Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Michiko Kornhauser Interview
Narrator: Michiko Kornhauser
Interviewer: Stephan Gilchrist
Date: September 23, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-kmichiko_2-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

SG: First, I'll just ask what your name is?

MK: My name, maiden name is Michiko Osui, but my married name is Michiko Osui Kornhauser.

SG: And when and where were you born?

MK: I was born on 21st of July, 1936, in the navy hospital in Sasebo, in Nagasaki prefecture, because my father was a navy officer.

SG: Okay. And your family's from --

MK: My family, well, my mother's family is from Kumamoto-ken, Yatsuro area. My father's family is from Fukushima-ken, Koriyama area. And then of course, their marriage was arranged, and then they met in Tokyo.

SG: And it sounds like your, your parents' background, they had a very educated background?

MK: Yes. In a way, my mother was brought up in Tokyo because my grandmother felt that the children, her children should be brought up in Tokyo where the education level is higher than the rest of Japan. So she was separated from her husband who stayed in Kyushu but brought up the children in Tokyo. So my mother's brothers graduated from Tokyo University and Hitotsubashi University. And then her sister was, graduated from Aoyama University, chemistry department, which was very unusual those days for women. But my mother was the kind of black sheep of the family. And then so she went to the women's, not women's high school, and after that went to Musashino College which became the Musashino Music College later on. And she loved to sing, so eventually, she joined the Fujiwara Opera House. Also that she loved to write. Then she became a newspaper woman and then writing about children's stories for the newspaper.

SG: And that was unusual back then for a woman to work?

MK: Unusual, yeah. My mother particularly was very active and then wanted to do something different from the rest of the women, so she wanted to get out of Japan, too, to study, because her grandfather went to University of Illinois to study business administration, American way of doing business, because my grandfather's father was a wealthy person and contributed a lot of money to establish Mitsubishi Foundation. And then he wanted his son to inherit a part of the zaibatsu and so sent my grandfather to University of Illinois to study. But my grandfather was not the kind of a business oriented person. As a result, he studied at the University of Illinois for ten years, but I don't know what he studied. But at the end, he joined a band and went all over the United States as a dishwasher, and he had a great time. And finally, the family said that, every three months, the family was sending him money, so he never worked. And then finally, the family said that, "You got to come back and work," so he came home. But then by that time, so many Japanese people did at the time, he got tuberculosis and then came back to Japan and had to be hospitalized. And then my grandmother was a nurse, and they're from a very poor family, and then they got eventually married. But my grandmother had an ambition because the rest of the family mistreated her, oh, you're from poor family, so she wanted to prove that she was capable of doing something for the family, so that's why she went, took the children to Tokyo to educate the children. But everybody else did very well according to, my grandmother's kind of idea of bringing up the kids. But my mother was different. She didn't like mathematics, and she didn't like chemistry and physics. And as a result, sometimes she was slapped by a yardstick because she didn't do well in math and so on. But she loved to paint and sing and write. And then eventually, she wanted to go to the United States because her father did. And then, she was just about two weeks before, she was to leave for the United States, Chicago, to learn how to be a beautician, that my grandmother arranged the marriage for her, and my mother always wanted to be liked by her mother. So when finally my grandmother said that, "You better meet this man," and my mother said, well, for the sake of being in good relationship with the mother, her own mother, she agreed to meet my father. And then that's the way the kind of arranged marriage was established. And my father saw my mother and then said, "If you don't marry me, I'm going to kill you." [Laughs] He was a soldier, and he doesn't, he didn't take no from a woman.

SG: That's a, I guess, a good way to propose to someone.

MK: They met only twice before they got married. So my mother didn't know his background or anything. He looked very handsome. He was a tall man, and he was very handsome to her. And so she felt that, she was kind of, maybe she was feeling lonesome and then somebody wanted her so much. And then I guess she felt that this was it, so she gave up on coming to the United States which she kind of regretted for the rest of her life.

SG: How old were your parents when they got married?

MK: My mother was twenty-five, and my father was thirty-five.

SG: Is that unusual for that time?

MK: No. My mother, usually, women got married much younger at the time, but that's the way it went. My mother wanted to have different life from the rest of the women, so she was working as a writer and for the newspaper and so on, singing on the stage.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

SG: And how old was your mom when you were born?

MK: That following year, I was born, 1936. Every time, my father was a navy officer and then very bright person I was told. And then my father came from a very poor family, but he did extremely well. You know, if you know the Japanese history what happened to people in Fukushima prefecture at the time of Meiji Restoration, because of the rivalry between Satsuma and so on, and then the Fukushima people were really tormented and thrown out, and as a result, they became very poor. But my father obviously did well at school, so he was sent to Asaka, Asahi Chugakko and high school. And then from there, he went to navy school in particularly in accounting and supplies. So he became a supply and maintenance officer.

SG: So you were raised mostly on Japanese military bases?

MK: Yes, that's correct. I was born in Nagasaki. Immediately after that, we were sent to Yokosuka as well as Kure and then Maizuru. I was all over the place, so I have no hometown that I can think of. Wherever I go becomes my hometown.

SG: What was it like growing up on a Japanese military base?

MK: It was very interesting. It was very different from the rest of the population because I had no friends, and my mother was very careful about choosing my friend. And then mostly, I had maids to play with and then my siblings to play with, and I'm the oldest daughter. And then every time my father came back from the sea, most of the time, he was on the ship and going all over the world. And every time he came home, my mother got pregnant. [Laughs] As a result, I had a lot of siblings. And then my brother was born right away, Masataka, and Masanobu was born in the four years later, and then my sister was born five years later, and then I was able to play with my younger siblings. And my father was married before, twice, and so had a son, but then he was nine years older than I was, so I hardly saw him. For example, when we went, my father was stationed in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to open the navy port, my brother didn't come, so I hardly got to know my brother. I always liked him, but I didn't know him.

SG: What was school like at the naval bases?

MK: Well, there is no schools on navy bases, no, that's, but we went to, well, the war started in December 7, 1941. At the time, we were living in Yokosuka, Kamakura, and then my father commuted to Yokosuka, and I wasn't at school at the time. And then after he was stationed in Okayama, the Beppu area in Okayama, Bessho, yeah, Bessho in Okayama, then I began to start school, yeah.

SG: What was that like?

MK: At first, my father believed in public school system, so I, for the first grade, I went to public school. And then I couldn't understand the language in Okayama dialect, and they tormented me, the other kids tormented me. I just said, tried to say thank you, but I grew up, my mother was from Tokyo, so I grew up with Tokyo dialect, and so I say, arigatou gozaimasu and then people didn't know. I was supposed to say okimi. I didn't know. So I went, something happened, so I said, gomen nasai, and they laughed at me and said I was not saying the right words. I never liked it. On top of it, obviously, I was born left handed, and then my mother made sure that I would be normal, so I had to use right hand. I couldn't draw a line. And then it was a torture to be at school, and everything just compounded, and I hated that school. So my father was sent to New Guinea in 1943, in the fall of 1943. The moment that happened, my mother got me out of school. In the second grade, I went to Fuzoku shogakkou, and I had to take an entrance examination, and I was lucky that I passed, and then I started. Then there, the school made sure that the teachers spoke in standard Japanese, Tokyo dialect. I felt so at home, then I really enjoyed the school.

SG: Was it a private school?

MK: University school. It's a kind of private school.

SG: So what type of, what did you do at school? What type of activities did you have?

MK: Well, that was the wartime education, so not just regular kind of curriculum learning Japanese and mathematics, but also, we had to be prepared. I guess the government knew that Japan was losing the war, so we had to learn how to communicate with each other with Morse codes so that each desk had a little gadget by the third grade, and then we are learning how to communicate with each other with Morse code, Japanese Morse code. And then also by using it, two white flags, little ones, and then we learned how to communicate with each other like sailors on the ships. That's what we learned. And on top of it, we learned how to hate Americans, and we had to draw the figure of two Caucasians, one with the round face and red color, and we painted it red, and that's the Prime Minister Churchill, and then long face in green color. That was President Roosevelt. And we knew exactly where the hearts are and then sharpen the bamboo spear, and then I used to practice how to kill Americans as well. And then also we learned when the bomb exploded and how to get down on the floor and under the table and then also plugging the ears with our hands and then also covering our eyes, so that no debris will damage our eyes or we will lose the hearing. So we always practiced that. That was the third grade, yes.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

SG: So sounds like a lot of time was spent towards war rather than studying?

MK: Studying. Yeah, because that's the way I was brought up. Because of my father's position that, I remember that wearing nothing but white dresses when I was in public in the car sometimes. And then when I met mayors and governors and so on, always wore white dresses. And then to greet the public, I had to wear white dresses because that will promote kind of feelings of purity and strength and fighting spirit against Americans. Wherever I went, I remember that little Japanese flags used to follow me because the children will line up on both sides of the street waving their Japanese flags.

SG: So you were treated differently because you were a daughter of a military?

MK: Yes, yes, that's the way it was. And then it seems to me that my mother's, my parents' marriage is kind of planned because my mother came from a part of Mitsubishi, and there's a fringe of Mitsubishi Corporation because of her grandfather and so on, and then my mother, my father was a military man. So I think they're trying to kind of, in the military industrial complex, trying to put the industry and the military together. Now that I have studied American history, Japanese history, that's the feeling I get, that everything was planned.

