Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Yoneko Dozono Interview
Narrator: Yoneko Dozono
Interviewer: Margaret Barton Ross
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: June 7, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-dyoneko-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

MR: This is an interview with Yoneko Dozono, a Nisei woman, eighty-eight years old, at her home in Portland, Oregon, on June 7, 2003. The interviewer is Margaret Barton Ross of the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center's Oral History Project 2003. Mrs. Dozono, thank you for allowing us to come today. Can we start out by talking about where you were born and when and your family life?

YD: Okay. Well, thank you for coming to interview me. I feel so very much of an honor. I was born here in Portland, Oregon, down by the North Park Blocks, down in North Portland. At that time, it was called Japantown just as it is now called Chinatown. February the 4th, 1915, this is an interesting item that people should know. I know that I was born in February the 4th because I have a little packet that my mother had written stating that I was born on that day with a navel that was dried up. In the olden days, they kept the navel of the children to show that they were born. But on my birth date is actually March the 4th. And I think the reason for that is because in the olden -- I call that the olden days -- many people waited to see if their children were going to live that long. And so at that time, I'm sure that my father was the midwife because he was the one that wrote out my birth certificate, and it was March the 4th. So on my Social Security, it is March the 4th, but I do know that it is February the 4th, and I'm going to have to get that fixed up one of these days.

MR: Where did your family live then, and what work did the parents do?

YD: That's one of the sad things about my not knowing the past history of my parents. But at that time, my father had, I think he had a hotel, but I'm not sure. But I do know through my sisters telling me that I was born at, I think right now it's probably gone, but it used to be Killen Stationery Store down by the Portland, by the North Park Blocks. And I was the fourth daughter of five girls and a brother. And I think probably right after I was born that my parents had the Oak Hotel which is very close to the Benson Hotel before we moved over to the east side. We were one of the first Japanese families to move from Japantown over to the east side, and I think at that time I was four years old.

MR: Did you start school pretty soon after your fifth birthday then?

YD: No. I started in my, when I was six years old. But as with so many other Niseis at that time, we lived just across the street from the Franz Bakery over there in Northeast Everett or Davis. And we had, I know that my parents had a very hard time because the neighborhood people had never seen or known Japanese people. And to this day, my oldest friend is Glen McKee who lives up in the Dalles, and her family, they're very good to us. And on the other side, there was the Mills, and they were very, very cruel to my mother, and we had a hard time. And I remember that they had called us derogatory names, and it was very hard for my family. But of course we, as children, didn't realize what was going on until later years. I can remember that we were Japanese foreigners moving into that neighborhood, and Mr. Franz was, he was the beginning of the Franz Bakery. And he being German, he and my father knew each other very well because sometime before I knew what was going on, I think my father had something to do with the restaurant, and Mr. Franz would come over and talk to my family very often. And at that time, all the workers at the Franz Bakery were Germans, and of course, they came from Germany, and they were also foreigners. And so we, as children, would go over there, and they were very friendly to us. Those are the kind of things I remember. And in one of the stories that I thought and wrote about when I was in Japan was about one of the children of Franz, Franz's son, when I started going to Washington High School, I remember Franz being, we called them later custodians, but he was a janitor. And his father had told my father that he wanted his children to learn the hard way because Mr. Franz was a very successful bakery, baker. He didn't want his children to be known as one of the rich people, and so he was hired as a custodian to Washington High School, and that really struck me as a very good thing for people to know.

MR: You mentioned that your father met Mr. Franz or somehow knew Mr. Franz through the restaurant. What restaurant would that be?

YD: Those again, these are the stories that my sisters used to tell me. But of course, I was not interested in knowing the history of whatever it was. But I do know that my father was one of the pioneers of Portland, and I really wouldn't be able to tell you what he did, but he was one of the founders of the society.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MR: You said you went to Washington High School. Where did you go to grade school at?

YD: Buckman, Buckman.

MR: Do you have any memories of school you'd like to share?

YD: Oh, at Buckman, I remember that one year there was a fear of the thyroid glands, and so every one of us used to have to take thyroid pills. And of course, we didn't know why, but we were told that because if you took the thyroid pills that you would not have goiter. And another thing that I remember was Buckman was one of the schools that had the big swimming pool, and my sister and I were good swimmers, and so we enjoyed the swimming pool there, and we were quite well known as athletes at that time. During the time when my sisters and we were living down at the North Park Blocks, there was a wonderful girl who was named Jill Tojer, and she was a student at the University of Oregon. And during the summers, she would work at the Park Blocks to teach all the foreign children there, and I have pictures of the different nationality children who lived there. And she would, Miss Tojer would teach us, or my sisters, how to knit or do different crafts. And at that time, I was four and my sister was, the next to me was my sister Masako and Miss Tojer took a great interest in us. And so during the formative years, she would take us to the YWCA and taught us how to swim. And because of that interval of learning how to swim at the Y, we were quite well known in the community because we were her Japanese children. And she, being a young person herself, loved the two of us, and so she would buy clothes for us and dress us in nice clothes and take us to the Y to swim or to Peninsula Park to swim. And I really think that we had a better advantage of learning American ways more because of Miss Tojer. And through all that training, I think that we were more Americanized than many of the other Japanese children who lived only in the, in Japantown. And because of that, my sister Mas and I were known for our swimming abilities.


YD: Going back to Buckman School, I remember that I used to go to the bible studies in the summer. And those are the kind of things that still stick to my mind because the things that I think you learn in your childhood, in your formative years, you never forget.

MR: You said you went to Washington High School after Buckman. What memories do you have of Washington High School?

YD: Washington High School was very hard for me because after I graduated from Buckman, all the friends that I had made, we were scattered, going into high school. And I think that in looking back that I always had sort of an inferiority complex because of the fact that my sister, Mas, was an outstanding student. And every place I went, they would say, "Oh, you're Mas's sister. I know you're going to do well." And that really put me at a disadvantage because I was a very shy, more of an introverted person, and I was, I guess I could say that I was more sickly. That's probably why I tended to like to sew and knit and do things that were more sedentary than being active. Although when I went into high school, I did excel in swimming and tennis, and I tried out for the tennis team, and that was very invigorating for me because of my feeling of being inferior. I was not an excellent student.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

MR: After high school, what direction did you take?

YD: Well, when I was sixteen in looking back, before I was sixteen, when I was fifteen, I remember my father took me to the hop fields that summer, and he was sort of a broker because of his education and because of his background that he was able to, I guess you'd call it a broker. He was able to get people to work for him in the hop fields, and he would hire the Japanese single men and the Filipinos, and he would never have any of us girls go to those camps because it was not the thing to do. But when I was fifteen, he took me to the camp and... I get kind of weepy. I think he knew then that he wanted to send me to Japan, and I had a wonderful time with my father. And it's also interesting to know that I met Mr. Koida when he had just come back from Japan, and he worked there with us, and I had a picture of him which I gave him later on, and he was happy about that. But in looking back, I think that he wanted me to enjoy being with him before he sent me to Japan. And then when I was sixteen, he wanted me to go to Japan to study for two years, and it was Matsushima's grandfather, Masaburo Matsushima, took me to Japan to study, and I went to a place called Gifu which is next to Nagoya, and I stayed there with my uncle and aunt for the next few years to study.

