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-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

TL: You mentioned that there, in the village, there were other children who might have been in the same situation as you?

AT: I heard of two, three families, yes. But they were... the people came to America and earned so much money -- I don't know how much -- and went back to the same village and built themself a nice big house and they stayed. They never came back to America. So there were two, three, families with the children in my class -- their parents had come to America, but they had returned.

TL: Did the villagers or your classmates, did they actually use the term "Kibei" to describe you and Takeo or is that a word that, only in the U.S...

AT: Only in U.S. I think Kibei, the character Ki Bei, is to come back to America. Ki is to go back, come home, and Bei is America. So that word is never used in Japan. And the word they used in Japan for the people who went to America and made money and came back to Japan, they were called America Kaeri, went to America and come back.

TL: So did people, did they make any kind of, did they distinguish you and Takeo in any way because of your American citizenship or...

AT: No. No, not at all. What was so different about these children who, they were born in America and went back and lived there, when we get a mosquito bite in the summertime, we get blister. And the Japanese children get a mosquito bite, they never get a blister, but only those of us who were born in America get a big blister and I couldn't understand why. The water is different.

TL: That's interesting. Sometimes Kibei who came at a later age -- not as young as yourself -- talk about the difficulty of fitting in because their Japanese, might not be quite as fluent or, just their mannerisms. They spent more time growing up in American culture. You and your brother were quite young, so perhaps those kinds of differences were not so evident.

AT: No. No. Let's see. I was only thirteen months and my brother was only two years older than I. So we grew up like one of their children.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.