SG: And what was your relationship like with your father at that time?

MK: Well, my father loved me so, so much, and I really felt so good when my father was around. He was so proud of me. And then I remember he, before he got married to my mother and he always took the guests or friends to geisha house. He was quite a playboy. But after they're married, and then my father never took the friends and guests to the geisha house, but he always brought them home. I wasn't sure which was better for my mother. And then so, unannounced, you know. He will bring the guests home, his friends home. And then immediately, my mother and her maids had to prepare the spread dinner. And in the beginning, my mother didn't know very well about it. So when my father brought the friends home and she was opening the canned goods, and then one of the guests said, "Don't you know that your husband knows everything about cuisine?" so my mother had to study so hard how to prepare. We always had to have fresh vegetables and so on. It was quite trying because up 'til the time she married, she had free spirit, and she wasn't prepared to become a navy man's wife, entertaining his friends.

SG: And did you usually, what, did you help out your mom at this time?

MK: Well, at the time, no. I was so, my mother would send me off to do some grocery shopping and so on. But I remember my little brother and I used, I went one time and I had a shopping bag with us, and then we're supposed to buy about ten eggs. And then somehow, we swang around, and it made cracking noise and we laughed and came home, and there's no eggs there, but egg yolk everywhere. [Laughs] My mother, after that, my mother asked the maid to do the shopping, and we were able to escape from all the chores and so on.

SG: And so how often did you, were you able to see your father?

MK: Whenever he came home and then my mother made sure that we wouldn't go near the living room. We had a large home, but I used to sneak in, when my mother went to the kitchen, I used to open the shoji, you know. And then my father was always happy to see me, so I used to crawl on his, just sat on his lap. And then my favorite thing was, memory that I have from those days is I used to sip from my father's beer mug, only the bubbles. And my father loved the German, beer mugs, so we had a nice kind of a reddish and bluish cut glass, beer glass. I still remember those days, just a fun memory.

SG: And he was gone quite, for how long would he be gone?

MK: Yeah, he was gone. Well, sometimes I don't know because I was too small, so I don't know, but he was gone most of the time. I was playing with my siblings. So when I started school, I had a hard time because I used to take care of my brothers and sister. In other words, I used to boss them around all the time. I was oldest. Then I went to school, I had a hard time, the same level, the same age. I didn't know how to handle them.

SG: How was it for your mom to have to raise the children without your father being there?

MK: Oh, that was after the war. Yes, 1944, sometime in the summer that we got a notice from the Japanese government that the entire New Guinea area was captured under American forces, and then communication was cut after I think third of March, and then everybody was missing in action and then presumed dead. That's what my mother received from the government. Before that, the postcard came from my father which said that he was either killed by bombardment from American ships or eaten by crocodiles because where he was was full of crocodiles. And then jungle was so thick that they couldn't escape into it. Also, headhunters were there, and then he felt that he would die either way, yeah.

SG: So your mom, she raised, before your father died, she really raised you by herself as well?

MK: Yes, indeed. It was, I feel so sorry for my mother because my mother is right now ninety-two years old, and she's being tube fed after a severe stroke. But when I think about her life, I feel really grateful about what kind of life I have right now because the moment the announcement came that my father was no longer with us or probably missing in action and so on, not coming back, then we had to get out of our government house and then move to a smaller place. And then government at the time said that they would pay for the rent, so we didn't have to worry about it. But after the war, what is government? I mean, the government that we knew didn't exist anymore. So everything stopped. And here my mother, my goodness, was stranded with myself, Masataka, Masanobu, Reiko and another baby, Seibo, five children. Then my oldest brother, stepbrother came back. He was about nine years older than I was from the navy school, academy. So all of us, what's going to happen now? She didn't know. She had a horrible adjustment probably. All the maids disappeared. She didn't know how to shop. And then also she was so embarrassed to go shopping for grocery without money. And then all those things became my responsibility as the oldest daughter, and what a life at the time we had. And then war ended on August the 15th, the 15th of August, 1945. And then I think the 10th or 11th of September, my youngest brother Seigo starved to death. I still remember the night before, I was able to find only about five, six grapes, and I remember squeezing juice and then feeding him, and that was not enough for him to survive. And next morning, my mother woke me up and said, "Michiko, Seigo is gone." And then I woke up and I looked at Seigo's face and was all white, and he was gone, and I remember crying a lot and then telling myself that I was going to live for him too. And then that really stayed with me throughout my life that I don't have time for small things. Every time I felt sad, and then I thought about my brother that he didn't have a chance, then I was able to get up and go. And then also that I never treated other people in a mean way. It's because of that experience. And also, I lost 25 percent of my classmates on the 29th of June, 1945, when 138 B-29's came and drop 15,000 fire bombs on us, and then 75 percent of the city was destroyed. When that happened, and I just, my best friend was gone. And I played with her and, "See you tomorrow," and tomorrow never came. When I think about those things as a little child, and I said to myself, "I have to live for those people who died just as well, not just for myself." That really kept me going in many ways, I think.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

SG: What was your experience of the day the fire bombs came?

MK: Yes.

SG: What happened that day?

MK: Well, I think it was early in the morning, I was sound asleep, my mother woke me up and then said, "Michiko, get up." Then when I woke up, it was, everything was red, and I've never, it was a beautiful red, orange-ish red. Then I heard airplanes. Then I heard the fire bombs dropping all over the place, and I didn't know what to do. And my mother said that the two younger ones, three and one, were too small to run, but then, "You are eight years old now, and then your brother is seven, the other is four, they can run, so you're going to take them with you and then get out of the place and get out of the city and then to a safety and make sure that they would not die." That's what my mother said. And then that was the best thing she told me because I was so frightened, was about to become hysterical when my mother said that. Suddenly the fact that she had confidence in me, to trust my ability to keep my brothers alive, the fear was gone. And then she said, "Okay." And then I was just about to get out of the house and my mother said, "Make sure you don't jump into the middle of the street. You'll be trampled to death, so you walk like a crab. And the moment you go outside, make sure you look up into the sky and make sure that wherever you are running to has dark sky so that underneath wouldn't be burning." And I'm very grateful to my mother because the moment I went outside of the house, she was right. The people are running this way and that way. I could have, we could have been trampled to death because we are still children. And I followed my mother's order, and then eventually I was able to escape to the outside of the city. Because my mother is a survivor of the great earthquake of Tokyo in 1923. She knew what happened then and what had to be done to survive, and she was able to use that to us, and then I'm very grateful to that.

SG: So this is, your father had died already when the fire bombs had occurred?

MK: Yes. Yeah, missing in action at the time we are told. We had some hope that maybe he's alive. We don't know.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

SG: Just going back a little bit, what, so what did you do after you got kicked out of the government housing?

MK: Yes. So we moved into this small house. Even that house, my mother thought that the government would pay the rent so we could live there forever. And then, but after the war ended, the government stopped giving us money, and my mother was on her own. And then the trouble began, and she didn't know what to do for a long time. And she tried everything during the war. At first my brother came back, and then I think he was about eighteen or nineteen years old, and my mother thought about employment as well as university because my brother was her own child, and then how mean stepmothers are supposed to be and so on, and therefore, my mother made sure that my brother will have everything, so nobody could criticize her. So my mother asked my brother, "Would you like to go to university?" The university started, at the time, and then my brother said, "No, I'm not that bright. I know it. I don't want to study. Therefore, if you have enough money to send the rest of the siblings to the university, give them education, but I'm ready to work." So he said that. So my mother found a job with a trucking company, and then my brother studied to get the driver's license. I still remember the electricity wasn't there at the time. If we did, it was only temporary, and we always had candles. We had to have money for candles, so we can see at night. And I remember when I was lying in my bed and then next to my bed was futon, not the bed, but futon, there was a desk, and then my brother was studying and then falling asleep. I still, I can still picture in my mind how my brother tried to study with the candle light. And he passed, and then he became a truck driver. But physically, he was not that strong. And then he fell asleep, and he got fired.

And fortunately, occupation forces came in, and then was, my mother heard that. She was very resourceful. And my mother inquired about it, about employment at the PX and got a job for my brother, half brother, and he was able to work. And then that was the first time we saw bread, white bread. Up to then, we had dark bread. I know now, dark bread is better than white bread, but it was just wonderful to see the pure white bread, and then we just fell in love with it, I remember. And then so my mother, my brother helped. Meanwhile, my mother asked me to do, go shopping for grocery, and sometimes we had only ten yen. I had to prepare dinner for everybody in the family with ten yen. And then when I went to grocery store, I could see how much I could buy with ten yen, not enough. I felt very grateful to my father because my father was good to the tradesmen, the people in the city, so they came out to help us out. So that when I went to a grocery shop, the wife said, "You know, I can't give you vegetables straight out because of the neighborhood. Other people will expect that too. But if I throw them on the floor, you can pick them up and free of charge because I'm throwing them out." So that's the way I received the vegetables, free of charge. And then next I went to a butcher store. And then those days, bones are free. I was able to get bones. And then when I went home, I made vegetable and bones. And once in the while, we had fish. And when we had fish, we made sure that we would eat the eyes because my mother said that the eyes had vitamin c, so it will be good for our eyes, so we ate the fish eyes. And after we finished eating fish, we made sure that we took the bones up on the roof and then dry them and then later on broil them and crush them to make, my mother said we needed calcium for the bones. We had no milk, so that became our calcium source. And even we tried to use usu, the grinder, stone grinder, to make powder out of eggshell. And then somehow, I don't know why, but we always had flour and oil. As a result, I used to mix the powdered bones and powdered eggshell with the flour and used to make steamed buns or otherwise donuts. I remember making a lot of donuts. I don't know where my mother got flour and then oil.