MR: And did you graduate from high school, then, in Japan?

YD: I graduated from high school in Japan. But since I was older than the other students, my life in Japan was the turning point of my life. I arrived in Japan on April the 1st. And to me, I remember I was, when I arrived in Yokohama, my aunt and a cousin came after me, and I thought to myself, "This is April Fool's Day. What's going to happen for the rest of my life?" And of course, my aunt was in Japanese clothes, and here, I was in American clothes. I thought, oh, what's going to happen with me, and that's when my whole life changed. And because of my age, I was not able to go into a regular high school, and so I was very privileged. My uncle and aunt were quite well-to-do and very well-known in their town. So the first education process that I went through was every morning I would get up and go to the elementary school there, and I was taught Japanese by the principal, which when you think back on, it was very privileged thing for me to do. And the first thing that I remember is when I was, my aunt took me there for the first day. And when you enter into the school grounds, there is a huge gate that's opened during the school hours, and in front of the school, there's a huge Emperor's emblem in gold. And when you walk into the gate, the first thing you do is you bow and show respect to the school and to the Emperor's emblem. Well, being American, I thought, "What in the dickens am I doing bowing to somebody or something that I didn't even know anything about?" But my aunt kept on saying, "This is something you have to do because in Japan you show honor and respect to the Emperor." And so the first day when she took me, I had on my hat and I had on my gloves like the proper Japanese American girl would do, and she said, "Take your hat off, take your gloves off." And I said, "What is going on?" But I was very obedient. So every day that I would go to school which I did go every day for five days a week in the morning, first thing, I would go into the school and I would bow, and I would be so embarrassed, thinking who's watching me. But of course, by the time I went to school, all the children had gone into the classes, and no one was there. And I would go into the principal's office and wait for him to come, and he would teach me until noon. And during the interval, if he had things he had to do, then of course, he would leave. But it was very hard for me because the only, actually Japanese that I knew in my formative years in Portland was like itadakimasu or gochisosama, the little formalities that every Japanese child knew. But because I was the fourth child and my sisters were all going to high school, all we did was talk in English at home, and so my Japanese were very, very limited when I went to Japan.

But going to school for my first Japanese classes, it was at the elementary school. And when I began to learn more and was able to speak better, then they had me go in to a retired elementary school teacher, and there I would go every morning after I finished going to the principal's office. I would go there, and she would teach me all the niceties of Japanese language, and I went to social studies, history, and I was there for, actually for three years every morning. But I had a very rigid learning experience because in the mornings, I would go to Mrs. Tanaka's home to learn my studies, and I would come home and have lunch. Then in the afternoons, I had to go to a temple and learn how to sew Japanese kimonos, and that was from probably one to five o'clock. And then I would come home and take a bath, and then I had to go to another class and learn the flower arranging. And so my whole life was just one class after another, and I think that's what really gave me the incentive of beginning to know myself more than I ever knew myself in America because there was no feeling of competitiveness that I had when I was growing up. And so I was very interested in learning, but I did have a hard time because, of course, it was, you had to learn thousands of the kanji, the Chinese characters, before you could even read or write. And I'm going forward, but I remember that when they, I was looking at the Japanese newspaper and I saw these characters, aoi toshi, which means literally green years. And so I told my aunt, I said, Obasama, I said, "I could read this." I said, "This is green years." And she said, "No, it's not aoi toshi. It's called seinen." And I said, "Seinen, what does that mean?" And she says, "It's the same thing, but it means young years." And that's when I began to think, wow, there's two ways of reading the Japanese characters. It means the same thing, but it has different, it has the same meaning, but it has different sounds. And I remember so well that that's when I really thought, wow, in Japan, there's meaning to all the different characters and not just sounds. But I thought "green years" is really youth. And so that's when I really began to study Japanese with vim and vigor, and those are the kinds of things I remember very well.

MR: You mentioned that you felt different in your western clothes when you got there. What happened to your western clothes?

YD: Well, you have to remember that was seventy years ago. And where I lived, this was the first time that any Japanese American had gone there, gone back to Japan to study, and so I was a great novelty, and I was written up in the papers quite frequently. Somewhere in the house, I have copies of those papers. But during that time, whenever I walked through the streets to go to school, the children of the village would follow me. And you see these in a lot of the documents, documentaries of an American going into a foreign country and seeing all the children following them. That's the way it was. And so my aunt and uncle said, "No, you can't do this because you draw too much attention." And so they made me wear Japanese clothes. And life was very strict, but I remember my aunt said, "You can choose your own zori," the footwear. And she took me to this shop, and I chose a pair of black zori, and she laughed, and she said, "Those are for older people. You have to wear something red." And I thought, wow, she tells me I can choose something, but I really can't choose things. I have to be very rigid, and I have to conform. And so in order not to draw attention... I had curly hair at that time. It was natural, and she would comb my hair in the morning to make it straight. And being sixteen, seventeen in America, I started polishing my nails, and she said, "You can't polish your nails." I had sterling silver bracelets that were given to me when I left, and she said, "That makes noise, you can't use those." You can't wear lipstick, and everything was conformity, conformity which to me, I think was a very good thing for me because it was something that I think I enjoyed doing because it was the thing to do.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

MR: Let's go back to the trip, we'll backtrack to the trip over from America to Japan on a boat, I assume. How was that trip?

YD: I remember my brother and my father drove me to Seattle, and we, the night before we left Portland, the family -- I'm going to start getting weepy again. The family all got together, and I remember my brother saying, "Why does Yoneko have to go to Japan, you know. She is too young." And my father said, "Well, we have plans for her." And after we got to Seattle, we stayed overnight at, this is probably now defunct, but it was a Bush Hotel, and we went to the seaport and got into the Hikawa Maru. And I have wonderful memories on that ship because there was James Sakamoto who was editor of JACL newspapers in Seattle, very well-known, and he was going blind, and he thought that if he had gone to, if he went to Japan, he would get better treatment. So he and his brother were on that, the same ship, and we became very great friends. And so every day when we were able to, if the ship was not rolling too much, we would walk on the deck and have wonderful stories to tell. And in later years after I did come back to Japan, I tried to get ahold of him and found out that he had been killed in an accident. He had a white cane, and he was crossing the street in Seattle. He had been killed. But I had a chance to talk to his wife and told her about the wonderful memories that I had. Mr. Matsushima, I remember on the ship, it was Yoji's, Yoji, of course, was not born there, but his oldest brother and sister was still a baby, and they were on the ship with us. And I remember Mr. Yoji's father and mother, of course, were there with the grandfather. And we had a very wonderful trip over, but it took us two weeks on the ship to get over to Japan.

MR: And what year was that?

YD: That was 1931.

