Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rose Ito Tsunekawa Interview
Narrator: Rose Ito Tsunekawa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda, Steve Fugita
Location: San Jose, California
Date: January 26, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-trose-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so Rose, the way I start this is just by the date and where we are, so today is January 26, 2011. We're in San Jose at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and helping with the interview is Steve Fugita and on camera is Dana Hoshide. And so we're here this morning with Rose Tsunekawa. But, so Rose, I'm just going to start at the very beginning. Can you tell me where and when you were born?

RT: I was born in Salinas, California, on July 9, 1930.

TI: And what was the name given to you at birth?

RT: Rose Asako Ito.

TI: Now, was there any significance to Rose or Asako?

RT: Asako because I was born in the morning. "Asa" means morning, and I was born around eleven o'clock, they tell me, but they still named me Asako. And Rose, in those days I think our Issei parents didn't know too many English names, and I guess Rose came to mind.

TI: Okay, good. Let's talk about your parents next. So tell me about your father. What was his name and where was he from?

RT: Yasuichi Ito, and he is from Aichi-ken, Japan. And he came to the United States in 1917 at age, either fifteen or sixteen. I think it, he was fifteen, because he was born in December 20th.

TI: And why did he leave Japan?

RT: His father, my grandfather, had already immigrated to the United States in 1905, and my father had graduated from eighth grade, which was kind of normal in those days in Japan, to get an eighth grade education. A lot of the Isseis that came here came after a sixth grade education, but my father was able to go to the eighth grade and then he worked for about, I understand he worked for about half a year in, for the village, as a village clerk. And then he, his father called him, so he immigrated to the States.

TI: So let's talk a little bit about your grandfather. So what was your grandfather's name?

RT: Isaburo Ito.

TI: And what was he doing in the United States?

RT: I understand that he was a apprentice carpenter in Japan, and that's what he did here when he came to the United States. He had a toolbox of carpenter tools and he lugged that, and I don't think he drove and he just lugged that and went to his jobs.

TI: And where did your grandfather, where did he do his business, his carpentry work?

RT: I think around Hollister, Salinas, probably around Hollister because I understand that before I was born, after my father came here, he, his first farm was in Hollister. They had friends in Hollister, the Ueno family.

TI: When you say first farm, this was first farm for your grandfather or your father?

RT: I think both.

TI: Okay, so together they did this. Now, your grandmother, where was she at this point?

RT: I understand that my grandmother came a little later after my father came here, so my father came here in 1917 and probably my grandmother followed six months or a year later.

TI: Okay, so let's see if I have this right. So your grandfather came in about 1905, and so your grandmother and your father were still in Japan.

RT: Yes.

TI: And then about twelve years later your father came to the United States.

RT: And then my grandmother followed.

TI: And then your grandmother. Okay. Were there any other siblings of your father?

RT: No, my father had a younger sister, but I understand that she died right after birth.

TI: Okay, so your father comes at fifteen and it sounds like then he and your, your grandfather buy a farm --

RT: I don't think it was right away. My father came, he was either fifteen or sixteen, and he was able to go to be a schoolboy and work and go to school with an American family, to learn some English. And then after that, after about a year doing that, then he was able to go to L.A. to a mechanic school.

TI: So your, your father, I guess in general, had more education than, I think, your typical Issei.

RT: That's correct. He was able to understand a little bit more English.

TI: English, and then even Japan, he went through eighth grade and then went to, yes, English and learned that, and then mechanic school, so quite a bit of training and education.

RT: Yes, he was lucky in that sense.

TI: And if you were to describe him, what kind of personality was your father? What was he like?

RT: Well, like most Japanese men in those days, he didn't say much, but he was a hard worker. And he was, he played with us a lot.

TI: And how about your grandparents, on your, on your father's side? What was your grandfather and grandmother like?

RT: My grandfather and my grandmother, they were what they call youshi, they were adopted into the Ito family. My grandmother was a Hibi and she was adopted into the Ito family, and then when she became of marriageable age, I think my grandfather was adopted into the Ito family, 'cause he was a Idota, I think.

SF: In the case of women, why would they have a youshi adoption? It's like in the case of men, that would be because they needed to carry on the family name, so in the case of women, why did they...

RT: I don't know. I think they, if there's somebody in their, between, in their relatives that have a lot of girls or something then a childless couple would probably adopt a girl, and then when she grew up, and then they would adopt a son and marry them.

TI: So it's almost like a two step process. Rather than directly able to adopt a male heir, they adopted a female first and then when she was marriageable, then used that to bring in someone maybe.

RT: Yeah. In Japan, when you become an adopted son you take over, if you're the oldest adopted son, you take over all the debt and everything in that family, so it's pretty big responsibility.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So let's talk a little bit now about your mother. What was her name and where was she from?

RT: She is Kikuyo Yonemoto and her family is from Yamaguchi-ken, and she was born in Hawaii, 'cause her father was a labor contractor or whatever and they, so she grew up in, until, I don't know how old she was when she went back to Japan with her father, and probably very young, because she went to grade school in Yamaguchi-ken. And when she was fifteen or sixteen she came to the United States, I mean, to Hawaii, to live with her uncle and aunt in Hawaii.

TI: And so how did your mother and father meet?

RT: I'm told that my mother had a older sister that had come and was married in the Salinas Valley, and her name was Okamoto. And from that sister, I guess when she was, she was maybe told to come to Salinas Valley.

TI: Okay, so probably through her, your mother's older sister, that's kind of, a connection was made.

RT: Yes.

TI: Okay, good. And do you know if she came already with kind of an arrangement to marry your father, or did she just come here first and then later on met him?

RT: She came here, I don't know at what age, but she married my, it was a baishaku marriage, and she married my father from Aichi-ken and then she was from Yamaguchi, but it was a prearranged marriage.

TI: Were there any, did you hear any stories from your mother or father about what it was like when they first met?

RT: No.

TI: Okay, what --

RT: All I know is that my mother later on was always telling us stories about her mother-in-law, how hard it was because she had a father-in-law and a mother-in-law, and most Isseis in that era didn't have a mother-in-law and father-in-law, but she did. In a way it was, I think, nice, but it was a very hard life for her, she said. Yes. And I was the firstborn in our family, and so we had Big Boy and another Japanese man who was unemployed -- I think he was in fragile health and that's probably why he was living with us, he wasn't working -- and I had my grandfather and my grandmother, and so it was all adults, and so I was born into an all-adult family and so I was just spoiled rotten, from what my mother says, that she, she later on had to lock the door so that my grandmother wouldn't spoil me when my mother had to go into the fields to work. She said she would sometimes lock the door so my grandmother couldn't spoil me. [Laughs] So I was a spoiled brat, I guess.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So explain the, the living arrangements. You had, so your mother and father, and then you mentioned your grandparents, so the mother and father of your father, and then you had, sounds like two workers. You had an elderly Japanese worker and you said Big Boy.

RT: Big Boy was the Filipino worker. The other Japanese man, I think he just lived with us because he, I think he had tuberculosis or something and he couldn't work. And so he was just living with us. So we had one building that had a little living room like, and then our bed, my parents' bedrooms, and then another building that had the kitchen and big dining table, and, oh, we had my grandfather and my grandmother's room. And then we had another building for the, for Big Boy and the Japanese man that lived with us. And I always slept with my grandmother. Every night after my parents went to bed she would say, "This is secret. Now don't tell them." And she would always give me Hershey Kisses, and so I had bad teeth. [Laughs]

TI: So you had a really close relationship with your grandmother.

RT: Yes. Yes.

TI: And to the point where your mother thought that your grandmother was spoiling you.

RT: Yes. [Laughs]

TI: [Laughs] That's, that's... and what was your grandmother's name?

RT: Chiyo. No, Chiye, C-H-I-Y-E.

TI: Okay, Chiye.

RT: And she passed away when she was fifty-eight in 1939, I believe it was, from pneumonia. In those days there weren't any wonder drugs, so you catch cold, and she was in the hospital and two or three days later she passed away. It was a shock.

TI: 'Cause at that point you were about nine, I guess nine years old?

RT: Yes.

TI: So go ahead and describe what, I mean, what would happen when someone would die in Salinas. I mean, what, can you describe, like, the services and the...

RT: Oh, yes, it was a huge funeral. I mean, the line of cars was just, it was a big line of cars, I remember. And there was a picture of the funeral. It was a long picture with everybody in there.

TI: And where was the service held?

RT: At the San Jose, I mean, the Salinas Buddhist Church.

TI: And when you say large, I mean, like hundreds of people there or, how many people do you think were there?

RT: Just about every farmer, Japanese family in that area, and we had friends in Hollister, and my grandparents and parents were very active in the San Jose, I mean Salinas Buddhist Church and the Japanese community there. Everybody there in those days helped each other. When the lettuce wasn't, crop didn't do well, they were always lending each other money and, in those days, everybody was close, very close.

SF: In Hollister, was there a special Japanese cemetery?

RT: Yes, they did have a Japanese cemetery. I don't, I don't know that it exists now or not.

SF: Was that because there was discrimination or because they, people wanted to have a special section just for Japanese?

RT: I don't know. I think maybe they wanted their own Japanese cemetery.

TI: After your grandmother passed away and before the service, did lots of people come to the house? I'm just trying to get a sense of, of kind of what the protocol...

RT: No, I think in those days they didn't come the house. They used the Japanese, the Buddhist church's auditorium. It wasn't that big, but it still was a big, it was a place where everybody gathered, the Buddhist church auditorium. And the Fujinkai, the ladies, when there's a funeral, would go there early in the morning to make all, cook all the things that -- you see now where people, the funerals now are catered lot of times or the friends and everybody brings something. Well, in those days they didn't bring it. They just, the ladies just gathered at the Buddhist church and they cooked there.

TI: And at the service, did people come with koden?

RT: Oh, yes.

TI: So describe how, whatever you can remember from that. How did that work, the koden? I mean, did they come in envelopes or what, what kind of...