SG: And your older brother was working for the American occupational force?

MK: Yeah, occupation, yes.

SG: So did he bring food back?

MK: Yes, and he was not supposed to, but he smuggled some food to us, and that's the way we survived.

SG: What kind of food did he smuggle back, do you remember?

MK: Well, it was interesting. All I remember, it was cheese. And then of course I grew up with cheese because of my father's position. During the war, we had no problem when everybody else was maybe starving because everybody was starving at the time. No more food because Japanese, Japan was in such a horrible situation, lack of food and so on. But being in the navy, a supply division, we always had food. We needed, if we needed, we are able to get bananas, even bananas from Taiwan. And we lived in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, when my father was opening the navy base in Kaohsiung. So we are able to have all kinds of food. But after the war, we had nothing. We just absolutely had nothing. But I know it's going away from your question a little bit, but then I'm very grateful that my father, my mother was so resourceful that not only she learned about how to make food with bones and vegetables, but also she always looked at encyclopedia, and she was looking for things to eat. So at the time I knew when I went outside of the house, which vegetables, which plants we could eat. So I used, I remember pick all kinds of things from the streets, I mean, the outskirt of the town, I mean, the city of Okayama, and we used bring home, can we eat this, can we eat that, and we used to eat. Oftentimes, if you try to eat vegetables as they are, sometimes you can't eat them because they may bitter, they may be bitter. But if you deep fry them one side, put the flour on the one side and just dip it in the oil, it becomes very crisp, and you can eat it.

SG: You said your mother was very resourceful partly from her experience during the great earthquake in Tokyo. Did she talk to you much about what happened?

MK: Oh, yes indeed, quite a bit, yes. And then also at the time that how Koreans got murdered, yes. It's really sad. But then at the same time, my mother was kind of, unfortunately, kind of looked down upon some of the people. I remember when I started school, one of the reasons why my mother objected to going, me going to public school was because there are people who are "untouchables" in the public school. She didn't want me to get mixed up with them. And then on the way to school, there is a village where those people lived. They say eta or burakumin. And then my mother asked me never go there. My mother said, "Those people have, they are like this." So I said, "What's that?" "They are four-legged people." And, "What do you mean by four-legged people?" "Well, you don't associate with them." And then so I was always curious at what adults said. So on the way to school, I went in there to see if they really had four legs. They didn't have four legs, and I could tell that my mother was lying, so I didn't trust my mother either at that age.

SG: So why were they considered to be lower class?

MK: It's because the Koreans originally to begin with, it just doesn't make sense to me now that after having studied history, and we learned so much from Koreans. We learned so much. We brought, adopted their culture in Japan; yet, somehow, we are brought up to think kind of we're supposed to look down upon them. I can't understand it, but that's the way it was. And a long time ago, those people are brought in to take care of the things that Japanese people didn't want to do. And then often, those people formed a village. To me, they are Japanese, but they lived in a different place, and they are segregated and prejudiced against them. And if you marry them, no way you can marry them.

SG: What kind of things did they do that the Japanese didn't want to do?

MK: Like taking care of funerals, taking care of animals, taking care of bamboo product, glass, make windows, and so on. But I'm sure there are other things that I don't know, leather goods.

SG: And you're saying these other Koreans were killed during the earthquake?

MK: Yeah, that's a strange thing. You have to read a book about that that, I think it's like in the South in this country with the black and white, some slightest thing that they try to get the frustration out or something that prey upon minority people.

SG: Did your mom talk about any other experiences during the earthquake?

MK: Yes, that sometimes the ground opened up and swallowed people. And then most important thing I learned was because Okayama was bombed, my mother said, "You think that if you're in the middle of the school yard away from the building, you are safe, but you are not because in the open field, the hot air goes up and then cold air comes down and the whirlwind start. And if you are in a flat area, that's where it starts," my mother said, "so it's very dangerous to be in an open field." That's what she learned in the earthquake because many people obviously rushed into the middle of the schoolyard thinking that would be safe away from the fire, away from the, the falling objects and so on but ended up consumed in the fire, the whirlwind of fire.

SG: So getting back to during World War II, you said your brother died even though your mom was very resourceful and your older brother brought, was able to get food, there wasn't enough for your younger brother?

MK: Because my younger brother needed my mother's milk. He was a baby. We were able to survive by vegetable soup and so on and other things to eat and bread and so on, but my brother obviously, also, I came home with dysentery. After the bombing, the school took the children, the schoolchildren, to the countryside. That occurred only the July 29 or so when Okayama was bombed. Right after that, the school sent out the notices to the parents, "Please send your children to certain destination so that the school will take the children to the countryside, at least the children will be safe." So we were all taken to the countryside and away from the city. And there, we had to live by the river because the river is the water source, and then we are washing our face and brushing our teeth in the river. And then however, there are many schools were all lined up living alongside the river. And then upstream, somebody came down with dysentery, no communications. We didn't know that happened, so we kept washing our faces and brushing our teeth with the same water. And then eventually, I got dysentery, so did many of my classmates. Then the war ended. So when I came home, obviously, I was still sick. And then my baby brother got it, and my rest of, actually, the rest of my siblings all got it from me, and then, so everybody became physically weak. And then youngest brother needed milk, no milk. I guess the vegetable soup was not enough.

SG: How old was he?

MK: He was I think a year and a half or so.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

SG: So looking back on your experience after the war, what kind of, can you describe what it felt like at that time?

MK: After the war, actually, I remember I felt so relieved. When we are in the village before we came home, we are so tired, we are so sick. Then the Tennoheika, we heard, we listened to Tennoheika's voice on the 15th of August. We can go home, we learned. We didn't know what he said. We didn't understand a word of what he was talking about, but the teachers told us that the war had ended, Japan surrendered. I didn't know what the surrender meant; but anyway, no more planes coming to attack us. And then we're able to go home, so we felt just wonderful. And then we went home. But once we went home, there's no food. The city was bombed. So immediately my mother said, "Find water." My father was, my mother and then two, the other siblings are also evacuated to the countryside. And then when I came home, my mother wasn't there, and then my neighbor told me where my mother went with the rest of the siblings. So I remember looking for my mother and get on the train or something and then went to look for my mother, and finally, I found my mother. And then I remember I wanted to be hugged by my mother because I hadn't seen her for a long time, but my mother was holding my brother because my brother was a baby. And I remember how envious I was of my brother because my mother only said was, "Okaeri nasai." I expected her to say, "Oh, nice to see you," and all that stuff, and there's no such thing. I really felt envious of my brother at the time. My brother was in my mother's arms, you know. Then went to where she was staying was a farmhouse and then a big living room, and there's a fire going in the center, and fish is being roasted alongside it, fire. And then it was dark already and then tried to eat some dinner, and they had rice, of course, being farmers, and I hadn't had the good rice for a long time. I was able to eat as much as I was able to eat, so I was so happy. Then suddenly, I heard right behind me. I turned around. You know, I was stunned, and I turned around. There was a humongous snake. I was ready to scream, but my mother looked at me. That means I was not supposed to. Then I looked, my eyes went to the ceiling like that. All around, I saw snake here, snake there. Then I learned, that's true. Rats live there, so they needed snakes to eat rats. Then I learned something. So then I was told by the farmer, obviously, the farmer realized that I was frightened, that snakes are our friends. They eat rats and that made me feel better. It kind of rationalized my fear, and I was okay. We stayed there for a while. My mother didn't want to go back to Okayama because she knew what to expect. And then she was well taken care of while we were there, but we had to go home. Once we were home, spigot didn't have any water, so I had to look for water, so everybody was looking for water during that time.

SG: At that time, did your father's family or your mother's family, did they, how was the relationship?

MK: Well, unfortunately, we are away from everybody being in Okayama. My mother's family was in Kyushu in Kumamoto-ken. And then my, the rest of the family, my mother's side at the time, no. My father's side was in Fukushima-ken, but they are so poor, so my mother couldn't do anything, couldn't get any help from them. And then my mother's siblings, they are all in Tokyo area, and then her brother was in the government, Japanese government, in fact, had a very important job. I don't know which one it was. He graduated from Tokyo University in the electronic engineer, electric engineering or something and went into the government right away, and he was in the position to negotiate with the occupation forces. So he was doing quite well in comparison with many others in Japan at the time. So they asked us to come back to Tokyo. But my mother felt that maybe my father may come back, and if my mother, if we didn't stay in Okayama, my father would be lost. Even if he's dead, his spirit or the soul would come back to Okayama looking for her, so she wanted to stay in Okayama. Then her siblings got mad at her for being so willful, so they didn't, they had no connection after that for a while. Although, after a while, they felt sorry and then they got together and sent us money. But by that time, my mother was able to get me, kind of train me how to shop without money. I mean, I got so good. I took ten yen to shop. But most of the time, I didn't have to spend money, and I became very proud of myself for buying things with no money and was able to bring home ten yen, so I got hope for the next day. And then so by the time her siblings sent my mother money, and my mother was kind of doing, coasting it all right. So immediately, she bought a violin for all of us because before, during the war, before the war, I had a little German-made violin that my father bought in Germany, and I used to practice violin. That violin was left at my teacher's house when, the night before they, the day before Okayama was bombed, and the teacher's house was bombed and then he died, and I lost my violin too. And then my teacher encouraged me to leave the violin with him because at the time, carrying the western instrument was against kind of government's order. That means I liked western things, and then they consider that was against what we are supposed to do. So my teacher was very concerned for my welfare, so he was kind, so they asked me to leave the violin with him. But it turned out that he died, and my violin just disappeared, and I really missed my violin. So when my uncles and aunts got together and sent my mother money, then my mother bought a violin and wrote a thank you note saying that, "Thank you very much for sending the money, and I was able to buy a violin for the children." And my goodness, my uncle and my aunts are so mad at my mother. They said, "We thought that you're starving. And if you can buy violins, we won't help you again," you know. That's the way my mother was. It's not practical.