MR: And when you arrived at the port?

YD: As I mentioned before that my aunt was there. And there was a cousin there who was a doctor, a woman doctor, and that surprised me very much, and she was in American clothes and beautiful, tall woman, and she was related to my aunt's uncle by marriage. But I think that was the last that I ever saw of her because she was a very busy person. And that surprised me because in the olden days, I didn't think that there would be women doctors in Japan.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

MR: So you said you went to school for three years?

YD: Uh-huh.

MR: Then what happened after that?

YD: Well, going back to the schooling that I had, it was going to Mrs. Tanaka's home to learn the history and to learn all the background of Japan, going to my sewing classes in the afternoon. And then in the evenings, after I was able to speak and understand Japanese more, I had to go to flower arrangement classes in the evenings. And then during that interval after about a year, I was told that I would be able to learn the tea ceremony, but that would be in Gifu City, and that took more than, probably about an hour by electric tram to get from where we lived over into the city, and that was every Sunday, and that was the joy of my life because I really enjoyed the tea ceremony. But before I was able to go to the classes, I had to learn how to sit properly, and you sit with your feet underneath you, and that was very hard for me because I had never done that before. But I remember that when I first started being trained to go into the tea ceremony, I would be told to go into the formal part of the house where we lived and sit there for five minutes. And then if I could sit there for five minutes, it was fine. And that went into ten minutes, to fifteen minutes, and then thirty minutes. And then if I was able to sit with my legs sitting properly and my legs would not become numb, then I was able to go to my tea ceremony classes, and I really enjoyed that. And I remember when I first started, the tea master mentioned, I went with my cousin, and my teacher told my cousin, she says, "I admire this woman, this girl coming all the way from America learning the tea ceremony," because even for the young girls in Japan, it was hard for them to sit for thirty or forty minutes. But actually, it was more than an hour because we would go there from morning and then be there at class around eight o'clock, and there would be like ten to twelve students, and each of us had to learn not only how to do the tea ceremony but how to be gracious guests. And so we would be sitting there all day, and we wouldn't get home until like six or seven o'clock in the evening. And that's when you wore your formal dress, and you wore your obi, and you dressed up properly, and I really loved that. And so for all the years that I lived in Japan even after I was married, I still did the tea ceremony. And then after I came back to America, I continued. So I have quite a few of the credentials of the tea ceremony. And I quit after about six or seven years ago because I could no longer sit with my legs folded the way it used to be.

Life was not, when I think back on living in Japan before I was married, life to me was very interesting because I was learning things all the time. But it was also hard because of the fact that I was not able to make any friends. And there was an old saying that you're like kago no naka no tori, you're like a bird in a cage. But there's a time for everything and a time to learn. And so during those formative years before I was married, you were, it was a time to learn and not to play, so I was not allowed to have any friends or to have a social life. But during those times, I've been very fortunate in having very many interesting stories. And one of the stories is that my aunt was a very accomplished woman, and she was able to be a teacher of the tea ceremony and the flower arrangement. She knew koto and the shamisen. And actually, she was the stepmother of three children, and she had been married before in Okayama prefecture, and she had married a very wealthy family who, the story goes that he had some venereal disease, and so she could not have children. And so she divorced, and this is her second marriage. And the oldest son of the Hayashi family where I went to be educated was going to the Tokyo Imperial University, and my aunt was my father's youngest sister. And unbeknownst to me, my father and my aunt had thought that if I had married the oldest son, it would strengthen her position in her life. And so I had thought that I was going to be in Japan for the three years, actually, for the two years to study, but they actually wanted me to marry the oldest son. But it didn't happen that way because we got to be very good friends, but he was more like a brother. And of course, the way I was brought up, you don't fall in love with anybody, because in Japan, there is such a thing as not... well, when you talk about arranged marriages, in the olden days, I say olden days, but in the olden days, the girls were, who were properly educated, were educated to become mothers and wives.


YD: I talk about my marriage as being arranged marriage, but actually, there is a funny aspect into it in that Mrs. Tanaka was telling me about this very famous young educator who lived in Gifu City, and he was looking for a wife, but he was very particular in who he married. And so he had many chances of meeting girls. And if he was not happy about that, he would look up in the sky and act nonchalant and act not interested. And Mr. Tanaka, I forgot to mention, Mrs. Tanaka was the one who taught me the social studies and history. But Mr. Tanaka was the calligraphy teacher of the girls' high school there where I lived. And going back, I learned calligraphy every other week in the evenings at his home, and it was, it was one... I also went to school on Saturdays. And one Saturday, Mrs. Tanaka was telling me about this young educator, and he was going to meet this girl from the high school, a graduate, and they were going to meet at a restaurant in Nagoya at the Mitsukoshi Department Store, and it was what they call omiai. It's the two people getting together to meet the first time. And she said that it's going to be interesting because it was one of Mr. Tanaka's students, former students, and this Mr. Dozono who was going, who were going to meet in Nagoya. And she said, "That's the way people marry in Japan." And I said, "Well, that's a funny way of marrying, you know. You don't marry for love or whatever?" She says, "No, that's what you call an arranged marriage," and then I went home. And then Monday when I went to her class, she laughed, and I said, "How was the meeting?" And she said, "It didn't go well," because, she said that Mr. and Mrs. Tanaka and Mr. Dozono and this girl and the go-between for Mr. Dozono all went to this restaurant, and he wasn't interested, and he stuck his nose up in the air, and that was the end of that. And so I said, "Well, isn't that a funny story?" And while we were talking, the door opened, and this woman came in, and it turned out to be Mr. Dozono's go-between from Gifu City. And so Mrs. Tanaka excused me, and she said, "Well, we'll end our class today, and we'll continue tomorrow."

On Wednesday evening when I went to Mr. Tanaka's calligraphy class, my aunt told me to wear a different kimono, and so I said, "Well, why would I have to wear this kimono?" She said, "Because." And so when I went to the class, it was in an inner room from the outer room where we sat by a table and chair, and he taught me calligraphy. And someone came into the door, and Mr. Tanaka went out and talked to this person. He came back and said, "We have a guest here who wants to listen to you speak English." And he brings out this book, and he said, "Would you read some paragraphs out of this book?" And I thought, "What's going on?" And here I'm in this inner room, and he's talking to someone in the outer room, and so I thought, "Well, since this person's Japanese, I have to be very careful and speak very distinctly." And I was reading this book, and I read two paragraphs. I can't remember the book, but it was a textbook. And after I read it, Mr. Tanaka says, "Well, this is the end of the session because we have a guest here." And so I went back and this was on a Wednesday. Friday after my classes and after I've come back from my assigned class, my aunt says, "We have a distinguished guest here tonight." And this was in the evening, and it turns out to be this Mr. Dozono who I had just said, hi... well, I didn't say hi but hello and goodbye, and he's there, and he goes into the former room and talks to my uncle. And I remember my cousin and my aunt were peering through the shoji and looking at this fellow that went back. And she says, "What do you think of that man?" I said, "Well, I think he's ugly. He's old, and he's nothing that I would think of." And she said, "Well, he's interested in you." And I said, "Oh, no." And that's how the story went from Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and he asked for my hand. And to me, it's funny, but it's sad too because he was much older than I was. He was a dean of the normal school, a very prestigious job, and he had only seen me once, and he asked for my hand. And I thought, "Oh, no, I'm not even ready to get married." But that's the way it was arranged. So actually, I married a stranger. It was very difficult for me.

