?

KM: In Hiroshima.

AI: Hiroshima.

KM: Uh-huh.

AI: Was that right in the city?

KM: Uh, well, it was sort of in country. Right now, now it's all incorporated into city.

AI: But at that time it was more of the countryside.

KM: And my mother was very good in weaving. A long time ago then they used to weave their own material to make kimonos. She was telling me she was always so fast. And all the rest would say, "How come you did it so fast?" But she just loved it. And I wish I had a piece of that material. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, so it sounds like she had a special skill.

KM: Yeah. I heard that she was very good with her hands.

AI: Do you know much about her childhood, whether she attended school, or anything about what her family did?

KM: Yeah, well her family, their profession or whatever you want to call it, the father was a geta-ya. They made geta. And it was a special geta out of a certain kind of wood. And so all the high-class people put a order in. And then her name meaning, Kutsunai, kutsu is kutsu, you know, "shoes," and nai is "no more." And so I say, I used to kid her and say, "Oh, you didn't have any kutsu, but you had a lot of getas. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, that's funny.

KM: Yeah, so that's how they made their living. And my mother did lot of work, too, you know, out in the field. They had a little vegetable garden. And for that era -- now my mother was, her father said, some family, girls don't have to go to school, just the boys go. But they were allowed to go.

AI: Is that right?

KM: And so, she, so some people that I know, they don't even, they can't even read or write. But my mother wrote hiragana, katakana, and some other kanjis. So she was in the class of more educated.

AI: Right, which was unusual for girls at that time.

KM: Yeah, for that era.

AI: And for people who don't know, when you say that after her first marriage she was sent back, that meant that she was sent back to her parents' home.

KM: Yeah.

AI: Was that right?

KM: Yeah, Uh-huh.

AI: Right.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.