SG: How did your mom feel when she heard that Japan had surrendered to the United States and the Allies?

MK: Well, the thing is that I wasn't there. I was away from the village, into the village, I wasn't with my mother, so I don't know how she felt. But then immediately, she thought about the children, what am I supposed to do?

SG: She never talked to you about her feelings about that?

MK: Well, much later, she did that some survivors came to my mother from New Guinea, Hollandia, New Guinea, where my father was stationed to take care of the navy supply in that area. And some survived according to my mother, and one person came. My father was able to actually come back in the last plane. But instead, my father at the time was already forty-five years old. My father said to one of the brightest soldiers that, "You are twenty years old now, Japan needs somebody, people, to rebuild, and you can do more for the country than I can, so why don't you take my place?" So this young man came back to Japan and came to my mother and thanked my mother. And then another person came back and then said that, all the officers got together and said, "Well, Japan is going to lose. We have to surrender." If all the officers were not there, maybe as prisoners of war, the common soldiers would be treated better, and all the officers went into the jungle, never came out. So this kind of story led to kind of believe that my mother, that my father was a bit impractical. He was always thinking about the country. What did the country do to them? Now that she's stranded like this with the children, she was very bitter and said, "Your father was stupid." That's what my mother said to me, and I was so sad, I remember, because I liked my mother so much, because my father was so proud of me always, and I could do no wrong. I just wanted to be with my father all the time.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

SG: How did you and your mother, I mean, how did your mother feel about the American occupation especially after them being the enemy?

MK: Well, she just, it's interesting because one day when I came home from school, my house was full of occupation officers, and my mother was having a wonderful time with them, with broken English, whatever it was. And Okayama was occupied by many Indians and Australians, and it was so strange to see people with turbans in my house. And my mother was thinking about survival, I think, that if she invited these people to the house, they will bring food so that she could feed the children. So I remember my mother was quite happy, she had no prejudice against them.

SG: How about yourself? What were your feelings?

MK: I thought... children are so strange. I was brought up to hate Americans because they are evil people. You know, that's what the teacher told us. That's why we had to practice how to stop Americans and kill them. But one day when the fighter plane came and went across, at first, it was way up from... northern window of my house was way up there and then disappeared, so I rushed to the southern window when the plane just roared and came right and then right past in front of my eyes, very low using some kind of machine gun, shooting at somebody. But when the plane passed by just in front of me, I saw him, his profile, and then he had big nose, and all the Japanese people had small nose. You know, it's just so strange. I felt good about seeing Americans with big nose and then say, oh, I wish I had big nose, you know. I don't know. I know teacher asked us to hate, adults asked us to hate, and kempeitai, the military police came and made sure that we hated Americans, but I had always felt differently. And then particularly after the war when I saw the picture of MacArthur standing next to the emperor, emperor looked rigid, you know. He was not handsome, small next to MacArthur, and he was, and then emperor was wearing mourning, the formal clothes, and MacArthur didn't even have necktie, and nobody scolded MacArthur, you know. I said, my gosh. You know, immediately, I realized that we're supposed to look up to Americans. And then I felt, I don't know. I felt good about that.

And then also one day when I was coming home from school, I was by myself when I saw a GI in GI clothes coming towards me. I didn't know what to do. You know, during the war in my pocket in the covering over my head, the padded had all kinds of pockets inside. One of the pockets had cyanide, the powder. If I saw Americans, my mother said that I was supposed to take this white powder. It's better to die than being captured by Americans. Then here I am after the war, I was by myself on the street, here comes the tall, slender man towards me, and I kept wondering, I didn't have white powder, what am I supposed to do here? And he was whistling looking this way and looking that way and then very relaxed, had his hands in his pockets. He was doing everything we're not supposed to do because during the war, I was told to sit and always look straight. When I walked, I walked straight, not meander this way and that way. That's kind of beneath your dignity, that's what my mother said. And then here is a man coming towards me whistling, chewing gum, and then he came. I was frozen, standing frozen. And then he came over and said, "Chewing gum?" And then he gave me chewing gum. I wanted to say thank you, but I didn't know how to say "thank you" in English, so I just looked at him and smiled, you know. And then I was so hungry at the time, and then I always divided whatever I had into four with my siblings. So I got piece of chewing gum, and I smiled at him. I looked at him walk away, and I was so happy. And then I imitated him right away, skipping and hopping, trying to whistle, looking this way and looking that way and went home. And then my mother saw that. Oh, gosh, she got me by the neck and said, "You are not going to imitate Americans. It's beneath your dignity, and don't you remember how your father was?" and all that lecture. But then that's the time I felt that I wanted to go to the United States, so I could do whatever I felt like doing.

SG: How old were you at the time?

MK: I think I was nine years old.

SG: I just had a question. When you were, during the war, did you have any interaction with the kempeitai?

MK: Yes, not directly, but we were told not to say anything loud. And then it got to be so that the moment somebody says kempeitai kuru yo, kempeitai may listen to you or come get you, that was enough to keep us all quiet. And then I remember one of my friends, my neighbor's father, was tall and handsome and then kind of like a professor type, intellectual, bright, and I was told he was a Communist, whatever that was, and I didn't know, but you are not supposed to be a Communist I was told. And then he was taken away and detained. The family was very concerned. My friend was very concerned. But when he came back, he was a broken man, mentally and physically, and everybody said that he was injured, I mean, he was tortured, beaten up by kempeitai, and that was enough example for us to get frightened. Therefore, I wasn't really sure whom I hated more, kempeitai or Americans because I never saw Americans. Only American I saw was in the airplane shooting at us, but then I was not directly involved with Americans. So I think kempeitai scared us more than anything else.

SG: Did you recognize kempeitai?

MK: No, just came around, snooping around, and they often came with candies. They even talked to the children. Kids are all hungry, except I wasn't hungry, but many kids are hungry at the time, some people are starving. So the men would come around and say, "Would you like to have some candies? Would you like some sweet things?" Of course, kids will say yes. In return, the man would ask, "Who visited your father last night?" In that way, some fathers disappeared. I was told that way, so we are all frightened.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

SG: So after the war ended and your family struggling to get food, what happened after that?

MK: Well, my mother decided to become a maid, anything to survive. And then for a while, she worked as a maid at somebody else's house. But since my mother didn't know how to be a maid, so she acted like the mother of that family. And when the people came, they treated the real person as maids and then my mother was the mistress of the home, so that she got fired. She couldn't become a maid. Then she got, all the grocery shops and so on needed some bags, so she got all kinds of newspapers. I remember every time we came home, we had to make bags for the groceries so that that will bring in some income, anything to make money. And then, so I began to think how to make money. I remember, I don't know where I got this idea, but although we were all poor, the Japanese people were superstitious, they wanted to have good omen. When the New Year's came, they made with the straws some decorations for the home, the gate, the bicycles, and so on, and I was looking at them one year, and then said, well, I can do that too, but I had no money to buy any material. So I went to the outskirts, the farmer's house, and I picked up straw from the backyard and quite a bit of them and then brought them home and made a straw mat myself so I could sit on, and then I had enough straw to make Christmas ornaments, not Christmas, New Year's ornaments. And then I remember selling, putting this straw mat that I made myself, sitting on it with a couple of buckets. And then my brother Masataka, year older than I was, was my treasurer, and then he guarded the bucket. And then I remember selling the, whatever I made, the decorations, 30 yen, 50 yen, I sold them. And then that year, I remember we were able to have mochi, and then, but I didn't have enough money to, no. I made enough money to buy the mochi rice, glutinated rice, to have it pounded and make it into mochi. I remember that. I made about three buckets full of money, and I don't know if I was in which grade or anything like that. I did that for two years in succession. And then somehow, I had a bicycle. I don't know why. I was able to get a lot of straw in the back of the bicycle. And I don't know if I was able to ride the bike or anything, but at least I was hop, just go like this. I don't know. I was always thinking about making money for my family.

SG: So your mom really raised you and your siblings by herself?