RT: I'm sure it came in envelopes, and I remember my parents -- well, my sister Haruko had passed away in 1937, a couple of years before, or maybe a year and a half before my grandmother passed away, and that was also a big funeral, but my grandmother's funeral was much, much bigger. And my family had a big black tablet where they had written in the koden, who they got the koden and how much it was. I think in those days it was probably two or three dollars.

TI: And what was that money used for, koden? What did, do you recall what your parents said they would the money or what they did with the money?

RT: I think the koden was, in those days it was to take care of the funeral and all the expenses, because the Isseis, the immigrants really didn't have much money and so if there was a death, that's how they took care, everybody chipped in and sent koden, and that's what it was used for, for the funeral.

TI: And you mentioned that your parents had this black book or tablet where everything was recorded. And why would they record that?

RT: Oh, because they, if somebody else had a death in the family they would know how much koden that family gave so they could reciprocate.

TI: Okay, good. Thank you. That was, that was a good explanation. Okay, so we, we jumped around a little bit. Let me go back and now talk about your siblings. So you were the firstborn, born in 1930. Why don't you tell me about your other siblings?

RT: Roy was born two years later, in 1934 -- '32. He was born in 1932, May 21st. And then Haruko followed in May, I mean, she was born in February 1934, and then she passed away in 1937 from meningitis.

TI: Okay. And after Haruko?

RT: And then two years later in 1939, Hisako, Lily, was born, and when we went to Japan she was only a year and a half, or two years. 1941, no, she was two years.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Okay, and you, you mentioned earlier lettuce farming. Was that the kind of farming that your parents did?

RT: Yes. It was mostly lettuce and sometimes onions and there was a Spreckles sugar factory, so they also at one time raised sugar beets, I think, but it was mostly lettuce.

TI: How large was the farm?

RT: Hundred acres.

TI: Now, was that a pretty common size in Salinas?

RT: I think it was probably a little larger than most.

TI: And in terms of workers, you mentioned, earlier you mentioned Big Boy. You said he was a Filipino worker? Tell me about Big Boy. How did he come to work with the family?

RT: I don't know. I think he was, I think he was already there when I was born. He just helped my dad. Because in those days, instead of Mexicans it was, the laborers were mostly Filipinos, I think.

SF: So did your dad hire labor crews, or did he go through a Japanese labor contractor?

RT: No, I don't think he went through a contractor. I think maybe Big Boy built all that. I don't know. All I know is that he was one of the earlier ones to get a Caterpillar and he was very, very proud of that, because when I was little I remember my grandfather plowing the fields with a horse drawn plow, and one day the horse kicked him and he had this big gouge in his cheek, and I think after that he, he didn't plow anymore with a horse. [Laughs] And then my father was able to get a Caterpillar and he was one of the first ones around that area to get a Caterpillar. But my dad, since he went to mechanic school, he was able to fix his, fix the car and do a lot with the Caterpillar, the farm equipment.

TI: So I'm curious, describe the relationship with the family and this Filipino worker, Big Boy. What was like in terms of, did he eat with the family?

RT: Oh, yes. All, all three meals. Yeah, so for breakfast sometimes, if we had miso shiru, or if we had miso shiru for dinner, that's what he ate. And he ate sashimi, I think, too. [Laughs]

TI: So it sounds like he was almost treated like a family member?

RT: Oh yes, he was family. I think I played, he played with me more than my dad.

TI: So it sounds like you have the, a fond relationship or fond memories of him.

RT: Oh, yes.

TI: Now, what was, I think you mentioned his last name, what was his last name?

RT: Decerna.

TI: Decerna. Okay.

RT: I think it's D-E-C-E-R-N-A or something. I'm not sure. I don't know his first name because we all called him Big Boy.

TI: Do you ever remember him going off and maybe having other friends?

RT: I remember a couple of times I went with him to a gathering of Filipinos and, I think it was a picnic or something, and I had a lot of fun.

TI: Oh, so he brought the whole family or just you?

RT: Just, I think it was just me and maybe my brother went along. I don't know. I remember going to his big gatherings. He wasn't, he wasn't married as far as I know.

TI: Now, how would that picnic compare with the picnics in the Japanese community? Were they about the same or was there differences?

RT: The food was quite different, and there was one food, some kind of rice, coconut rice or something, I never have encountered that later on in my life. I always look for that, but I never have, but it was really oishikatta. [Laughs]

TI: And who would be at the Filipino picnic? Who, like how many people?

RT: I think there were some little children, but mostly laborers, I think farm workers. And I only went two or three times at the most.

TI: And so when you say farm workers, was it mostly men then, at these picnics?

RT: Yeah. Yes.

TI: So who would prepare the food? I mean...

RT: I think the men did prepare too in those days, the Filipino men.

TI: Now, I've heard at, like Japanese picnics, at least for the kids they'd have games and even adults did games. Did they have those kind of activities at the Filipino picnic? Do you remember what they did?

RT: No, I don't. I don't remember. I do remember the Japanese picnics.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Okay, so let's talk about the Japanese picnics. So what were some of the activities at the Japanese picnics?

RT: Well, my father was from Aichi-ken, so is my grandfather, so in the Salinas area there were very few Aichi-ken people. They were mostly in the Stockton area, so when all these different kenjinkais, like the Hiroshima kenjinkai and the other, Kumamoto's or Shizuoka or there was quite a few Wakayama's, when they had the picnic, we got invited to all of 'em, so it was nice. We didn't have an Aichi-ken picnic, but we were invited to all the other picnics. And it was mostly footraces and you would get a pencil, so we ended up with a lot of pencils. [Laughs]

TI: That's, that's an interesting prize, a pencil, because then you could use it in school or... [Laughs] Okay. So there was advantages of being from a ken where there weren't too many people. Then you could, you were invited to all the other ones.

RT: Uh-huh. And I think my grandmother and mother, they, and the other Issei ladies, they made, well, in those days it was very simple Japanese food, and a lot of musubis and rice balls and whatever food that was, they grew in the garden. But, and I don't think the men drank that much. I don't remember much about sake or anything like that. All I know is that the kids, we had a lot of footraces and things like that. And if the hakujins came around, then we would all hide our food. We were ashamed to be eating with chopsticks. That I remember very vividly, we would always hide our food.

TI: And so how would you, but everything is out on tables, so --

RT: It was laid out on a blanket type, on the ground. I don't think, I don't remember any, with any tables or anything like that.

TI: Now, when you say hide the food, was that more, was that a feeling amongst the Issei also, to hide the food or was it more...

RT: I think all, all of us.

TI: Okay. Interesting.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

SF: I was gonna say, maybe we could just go back to the farming situation a little bit and your dad. Did, did he sell to a co-op, was there a Japanese co-op there in Hollister, or did he sell it to a Japanese packer shipper or a hakujin packer shipper?

RT: I think the Yuki family had a packing house and that's where the lettuce went to. At, I was, I'm told that at one time my father did go into business with Mr. Yuki in the packing house business, but my father was not a businessman and so it didn't last very long. And Mr. Yuki became very successful.

TI: It sounds like your father, the farm was a hundred acres, was he viewed as a, a pretty successful farmer in the area?

RT: He was doing a lot better than most other Isseis, especially because he had his grandfather, I mean, his own father and mother there, so we were more established than the other Isseis.

TI: And when you say well-established, so in terms of living conditions, I mean, did you have more than, say, the other Japanese in the area in terms of things?

RT: Probably. Yes.

TI: So things like, did you have a car?

RT: Yes. Of course, in those days the Isseis couldn't own any land or anything, so when the lettuce crop was good, and I think the land that my father was leasing was pretty fertile land, so the lettuce crop was very good, and so every two years he bought a new Dodge. [Laughs]

TI: Okay, so that, yeah, that sounds pretty...

SF: Did your father ever try to arrange the purchase of the land through some hakujin lawyers or something like that?

RT: I know he had two Nisei, younger Nisei friends that... but he, the land that, before we went to Japan, it was all leased land from Mr. Jack Doherty. I remember a couple of times going to, when my dad was going to sign the lease, we'd go to the hakujin house with, Mr. Doherty's house, and my dad, I always stayed in the car. My dad always signed it outside. He would, he was never invited inside the hakujin's house. I, when I was in Salinas, I never, not once entered a hakujin house. Of course, we were, all our friends were Japanese anyway, but...

SF: So did your father have, would you say a good relationship with Mr. Doherty or just strictly --

RT: I think so. It was, I'm sure it was strictly business.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So I remembered the question I was gonna ask earlier. When you talk about all the picnics that you went to, so it sounds like your family was well-liked or well-connected in the community. And how did that come about? What was your father or mother doing to be so well-connected with everyone?

RT: I think it's because my father had a little bit more time. He had Big Boy to do a lot of his farm work and that he could, he didn't have to be there all the time during the day, so he was more able to go, when the Buddhist church wanted to raise some funds my father was able to -- nobody had telephones in those days, so you had to go and visit the people, so he was constantly going and getting donations for all these different causes.

TI: And so did your father, like, head up lots of committees and things like that then, the fundraising? How would you --

RT: I don't know if he was in a committee or not, but he was always, I know in 1938 or '39 or so, the Japanese Salvation Army was going to establish a, what do you call it, a facility in San Francisco because the "picture brides," in those days, there were some very tragic situations and then some became ill, tuberculosis or whatever, and so the Salvation, Japanese Salvation Army needed to raise funds to start this building. And my father, of course, wasn't, was a Buddhist, he wasn't Christian, but he was going around collecting a lot of donations to start that Salvation Army building. Andmy father at that time donated, he himself donated five hundred dollars, which was quite a bit of money in those days, and for that he was thanked by the Japanese government, I think. And he was given this big box of letters that was written to a Japanese, the general, Nogi, who was a national war hero in Japan in the Meiji era. He was supposedly the Japanese general that made it possible for Japan to win the war against Russia in the 1900s or whatever. And this, all these letters that had, that people had written to General Nogi was compiled and put in a big box, lot of postcards and letters, and this was given to my father in appreciation, so that used to be our family treasure. After my mother died I, we didn't know what to do with it. We thought about selling it, but we decided to donate it to the Japanese National Library, which I did several years ago.