MR: How long from the time when he decided to marry you until the actual ceremony?

YD: It was about four months, August, September, October, well, actually, three months. And I remember I cried and told Mr. and Mrs. Tanaka, I said, "I don't want to get married to somebody that I don't know." And he said, "Well, you don't know what love is. You don't know what marriage is." He said, "You marry and then you learn how to love." And he said, "Love is not, marriage is not just loving a person. It's compassion and responsibility and integrity and all that sort of thing." I thought, "Oh, it's not for me," but that's the way it was. But it turned out to be fine. I have three wonderful children, eleven grandchildren, three great-grandchildren. And although I was born in America and I was American at heart, I think through the years that I lived in Japan, I really learned the best of the two worlds. And people actually never knew that I was Nisei because I had transferred myself into a typical Japanese lady, not a woman but a lady. And people always used to admire our family because of the fact that they say ichi hime, ni tarou which means one daughter, two children and all well-educated and fine family, and that's the way we were in Japan.

MR: Then where did you live after your marriage?

YD: We lived in Gifu City because of his work, and there were other stories that I can tell you about that aspect. But from Gifu, we, my husband was offered a job in Okayama prefecture, and it was a very, very great honor because he was going to become a principal of what they call Kenritsu fuzoku shougakkou which means that it was prefecture run. And it was active prefecturely run, not a private or a public school, and this was a cluster of schools that started from kindergarten and grade school and the high school, junior high school and high school. And he was offered a job as a principal of the primary school. And it was a great honor, and he was to be transferred there after a year of marriage, and we lived there until I came back to America.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MR: Let's go back to the wedding. What was the wedding like?

YD: The wedding was a disaster to me. I didn't know anyone in the wedding except for my aunt. And when I say it's a disaster, it's because I had no family other than my aunt. And my uncle would not go there because the go-between on my husband's side was a divorced woman of a former governor of Gifu, and the ex-governor had run off with another woman, and she was not a divorcee, and she was not a widow, but she had to make a living for herself. She had sort of like a boarding house, and she had two sons and one daughter who had been married and who had lived in Manchuria, and her husband had been killed in the war. She had brought her four-year-old daughter back and lived with the mother. And in that household, my husband and his sister lived there, and my husband was sort of a tutor to the two sons. And so when I married, my uncle said, "If you get married, you have to start your own household." But my husband felt that he had the responsibility of living with this woman, with a family because of her livelihood and because of the fact that his sister was also living there. His sister was a teacher. So when I got married, I moved into that family. I did not get married to just my husband, it was into that family, and it was miserable. Her name was Mrs. Oowaki. But she clung to my husband because he was tutoring her two sons. One was a grade school student, and one was a high school student. And she always told my husband that if he left and his sister left, she would have no income. And so because my husband felt responsible, he moved me in there. And so I was not his wife, but I was more of the daughter-in-law of her family. And so during the time that we first got married, Mrs. Oowaki and the daughter and I would take turns in cooking for the whole family, and it was miserable because I had never known how to cook for that big a family. In fact, I didn't know how to cook at all because I was studying all the time. And whenever I made any rice, Mrs. Oowaki would make it a point by saying, "The rice is not good today." And my husband, I look back at it, and I think, I wondered how I grinned and beared it because he was always over on the family's side taking care of that family. And in the evening, he would come over to where we lived on our side of the family. And during the day while I was there while my husband was gone, she would have me do things that she needed to have done like doing, resewing her kimonos or her children's kimonos or making new quilts. And so I was not a wife to my husband, I was a wife to the whole family.

And I was married in October, and I remember that I had sort of a nervous breakdown. And in December, I remember sneaking out of the house and going over to a telephone. In the olden days, we didn't have telephones. And I called my aunt, and I told her that I wanted to come home. And she came after me, and I was taken to their family doctor, and he told me that I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And so I stayed at my uncle's home for about a week, more than a week, and my husband came after me. But he insisted that he had obligations to the Oowaki family. And because of that fact, my uncle did not come to the wedding because he felt that my husband was wrong. But in retrospect, he thought more of an obligation to the people that he had been with and felt more loyal to them than to me. And the following March, we finally got our own house. And it was close to the Nagara River which is very famous for the cormorant fishing, and that's when I really started to become a wife. And I love to cook, and I used to buy cookbooks. And because my husband was a dean of the school, he had, he had his students who were actually teachers, young teachers, who had gone back to normal school, and so he was very well noted for his hospitality, and I enjoyed that very much. And we started our own life in March, and it was the autumn of that year that we were transferred over to Okayama.

MR: And you were married in what year? We didn't get to that.

YD: 1931.

MR: You were married in 1931?

YD: Uh-huh.

MR: Okay.

YD: So we've had fifty-two years of married life before my husband passed away in 1987.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MR: You were talking about the cooking. Could you describe the difference between a Japanese kitchen and an American western kitchen?

YD: [Laughs] There's no... well, when I was with the Oowaki family, we had, when we cooked rice, it was in a huge kama, iron pot, and it was cooked with wood. And because of the two boys being students and the family being so large, we used to cook it in a huge pot. And then we had, I can't remember what, there was charcoal, and the Oowaki family didn't have electricity or gas, and so everything was cooked by briquettes, I guess you'd call it briquettes. Especially if you cook fish or anything, it was always outside, and it was not fun. There's no comparison with Japanese because after I came back to America, I wanted to become a housegirl or go into an American home because, to learn how to use the electric stove, dishwasher, you know. Everything was foreign to me.

MR: So then you got your own house. Can you describe how that was, your house?

YD: I guess the closest you could say was if you go to the Japanese teahouse in the Japanese gardens, that's what you would call a typical Japanese home. Of course, you took your shoes off before you went into the house, and all of your bed clothings were in the so-called closet. And so there's, in fact, this was a table that we used to use for guests. There was also another table just like this that we all sat around and ate on, and we sat on the floor because we had no tables and chairs. We had no beds or anything. You have to remember, this is over seventy years ago. [Laughs]

MR: And when did you have children then?