MK: By herself for a while, and she even had this shop to sell bread. She always had kind of innovative ideas, and she started out right, but everybody else copied her. You know, everybody else, many people had fathers in the family. And then the moment the man came back from the war, immediately, almost immediately, their lifestyle changed. They began to live better because the man worked. And then my mother had to close the store because it got defeated because they had better, larger place than my mother. She tried everything. And then after a while, when my mother was at the time very attractive, thirty-five years old, so quite a few gentlemen used to come to the house. And then quite a few gentlemen wanted to marry my mother, and then, but my mother wanted to marry somebody who is very relaxed and casual. And then she got enough of, during the marriage with my father; although, they had a very happy marriage and both are good singers. They used to sing together and very good life, but she just wanted to get away from the formal, like my father had to appear in front of the emperor and so on. And sometimes my mother had to wear the best kimono and then appear in a kind of formal occasion with the navy officer's wives and so on, talk about nothing, and my mother didn't like that, so she wanted to have somebody who is casual, relaxed. So she chose with all the candidates, among all the candidates, chose my future stepfather, and she made a mistake. And then because he was PFC in the army and coming from kind of lower rank in society, kind of casual family and, whereas when he came home, we all sat on the floor and bowed to the floor and said, okaeri nasai, welcome home. He was not used to being treated like that. That's the way we had to do when my father was alive. All the maids and we children all went up when my father came home and walked into the house and then, bow. We all sat on the floor and bowed to my father and, "Welcome home." And then so with the stepfather, he was not used to that. He felt very uncomfortable. And also the pressure that he had with all these little kids, I think was too much for him. And also my mother couldn't forget my father's love, affection, so had the kind of, kamidana where they, every Japanese home usually have a shrine and Buddhist altar, and then the shrine in the living room and the Buddhist altar in the family room, the dining room. And then my father's box, the government sent us an empty box with the name inside say that this is the deceased, your father is killed, was killed in action. It was wrapped up in a white, instead of taking that into the shrine, my mother kept it in the family shrine. And every morning, we had to go and clap our hands and say, "Good morning, Father." And then after that, every morning, I had to give the water, fresh water. And I remember the little bit of rice to my father, and then, "Good morning, Otousama," and then went to the family altar, and then we did the same thing and made a noise, ching, and then, "Good morning all my ancestors and my deceased brother." And my mother couldn't let them go, so that my brother's urn is still there. We used to open up and look and touch my brother, say, good morning. But I tried to do that with my father, but nothing was inside it, you know. We opened it up and looked inside it. It's only that white paper with the name on it.

But things like that, that our relationship with my father in this spiritual way disturbed my stepfather immensely. So once in a while, being a teenager by that time, when I didn't agree with my stepfather, I says, "Oh, I wish my father were here," you know, all these things, bad things. Now, I understand. But at the time, I didn't know. And my mother kind of encouraged us to remember my father as being a great man, so I think my stepfather felt inferior or never accepted. And one morning, something happened, maybe I was a sassy girl and said something, he got mad. And then we are all having breakfast, and we're all sitting on the tatami floor, and then he just tip the entire table, put it upside down, and we just lost everything, all the food and everything, and he walked out. That was the end of him. And then meanwhile because of the pressure or maybe because of the way he was, he liked to gamble. And then he was a good businessman, but he gambled the money away, so my mother always had problems trying to kind of smooth the situation, and she was getting tired too trying to do that and bring up the children at the same time. But during those years my stepfather was with us, I think financially we are doing, we are not starving. We are surviving.

SG: How did you feel about having a stepfather?

MK: Well, if my mother had told us, "This is going to be your father, this gentleman is going to be your father, be good to him," I have a feeling the situation would have been very different. But my mother didn't want us to forget our father. That's where my mother made a mistake, I think, that we kind of had a tendency to look down upon the stepfather. Well, our father was so good, you know. Well, you're terrible, no education, and all this stuff. Teenagers, they're rebellious to begin with. We didn't know what we are doing. And then the fact that once in a while when I woke up, my stepfather was holding my hand, and I said, as a teenager, I felt kind of, I don't know why. I just resented him. He was trying to be nice to me, I guess, because I was the most difficult child to him because the rest of the siblings would follow whatever I said, and I said that you do this and they all did. But somehow, I just couldn't accept him as a father. But it was just too bad. Now I realize that if my mother only had told us to accept the stepfather, we would have done it.

SG: How long did he live with you?

MK: I think only several years, I think, less than several years, I think.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

SG: So during this time after the war, you kept going to school?

MK: Yes, I kept going to school, definitely, yes. And then my mother arranged it so that I would become tuition-free student so that I didn't have to go to public school, so I stayed on at Fuzoku Shogakko, this University School.

SG: Was that unusual at that time?

MK: I guess, but we had no money, no other choice. So my mother was very good at that.

SG: Was it unusual for a girl to continue her education through high school during that time after the war?

MK: No, because MacArthur made sure that we would have basic education; six, three, then a three, high school, elementary school, six years and junior high school, then senior high school. But the basic education is nine years I think all together, but then still, you can't do anything unless you become a maid or something. I didn't want to become a maid. So my mother also encouraged that, one day we had absolutely nothing, we are hungry, we had no heat. And in the wintertime, we huddled together to keep each other warm because no heating source in the house. Then my mother used to tell me, tell us all kinds of stories. Then one of the things my father, my mother said was that study hard. We have nothing. War took away everything. My mother kept the valuable things that my father collected from Europe and China in a storage. Storage got the direct hit, and we lost everything, all the valuables things. Although fortunately, the fire stopped burning about a few blocks away. Our house was okay, but house had nothing. The valuable things weren't there, so we had absolutely nothing. And inflation took care of the savings. And my father was very proud that he had enough money until we got married. Everything was all fixed, but the inflation took care of that. And I remember holding, looking at the, post office savings that we used to save money in there, and my mother kind of looked at it and said, "You know, your father thought that this would take care of you, your marriage and everything. Can't buy rice, even buy rice."

SG: When you think back about your mother and father, do you remember them telling you certain stories or singing songs or doing some activity with you and your brothers and sister?

MK: Yes. My father was always away, and then so all I can remember is that when my father came home, he always had his friends, so I just sat on his lap and then sip beer and so on and pretending that I was princess or something. And then when I went shopping, once in a while, my mother would send me out to shop. And then my father when he was home, he came with me, and I remember holding on to his hand and how warm he was and his hand was. And also sometimes he would have me on his shoulder, and then I was such a proud daughter to him. Yeah, I remember, I remember that. But my mother, every time, every morning when I woke up, my mother was singing, not the Japanese songs. Somehow, she had the kind of disdained attitude about Japanese music, shamisen, koto and all these things, Japanese things. She was more of a western music. Since she was singing in the opera house as a kind of minor role, my lullaby and so on that I can remember, "Santa Lucia" from Madame Butterfly or all these opera music that I grew up with, but not Japanese songs because my, I think she was rebellious against my grandmother because my grandmother was good at calligraphy, and she was teaching calligraphy, flower arrangement, tea ceremony, shamisen, uta, a Japanese way of singing, everything to do with the, that she could put her hands on, she did because the women couldn't do much of anything in Japan when my grandmother was growing up. That first train, my grandma remembers first train that ran in Yokohama area, she went to see that. But women had no place in society except being a housewife or otherwise becoming a nurse and then, or take care of somebody's hair, beautician.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

SG: So when you went back to school --

MK: After the war?

SG: Yeah, how was it different than before or during the war?

MK: Well, after the war, the war ended on August the 15th, and you know, September came, we had to go back to school. The school was bombed and absolutely nothing there. And then we went to school because the teachers said we had to go to school, so we went, and then everything was destroyed, and the teacher asked us to collect burnt roof tile which we did. We didn't know why. Then the teachers asked us to look for the nails, large nails, bent or not, nails. Then that became the pencil and the roof tiles became the notebooks, so we studied using those. And then we used to call it aozora kyoitsu, under the blue sky. So fortunately, it was not raining, so we studied. But then I had the disaster because I sat on the ant hill, and I knew how horrible that is now. So now when I sit, I'm always careful where I sit. You know, you learn things. And then I remember one day when I went to school, and during the recess, I started poking around the area, then I saw a flower sprouting out of just completely destroyed building, just completely destroyed, and that gave me a really nice feeling, happy feeling, that my goodness, something is sprouting, new life is starting. I remember that. That is the best feeling I had after the war, going to school. But otherwise, we studied no matter what because we are taught to study. We are supposed to study no matter what. And then my mother always said, "We have nothing, but Americans took everything from you, from us. But they didn't take our head; they didn't take our heart so that all you can do without money is to study." So I listened to my mother on that.

SG: Did the school system change with the influence of the Allies or the Marshall Plan?