TI: And so these letters, I want to make sure I understand, so it was a box of letters, but letters written to the general?

RT: To the general.

TI: But then they were given to your father. I don't quite understand why they were given to your father.

RT: It was a, some family's treasure. I think it was, because they, from what I understand, that person donated to the Japanese Salvation Army official so that they can use it for getting donations.

TI: Oh, and that was then, because, in appreciation for your father's work, given to your father?

RT: Uh-huh.

TI: I see. So your father was very community-minded, so the Buddhist temple, the Japanese Salvation Army, were there other organizations that he was involved in?

RT: Yeah. In 1937, when the, when Japan started the war with China, and in those days I'm told that the Japanese men had to register, I think through the consulate, U.S. consulate, Japanese consulate in San Francisco, they would have to register every year because they were draft eligible age, and so when the war started with China they were, in Japan they were labeled draft dodgers and also kimin, meaning Japanese citizens that had abandoned their own country and gone overseas to live or work. And so because of this, too, labeling and humiliating, they decided to form a club and help Japan, so they sent care packages to the war front in China, which was very much appreciated because the Japanese, the ones from the States included boxes of Hershey Kisses and cans of pineapple, which the Japanese care packages didn't have.

SF: Do you think this feeling of, about having abandoned Japan and been, quote, "draft dodgers," was that common among the Issei, that feeling, or how did people see that?

RT: Yes, yes. They were, immigrants were looked down on, especially men, because maybe they were draft dodgers, I don't know. But in Japan, if you're able bodied at twenty years old you had to go into the army for two years or something like that.

TI: And where would that feeling come from? Was it, like from the relatives in Japan, or how would the men in the United States have this sense of, of shame about this?

RT: I don't... all I know is that they were called "heieki nogare" meaning draft dodgers. And kimin, meaning, it wasn't a very nice word. But, so they were always, I think the immigrants had this complex toward Japan.

SF: And so, you think that it's likely that this care package process to send to the Japanese soldiers on the front was in a way to compensate for that feeling? Do you get that feeling?

RT: Uh-huh, yeah.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: And so you, you mentioned the, so your father was part of a group, kind of a formal group. Can you talk a little bit more about that group and what they called themselves and what they...

RT: Yeah, it's called Heieki Gimusha Kai and it means people of draft eligible age. It was an organization of men of draft eligible age.

TI: And who would be the members of this? Was it pretty much all the Issei men or just a few of them?

RT: I think it was mostly Isseis around Salinas Valley that were in their late twenties, thirties. My father at that time was thirty-five when the, in 1937. And the farm was, he had a little time on his hands. I mean, he was able to go around and collect donations, so that's what he did.

TI: Good, and so they did these care packages and they also raised money, and what did they do with some of that money? Do you recall, like in your notes you mentioned the purifying or basin for the for the Yasukuni --

RT: Yes, the Yasukuni Shrine, that's the shrine for the, it's a war memorial shrine in Tokyo, and they donated a basin. It was from the Japanese immigrants from Northern, from Northern California -- or maybe it was from United States. I don't know.

TI: And your father helped, again, raise the money for this?

RT: For the Northern California area, anyway, my father was, and Mr. Yonemoto of Sunnyvale. Mr. Yonemoto was the president of that club and my father was underneath him or something.

SF: Is that basin still at Yasukuni?

RT: I beg your pardon?

SF: Is that basin still at Yasukuni? Have you seen it?

RT: Yasukuni? I think so. Yes. I, I think I've seen a picture of it, but I'm sure it's there.

TI: And do you have any sense of how much money they raised in this process to do that?

RT: No. All I know is that in those days, well, I think the Isseis all ate Arkansas Blue Rose rice and it came in this very sturdy, what is it, cloth and -- sack, I should say -- and so the ladies, my grandmother, my mother and their friends, used to gather and sew these rice sacks and they would stuff it with whatever, Hershey Kisses, lots of canned goods that the normal Japanese didn't send to the war front. So it was very much appreciated.

TI: And how would the Japanese military show their appreciation for this work?

RT: Well, I don't know if it was the military or, anyway, Mr. Yonemoto and my father was invited in 2,600 -- well, supposedly it was the 2,600th year of Japan's founding in 1940, so they were invited to the ceremony in Tokyo, and they toured, I guess they toured the Yasukuni shrine where they had donated that. And then the military invited them to tour the battlefronts where their care packages were being appreciated.

TI: Now, did your father ever tell you about the trip and what it was like, if there were other people on the trip or was it just the two of them?

RT: No. Just, it was just the two of them with the military people, from what I understand. And then when he came back in early 1941, I think, or maybe it was late '40, then he was, he found out that he and Mr. Yonemoto were on the FBI's blacklist.

TI: And how did he find that out?

RT: I don't know.

TI: But for some, but he knew that the FBI was, had him on a list and they were watching him?

RT: Yeah.

TI: Now, how did the community react to your father being invited to Japan and, and then when he came back, did you see anything in terms of a reaction?

RT: No. We had Big Boy to take of the farm and also our family friend, the Ikedas, their oldest son, George Kazuo, he was a very brilliant young man and he was high school valedictorian when he graduated from Salinas High School, and he was a hero. The Japanese Isseis all looked up to this young man, Kazuo, because he was a valedictorian in his class, and he, when we went back to Japan, my father entrusted the farm to Kazuo to run the farm, and he, my father didn't sell any of the farm equipment or anything, so I'm sure his intention was to come back after leaving my grandfather in Japan.

TI: And was there a close family connection, or it was just because your father was impressed with this young man so he said he wanted him to run the farm?

RT: Well, in those days we were very close to several Japanese families and the Ikeda family was one of them. And their farm wasn't doing too good and so I think my father felt that leaving, entrusting Kazuo with the farm, his family might be, have a little better luck at farming.

TI: And do you remember when that happened, was the Ikeda family really happy about this, or do you remember the exchange?

RT: Oh, I'm sure they were happy about it, but I don't know. I was only eleven years old.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: I want to go back a little bit more to your life now, in terms of school. Let's talk about your schooling in Salinas. So what was your school like?

RT: Well, it was this very small country school, only three classrooms with a auditorium. And first, second -- we didn't go to kindergarten in those days, so I immediately went into first grade -- first grade, the classroom was one, two, and third grade in one classroom, and four, five, and six in another, and seven and eight in another classroom. Just three classrooms. And it was mostly Japanese. I think there was one hakujin boy when I started school, first grade. And in first grade, well, in the classrooms in first grade we had to listen to the teacher teaching the second and third grades and so forth, so we always did our Japanese school homework during one of those, when she was teaching the other grades. And also, we naturally had to listen in when she was teaching the older grades, so when I left Spring School at age eleven I was in seventh grade. We just kind of skipped classes.

TI: Going back to first grade, how good was your English?

RT: Terrible. 'Cause I was the oldest and I was surrounded by adults, so my first language was Japanese, and so I had a hard time. It was, "Run, Dick, run," and "Run, Jane, run," and I couldn't pronounce the R. [Laughs] I think I was on that first for a long, long time.

TI: But I'm guessing that that was probably the case for many of the first graders coming in, you said it was mostly Japanese, that, that for many of them they spoke Japanese up until that point.

RT: If you didn't have older sisters or brothers I think we all had a hard time.

TI: And so once you started school and started learning English, when you went home, did you still speak all Japanese?

RT: Uh-huh.

TI: And then with your friends it'd be English?

RT: Yeah. Well, friends, in those days we had very little contact with friends except at school, and once we left school, three days a week I opted, my parents opted for us to go to Japanese school after grade school or go to Japanese school on Saturdays, and we didn't want to go to Japanese school on Saturdays, we wanted to play, so we went during the week, after. And my parents, they took turns driving us to Japanese school.

TI: Well, how about this question, when you're first, second, third grade, on the playground when you're with your, your Japanese sort of classmates, what language did you speak with each other?

RT: I think it was mostly English. But then when they didn't like somebody or something they said bakayaro or something. And we thought baka was a really, really bad word until I went to Japan and found out baka only meant foolish, fool. [Laughs] It wasn't really that bad.

TI: But growing up, that was the, the worst word you could use?

RT: Uh-huh, that was the worst word.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. And so tell me a little bit about Japanese school. Who, who was the instructor at Japanese school?

RT: It was a man, I think there was a Japanese school that was run by the Buddhist church, Salinas Buddhist Church, and another one, and I think our, Mr. Takizawa, from what I understand, was a Christian. But we didn't go to the Buddhist church Japanese school because that was only on Saturdays, so we opted to go to the other one across town, which was closer, I think, to our farms. And Mr. Takizawa was a very nice man and he taught us Japanese. And there was a library not, only a few blocks from the Japanese school, so I was able to go to the library and take out books, and I loved to read, so...

TI: So it sounds like you were a pretty studious person.

RT: Well, you had to be, in those days. My, the Isseis used to tell us, "You're never going to win over the hakujins" -- well, there was another word they called the hakujins -- but, "You're never gonna beat, win over the hakujins with your strength, with your body, physically, but do it with your brains. Study hard. Says, that's the only way you're gonna get ahead. Can't get ahead with your physical strength. Do it with your brains." So as long as we studied that was okay, so I'd take out books from the Salinas Library. We can take out only three books at a time, but I'd take out books, and then we used to buy comic books for five or ten cents and it used to go around our friends at school, and I would always have comic books underneath the library books. And my parents or somebody came I would open up the, I would put the comic books underneath and look like I was reading the library books. As long as we studied we didn't have to do the farm chores. [Laughs]

SF: What was the meaning of the word for hakujins? What, what did it mean?

RT: You mean ketou?

SF: Oh, isn't that --

RT: It was a very, it's a derogatory word.

SF: Did it have to do with hair?

RT: Ketou means hairy people.

SF: Uh-huh, and that was seen as just bad -- well, just, I'll put that, if you were hairy in Japanese.