YD: Well... excuse me. When we first went to Okayama to live, we took our, my husband's sister with us, and we lived in a small house close to the railroad in Okayama, and my husband had to cross the railroad to go to his, to the school. And we did all of our own shopping every day because we had no refrigerators. If we had a refrigerator, it was with a small, sort of like a box. We'd buy ice in big blocks. But things were, I think every Japanese woman would go shopping every day because everything had to be fresh. We had fishmongers who would come around to the neighborhood and show us their wares. We had vegetable people who would bring in their wagons and come around. And then for tofu, there would be people in the morning or for clams, asari. They would come and they'd say, "Asari, asari," and they'd walk down the streets. And then you'd go out with your pan, and they would have weights and weigh the clams or the tofu. You'd buy them by the blocks. Everything was fresh. And so in that respect, the Japanese woman, we were all very busy just in buying and cooking and doing things, that we had no leisure. And during all the years that I was in Japan, I don't think I ever heard anything about menopause until I came back here. I didn't even know what menopause was because of the fact that the women were so busy that they had no time to even think about anything like that.

And I remember that every night, my husband would come home very late. And one time I felt so guilty that I thought, "What is he doing every night, every night, coming in so late?" And my sister-in-law was, being a teacher, she was not very well, and she would insist that we wait for his, for her brother to come home so the three of us could eat. And I would tell her, "Eat first, take a bath, and get to bed because you're working." And she said, "No, I can't do that," because she was brought up, I think, more strictly than I was because my husband came from Fukuoka down in Kyushu. And if you know anything about the Japanese history, the men are men in Japan, if they're from Kyushu. That's what they call the Nihondanji. And finally I got to the point where I said, "You're really going to get sick, and you have to have your rest, so eat first, and I'll wait for my husband, and take a bath." And she really fought that for a long time. But in the meantime, I began to wonder what happened, why is my husband so late at night? So one evening when it was really cold, I had bundled myself up. I went out into the streets, across the railroad and almost to the school. And when I went to the school, I saw the principal's office all lit up, and I look through and there he was with all of his teachers. And I thought, "Oh, I'll never doubt him again." You know, he's really working, and he was a, he had a great reputation as a man of integrity. And he was very well-known as an educator.

In fact, every three years, we were transferred from one school to another. And after he had finished the three years in the prefecture run school, he was appointed to Akaji Junior High School principal, and he was written up as being the youngest ever of being a principal in the prefecture of Okayama. And at the time of his transfer into the Okayama educational field, Okayama prefecture was noted as a scandalous place because of the fact especially at this prefecture run school, the parents would give favors to the teachers in order to be able to enter into the prestigious schools. And so there was a scandal in the prefectural run schools, and I think that's one of the reasons why my husband was asked to go there because of his reputation of being a very good educator. So every three years, I remember that we were transferred into a higher and a bigger school during that time, and I enjoyed moving. It was a chore because he was never able to help me, and we'd always have to ask the custodian of the school to help me move. And I think the happiest times of my life were when I was raising the three children.

MR: And so you were quite busy shopping and moving. And as all this was going on, how aware were you of the Japanese military buildup that was going on at that time?

YD: I was not aware at all, not at all. And after I came back here, I had heard stories about the other Japanese people or the Japanese American people who were living in Japan, that they were followed by the so-called gestapos in Japan, but we never had that problem because of the prestige that we had. And the other day, Sho was mentioning the fact that he said that, "You know, Mom," he said, "when we were in Japan, we were called bocchan and jouchan," and it's an honorary title that the children had. It was not just children. We were just bocchan, jouchan of a prestigious family. And in Japan, the educators were the, in the same standard of prestige as doctors. And of course, the doctors and the teachers were all called sensei which means teachers. And so in Japan, I was called Okusama. That's not just Okusan, it was Okusama because there is, in the Japanese language, there is so many different levels of the language that there is a language for your peer group, your friends. And then there's a language for people who are above you, and then the people of the peer group, and you have to learn how to speak to the different people in their own language. And when I look back, as I say, the tragedy of my life was I never got to see my parents since I went to Japan because they both died while I was in Japan. But I look back, and when we came back here, my husband was, worked for the Japanese consul here, and I felt very comfortable in being able to speak the language of the consular people, and it's not just the standard. You have to learn a different sort of language, and I felt very comfortable in being able to do that, so I've been very fortunate.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MR: After Pearl Harbor, did you hear from your family?

YD: No, I didn't. No. I have a diary that I kept, and I will show one of these days that when, after Keiko was born and my son Robert was born, we lived out in the country. And for three nights, I had dreams of my parents... I'm going to start getting weak again. And it was very odd that I woke up every night crying, and my husband would wake me up, and he'd say, "Did you have a bad dream?" And I said, "Yes, I dreamt about my parents." And the one dream that I vividly remember was that we were in the old house across from Franz Bakery, and I went to my parents' room, and I crawled into bed between my parents and started crying. And my mother said, "Why are you crying?" And I said, "Because I won't see you anymore." And then one night, I remember my father coming into the Japanese house, and he was dressed in a black coat and a black hat, and he opened the door. And I said, "Papa, what are you doing here?" And three nights, these dreams were so vivid that I wrote in the diary. And after the war ended when the first ship from America went to Japan, Yoji's uncle was one of the first on the ship to get to Japan, and he was the one who told us that my mother had died. And when I had these three dreams, I wrote a letter to my aunt and told her it was very odd that I would have three dreams. And she said, "I think you should be prepared that probably one of your parents had died." And so when I was told that my mother had died, I knew that there was, I felt that there was ESP. And I'm very conscious of the ESP because after I came back here on one Thanksgiving, my husband and I were going over to my sister's house, and I felt very strange. I had a very cold feeling, and I was sitting down here, and I look around, and I said, "Auntie?" and of course, you know, nothing was there. But I'm glad I have a sense of humor because I remember pinching myself, and I said, "This isn't a dream." And then later, I found it was my aunt who had died. And so I strongly believe in ESP, that there is something that, there is a soul living.


YD: Going back to my marriage, the next day that we were married, would you believe that we went on our so-called honeymoon? I took hold of my husband's father's hand, and we went to Tokyo. And we also went to Nagoya, to Zenkoji Maeri because that is a place where everyone in Japan is supposed to have gone to pray at least once a year. And during the three years that we were on our so-called honeymoon, I was with my father-in-law, and my husband being tall, would walk five steps in front of us. We followed him wherever we went. People would laugh, and they'd say, "You went with your father-in-law on a honeymoon?" and I said, "That's why I called it a so-called honeymoon."

MR: Let's go back to the war. When the war was really raging full force, how did your life change, and did people know that you were from America, and does that cause you any problem?

