Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ayame Tsutakawa Interview I
Narrator: Ayame Tsutakawa
Interviewer: Tracy Lai
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 29, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-tayame-01-0015

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TL: Mrs. Tsutakawa, could you tell me something about the relations that you continued to have with your aunt or cousins back in Okayama after you came to the United States.

AT: My brother, who was two years older than I, he continued his schooling. And after he graduated, he found a very nice job in Kobe, one of the big ship building company, and so he moved to Kobe. And my aunt was living by herself, but there was another sister, another aunt of mine who's a younger sister of hers, so they kind of kept company. I'm not so sure where she died, my aunt. It was after the war. And when war broke out, my brother was inducted to Japanese Army, and I felt bad about it because here I am in America and my brother in Japanese army. But because he had a high education, he was promoted to officer. And, course, we had no communication during the war. But after the war, our family went back to Sacramento from relocation camp, and we received telegram from Japan saying that my brother was killed. And I was very sad because I never saw him after I left Japan. And then by that time, I was engaged to George and I thought to myself, "Oh, I can't marry American GI, ex-GI. They dropped a bomb on Hiroshima."

TL: Is Hiroshima where Takeo died?

AT: Yes. He was sent to Hiroshima short time before the atomic bomb. He was in other group. I don't know where, but he was sent to Hiroshima. There was a big army camp in Hiroshima, in city. That's where he was and it was early morning so they were having morning training, or something, I heard. That's when the bomb dropped. So it's very sad for me to go to Hiroshima these days. I have been there twice and I saw his name...


TL: Prior to U.S. declaring war with Japan, were you able to correspond with Takeo?

AT: Yes. Yes. Not very often, but I sent letter to him and to my aunt. Yes.

TL: And did he write back? Did she write back?

AT: My brother wrote to me once and I think that's the only letter I have. I still have it. Very kind letter. And he had beautiful handwriting. He was a good student, I think.

TL: Do you remember what he wrote in the letter?

AT: Yes. It was shortly after I came back so he was worried, how I am doing in the new environment and new surroundings and all that. He was very concerned.

TL: What kind of things did your aunt write about?

AT: She very seldom... I don't have one letter from her. Yes. And she passed away too. And my mother's younger sister was living after the war so I did see her again, but she was quite old. But the cousins...

TL: How many children did this younger sister have?

AT: Let's see, three girls and one boy. Yes. The only one I knew was the oldest one, Reiko, from her first husband, and this first husband passed away so she remarried. See, in this family, Yokota family, there were no boys so they have husband to move, marry into this family. That's different then this country the way it works, yes. So he has to change his name, yes.

TL: It sounds like remarrying was also perhaps viewed differently than -- well, certainly than it might be today as far as how acceptable or why people would do that.

AT: I think if you lose your husband, I think you stay widow most of your life. Most of the people just stay widow and not remarry because they are so devoted to the family that she has to stay on.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.