RT: Yeah, ketou. But Japanese, when the hakujins started coming, the Portuguese and, started coming to Japan in the olden days, they were very hairy and so that's why they were called ketous. They weren't called hakujins. And so the Isseis usually refer to the hakujins as ketou, and of course we were referred to as "Japs" or "dirty Japs."

TI: And so, so that term came from Japan, when the, say, the Portuguese first came. In that case the whites were in the minority and the Japanese were the dominant sort of culture. In the United States it's kind of reversed, where the whites are the dominant culture and the Japanese were the minority. How did the Japanese feel about whites, in terms of, did they still kind of look down at whites even though the whites were dominant culture? Do you have a sense about that?

RT: No, I don't, all I know is that there was a few Catholic, there was a few hakujin girls in school and they always wore these long stockings and I think they were Catholic, so we, I don't know if you would call it discrimination, but we always thought differently of them. They were kind of different.

TI: Because they wore different clothes and...

RT: Yeah.

SF: Speaking of different kinds of folks, did your parents talk about burakumin or eta?

RT: I don't think so.

SF: That wasn't talked about in Japanese, the Isseis didn't...

RT: They might've, but I probably didn't understand. I didn't know about the etas until I went to Japan.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Before we move to Japan I just wanted to talk about other community events in Hollister and Salinas. So we've talked about some of the picnics and what, what were other things happening in, when the community would get together? Were there other events, like maybe Obon or something like that?

RT: Yes, there was Bon Odori and, let's see, what else did we do? Oh, in those days it was embarrassing, humiliating to go to an American movie because even, in those days they had what they call ushers and you didn't just go into a theater and just sit down where you wanted, so the ushers, if you were a minority, non-hakujin, then when the lights came on you were sitting way in the back. So we never went to a, see an American movie, so on Sundays, nights, I think at the Buddhist church auditorium, they would have Japanese movie nights and we always tagged along with our parents to see Japanese movies.

SF: Were there other kinds of discrimination, like going to the swimming pool and anything like that?

RT: Swimming pool, oh no, we never, there was, I've never been to a swimming pool. We used to go to Monterey a lot 'cause my grandfather loved fishing, and so three families, we'd go to Monterey and we'd, well, the adults, the men fished, we would eat our musubis and play on the beach. That was... in those days there wasn't much recreation.

TI: And what kind of fishing did the men do? What were they fishing for?

RT: Sea bass. I think it was sea bass.

TI: And was this off the docks or, or in little boats?

RT: I know my grandfather, there was one picture of my grandfather, he wasn't very tall, but he was standing like this and there was this big fish, bass that he caught. I think he was fishing from the beach to the ocean. In those days not very many people were fishing, so with rubber boots they were able to get these great big abalones and then also we would take a big bucket and gather, the kids would gather sea snails, and cook that on the beach, and we'd have this big safety pin and we'd eat lots of sea snails.

TI: Sounds like a fond memory for you.

RT: Yeah.

TI: Going back to Salinas and Hollister, you've mentioned you were with, at the Buddhist church. How about the Christian churches? Were they very large in the area?

RT: I don't think so. The Buddhist church was the main gathering place for the Japanese families, and I know early in the Sunday mornings the men and women would go and work in the fields, and then, I don't know, maybe nine or something they'd come out and they'd get dressed in their Sunday best and we'd go to church and we'd go to Sunday school. And in the afternoon we'd go to the beach or the families, few families would gather at our farmhouse, and our family friends, their children were a little bit older than we were, so the boys and Big Boy and my father, the other fathers, they used to play baseball. And, oh, and Fourth of July was a big celebration around Salinas. My father always used to get firecrackers and people used to come around. Our place was a gathering place because we had grandmother and grandfather. We were more, a little established, settled.

SF: In Salinas, did they, did the Japanese community participate in the, in the Fourth of July festivities at all?

RT: No, not that I know of. No. Just that it was a big, something for us to enjoy and to go and buy, what is it, whatever they had in those days. It wasn't much, but, 'cause most of our days on the farm after, on Saturdays or even days when we didn't have to go to Japanese school, my brother and I when we were little, our playground was the irrigation ditch. There wasn't much to do. Or we'd listen to the Lone Ranger and others, and that, the records was mostly Japanese records that my grandparents and my parents used to listen to. So for, that was our recreation, was Sunday, going to Sunday school and seeing our friends and then coming home and sometimes we'd go to the beach or sometimes the families would get together and play baseball or whatever.

TI: Sounds like a really rich childhood, lots of memories before the war in Salinas.

RT: Yeah, it was.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Now I want to move back to something you mentioned earlier. When your father in 1940 visited Japan and then he came back and you mentioned that the FBI, he was on some list with the FBI. Did, did your dad, did you ever hear your dad talking about the tensions between Japan and the U.S. and possibly, the possibility of war or anything like that?

RT: No. I know he used to, after the men finished their day's work, usually around eight, nine o'clock, after dark, a few of the men would gather at our house and my father and Mr. Yonemoto and Mr. Ikeda, they would be talking and talking until midnight or later, and what they talked about, I don't know.

TI: But, so eventually, though, your father decided to go back to Japan with the family. Do you remember that decision and how you felt about it?

RT: No, not really. I was just told that we were gonna go back to Japan and I know my grandfather was very lonesome because he lost his, my grandmother died in 1939, I believe it was, and he wanted to go back to Japan and die there.

TI: And so do you think, so if you were to guess the main reason why your family returned to Japan, was it because your grandfather wanted to go back, would you say?

RT: And, that and because, I think because my father, it wasn't very comfortable, being on the FBI list, is what I gather. He didn't, and after going back to Japan he didn't, we were always watched by the Japanese police because we had returned, we had settled in Tsushima a week before the war started, and so they were constantly watching my parents.

TI: Because when you went over it was just right before the war had started? But going back to the farm, it sounds like your father was thinking he might come back, though. He, when he had Kazuo take over with all the equipment and everything, the sense was that maybe he was just going to do that temporarily or on an interim basis and then eventually come back.

RT: Because he didn't sell any of his farm equipment or anything.

TI: So did he ever talk, did you hear him talk to you or others about someday coming back to the farm? Did he mention that?

RT: Well, after the war, yes, he wanted to, but Mr. Yonemoto that he went to China with, to Japan with, he tried to return right after the war ended because the Yonemoto family had a carnation nursery in Sunnyvale and they, so Mr. Yonemoto wanted to return to his carnation nursery, but he, on his application for passport, he didn't put down that he was involved in the Heieki Gimusha Kai and so he was denied entry into the United States after the war ended.

TI: Because the authorities thought that he was trying to hide that or something? Or why...

RT: I don't know, because of his, I guess because he was on that blacklist, Heimusha-kai was on the list of, what do you call it, organizations.

TI: Now, Mr. Yonemoto, did he go back to Japan the same time that you went back?

RT: Yes.

TI: So it was --

RT: It happened that they were on the same boat. And he had, I think he had lost his wife a year or two before, and so that probably was another reason he wanted to go back, and he did go back and marry his wife's younger sister. But after the war, my father was very honest when he went to the consulate to get his passport, or visa. He told them that in those days he was denied becoming a naturalized citizen and so he did help the Japanese in their war effort against the Chinese, but he said, he had told the consular officer, he said, "Well, if you were in my situation, isn't that what you would do, is support your own country?" And the consular officer said, "That's true."

TI: And that's,so that's after the war when he was able to come back?

RT: Yes. Yeah, that was when I was in Utah.

TI: We're gonna talk more about that, 'cause I, it's a great story, but at this point let's take a short break.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Okay Rose, we're gonna start the second part of the interview, and I'm going to now talk about going to Japan. So this is like 1941 and you're --

RT: Yes, in November.

TI: Yeah, and you're eleven years old at this point? So, so tell me what you can remember about the trip to Japan. What was that like?

RT: I was so sick on the boat. I was seasick most of the time and we were in the third class, and the Yonemoto family, I think they were in the second class, but their daughter, Kiiko, who was of, several years younger than I was, I think she was about three or four at that time. She had lost her mother and she was going back to Japan with her father and her older brothers, so she was always down at our third class cabin and sleeping with my mother, but it was, I don't know, it wasn't a very happy journey. It was third class in a boat, ship, and when you're seasick and you can't eat much... and my sister was two years old and so they had her in a dog leash so she wouldn't fall overboard. They had her on a leash.

TI: So this is November 1941, so this is probably the very last ship to have --

RT: Yes, it was. We were told that the ship that left San Francisco after us returned, so it was the last, Tatsuta Maru was the last ship. And we landed in Yokohama November the 14th.

TI: Now, was there anything significant about the people on the boat that you noticed? Was it...

RT: No. No, we, it wasn't any, it's not like the cruise ships of now where you have a lot of recreation or playgrounds or anything. All I know, remember is my brother, younger brother Roy, he insisted on sleeping on the top berth and he fell during the night. That was, oh, scary.

TI: So when you arrived in Japan, was there anyone there waiting for you when you got there?

RT: No. Not in Yokohama, no. And my father took us to Nikko and maybe we went to Yasukuni Shrine. I don't remember. I remember we went to the Nikko resort area to see the falls. It was cold, late November. We weren't used to that kind of weather.

TI: So it was pretty chilly, pretty cold?

RT: Oh yes, it was chilly, wet.

TI: Now, did your father ever take you to Yasukuni Shrine?

RT: I think we went to Yasukuni Shrine, but I don't remember.

TI: And so where did your family go to live?

RT: Oh, after we landed in Yokohama and did a little sightseeing, then we, we had, my father had an aunt living in Aichi-ken, in the outskirts of Nagoya, and she was a widowed lady and so my father was, went to help on her farm. He didn't have any job and we didn't have any, he didn't have any resources or anything.

TI: And when your family settles in a place like this, what kind of official work needs to happen, or paperwork? Was there anything that he had to do to register you or the rest of the family?

RT: Yes. My brother and I, we were not, we only had U.S. citizenship. We didn't have dual citizenship, and I don't know why, but my father registered Haruko, my younger sister, when she was born, so she, in the family, Ito family register, she was entered as the firstborn child, oldest daughter. And so when my brother and I started school, we had to become citizens, but they couldn't enter us in the family register because then I would be the second born. And so we, my brother and I, we each established our own family register.