YD: I think because I was so, became such a Japanese woman, the people didn't know because my language was perfect, and I didn't act like an American. I wore Japanese clothes. My children were all brought up very Japanese, very strict, and we lived out in the country. And all we heard was stories about Okayama City being bombed. And when we did go out to the city, we found that there was just absolutely nothing. It was just absolutely destroyed. And during those years, because we lived out in the country, I would go out and go up to the mountains and gather wood, which was a no-no, and the people in the village and the other teachers rush and say, "You shouldn't do that because you're our principal's wife." And I think those are the kind of things that bring out the fact that I was American because I felt that I needed to do things and to learn things myself. And I learned how to make vinegar just by picking up overripe persimmons, putting them in a jar, leaving them out in the sunlight, so that it would ferment by itself. And I learned how to make shiitake out of the pieces of wood that I stirred up on the north side of the house. And of course since I hadn't learned how to cook when I was in America, I did know something about jam, so I would get these overripe persimmons and cook them. And since I didn't know anything about pectin or anything, I cooked and cooked and cooked until they almost turned out to be like rubber, and so there was many disastrous things. But I was really, I hate to say it, but I was really what you'd call a perfect housewife. I was very Japanese, and my husband during that time was very active, and he became the head of the youth organization of the whole of Okayama prefecture in that he was at that time the principal of an all boys' high school, and that was a very prestigious, old, there used to be a castle there in that, it was a very feudalistic town where we lived, and we had rations of sugar. And because I had three children, we had more sugar than normally. And people, our neighbors would ask us if we could have, if they could have the sugar, or we saved rice by going to Kyushu to my husband's farm every summer so that we could save our rice. And I learned how to make lard by going to the butchers and buying bones and cooking and then letting it cool down so that the fat would be up on the surface and use that for different things. So I became very innovative in this, and now I don't cook at all. [Laughs]

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MR: And what years were your children born?

YD: Keiko was born in 1940 and Robert was born in 1941 and Sho was born in 1944. Keiko was born just before the war, so I was able to take her to Kobe and register her as an American citizen. And because of the other two boys being after the war, of course, the consulate, the embassies were all closed down, so they were not able to be registered. And so after they came back here, they both served in the army, and then they had to become naturalized.

MR: So they couldn't be registered later?

YD: No.

MR: After the war, what did your husband do? Did he continue teaching?

YD: After the war when MacArthur came, he had revised so many of the different aspects of rules and regulations that my husband was one of the first to become purged. And many of the people don't understand the word purge, but that actually means to be kicked out of office, and it was because he was considered a loyalist. And that's one of the, also one of the tragedies of war. And if you're loyal to your government, you, yourself are loyal to yourself and to what you believe in. And because he believed in helping his own country, he was purged. And so there was a time when I had to become the breadwinner of the family. And because of my background, I was asked to work for the military government. And we lived out in the country, and I had actually no clothes to wear to work in the military government. So I remember that I got out a pair of my husband's trousers, had to sew up the pockets, and I remember I wore those pants and went to work. But because of my background, I was considered number one. And there were many other Japanese who had better education than I. But because of the conversation part, they were not able to speak in the English, American English that the people, the military people needed. I had the best position. And at that time because of the yen being 360 yen to the dollar, actually I was getting more money than the governor of Okayama. And so I had to be very careful of what I did and what I said because of the fact that a woman getting so much money and being known that I was a Japanese American at that time; of course, they didn't know before. It was very hard for me. And my husband being the person that he was, he didn't actually say it, but I think he was very resentful of the fact that he had lost his job and that I was the breadwinner at that time, so I was very careful of what I did and what I said. But because people who knew him gave him a job as a director of a wood shipping company in Kurashiki, and he would tell us stories about the ship was being built for the Russian people, and there were two Russian officers who were there at the company every day, and he said that they never trusted each other. So every place they went, there were always the two of them together, and he was a director of that company. So he was working there, but he never did like business. Business was something that he disliked very much.

MR: How did you get this job? Was it advertised or did someone know about you? Just how did you come, to come upon this job?

YD: We had family friends who were friends of my parents here, and they lived in Okayama City, and they had heard about the military government and needing people to work there, so they suggested I try for the job. And of course, I got it right away, and I was very privileged. But during that time, I lived with the Kurosaki family in Okayama City because we were out in the countryside. And I saw very many things that I don't like to talk about, but there was a lot of black market. And I hate to say things about the army, but they were not, there were many, many army personnel who were not very nice people. There's a lot of black marketing going around, and of course, you couldn't say anything. But during that time, I worked with a wonderful woman whose name was Artis Todd, and she was a Red Cross worker, and she had gone over there as a DAC, DAC, Department of American Civilian, and she and I worked as a great team. And we would... and I don't know if you knew that or not, but in Japan, the women, Japanese were not, Japanese women were not able to vote. And so during that time, she and I would travel all over the prefecture talking about democracy. And I learned how to use speed writing because she would make different speeches. And while she was making different speeches, I would write and translate. So when she finished her speech, she would know what was being said, and we really made a wonderful team. And after she had gone and there was another woman who took her place, Margaret Anderson, she wanted me to get a job as a DAC, and I would have received a lot more money. But I didn't know anything about what had happened in America, and I only knew that my father and second sister and her family lived in Minidoka, and we didn't know too much about what had happened in America. And so later, I found out the only reason why I was not able to get the DAC job was because the major, Major Robertson, who was in charge of the company at that time, said that they had gone through my past record and gone through my family history over here and found that my father had gone to Tule Lake, and I didn't know anything about where he had gone. And we found out that in Tule Lake, there was an uprising of the so-called pro-Japanese people. But he was not there for long because he didn't like the atmosphere, and he had moved on to Minidoka. But it shows you how very thorough the CIC people are in going through a person's background because he told me, he said, "The only reason why you couldn't get the job was because of your father." And of course, I didn't even know what he was talking about until later on.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MR: How long did you stay in Japan after the war?

YD: Well, all together, I was in Japan for twenty years, so I came back in '53.

MR: And what was the reason that you chose to return?

YD: Well, actually at that time, after my stint in military government, the military government in Okayama had dispersed, and they had gone, the office had been moved down to Kure which is in Hiroshima. And they had just started the ABCC study which is the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, and they were looking for interpreters there, and they got wind of me because of the disbanding of the military government, and I was offered a job in Hiroshima. And while I was working there -- and I worked there for three years before I came back here -- and during that time, Keiko was thirteen, and there always have been a different... I call them rules and regulations but directives in the American government, and the children born in foreign countries had to be in America for five years until they were eighteen, and they had to change their citizenship in either being in the foreign country or American. And so with Keiko being thirteen, I felt it was her privilege to be able to either become an American or just stay in Japan. And so Keiko was not very happy about it because she was a very good student as the other two were too, but I felt that it was her privilege to decide whether she wanted to be an American or not. So I brought her back here when she was thirteen and intended to have her stay with my sister until she was eighteen, then she could decide. And then during that time, my husband was reinstated, and he got a very prestigious position as a principal of a very good boys' high school in Japan. But he was disillusioned because during the four or five years that he was out of office, his peer group had gone up, and he was still starting down from scratch. And at that time -- he never mentioned this to me until later years -- that he wanted to start a new life, and he felt that he wanted to come to America. And one of the reasons why I think he was disillusioned was he was up to become the superintendent of the Okayama prefecture of the schools, and there was rivalry between the Tokyo and the Hiroshima group, and he did not get that job. And so I think that was one of the reasons why he wanted to start a new life. And we began writing letters, and I told him specifically that I didn't want him to come because of me because if anything should happen and he was disillusioned, then he might blame me. So I had written a letter telling him about my life here, and I wanted him to talk to his mother. His father had passed away, but talk to his mother. And if she said she wanted him to stay in Japan, then I was happy to go back to Japan because that was my first thought anyway just to leave Keiko here. And he went back to Kyushu and talked to his mother, and his mother was very broad-minded, and she said she felt that the family should stay together, and she was willing for him to come to America, and so he did.