MK: Yes, indeed. We were told that men and women are created equal, and we have the equal opportunity to study. That's what we were told, that MacArthur did that, and then we fell in love with MacArthur. Anyway, he's handsome to begin with. Whatever he did, he was like a god to us, better than the emperor, you know. The emperor was supposed to be god, but my goodness. Then we are supposed to become blind if we looked at the emperor's face. That's the way we were taught during the war, but nobody got blind, so, the government always lies. That's my feeling as a child. And then that was the good thing. And then also one day, I don't know which grade it was, by that time, we are in some kind of classroom, we received shoe boxes, each of us. And when we opened it, we found little things that we really needed like pencils, pencil sharpener, little notebooks. Paper was so precious. We didn't have paper. Paper was so precious, notebooks. And then as I dug into the boxes, I found little, many things. At the bottom was a kewpie doll, about this big and had a cape around it. I looked at it. You know, my dolls are all gone by that time. And then my mother, my father bought me German dolls that I really liked, but it was gone for some reason during the war. Maybe my mother took it to pawn shop to change it for money. I don't know because my mother always took things to pawn shop. When I looked at it, I just smiled, and that became my treasure. As I grew up when I was lonesome, I remember I used to hide, just squeeze this. And then the boxes came from Wisconsin. And then some teacher had the idea to make these shoe boxes for the children in Japan, and then every one of us received shoe boxes. We didn't know English, we didn't know how to say thank you, but I remember how grateful I was to people in Wisconsin. And then we didn't know where Wisconsin was. But the moment we'd learn, the first time I saw the map of America, I looked for Wisconsin. And just the other day, I wrote to the newspaper, Milwaukee Journal in Wisconsin and then writing about this, and I said, "Please publish this." And I talked to whoever in charge of the division at the newspaper company, and he said, he interviewed me a little bit and then said okay, "This will be good news. I'll put it in the newspaper." But I don't know what happened. I forgot to call him back and say, "Hey, did you publish it?" But I wanted to say thank you to people in Wisconsin because, because of that, I think, and also the GIs I met who gave me chewing gum and the other GIs who gave me candies and so on that I didn't hate Americans anymore. In fact, I really respected Americans after I received this shoe box. How could you do that? We're trying to kill them, and we're fighting against each other, yet they did this to us. I thought America must be a great place, and I wanted to go when I grow up.

SG: And this was, you were in middle school?

MK: I think elementary school still, yes.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

SG: So you continued your education, middle school and high school?

MK: Yes. I also continued, yes. I took an entrance examination to continue in the same school, in the university Fuzoku shogakko I went in. And then after that, we had to go to public school because there are no University School. And then public schools are hard to enter because it's subsidized. And then private schools are the places that you went when you couldn't get into public schools. So my mother didn't have money, so she couldn't send us to private school. I had to study so hard to get into public school. There are two public schools that are really good in Okayama, so I was lucky I was able to enter one of them, Sozan High School.

SG: What was it like going to high school in Japan?

MK: Well, it was very interesting that, there for the first time I met public school children coming from places from other areas. I remember one student came up to me and she went through all the public school system. She said, "You know, we see some in my maiden name, you're different." So I says, "Why was I different?" She said, "You went up to the teacher and spoke to the teacher. You didn't have any fear for the teacher. Why?" I said, "Oh, I didn't know that." Then I observed the other students, and I realized they are kind of fearful of teachers. But I never felt fear, or anything like that maybe because my father's position, and I had to meet with governor and mayor and so on and high ranking navy officers all the time, and they are humans too as far as I was concerned. So I never felt fear. And then so other people always felt that I was different. But I had good friends in public school system and studied hard. I don't think I was the best kind of student, but I did my best.

SG: What kind of things did you study?

MK: Just the, there are two courses, three all together, home economics and then, or business oriented or university track. My mother made sure that I would be in the university track, and then she didn't want me to work right away after high school. She wanted me to study. That's the only way we can survive, my mother said. So I was in the university track. So I prepared for the entrance examination, mathematics, and then regular, subjects that American students study, yes, I did study except that I did, instead of world history, I took Japanese history. Instead of Japanese literature, I took Chinese literature, so I got used to Chinese poems and so on. I just admired, I remember, the Japanese history I loved, yes. I rewrite, I remember by the time I graduated from high school, I rewrote the textbook and presented that to my teacher when I graduated by studying many different kinds of textbooks, and I created one of mine. And then he was so impressed with me that I remember he tried to arrange marriage for me with his nephew. My mother turned him down. She said, "Country bumpkin. My daughter is too good for your nephew." My mother was horrible in that way. [Laughs] Usually, mothers want their daughters to get married, but not my mother. See, my mother had a dream that was shattered that she wanted to come to the United States to become a beautician or a fashion something, because my father was going kill my mother unless she didn't marry him. And after all those experiences with stepfather and all these things, she realized that women have other way of living than being a housewife. And then she had a dream for me while I was thinking about something else, but she was controlling my life that way.

SG: Do you, you said you studied Chinese poetry. Is there one or a poem that you particularly remember?

MK: Yes. I remember Li Po's poem, Li Po, Tu Fu, two distinctly different poets. And then Li Po had a, his idea was, for example, to me at that time, I can't find this poem, but, "If I live again, if I can come back to this world, I'd like to ride on a white horse drawn carriage, go over the rainbow, visiting every star on the way." That poem became the way I live, I wanted to live. Tu Fu's poem I enjoyed, but he always took care of little things, the family things. He found pleasure in the domestic things and so on. But Tu Fu was more scholarly; maybe Li Po was a drunkard. You know, you think about it and had a merry life, but thinking about the universe and something big. So the combination of both, I thought that would be perfect. Yeah, I like both poems. And of course at that time I like too, but you know.

SG: So that poetry really affected the way you see the world and lived?

MK: Yeah. I think so when it comes down to it, yes, uh-huh. Well, maybe I'm just not looking at my feet, you know. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 12>

SG: Did you have any other activities or fun, or how did you have fun in high school?

MK: High school time, well, we had no money, and I wanted to do many things particularly when my mother said, "Your father used to ride horses. He was a good horseman." But how would you find a horse, you know? So the, in the high school, the university, there was a horseback riding club I joined because it didn't cost much. But in the high school level, my father used to do the Japanese archery. And then my mother said my father was good at it, so I thought... I wanted to do everything my father did because I liked him so much, and I wanted to be very close to him at least in spirit, so I took up archery, and then I did it. I was doing very well until one day my teacher said, "You can attend the competition, but you have to buy your own." I was borrowing his equipment up 'til then. I didn't have money, so I had to quit. And I remember I wanted to be a ballerina, but I had no costume and no tuition money, so I used to go up to the class and then look in from the windows at my, when my classmates are dancing inside, how envious I felt. I remember that. And then also I wanted to be a swimmer, but I didn't have money to buy swimming suit, and then I didn't have money to pay for the lesson. I couldn't do it. So I tried everything, just everything up to the point when it requires money, then I had to give up.

SG: And you were taking care of your siblings at this time also?

MK: Oh, yeah, all the time, yes, all the time so that, it was like motherhood, a sister, but at the same time, motherhood. And then my brothers and sister always looking up to me, and I was marching ahead of everybody and then say, "Come with me," and they all used to follow me. I used to make big rice balls, and go to the park together and create imaginary world, and we used to play together. And I think my brothers and sister were kind of scared of me all the time because I was always yelling at, and then because I made sure that they did the homework because my mother made sure because sometimes my mother... that's right. Before she married, one of the things, after she was turned down being a maid, and then she opened even a bar. But for a while, she did well, but you know, she acted differently. And then she was not a bar hostess, so she didn't do very well either. Yeah, I remember now, yeah, that's right.

SG: Did you help out at the bar also?

MK: No. We are not supposed to come near it. It's a kind of evil place my mother said. So I used to bring my brothers and sister, they all behind me, and then we used to kind of, from the corner of the house, a man is going in there. We used to look, I remember. But that didn't last. After a while, nobody came because she was too polite and then too kind of authoritative, gave everybody lectures. [Laughs] She tried everything to survive.

SG: So it sounds like you probably didn't have much time to spend time with your friends or play because you were spending a lot of time raising your siblings?

MK: Yes, indeed. And then there is no such a thing as dating in Japan at the time. I don't know now because, yet, when you are in high school, kind of hormones starts working. If you date, you get thrown out of the school. But we kind of felt, I like that man, I like that boy and all this stuff. And I remember that was so funny that I liked one man, one boy, but when he came near me, I used to get so red, and my classmates used to call me "boiled octopus." And then I don't know why I got red when he came near me, I remember. [Laughs] And then another time, I happened to turn around when he happened to looking to, looking at me, and some kind of strange feeling occurred. But we couldn't do anything about that because it's against the regulation, very strict. And then my mother made sure that I understand it, dealing with men, and it's very distracting, and it gets you nowhere. And the school showed us movies, the girls went around with boys and getting pregnant and sent away and couldn't do anything anymore. So we had kind of a miserable feeling about dating and being with a man and all that stuff, so we didn't do anything. Even at the university, we would have gotten kicked out.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

MK: Because that's one thing, when I tried to enter university, well, after all, high school is coming to end. I was in the university track and then studying hard, but there are other opportunities, and I wanted to test the ground, to see what would be the best for me. I went to the NHK, to become announcer, broadcasting corporation, and took a test, and I read one line, and the examiner said, "Thank you very much for coming," you know. I knew I couldn't become an announcer, well, that's done. And then I wanted to become a, maybe I'll be good at, sewing, so I went to go to a seamstress school. And I was listening to the principal, and I fell asleep, and I said, "No, this is not going to work." And then I went to a school for nurses and took examination, written examination. I passed. Then physical examination time came. Then I was told I had to remove my clothes, brassiere and all, and then, except for underwear and then spread our hand, arms, and so on to show that we are physically fit to become a nurse. Now, I ain't going take my clothes off in front of men, so I just walked out. So I knew I wasn't going to become a nurse.