TI: Interesting. Why do you think your, you weren't registered but your younger sister was?

RT: I don't know.

TI: Do you have any kind of idea or, or...

RT: No. I never asked my father. I don't know why, but all I know is it was a problem to get our Japanese citizenship.

TI: So, so let me make sure I understand this, so in Japan you essentially started a new family. You were registered as a new family and Roy was also as a new family?

RT: Uh-huh.

TI: Interesting. Okay, and that was, the reason was so that you can attend school?

RT: Yes. Correct.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So tell me, what was the first day of school like?

RT: First day of school was December the 8th, Monday. Japan is sixteen or seventeen hours ahead of us, so it was the, in the United States the war started on a Sunday, in Hawaii, well in Japan it was Monday and it was my first day of school. And Tsushima City, the town that we settled in, there was a school right in back of the house that we rented and it was a grammar school, and my Japanese, I was enrolled into the fifth grade, third semester, 'cause Japanese school year starts in April, so I was in the last semester of fifth grade, according to my age. But my Japanese was, I just finished the third grade reader in Salinas, so I, and then in Tsushima the, they had a very heavy dialect and I really didn't understand that much Japanese. Something about the war starting, I could get that, but I didn't really grab the extent or the seriousness of that first day of school and went on, went home, my parents told me what, the war had started.

TI: But as they're making these announcements, as you looked around the class, what was the mood of the, of your classmates and the teacher as this was going on?

RT: I don't remember.

TI: And so were you, you heard war, did you know enough to know it was war against the United States?

RT: Yes, I think I knew that it was a war against the United States, but I didn't know the details. I didn't know that there was an air attack in Hawaii.

TI: Now, did your classmates and teachers at this, on this first day, did they know where you had just come from?

RT: Oh, yes.

TI: And so was there --

RT: And I think I was introduced as such.

TI: And so were there any comments about that? After they announced the war, was there any reaction towards you because of your American upbringing?

RT: No, no. In Japan in those days, after the age of seven you were never in the same classroom with boys, or with the other sex, so I was in a classroom of all girls and we had a lady teacher.

TI: Did, what was Roy's experience? So he was, what, two years younger than you?

RT: Yes.

TI: Did he have any stories or experiences then?

RT: No. All I know is that this house that we rented had an upstairs and we would sometimes look down at the kids passing by, and we were so dark -- living on a farm in Salinas, we were just dark -- and the Japanese, especially the girls, they were very, always had, they were sheltered because being fair-skinned was a better thing than being dark. And so we were so dark, my brother and I, and we would be looking down and they would, the kids would say, "Oh, they're from Amerika," and then another one would say, "No, no, no, not Amerika. Afurika." [Laughs]

TI: [Laughs] And was that done in a, was it kind of a teasing thing that they would do, or --

RT: Huh?

TI: Did they know that you could hear this when they were --

RT: Oh yeah. Oh yeah, I'm sure. They said we were from Afurika. [Laughs]

SF: When you heard about the, the war, understood what it meant, what was your, did you have a reaction to that?

RT: Gee, I really don't know. All I know is my father and mother and my grandfather, they were, I'm sure very depressed or, that the war had started, and of course the, since we had just settled down in that town a week before the war started, Japanese police were almost every day checking up on my parents, the radio that we had, make sure we weren't listening to shortwave.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: I'm thinking about your father in particular, so right after war started, I was wondering if there might be a sense of relief, though, because here, if he were in the United States, he knew he was on the FBI list --

RT: He would've been taken. The FBI would've taken him right away.

TI: So it's almost like, I wonder if there was almost a sense of relief that, that he had avoided all that, that now that he was in Japan, that in some ways he might be safer than if he were in the United States.

RT: Could've been.

TI: But he never shared, you never really had a conversation with him about those things?

RT: No. All I know is, I don't know when during the war, but a fellow that he knew, I think from the Heieki Gimusha Kai, one of those fellows, returned to Japan. Wasn't there some kind of a ship that... and he stopped by our place and was probably telling my father about the life at Tule Lake or wherever he was, the camp that he was sent to, so maybe my father was relieved that he wasn't in the United States. He would've been separated from his family, I'm sure. And maybe he might opt to, opted to come back to Japan. I don't know.

TI: And then you mentioned, so after the war had started, that your family was sort of under surveillance in some ways. So someone would come by, so tell me a little bit more about that. Who, who would actually check up on the family?

RT: They would have a, they had a special police unit and I can't remember what they called it, but they would come by every, quite frequently, I think, at first, because we, like I said, we had settled down a week before.

TI: And what was the, kind of when they would check up on you, what was their demeanor or attitude when they would talk to, say, your father? Was it polite or was it more accusing, or how would you describe that?

RT: Japanese police, they were all very authoritative, very... no nonsense.

TI: And so when this happened, how did you feel? Were you, were you nervous or afraid, or how would you describe your feelings?

RT: No, because I knew they weren't doing anything like that. I know my, it was very annoying to my parents to be watched like that.

TI: And how could you tell that your parents were annoyed? What, was it something they said or how they acted? What, what would you say?

RT: I'm sure it was the way they probably acted after the officials left.

TI: Did, did officials ever come just to ask them about life in America and what to expect about Americans or anything like that?

RT: I don't think so. No, I don't know. I know that they were always checking our radio to make sure we didn't have shortwave.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So let's go back to your life now. So you talked about the first day and having difficulties understanding Japanese, but then over time that must've changed as you stayed there?

RT: Yes. Well, that was in third semester of fifth grade and after sixth grade we'd either have to go into what they call advanced grade school, and that was eighth, seventh and eighth grade, but I, my father wanted me to go to girls' school, which was five more grades after sixth grade. That was the Japanese system then, was sixth grade and then five years to, what do you call it, kind of middle school, high school, or go to seventh and eighth grade.

TI: And what would you have to do to be, to get into girls' school? Was it like a special test?

RT: Oh, I studied like mad. On Sundays, Sunday was the only day that we didn't have to go to school. In those days Japanese schools, we went six days a week, and so on Sunday my father had gotten this schoolteacher in another village, and we went there, my brother and I, we went there every Sunday morning to learn Japanese and geography and history, especially me so that in another year, in a little over a year I could take the test to enter girls' school. So I had to study like mad. And then after I entered girls' school the war escalated and we, we hardly did any studies in the classroom. We were sent to the farms to help with the farm work because all the able bodied men were either in the army or in the defense factories.

TI: And so, when you went to girls' school, was that like being sent to, like a boarding school where you --

RT: No, no, just have to walk to girls' school.

TI: But then even, even though you're close to home they sent you away to help with the farms, the more rural farms?

RT: No, the farm, our Tsushima City, or town, was surrounded by farms.

TI: Okay, so every night you would go home still. Okay.

RT: Yeah, instead of going to the class we just walked a little bit further, or on our bicycles, and went to the farms and helped with whatever.

SF: About how many girls went to girls' school, what percentage of people went to this higher education?

RT: Maybe about thirty percent of the sixth grade graduating class. We had to take a test. There was one girls' school that was, I think, run by the, run by the ken, the state, and then there was another one that they considered a lower level that was run by the city, by the town of Tsushima. And I was fortunate enough to enter the state-run, ken-run school. But then, like I said, I hardly studied in Japan because the war escalated and we had to go to the farms. And then after that, the last year of the war, had to walk across town for an hour and, to work in a textile farm, I mean textile company.

TI: Textile factory.

RT: Factory. And we wove blankets, but they didn't have wools or anything in those days. I mean, they were short of everything, so it was some kind of synthetic material, so the, it wasn't even warm, the blankets, but it was for the military. And they had military officer, two officers monitoring the factory. Everything was run by the military.

TI: And why would they have military people? So this is like a manufacturing place, so they had --

RT: Yes, but they were manufacturing things for the army.

TI: And what was the role of the, of these military people? What, what did they do at the factory?

RT: They were just supervising, I think.

TI: Just looking over people?

RT: Uh-huh.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So you talked about, over the course of the war from a, I guess a labor standpoint, you were kind of pulled out of school, so you had to work first in the fields and then later on in a factory. What are some other changes that you saw during this time period? Like for instance, your family, did, did things change for your mother and father during this time period?

RT: Oh, yes. Everything was rationed, having to stand, my mother used to have to stand in long queues to buy anything. Everything was rationed. Food was short. I remember, in those days there wasn't much fuel, so everything was either horse, horse drawn or by man and when a horse got very old and couldn't draw and do its work anymore then they would kill it, and then when we heard about a certain horse was going to be butchered, then we'd go to the butcher shop and stand in line for hours just to get the horse meat.

TI: So all the families in the village would wait there for...

RT: Yeah, that's how it was. I mean, stand in, the housewives, they would be standing in line for a long time just to buy food or whatever.

TI: During this time, because your family was working a farm, were you more fortunate than others because you had food?

RT: Yes. I think much of the rice that they raised had to be sold, or given or sold to the army or whatever, but at least we had, were able, we were a little better off than the normal townspeople because my father was helping at the farm.

TI: So what other changes, like maybe, maybe information? Did you sense the news or anything changing over the course of the war? Did you notice anything like that? Or the police, did they change? I'm just trying to get a sense of, as the war progressed, how life changed for, for you and others.

RT: I don't think the police were on my parents' back as much because my father was mostly gone during the day, helping at the farm, which, the farm was maybe, by bicycle, maybe about thirty minutes or so by bicycle, so he was commuting to my aunt's farm. And my mother was busy trying to get food on the table. My grandfather was still...

TI: As the war progressed, how about preparations for actual warfare? Were people being taught or trained or, to defend the country?

