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-01-0020

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TL: You mentioned taking classical dance lessons. I'm wondering if there was more than one teacher in Sacramento.

AT: Well, one teacher, yes. And I don't know if there were others because this teacher was, she was sort of a leader in Bon Odori practices. She was the one. And I assisted her in teaching Bon Odori too. And then her teacher lived in Los Angeles. So Mother drove car with myself and my teacher to Los Angeles to see this Ms. Bando's recital in Los Angeles. Things like that.

TL: Did those lessons, did they contribute to your being selected as Miss Sacramento?

AT: Well, I don't know if the dance had anything to do, but I had... Mother bought many kimonos. She spent so much money for my kimonos, and she wanted to put me on the spot where I have chance to show them or to appear. So most of the Nisei girls didn't have kimonos or had any Japanese or couldn't even speak Japanese so well. So they could not be the Queen from Sacramento to represent the city as Miss Sacramento. And after, I found out that most of the girls who were chosen as Queen from Oakland or Berkeley or Fresno, I think they were mostly Kibeis, because they knew how to wear kimono and look good in it, and could speak the language to meet the dignitaries from Japan.

TL: Do you remember what other duties the person selected needed to have?

AT: At the Treasure Island World's fairground?

TL: Well, actually, let me back up. I'm wondering for... well who selected Miss Sacramento?

AT: There was a Japanese Community Center, like Nihonjinkai here. There was one in every city, I think. And then this community center dignitaries, they were leaders of the Japanese community, I think. They talked to my mother and, of course, Mother you know, say, "Yes, of course," because she could go out there with me. She was so outgoing. [Laughs]

TL: And how were you informed that you had been selected?

AT: I don't know. I can't remember that.

TL: Let's see. What do you remember about the trip to Treasure Island? And Treasure Island was where the World's Fair was located?

AT: Yes.

TL: What do you remember about that trip then, the people you met and...

AT: There were quite a few Japanese government people -- because this is International World's Fair -- and there were different activities and holidays that we had to attend to and wear kimono and be there with a big smile and meet these people. And because we could speak Japanese, I didn't mind it at all, I felt...

TL: When you met the other young women who had been selected, did find you had a lot in common with them since they too were Kibei?

AT: I don't think we had very personal contact because they come from different areas, like Miss Oakland or Miss Fresno or... and I think most of them did speak Japanese somewhat, not fluent. We did not become great friends, no. Just saw each other at different occasions.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.