And we were very fortunate in that just before he came, I had been trying to find a job here. And one thing that is very interesting is when I was looking a job, not knowing who Sam Naito was, I had gone to his office to apply for a job. And when I met him, he said, "Well, what can you do?" And I said, "I don't know." He says, "What do you do and what can you do, willing to do?" I said, "I'm willing to do anything, but I don't know anything because I just come from Japan." And when I was in Hiroshima, of course, I was one of the top interpreter/translators, and I did all of my work, you know, typing everything, but I was never good at typing. So when I came back here, I had gone to the Western Business School to hone up my typing. And so I told Sam, I said, well, I said, "I could do whatever is necessary," and he looked at me. He says, "Well, Mrs. Dozono," he says, "you better get some more skill in what you do and then come back for a job." In later years, I told him about that. He says, yeah, he says, "I remember you." But it was so funny that I didn't even know who he was, but we got a big laugh out of that because actually I didn't know anything. And then I was going to apply for a job at the consular's office, and they said that they would hire right away. But at that time, I had told them about my husband, and my husband had very good credentials, and he had graduated from the Tokyo Imperial University. And at that time was, the Consul Imajo said that, "We'll hire him right away," because they needed someone of his caliber. And so he got the, my husband got the position in my name, and they just waited for him to come. So when he was hired, he was what they called a technical adviser, and he took care of all the visas. And I think many times, he wrote the speeches for the consul. Of course at that time, it was not, still wasn't the consul general, was still a consul. And so during the festivities that we had here, we were more of a family, and we did all of our Christmas festivities or any of the things here together as a family. And now of course, it's much bigger, and there is more than one consul. There's several consuls and vice consuls. But at that time, there was just one consul, one vice consul, and a clerk. And then there is Tom Sono who was the Nisei adviser and Mae Iwashita who was Mac Iwashita's sister and my husband.

MR: How long did he work for the consul?

YD: He worked there for twenty years. He worked until he was seventy-two.

MR: And then retired?

YD: Yes.

MR: And where did you work after you came back?

YD: After I came back here, I worked for, I started out with the West Coast Lumber. And I was there just for a few months, and then I got a job at the Daido Company with the general steamship. And from there on, I worked for the school district for twenty years.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

MR: And in 1953, when you came with three small children, had they spoken English in Japan? What did you do to help them adjust to the really drastic change?

YD: Well actually in 1953, it was just with Keiko. And Keiko started at the Buckman School because my sister was still living in the house by Franz Bakery, and we were written up in the American magazine. We had a lot of, during my years, we've had a lot of news coverage. And there was a huge article in the paper about the Japanese American returning home with their daughter, and I received many letters from New York all over from people that I had worked with in Hiroshima. And Keiko started there. She was thirteen, and so she was just going into junior high school in Japan, but they started her out here in the fourth grade. And another interesting aspect is the fact that one of my teachers that had me when I was going there was a retired teacher, but she remembered me, and we had lunch together. That was wonderful. And Keiko started out in the fourth grade. And then of course her skills in math and everything else was much more advanced than the others. And so they put her up in the seventh grade right away. But she always said that she learned her English through television. And she had a hard time, but she was a very good student. Then my husband and the two boys came in a year and a half later. We stayed with my sister for several months, and then my husband felt that we needed to have more independence, so we moved into this house in '55. So we lived here for all these years here.

MR: And did you have to do anything to help the boys adjust to America?

YD: Not really. They were on their own because I was working, and I was the one who was working, but especially Robert and Sho were very close, and they did things together. And Keiko was a little more isolated, but they all did very well in school. In fact, Keiko went to Washington High School, and Sho went to Cleveland, and Robert went to Benson. So I worked over a school district which is right there by Lloyd Center. So Sho would walk to school over to Hosford and to Cleveland. But I would take Keiko to Washington and then Robert to Benson, then go to work.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MR: After your retirement, you still stayed busy?

YD: Well, when I retired, I was going to do many things I had never done before. I learned how to play bridge, and I took several different classes. But during that time, I kept up with my tea ceremony class. And for practically about fifteen years, I would go to the different schools to teach origami, and I have been asked many times to talk about education, about life in Japan. But it got to the point where there's too much freedom in Japan, and I think they became too Americanized in their education. And so to be very honest, I didn't want to praise the Japanese education that I thought was much more superior to the American education to a point. And then when, going back to freedom of speech and freedom of everything, I think the Japanese children were, became too much Americanized. And I remember very well that Keiko, when she first started going to school, she would come home crying. I would say, "Why, what happened?" And she says, "Mother," she said, "over here, the children have no respect for their teachers. They treat them like friends, so they're not teachers." She says, "I don't like that." And I think it's very true that, I don't know what it is now, but it's, to me the children need to learn more respect to their elders and to the teachers than they actually do now. I think the older I get, my ideals are to a certain extent becoming more Japanese, and the Japan that I knew. And it's very hard for me because I was brought up so strictly in Japan, and I enjoyed that, but I can't force that onto my children. And in growing up in Japan, even in holding your chopsticks or holding your bowl or the way you eat or the way you revere things, there's nothing like it over in other countries. I learned many things that I was very privileged in that in Japan, there's so many different festivals. Practically every month, there's a festival, and we think of our Christian way, I'm a Methodist, and we think that our way of, there's one God, and we believe in heaven and earth. But in Japan, there are many gods, but it is not with a capital G. And there's a god of wind, there's a god of fire, there's a god of water. And when I was going to my sewing classes, we would save all of our broken needles. And in the summertime when it was very hot, there was a day that we would buy, the priest at the temple where I went to learn, he would get a block of tofu, and all the needles that we saved during the year, we would stick into the tofu and give thanks to the needles, and that we give thanks to the fact that we learned how to sew. And the way I was brought up too was that there's a, we gave thanks to the water. We had a well in our home, and we always had for New Year's, there was also a bamboo and a pine and a sprig of plum, give thanks to the water. And everything had a meaning, but it was not a capital G, but there was okamisama for everything. And I think that in learning your tea ceremony or in learning all these different things, you have a reverence for all living things. It is more like zen. And those are the kinds that you learn as being Japanese, but I'm still American.

MR: I know from talking to you earlier that you're very active in the lunch program. Can you tell about how that got started?

YD: Well, this year's the twenty-fourth, twenty-fourth year of celebrating. And twenty-four years ago, there was a group of people here in Portland who decided that we should have a place for the Japanese, and there are centers for the Loaves and Fishes all over Portland and Oregon, but there was no place for the Japanese. And because of the language, the Japanese people would not want to go to Loaves and Fishes. And so this group decided that we should have our own Loaves and Fishes place, and my husband was one of the founders of that. And there's Mr. Kawasaki, Tom Takeuchi, and Lury Sato, who's still there, and they formed this group, and we had a very hard time trying to get the Isseis to come.