RT: Oh yes. Well, we were, we had to practice bucket relays to, for the air raids. Japanese houses burned very easily and so we had to learn a lot of that, how to do bucket relays and other things, and also, probably the last year of the war, at, working in the factories, during the day, I can't remember if it was in the afternoon or when they, Nagoya built the fighters, fighter planes, the zero fighters that were used as the kamikaze fighter planes, so they had Mitsubishi aircraft there, so Nagoya was really, really heavily bombed during the war. So we weren't, we were maybe about twenty miles from Nagoya, but every day there would be a air raid siren coming on, so the students, we were the first to be able to go into the bomb shelters, leave our place in the factory, so we kind of looked forward to that at least. [Laughs] We didn't have to work when we went into the shelters. One day when they told us the air raids was over, we came out, and this B-29 just kind of was going back, but it saw us and he went and swooped down at us and machine gunned us. That was really, really scary and I realized that, later on I realized that there's no discrimination for something like that. They don't care whether you're, there's an American citizen down below or what.

TI: And when that happened, was anyone hit with the machine guns, when they machine gunned, did anyone --

RT: Yeah, there was one older man that worked in the factory. We were able to run into one of the warehouses.

TI: But in general, the air raids, so the bombers were bombing Nagoya, twenty miles away, but whenever they did that the air raids would go off and you would go into the bomb shelters?

RT: Uh-huh.

TI: So generally the bombs didn't drop close to you?

RT: No. No, the bombs didn't, and during the last year of the war, last six months or so, we slept outdoors. It wasn't safe to sleep indoors anymore because at night when the air raids, when they had the air raids, the Japanese, it was incendiary bombs and the Japanese homes just, was just, it just went up.

TI: So when you slept outside, where did you sleep? Was it right next to the house or was it in the fields or, where'd you go?

RT: Well, in back it was just a small plot of earth, but the, and then there was a lotus lake, a lake with lotus, but, so the Japanese, the soil, it rains a lot, so you can dig three inches and you get water, so we were told to dig a bomb shelter, but we, there was no way you can build a bomb shelter in your backyard, so we just kind of slept outdoors. And, well, the war ended in August, so it wasn't too bad, but every night in the distance you would see bright lights and you would know that there was a town or village that was air raided, bombed. And every night it was, the lights were getting closer and closer.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So as this was going on, how did people in the town feel about how Japan was doing in the war? Was there a sense that Japan could still win the war?

RT: I believe so. They were pretty much, newspapers and everything, it was controlled. The military controlled it and I don't think they were, we were told the correct, the honest situation.

TI: And how did they talk about Americans, when they reported about the Americans or what they were like, what was the news or word about Americans?

RT: Yeah, kichiku, meaning savage Americans, brutal. That's why when the war ended many Japanese families sent their daughters into the woods or to remote places.

TI: And so what did you think, 'cause you had grown up in America to eleven years old and then spent the last few years in Japan? When you heard them describe Americans as savages, what, what did you think?

RT: I was probably brainwashed too. That's, but I don't think I thought that Americans were that bad, but that's the words that they described the Americans.

TI: So the, the thought of seeing an American, or a white American, would be fearful for you and others?

RT: Uh-huh.

TI: So in terms of the end of the war, how much did you know about the atomic bomb at either Hiroshima or Nagasaki?

RT: The only time when it, after it was dropped and we read it in the papers, and...

TI: And when you read it in the papers, how did it describe, or what was your understanding of what happened?

RT: Not, I don't think I really grasped it that much. I was only fifteen, just barely fifteen.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

SF: How did you hear about the end of war?

RT: At the factory, at noontime on August 15th, it was a really hot day, and they told us all to gather in this field, factory field. And so under the blazing sun on a hot August, we were all standing there and whenever the emperor spoke we had to bow our heads and listen, so we bowed our... but it was not a very, well, the way the emperor speaks, it wasn't colloquial Japanese and it was hard for us to understand what he was saying. But when the, one of the main army officer, after he heard it, heard the speech, and he just crumbled to the ground, crying in anguish, we knew that the war had ended, must've ended. And I was relieved. I was so happy.

TI: And why were you, why did you feel relieved and happy?

RT: That the war ended, that we wouldn't have to worry about air raids or maybe food shortage. Everything was terrible. It was just very scary.

TI: So describe the days after the war ended. What, what happened then?

RT: After the war ended it was terrible because all these soldiers were being repatriated and then these families, too, were coming home, and so the food shortage was doubled, or tripled what it was before. And it was, in Nagoya, people, most of the homes, everything was bombed and people were living in bomb, in their little bomb shelters or huts or whatever they can find, shelter. It was just, after the war it was more terrible than during the war, as far as food.

TI: And so how did people survive, food-wise? I mean, what would they eat?

RT: It was just, I don't... a lot of people went hungry. There was starvation. It's, it's, fortunately my father was still working for his aunt's farm, so we were a little better off as far as food was, but it was still... and then my, after the war my father went to work for the occupation forces 'cause he knew a little English. And so he went to work near Nagoya's, where there was an occupation forces, and he worked in the mess hall as an interpreter and he was in charge of the bus boys there. So he used to bring home the crust of the breads and sometimes they had a little piece of butter on it. We always used to look forward to that, I think. Especially my little sister. She was only six years old. But he used to sneak home, it wasn't, he wasn't supposed to do that, but he was able to sneak home bits of bread and other things.

SF: So the occupation force provided some way for people who had English skills or any kind of link to America to, as a way just to survive because everybody knew that they had food and resources? How did that work? How did, so everybody tried to get to the occupation forces to find a job or get some other...

RT: Yes. There were some young people that went and applied for jobs, and so my father spoke some English, so he was able to be the interpreter and supervise the bus boys in his job as, in the mess hall.

TI: Now, at the end of the war you're about, what, fifteen years old?

RT: I was just fifteen in July and the war ended in August.

TI: So let's talk about you and what you did then, after the war.

RT: After the war we went, finally we went back to the classroom, but then most of our books were burnt. We couldn't have Japanese readers, we couldn't have Japanese history or geography, and it was a girls' school, so we didn't have any military classes, so that was good, but we could only have, like, sewing classes and P.E. and music and maybe English. And the teachers were afraid to open their mouth and say anything because then they would get purged. The U.S. occupation forces was very strict on all those things. They wanted to change everything to a democracy.

TI: So what, in particular, what type of, of information or lessons were the occupation forces most concerned about? I mean, you mentioned, so they didn't want Japanese history taught anymore, things like that, so when you say a teacher was, was very careful, what did they have to be careful about?

RT: Well, the books were all, we couldn't use any of the books that we were using, as far as history or geography or the Japanese readers, because, like the Japanese readers, they always had stories about the war heroes or people like that, and of course history and part of geography, too, because it might've said something about the Japanese trying to, what is it? How they probably, what is it, Korea, you know, Japan at one time had Korea under its, what, occupation, is it? Anyway, the Koreans in those days, they had to change their names into Japanese surnames and they had to study Japanese and talk Japanese.

TI: So these were all things that the Americans didn't want taught in schools, so they wanted to stop that?

RT: Uh-huh.

TI: I see. So it's kind of like, from a school standpoint, people were kind of in limbo, not really sure, not, not being able to teach what they used to teach, but not really knowing what to teach instead of that. Okay, so what happened at school then?

RT: So we used to go to school and then in, after the occupation started, around September or October, I think, I was, I, one of my relatives living in Nagoya still had a little, their business wasn't, they didn't lose their business from the air raids, and so they were buying things from the U.S. GIs on the black market and you know, 'cause in those days the Hershey bar and the cost of prostitution was the same. That's how desperate people were in Japan to get food. And so these GIs, they were entitled to one candy a day. That was their ration. And then their -- I don't know if you know what C-rations are, the military. Yeah, so they would break up the C-rations and bring the canned meat and such and sell it on the black market, and since I could speak English my relatives wanted me to be there on the weekends when I was out of school and I was sort of like their interpreter, go-between when these people, GIs came and sold their things. And so that's how my relatives at that time was able to make a living with selling, being able to buy these things from the GIs and sell it to the other Japanese.

TI: And so what would they pay the GIs with? So the GIs would, say, do a candy bar, in return what would the GIs get?

RT: Gee, they, it must've, it must've been in yen. I never, or maybe they had some kind of a currency. I don't know.

TI: I was wondering if it was a barter system or if was just actually in yen.

RT: I don't know. All I know is that on weekends I used to go there and help, and sometimes the GIs would bring shaving cream, you know, the tube of shaving cream? From their rations or whatever, and they would sell it as, as toothpaste or, or something to eat or something, because the Japanese in those days didn't have toothpaste in a tube. It was in a powder form and you just bought it. And so sometimes the GIs made a lot of money selling the things that weren't what the Japanese thought they were getting.

TI: And how did the GIs treat the Japanese, like in this situation, or treat you when you're talking with them?

RT: They were nice. Yeah. It was, so I think after a while the Japanese families that had sent their daughters to the remote areas realized that the Americans weren't that bad, that they were, and many of these Americans had come from the battlefields and so they were very, very nice, compassionate.

TI: Why would a battlefield sort of soldier be compassionate? I would think almost the opposite, that they'd be hardened and...

RT: No, I think, I think it's because they had families at home, and they weren't, they were family men. They had sisters, siblings at home and they, they wanted to get back home as quickly as possible.

TI: Okay.

SF: Did you ever meet Nisei soldiers when you were...

RT: Not too many, no. I had a relative from Hawaii that was there as one of the occupation forces and he came to see us once, but...

TI: Okay, so on weekends you would go and essentially act as interpreter or helper for...

RT: A go-between, black market. [Laughs]

TI: Go-between. And this was with, I'm sorry, your aunt? Or who was this again, this was your...

RT: It was one of my relatives, distant relatives that was, in other words, using me. [Laughs] And it was, for me it was kind of fun, instead of staying in my little town near the farmlands. It was different. It was kind of exciting.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Well, and what, what you had that others didn't was your English abilities. You could speak English.

RT: Well, my English was eleventh grade, I mean, eleven year old English. It wasn't very good. My vocabulary was not very large, but, see, my brother was two years younger and so he almost lost most of his English, but I was eleven when I went to Japan, so I was more able to retain my English.

TI: Okay, so in my notes I have you later on working as a translator for...