Then I took the examination, then at the time, the governor, Miki Yukiharu, came back from Brazil and said that Brazil is the place to go for everybody, and then, to start up a new life. I was all for that because my mother told me too that my father always liked high land of Brazil. It's the best place to live as far as my father was concerned. He wanted, when the war ended, my father wanted to take the family to Brazil. So, of course, naturally that's what my father wanted, and I wanted, too. And also my father said, "When you live in Japan, you stay in Japan, you don't see other world. If you have a chance, you go to a continent like Manchuria and stand in the midst of nowhere and then look at the sun goes down, you realize how small you are, then you change." My mother told me this, my father always said that. He wanted his children to experience that. So I wanted to go to somewhere which is large, and then Miki Yukiharu came, governor came back from Brazil and then gave a big talk about us, encouraging us to go to Brazil. So after his talk, he was coming down the stairway and went outside into the hallway. I went hallway, and then he was surrounded by bodyguards, but I went up to him and said, "I want to go to Brazil." I was seventeen years old, you know. He looked surprised, and all the bodyguards surrounded me. I was surprised too and scared. And then he said, he smiled and said, "Why don't you come to my office next day." So I went to see him, and then he asked me many questions. One of the things he asked was, "Have you ever planted a radish?" So I said, "No." "Have you ever planted rice?" "No." I don't know. "Then why don't you go to department, Okayama University Department of Agriculture and study? Then after that, you come back to me and see what I can do for you." So immediately I went to the Department of Education, dean's office, made an appointment and went to see him. He said, "What in the world is happening with this woman?" And I said, "Well, I talked to Governor Miki Yukiharu and then he said that I should come to agriculture department and study how to plant the radish," and so on. He smiled and said, "We don't take women. Women... studying at university is a serious matter for men because men have to support the family. We don't want women to come around and mess up the men's study attitude." Well, I grew up with equal rights and MacArthur is, we are... "That's not fair," I said. I said, "At least give me a chance to study, take an entrance examination. And if I don't do well, I realize that. I have to find a different way of living, but give me a chance." And he smiled and said, "Well, okay. Why don't you." So I studied hard, you know. Then I became, I think, either number two or three out of 250 students. So he had to accept me.

And I remember I went to the university to see if I was accepted or not. The names are all written, and then with the numbers and the names are written. And I found my name, and I was so happy, so I went home to my mother and said, "I was accepted. I'm going to the university." My mother looked at me and said, "Congratulations, but we have no money. In fact, your brothers, younger brothers, are more important, because they are men, than you," yet, my mother had been encouraging me to study. This is what she said. What am I supposed to do, no tuition money. So I thought about it, and I went back to the dean and said, "My mother says my mother has no money for me. Could you make me into a tuition free status?" He looked at me, said, "Well, I can't decide by myself. I have to take this up to university conference, the professor's conference." Okay, I'll wait. Then I became a university free student. But somebody told me there is a government scholarship may be available to students, so I went back to the dean again and said, "Would you please recommend that I would get a government scholarship?" I didn't know the government scholarship you're supposed to return afterwards, but that didn't enter the mind, my mind, I thought that well, anyway, I'm going to get it. And then he said, "Okay, with one condition. You will not have love affair until you graduate to age twenty-two because I do not want any mess in the university campus." So I said, "Okay, I promise." So I kept my word because I was one of the first women to enter the Department of Agriculture. One other person ahead of me, but she was a very quiet person. And then, so I was thinking about the women that would follow behind me that I had to be a model, so I tried to keep my word. Well, I can't help it if other gentlemen fell in love with me. That's a different matter, but I had a great time. But that's the way I started the university life.

SG: How was university life for you?

MK: Well, to my surprise... well, the moment I started university life, it was, I remember going home to my mother and telling my mother, "There are so many windows." I feel as if I were opening little windows one at a time. And then throughout the windows, I can see a vast field. And I was so excited about studying philosophy, studying chemistry, studying Japanese literature, whatnot, I really enjoyed it. And there are so many opportunities. And then I one day saw horseback riding, some students are riding horses, and I went up to them and kind of asked if it was possible to get on the horse, so they said, okay. So I became a member of the horseback riding club and then began to ride horses, yes. It was so heavenly. I was jumping over the barrier. But then when it came to national competition, I was disqualified because I didn't have money to buy my hat. They have to have special hats, special pants. And then my sister-in-law, my brother's wife, was a great seamstress. She made me a pants and so on, but that was not good enough, so I was disqualified. But I did the best I could to a certain level.

SG: Did you find anything difficult about being at the university?

MK: No. I had just a great time. I studied hard. And when I entered university, now, they are worried because I'm one of two girls. The other girl was, failed in entrance examination previous year twice. As a result, she was older than we were and, most of us, so she didn't have problem, but people didn't pay attention to her. But since I was the same age as the rest of the boys, one professor in biology department kind of thought that I may get into trouble with, they accepted hundred boys and then here are two girls, so he felt kind of protective of me. So he took me into his room, well, eventually, he had something else on his mind, but then at the time, I was very grateful, and he taught me a great deal of things. And then quite a few people, students came to be his students. But when I opened the door, automatically, I said, "May I walk in with my shoes on?" You know, that's Japanese custom to me. But in the university situation, oftentimes, you walk in with the shoes in, in any place. But his room was so clean, so I asked him, may I, the attitude that I showed, kind of humble attitude I showed pleased him, I guess. And of all the applicants, he took me in, so I studied for a year and a half or so under him. But somehow his attitude began to change. His wife had died and so on and then kind of became sticky, and I stopped going to him. I began to concentrate more on horseback riding which is kind of unfortunate, but that's what happened.

SG: You became romantically --

MK: Yeah, kind of, yeah, well, you know when you're young.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

SG: And so what did you do after university?

MK: Well, my mother said that there was a job offer to work in the liquor company like making wine. Well, when I was in the university, first two years are general education. The third year, the fourth year, you specialize in something. I learned how to use tractors. I promised my governor that I would learn everything, but I realized that I was not machine oriented. I wanted the tractor to go forward, it went backward, and it was too dangerous, and I didn't understand all those machines. So, and then also that working in the field was not for me, so I majored in fermentation chemistry. So I began to learn how to make wine, sake, miso, tofu, all these things that will be useful in Brazil as a housewife. I wanted to become a picture bride and go to Brazil and make money. But by the time I graduated, my mother said, "Well, it's better to get a teacher's certificate," and at the same time, well, my mother was very ambitious for me. "Why don't you go to graduate school?" But graduate school didn't exist at the time, and only the government just established one year graduate school degree, so immediately I was the number one student to go into that graduate level, fukushigo we say, not masters, before that, one year. Then while I was there, I got a teacher's certificate in agriculture and in biology. Then as a trainee, I became the number one student, so I was able to choose whatever school I wanted to teach. But the moment that became apparent, my mother had more ambition for me. And then after I got the certificate, then I thought I was going to become a schoolteacher, but then I realized that wait a minute, I have to teach this subject every year, the same thing. Is this something what I want? And obviously, the answer was no. I wanted to do something else. And exactly at that point, there was an opening at medical school as a research assistant. And then I wondered which I should do, work in a fermentation, the chemistry using the background of fermentation chemistry to work in the wine company or become a teacher in biology or to go to medical school to become a research assistant eventually to graduate school, and I said, "Why not?" Then my mother said, "Why not? You should go, I think you'll be very good at, eventually if you can do some kind of clinical analysis in the crime scene and all these things." My mother always stood me up in that direction, so I said, "Okay, I'll do that then." So I began to work in the department of physiology, and I was the first woman in the history of medical school in that department, and they are not used to having women. And it's kind of hard. When I was there and working there, and professor was very good. Professor Hayashi was so kind to me, and I really enjoyed working for him. But after one year or so, the dean of, back in the agriculture department called me up and then said, "At the University of Hawaii, Congress just established East-West Center, and they're inviting graduate students from thirty-two Asian nations. Would you like to go representing Japan? And I think it suits your personality because the purpose of the East-West Center was to live together with other people and then bring some understanding between East and West." And he felt that the entire professor, the conference, they discussed it. I was the most suited person to represent Japan. So he said that, the dean said that the entire professors will push you and recommend highly, so try it, and I thought about it. I went home to my mother. My mother kept thinking, you're going to University of Hawaii and all these things. She said, "I wonder by saying yes, I wonder if I'm saying the right thing, for your future," and so she couldn't quite make up her mind. But I went ahead anyway and applied, and I was very fortunate. I was dating at the time a newspaper man, very bright man from Kyushu University. And then I didn't know English, and English was not a requirement at the time, and he filled out the application form for me. And when you think about it, that's the beginning of problems, but I got accepted. The first time around, men was accepted first, and this man in art history was supposed to come, and I was in the second. And I, well, I was rejected, so I said, well. But it so happened that he was discovered to have tuberculosis, so he couldn't get it. So they called me up and said, "Are you still interested in it?" So I said, "Sure enough." You know, I wanted to go, so I came, best thing happened in my life.

SG: That's great.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

SG: So I think we left off with the East-West Center, and you're talking about how you had just been accepted and deciding to go to the East-West Center.