YD: Lury Sato was our first director, and I was her assistant because of my bilingual background. We would have to, there were not only I, but there was some other people who would call these Isseis and tell them why we're having this program, and it's not because we're poor or because we need it. It's a place where we could all get together and have fellowship, and that the government is willing to pay for part of this program and that we deserve it. And it was very hard for us to talk to the Isseis because there was a gentleman in our community who had a Japanese newspaper, and he wrote very derogatory remarks about Loaves and Fishes was a place for poor people who wouldn't be able to pay or wouldn't be able to buy their food. And so he, himself, was a very good person, but something went wrong in that he, everybody who was prominent or everything that was good, he made either a joke or had derogatory remarks about that. And so calling these people, they would say well, we don't feel that we need it, or we feel that it's a shame to go there. And so we would, especially I would say that's not the reason why. It's a place where we should all get together. And because if you didn't want to go to a place where it was just American people talking English, it's not for your benefit. This is a place where we'd all like to go and have fellowship. And we finally got a group of people, people like Mrs. Endo, Mrs. Mira, many wonderful Isseis. And when they first started coming, it was amazing because they would sit very quietly and not talk at all, even amongst themselves, and they would eat. And as soon as they ate, they were ready to go. And now if you go to Ikoi no Kai, it's really a place where people enjoy themselves. The only Isseis that we see, there is Miss Endo who very seldom comes there, and Mrs. Mira who comes there more frequently. And we have several other Isseis who didn't start from the beginning, but they might have come from Japan and found that this is a place where the Japanese can come and enjoy their food. And right now, we have a Monday, Wednesday, Fridays for American food. It comes from the central kitchen, Loaves and Fishes. And then Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have Skip Yamamoto who makes Japanese food, and everyone seems to enjoy it very much. And for the Japanese food, we have miso soup. We always have a salad. We have an entree. And then there's desserts that people like Lil Kiyokawa or Takae Okamoto, Okazaki, and Harue Ninomiya. They would make things for maybe like eighty or a hundred people. And they do that out of the goodness of their hearts, and it's all donated. And we only pay $2.50 for the food, but it's subsidized by the government. And we were hoping that we're able to keep up with this program. And I served there for two and a half years with Lury, and then I volunteered for twenty years. And last year I had to quit because of health problems, but it was a fun place to work. Now, we have quite a few Caucasians, neighbors, and people who come from far away because of the fellowship, and we have Koreans. We used to have more Koreans than Chinese, but I think they have a place of their own. But the Americans who come say they would rather come to our place because it's a nice clean place, and people are friendly. And so to me, it's a very successful place.

MR: That must feel good to be a part of that.

YD: It is, yeah.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MR: You mentioned you have, is it eleven, did you say, grandchildren?

YD: I have eleven grandchildren. And on my eighty-eighth birthday, I mentioned the fact that out of two people who were strangers became five with three children, and now there is eleven grandchildren. Nine are girls and two are boys. They're not girls, they're women and men now, and then I have three great-grandchildren. And my husband being from Fukuoka in the early days, I think he would have been horrified if he ever thought that any of our children would be married to foreigners. But in later years when Robert went to Germany in the army for three years, it, to me, was one of the most wonderful things that could have happened was when Robert came back and walked in the door. He said in Japanese, German, he says, "Where's your Fraulein?" And I was amazed, and I thought, "Papa, what are you saying?" And I think he would be very happy to know that four of my granddaughters are married to foreigners. [Laughs] One is Hungarian, and they have the two great-grandsons. And one is married to, he's American, but he's of German descent. And the other two, I think they are just pure American. But I think my husband would be the first to be very happy that they're all wonderful people, and it's too bad he's not here with us.

MR: Is there any subject that you would like to go back to and say more about?

YD: I don't know if there's any Issei here, I mean, Niseis here that have gone through, the fact that I have documents of my diary that you probably can't see here, but it's all in calligraphy. And when a girl gets married in Japan, everything she takes to the groom is written down, that in case there's a separation or divorce which in Japan at that time there never, we never heard of a divorce, you knew exactly what you took with you and... it's interesting. It tells you even about how many towels you brought or how many, in Japan, there's, you count the different tansu that you bring, and it's called isso. In the olden days, they would put the tansu on a huge bamboo pole and take it from your family to your husband's family. This is in the olden days. Of course, it's never done like that anymore. But even if you had your things transferred into a truck, you'd put it, put the tansu on these poles. And then if there's one tansu, it's called isso or nisso, whatever, and that showed how much dowry you brought. And then in my memo in my documents, it goes back to how many zori you had or how many towels you had, everything was written down here. And one time in my life, I said, "I want a divorce," and so my husband said, "Okay, if you could find anybody better than me, you're welcome to divorce." And someplace in all the stuff that I had, I think I have a copy of that. Of course, it was just a threat. And I brought this out, and I said, "Well, I've used a lot of the stuff that I have in here, so I guess I can't divorce." [Laughs] At the very end of it is very interesting because I have, the last item in there is five yen, five yen, and I think my husband thought that because I was from America, he thought he was going to marry a rich woman, but there was only five yen. But even at that time, I've tried to remember. I think my husband received probably about ninety yen as a salary, and that was very good salary at that time.

And I also have a memo in that when I was first married, everything that I bought, I would write down. And if you would look at it, it even shows where I bought a cake of tofu or a bunch of onions, and it's like three cent or five cent or whatever it is, and I was very diligently writing all this down every day. So it does show that I had a lot of time on my hands at that time because there is nothing else to do but cook and sew and clean house until the babies came. Then I have this diary that shows that there was a time when I was, wrote everything in Japanese except for things that I really wanted to explain to myself, and then I find that it's in English. But my Japanese at this time was very formal, and it's almost like reading a book that is the very formal Japanese. And I wrote, and I even called my tutor Keiko-chan or Ryo-chan instead of just plain Keiko. And I called my husband Shujin which means actually "lord and master" which never meant much. [Laughs]

But in all, there were some tragedies, but I've been very fortunate that my husband used to use the, an old saying is, "San kan, shi on," which means three cold and four warmth. In other words, there's always more fortunate things happening than sad things. So there's three cold and four warmth which means in the olden days that there is always much more happiness than sadness. So I've always told my grandchildren, I say, "I cry a lot, but my tears are more of happiness than sadness."

MR: Is there anything else that you would like to bring up or talk about?

YD: No. I thank you very much for giving me the privilege of telling you about, a little about my life. And if that helps with any of the other interviews, I'm very happy.

MR: Well, I thank you especially, and I thank you from the Nikkei Legacy Center as well.

YD: Well, I would like to thank you and Tim, Tim Rooney, for coming so early and fixing up all the stuff that I never knew that had to be done, and he's been here for several, several hours working on this. And I thank both of you very, very much for giving me the privilege of talking to you. Thank you very much.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.