RT: I think it's because when I was in, helping my relative, buying these things, somebody there had known that I was able to speak a little English and so when this court martial or whatever it was for the rape of a GI, of the Japanese girl, and they couldn't understand the college professor's English. They probably found where to find me, so in early December this lieutenant, or captain in a jeep with his GI driver stopped and came to my school, and this was a rural girls' school and they had never seen GIs, or Americans for that matter, and they were just very, very shocked and scared more than anything, and especially when they talked to me and they asked me to come and help them. And I said, "Well, I'm only fifteen and I'll have to talk to my father." And they said, "Well, where's your father working?" So I told them where my father was working, and he says, "Get in the jeep," and then they drove me to this place near Nagoya where my father was working and my father said, "Well, right now they're not doing much learning anyway, so I guess it's okay." So I started doing the interpreting for the court martial. And that was kind of fun. I didn't know what, sex and rape or anything like that was not in my vocabulary at that time, and so maybe that was why I was able to, all I had to do was listen intently to what the college professor was trying to say and trying to repeat it in, with a U.S. accent.

TI: And so you would listen to the professor who, which had a strong British accent?

RT: Uh-huh.

TI: Were you also listening to the Japanese also so you kind of knew what they were saying, so it was a combination of the two?

RT: I think so, yeah.

TI: That probably then allowed you to explain most of what was happening.

RT: Yeah, the college professor was, being a professor, he was looking for words, not simple words, so like when one, one of the witnesses said ketatamashii, which means noisy, he was looking for a bigger word to express it in English and he couldn't and he kind of hesitated and the judges or whatever looked at me and they says, "Okay, what did, what does it mean?" And my vocabulary was so small I said, "Well, it's a big word for noisy." [Laughs] And they all got a chuckle out of that. But that was the extent of my English.

TI: [Laughs] Okay. And you were, you were getting as much from the, just understanding the Japanese and just translating it in simple English. That's what it sounds like. Okay, that makes, that makes sense. So you're, you're all of a sudden working as an interpreter, and what happens after the, the...

RT: After that court martial ended, then it was, at least the offices were warm. And at home there was a fuel shortage. You hardly had enough fuel to, for cooking, so the houses at home were just cold in December, so at least, so I kind of liked staying there and they treated me really nice. And then the Red Cross ladies --

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

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Well, before we go there, I think this was in the office when this happened, you tell a good story about your first Christmas after the war ends, and so can you tell that story?

RT: Oh yes, in those days the GIs, the occupation forces were, they had PX rations and they were given one candy bar a day and a lot of 'em sold it on the black market, but when I went to work on day before Christmas or something there was a cardboard box just, not wrapped or nothing, just a big cardboard box when I opened my desk drawer. And I opened it up and it was just filled with Hershey bars and Babe Ruth and Butterfinger, and had some gum and had one toothpaste, Colgate toothpaste in there, but I, these people in the office had saved it for weeks and weeks, their rations, instead of eating it themselves or selling it on the black market, and it was the most, it was the most wonderful Christmas. And I took it home and every night my brother and my little sister, we'd sit around in the dimly lit tatami and we'd choose, I let them choose a candy bar that they would eat that night, and we'd cut it in three pieces. And that lasted for about three, three months. And candy bars in those days were a little bigger than they are now. Yeah. It was, it was the nicest, I mean, they were so wonderful and I'll never forget that Christmas.

My son, when he was fifteen I used to think, oh gosh, what a wonderful Christmas they're having, when, they... a candy bar to them was nothing, but for me, candy bars, and I could never for a long time throw away the end of a bread loaf, so these things, we lived very frugally and I was able to appreciate a lot of the things. Even now I think of those people in the office and how they made me and my siblings so happy that Christmas. It was so nice. But they were mostly from the battlefields and they had families and they wanted to go home, back to the States. They, they protected me, made sure that the other GIs wouldn't, not, you know, do anything to me or, and I know in the office one day one of the officers got a letter from a Japanese girl, and they were, in those days they were only limited to go to certain occupation forces authorized dance halls or places. They couldn't just go to any place they wanted. And he had met some Japanese dancer, I think, at one of the dance halls, and she had written a letter in Japanese and he asked me to translate it. Well, my English vocabulary being very poor, I mean, I did not know what she was talking about when she says platonic love, or platonic, or physical love. I didn't know how to translate. [Laughs] But it was very interesting.

TI: So essentially kind of a love letter, you had to translate.

RT: I did a lot of translating love letters. [Laughs]

TI: So they all liked to have you around. And they probably, did they tease you and treat you almost like a little sister, it sounds like?

RT: That's what it was. They protected me. Yeah.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: And so after that kind of stint as, in the office, you mentioned the Red Cross.

RT: Yeah, the Red Cross ladies were coming into Nagoya to set up a, their little office and recreation for the GIs, I think. And so we had, they wanted to go out and buy furniture and other things for the office, but like I said, Nagoya was just flat and so it was hard to even find carpentry stores and what the Americans wanted because Americans were bigger than the normal Japanese, so they had to get furniture, too. And so I went with the Red Cross ladies to interpret, to order the things for the office.

TI: And, and was this all paid work? Did they pay you to do these things?

RT: Yes. They, I can't remember, but the occupation forces did pay me, and I think that was one of the things, when I tried to return in April to go back to my girls' school, I had, they told me I had to flunk the grade and go down one step lower. And that was, I had heard that, or my parents had heard that it was because I was making more than the principal of the girls' school. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, so there's some envy about that, about what you're doing.

RT: Jealousy or whatever. And so I decided I didn't want to go back to school and be humiliated having to go one grade lower than my friends, so I stayed and worked, and one, one of the places I worked was the military government team where, in Japan in those days the occupation forces had control over everything, so especially education. And these, they had, I think they had a grade school and a middle school in Nagoya, this Catholic German order, and the Catholic priest, Father Pache used to come to the military government team to talk to the education group 'cause he had just started the first coed college in Japan. And he, I was the receptionist in that office and he would see me there and he, one day he asked me how old I was, and I said, "I'm fifteen," and he said, "How come you're not in school?" And so I told him and he says, "Well, then you come to my foreign language college." So, and he had an ulterior motive, too. I think he wanted a typist. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, so you had to work your way through school. Interesting. I, so I'm thinking about your family situation, so you had your aunt's farm to work, your dad could work at the mess hall...

RT: Yeah, so he wasn't helping at the farm anymore.

TI: Okay, and then you were able to get some jobs 'cause of your interpretation, so it sounds like your family was, in some ways, better off than other families, in terms of surviving.

RT: Yeah. Right, right after the war, yes.

TI: So how did the other families, when you think of your, the other families, girls your age and things like that, how did they survive during this time?

RT: I think their fathers, some of their fathers were coming back from the army or navy, wherever they were. Some lost their fathers, some lost their older brothers. It was a very sad time, I think it was. Food situation was terrible, but somehow, somehow we all survived.

TI: So was it a situation where there's a lot of, like in the United States you see a lot of homeless people, were there, like, people that were homeless?

RT: Oh yes. Oh yes, there was many, many homeless people. Yeah. And they would buy the leftovers from the GI mess halls and they would make it into soup or whatever and sell it on the black market. People were, and cigarettes that was tossed, I mean, people were collecting those and rolling it and selling it or, or smoking it themselves. I know after the war, the women, Japanese women were liberated and they were allowed to have cigarette rations just as, same as the men, and so my mother became very liberated and she started smoking. [Laughs]

SF: Do you recall any help that the families got from the Japanese community in the United States?

RT: Well, the Japanese community in the United States, all our, the people that my parents knew, they were just coming out of camp and they were all struggling, too, because their children, the older ones were probably in the army and when they got out they were going for the GI Bill and going to school, but they were all struggling and we did get a few care packages from the United States, from our friends, but no, it wasn't very good.

TI: And when was the first time you heard that the Japanese in the United States were put into camps? People in Salinas and places like that went to camps, when was the first time you heard about that?

RT: I think it's when this man came back on the boat during the war. Weren't there about two shiploads that came back? And I think one of his friends that was in the Heieki Gimusha Kai stopped by and told him about the situation.

TI: And do you recall what you thought when you heard about the camps?

RT: No.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: Alright, so Rose, we're gonna start our third segment, and so you're in Japan and you're working. At some point you decide to come back to the United States.

RT: Yes, I was, when I was going to college, right away I needed to get a job, so I was employed by the Japanese telephone and telegraph office and they were the ones that sent the operators to the U.S. occupation billets and other units to work on the switchboard. And so I worked for the officers' billets in Nagoya. And my husband Tats, he came back from the army, he volunteered for the Japanese army at age fifteen, which was, it was almost a peer pressure or school pressure whatever at that time, and so when he came back from the war, when the war ended at age seventeen, his home and business was all gone and his family was living with six other families in this dilapidated two story house with no running water, or no running, not the kind of bathrooms that we have. Anyway, they all, because of malnutrition and unsanitary conditions, one after another they became, got tuberculosis, and Tats did, too.

TI: Now, this was all before you were married, though?

RT: Oh, yes. This was, yeah, before we were married, right after the war. But we met in college. He was two years older. There was a lot of young men that had gone to the military academies that, when the war ended the U.S. occupation only limited ten percent of those boys to go to the regular four year universities, so a lot of these people, they wanted to go to the four year universities, but since they had military experience they were limited and so --

TI: That's interesting. I've never heard that rule, so ten percent of the men who served in the military, only ten percent could go to a university. And was that because there was a shortage of, of space?

RT: No, I guess because the U.S. didn't want any military, militaristic philosophy or whatever.

TI: So they wanted to limit that, that military influence at the universities. I see.

RT: That's right, into the universities, is what I heard, that they only permitted ten percent to go. And so, like Tats, he, so they had no choice but to go to these private three year colleges like the foreign language class.

TI: And that's where you met him then, at the Nagoya College of Foreign Languages?

RT: Yes. It was the first coed school and our teacher, our president gathered the twenty or so girls at that time and said, "This is a test case of the first coed college and, or school, in Japan and so there will be no fraternization among the sexes." But then he worked, he got a job at a base and I was at a, at the officers' billets, and so at night we had to keep each other awake. And so we used to do our homework and we used to talk at work over the phone, but at school we, all we said to each other was "good morning" and "goodbye." [Laughs]

TI: So, but so there was interest back then between you?

RT: Yeah.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: But then at some point, even though you had this interest in Tats, you decided to go back to the United States?

RT: Uh-huh, yes. My father, around that time, by that time the work with the U.S. occupations had kind of dried up for my father, 'cause he didn't have any formal English education, so then he wanted to go back, but we didn't have any money, any, I think at that time you had to be sponsored by somebody in the States so that they wouldn't become a welfare charge. And in 1953, in February, my grandfather passed away, and so a few months later my aunt who had left for camp had settled in Utah, near Ogden, Utah, said, wrote, wrote to us -- we didn't have, she didn't have telephones. We didn't have telephones either, so she wrote and said that she could scrape up three hundred and fifty dollars for one person to come back to the States, and she said that it would probably be logical for me to come and work for a few years and save money so I can send for my father and brother. And so I was engaged, but Tats wasn't established in his job or anything and he had to support his family, too, because they had lost everything in the war, so I came to Utah to live with my aunt.

TI: And so you're at this point about twenty-two?

RT: Three.

TI: Twenty-three, okay.

RT: Twenty-three.

TI: And how did you feel about coming back to the United States?

RT: A lot of apprehension, because I didn't know what I was gonna be doing. Aunt was raising her children by doing housework in Utah for a dollar an hour, and so I came to the States and my first job was picking cherries, but I wasn't very good at that. And then I started working in the summer in the canneries for seventy-five cents an hour. Then after that I, my cousins was, my cousin was a year older than me and she was a registered nurse and she was working at Ogden Airfield. And so she told me that there was a, I could take some tests for a clerk typist or, another one was keypunch operator, and I didn't pass the clerk typist, but I passed the test for the keypunch operator because I didn't have experience, but I had the aptitude for a keypunch operator 'cause I was used to numbers, being a telephone operator. So they, I got my experience at Hill Air Force Base.

TI: So this is like a civil service job?

RT: Uh-huh, civil service job. So I then, I went back, after I got my father and brother to Sunnyvale, then I went back to Japan and I got married and, but it wasn't a legal marriage because I was entered, I was, I only had a U.S. citizenship at that time, and so I was entered into my husband's family register, but I didn't have any Japanese citizenship and I, right away, I worked for the occupation forces in Nagoya as a civilian, so I had to abide by the military rules.

TI: But, so weren't you, when you first went to Japan, I thought they registered you...

RT: But then I renounced my citizenship --

TI: Japanese?

RT: -- Japanese citizenship just before I returned to the States.

TI: I see, okay. Okay, so --

RT: That was because I was working for the Japanese telephone and telegraph office, which was at that time a semi government and I couldn't work there as a regular employee anymore. So I...

SF: So you were, if you were married to Japanese citizen but you were a foreigner, then you can't be registered on the family register? There's not, there's just nothing there, just blank, is that right?

RT: Yeah, my name was entered into my husband's family register saying that Tatsuhiko married this Asako Ito, but I was not a Japanese citizen.

SF: So that, was that a legal, like a legal marriage or not a legal marriage in Japanese eyes?

RT: I think as far as the Japanese was it was alright, but the U.S., since I was working for the U.S. occupation forces they didn't consider it legal, so I was still going by my maiden name, Ito.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: I want to just go back to your father, so he really wanted to come back to the United States. Before the war he was very supportive of the Japanese war effort and Japan, so why did he want to come back to the United States?

RT: He was, he was, all he knew was being a farmer in the United States since he was here from age fifteen, and he wanted to come back and be a farmer again.

TI: And so did he return to the same area to be a farmer back in California?

RT: Yes, he came back to the, to Sunnyvale to the Yonemoto Nursery, although Mr., it was Mr. Yonemoto's brother Fred that was in charge of the nursery, but my father and brother, they were able to live in the little cabin on the nursery premises, so they lived there, but my father didn't have any resources to get back to farming. Like many other Isseis that came out of the internment camps, they became gardeners or...

SF: Did your dad ever talk about the, the, any remorse he might have had from being kind of a very successful farmer before the war to having to kind of start over or have a small...

RT: No, I think he, he was one of these, I guess, passive Isseis that took his fate. Shikata ga nai, you know?

TI: How about his decision to return to Japan? Did he ever talk about that, whether or not that was a good decision or a bad decision?

RT: No. He didn't say. I think, well, when he found out how his fellow Heimusha Kai group people were doing, being sent to Tule Lake or wherever, separated from their families because they were, when the war started I think many of 'em were taken away right away by the FBI, so perhaps he was a little relieved then, I don't know.

TI: So your father and brother got this job, and then eventually your mother and sister --

RT: Yeah, after I got married.

TI: So then you all came over. And so you got married, and talk about the, you said initially the U.S. government didn't recognize your marriage as legal, but what did you have to do to make it legal?

RT: I had to, my husband had to get a test just like the Japanese girls that were gonna marry GIs, had to get VD test and all these other physical, medical tests, and my husband had tuberculosis, so he didn't pass. And although his tuberculosis was inactive, it showed, still showed a shadow, so after a couple of years they talked to me, well, I talked to them and they said, "Well, in his situation, although, even if we did give you permission to marry him legally, you, the visa requirements, he wouldn't meet visa requirements because of his tuberculosis. It still showed a shadow on the x-rays." So I said, "That's okay, I will remain in Japan if that's the case," so they finally let me marry him legally. And after that, in 1959, he went and got a lobectomy so that the x-rays would clear his situation, and so he was finally able to come to the United States.

SF: How did your husband feel about coming to the United States and leaving Japan?

RT: Well, it was very, very difficult, but in those days there were very few jobs and so, and his physical situation wasn't that good, living in Japan, so that's probably why he, I talked him into coming to the States and start a life. And I'm glad we did that.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: And so we're, Rose, we're coming towards the end of the interview, but there's one topic I wanted to just touch upon and that was your friendship with Dorothy Kobara and your work with the, I guess, senior citizens' group. Can you, can you tell me a little bit about, about that?

RT: Yes, she started a senior group from her Saratoga home. She saw there was a need for these isolated, especially Issei women, they didn't drive and they didn't know much English and so in those days they were very isolated, coming out of internment camp, and so she wanted to start a group. My parents were one of the first group that was invited to her home and they told me about her and she didn't speak any, well, hardly much Japanese, and so we sort of teamed up and she did all the outside, going to the Council of Aging, going to different places to get some funding, and I was the communicator with the Isseis, and it worked out fine. She, I'm more or less a social introvert, so she was a very soft spoken person, but I don't know, people just, they see her and they, when she talks to them she was so soft spoken, but everybody wanted to do something for her. She'd go to the supermarket and she, we didn't have much of anything and she'd want something and they says, the managers would just kind of do anything that she wanted them to do, and she'd go to the Council of Aging and she was able to get funding for an escort driver that would take the Isseis to their medical appointments, and she had told them it was the Japanese culture to go visit the graves in the cemetery, so that was, because of the Japanese culture she was able to get the escort driver to take the Isseis to the cemetery once a month and grocery shopping in Japantown. She was just, and she's the one that started the daruma festival in, what is it, west San Jose? Yeah, she, that was very successful for several years, but...

TI: Yeah, so Dorothy is a Nisei?

RT: Yeah, she's a Nisei.

TI: And, and so she sounds like a remarkable, remarkable...

RT: She's a remarkable person.

TI: I'm curious, how, in general, how did the Niseis treat you as a, sort of a Kibei? You were...

RT: Yeah, I didn't know that there was a lot of problem with the Kibeis in the camps. I didn't know any of that history, but I do know that they were rather cool to me. And, but then I was too busy, on the weekends I was busy picking up the Isseis to take them to some gathering or, and during the weekday I was busy working. My children were little, so I couldn't, we couldn't afford a babysitter because my, we were sending money to Japan to support his parents, so I always worked nighttime, and so I was too busy. And then the, in the '70s the Japanese businessmen started coming here, but they didn't, in those days there weren't that many, so I had to, I did a lot of work helping them get settled in.

TI: So it's your, your language ability really was, I guess, well, a great way of connecting with the Isseis, but then later on with the Japanese businessmen. Did you ever have any conversations with Dorothy about the Niseis and the Kibeis and, and the relationships between the two groups?

RT: No. No. I did read a lot of books about what happened in camp and the Kibeis and "no-nos" and all, all this, and so I kind of gathered why the Niseis shunned the Kibeis.

TI: And why do you think that? I mean, when you look at your, what you read and what you've heard, why do you think the Niseis shunned the Kibei?

RT: Well, because, I guess, some of 'em were very active in supporting the Japanese war effort. Some of 'em didn't think that the Japanese could lose. I don't know.

TI: No, that's good. I'm just curious how, 'cause I've read the same thing, so I'm just curious from your perspective what, what that looked like. Steve, any closing questions or anything else?

SF: Maybe, what advice might she give to the younger generation of Japanese Americans? From your broad experience, would you give any advice to, like my daughter who's a Yonsei,or a Gosei, her children?

RT: Well, life is so different. I look at my grandchildren and what they have and their life, and it is so different. I don't know.

TI: Savor those candy bars. [Laughs]

RT: No, when they say they want an Xbox 360 for... [I don't even know what that is, but I was very, we were very lucky that my daughter started working for Apple when they were developing Kanji Talk. And so my husband and I was, we were kind of a user study group and that's how I learned computers and to use Japanese, and so I'm really glad that all these things happened and I was at the right place at the right time and now I'm able to do the Yu-Ai Kai's English, I translate that into Japanese and I do their Japanese newsletters and I do a lot of translation, so it works out. People have helped us a lot along the way and now, as I, I'm eighty years old now, but I'm still able to help people with their medical, when they go to the medical doctors and other things. Japanese families that are here, sometimes they need some help.

TI: So Rose, thank you so much. This was an excellent interview. I really enjoyed just the time. Thank you.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.