MK: Yes. The news came when I was working in the laboratory. I had a very expensive crystal cell that's all lined up. I had just washed up them and then put them on the towel to dry them out. When the news came, I was so happy, I went, "Whoopie," and lifted the towel and all the cells smashed against the walls, and it was so expensive. At the time, my salary was something like, in American dollars, $80 a month, and each cell would cost at least $50 more, and I broke four of them. And I went to the people, the department people who gave it to me to use them and I apologized and told them the truth, and then they said that, "Congratulations, this would be our gift," and I was so grateful to them to this day. And then I went to my professor in fermentation chemistry and then told him and then, what happened and he said, "Good. No one in Japan could tame you. You are like a untamable horse." He said, "You got to go to a continent and find a man to marry." And also the other professor, when I went to see other professor, other professor said, "Find a good man while you are in America because no one can marry you in Japan because your mother will destroy the marriage because my mother, your mother loves you so much, and she has an idea about your future, all planned, and she wouldn't allow any of it." Although I had go-between, arrange the marriage and so on, I met the prospective, the bridegroom, my mother arranged it in such a way that I wouldn't marry that man. But at the same time, in the future, she could have said that, "Oh, I had did it for you. You didn't like him." That's the way my mother kind of, tried to keep me working, never marry anybody. But that's the way it was. But now we are talking about the East-West Center, yes, and then that happened. And then unfortunately, my boyfriend and I broke up because my mother was very much against him anyway. And then my mother said probably my way of thinking will change in such a way that he wouldn't recognize me anymore after I come back from the United States, so I should be free of everything, so she broke up our relationship. And that's the first time I felt that kind of, the feeling of autumn, the dry leaves passing through my heart just making kind of dry sound inside. I was really hurt. Yet I had to say goodbye to him because of at that time I was under the influence of my mother, and I would listen to my mother.

And then throughout the university time, although I promised my dean that I would never fall in love with anybody, but quite a few gentlemen wanted to marry me, so I always took him to my mother, and then said, "He wants to marry me. What do you think?" My mother always had an excuse. For example, one of the gentleman wanted to take me back to Nagasaki, said that, my mother said, "Look at his hand. You know, when he puts his hands like that, you can see through it, and all the money will go through the fingers, so you can't marry that man, you know." Or she'll say, "Well, he's from Kobe, must be untouchable person, the family background, so you can't marry him." And, "Oh, this is too handsome. He'll be a playboy." She always had excuses, and I always thought that my mother was thinking about me, so I said no to the gentlemen. But this one, so I always tried to bring the gentlemen who asked me to marry. I thought that this one is better than the next one, the last one, so my mother will agree. But every time my mother said, no. So when I went to East-West Center, I had no one waiting for me. But it turned out that somebody did for eight years, but my mother said no to him too, so it didn't work out.

So then when I went to the East-West Center, second day, although I felt very free and happy that I'm, here I am in Hawaii, of course, I was lonesome. Next morning when I woke up, I smelled something strange. I had a roommate from the Philippines, Indonesia, and America. The four of us are rooming together. And I went to the kitchen to see, what was happening, and she was cooking bacon that I had never seen before, something greasy, and I had to go to bathroom and throw up, and I couldn't take that smell, I remember that. And then when I came to this country, I had never seen western toilet. I didn't know how to use it. You know, it's different from, it's backwards from Japanese. So I got on the toilet seat and fell inside, you know. [Laughs] But then my roommate from Indonesia was very kind of careless, and she didn't close the door to the bathroom, so I was able to see what she was doing. Then I learned how to use the toilet for the first time. Things went like that. And then the East-West Center gave us sheets, two sheets, and then bed pad and pillowcases and pillow and everything, blanket and so on. I couldn't understand how to use everything because I didn't know how to make bed, never slept on it. And then bed pad, I didn't know, and then I put the sheets, in Japanese style. They cover the futon in it with the sheets, and they had the blanket on top of it and fall asleep. So bed pad, I didn't know what to do. I thought that was a blanket, so I put it on top of everything else. And then when my Indonesian roommate, two girls, the same apartment but the two bedrooms, so I roomed with Indonesian girl, and the American girl roomed with the Filipino girl. And then so when I arrived there, Indonesian girl was out. But later on, she came and looked at how I was sleeping, she laughed, you know. Then I learned how to use the bed pad. But still, I didn't know that we, in America, you sleep between the two sheets. So every week, the laundry lady will come with the new sets of, sheets and bring. But since I didn't use one, so I kept just piling it up in my closet. So pretty soon, my closet was full of sheets until roommate found out, and, "What's the matter with you?"

Then that way, I learned how to live in this country. And then also how to cook in this country the American way, and I was always looking for the Japanese restaurant. I wanted to eat miso soup, but I couldn't find anything. But if I did, it was white miso, and I'm used to Tokyo style which is red miso. And so the miso soup was too sweet to me in Hawaii, and so I was very, very, homesick. I was, the first time, I, first time I was homesick was during the war when I was evacuated. I was at the countryside. But then Hawaii, I really felt lonely and then missed my mother. And then my mother controlled my life all the time, and I had no saying what I am supposed to even wear, and my mother decided, "Today you wear this." So when I came to the East-West Center, I had to decide, and I'm always, I was always asking my roommate what to do, and roommate said, "What's the matter with you? You Japanese girl don't know what to dress." Then I slowly began to learn. And then I was introduced to a Japanese American home, principal of the Japanese language school, and then they became the host parent, host family, and they were so good to me, and I'm very grateful to them to this day because they made me feel so comfortable.

But the interesting thing with that family was that when the New Year came, shiny black car came and stopped in front of my apartment. And then Japanese American people got out of the back of the shiny car and then all dressed up formal way, and then they brought a box and had a red kimono, and then they dressed me in a red kimono. And I had no money, so I had no kimono at the time, and I couldn't bring any kimono from Japan. It's beyond me, and so I didn't have anything. Then my host family found out, so that they, then they took me to the consul general's residence. There, we all as students, I was one of thirty-six Japanese students, graduate students, who came to this country. And then we are all taken to the consul general's place, and then we had to bow towards Tokyo, practically saying, Tennoheika, banzai. And then we grew up after the war, we didn't think like that, so we're just stunned. And then they gave a lecture. The Issei people gave a lecture saying that you are yamato nadeshiko, the flower, you're the Yamato spirit, don't get beaten by haoles. That was really an eye opening experience. That's that family. At the same time, this man, Mr. Koike, gave me a book that he wrote about his experience in this prison, that he was picked up by FBI and right away after the Pearl Harbor, and eventually he was taken to the mainland and then placed in a prison because he was the principal of the Japanese language school. That's nothing to do with the kind of a stirring up Yamato spirit. But at the same time, when I experienced this, so in a way, I can understand. It was an, that family meant a lot to me although he's deceased now, and I have the book. Eventually, I'd like to donate to maybe Yokohama Immigration Museum.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MK: Yeah, you talked about, we are talking about the East-West Center. I told you that before I came, here at the selection process, English was not required, and everything was based upon the interview as well as recommendation and then test scores going back to the junior high school, and that has to be all translated into English and then submitted. My boyfriend helped me out on that one. And then being in Okayama, we didn't have English-speaking teachers as I grew up. They taught us English. But I remember one time an American visitor came to this school and he was supposed, our English teacher was supposed to translate the conversation. He did nothing but profusely perspire. He was so embarrassed. So that's the way I learned English, so I didn't know much about how to speak any English. The second day after we arrived, we had to take English examination. And then one of the tests that I can remember was to translate Asahi Shinbun, "Tensei Jingo," the editorial section at the bottom and then commentary, I guess. And it talked about rush hour or I didn't know how to spell rush hour. It talked about embassy, and oh, I had to translate into English without dictionary, and I couldn't do that. And then my test score was second from the bottom. The bottom person was Korean, and I was from the second from the bottom. And then this Korean student later on became a professor in microbiology and then became a professor in Toronto, University of Toronto. But at the time, the English was the most important thing. And then both of us according to dean's office, two of us, and Dean Haiser said, "Your two scores are so bad, it's just no use staying there. You can't even attend classes. You wouldn't understand it. Why don't you go home?" And I said, "Go home? I quit medical school. And if I go home, it will be too embarrassed, it will be embarrassing my family. I can't go home." And I said, I thought about my mother's songs, Madame Butterfly, and I thought about committing suicide. And I said, "If I have to go home, I understood go home, I went, have to kill myself." And then dean said, "No." Dean Haiser said, "Don't do that," you know. Then I said, "Give me three months. I will study English and English ESL," and then English Language Institute and then had to go, and mine was, Mr. Park and my English was so bad, I had to go to English Language Institute, 50, and it's starting out from the bottom. But then, I wasn't quite satisfied with 50. I wanted to finish everything in three months, so skip lunch, skip everything. I attended one after another; 50, 60, 70, everything that's available as far as times are concerned. And then one professor complained, "That woman is in my class when she's not supposed to be here." But then I said, "Well, why not? I don't understand what you're saying," so I just smiled and stayed. And after that, he didn't complain anymore. And after three months of that, I really worked hard and then took a test. Then mine was in the, the score was quite high. I was able to stay on.

But meanwhile, I realized that I couldn't understand a word of what's going on. I belonged to the department of microbiology, and I didn't understand anything about it. So I told my academic adviser no way I can do anything, so I'd like to go for a non-degree candidate and then learn as much as I could in this country to take back to Japan. They agreed. So I studied in the English Language Institute at the same time taking one class or two in microbiology. And that's the way I stayed for about two years, no, year and a half. Was it year and a half or a year, then 1961, September, I came and then '62, year and a half, yeah. Then in February of 1963, I was allowed to go on the study tour, and then I received another scholarship to go to the Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta, Georgia. So meanwhile, I was able to get the bus, a Greyhound bus ticket, ninety-nine dollars to go around the entire United States. And then so also I had a very good American family, Chigis family, who adopted me. And then their daughter was also at the East-West Center, so she and I teamed up. And then from San Francisco, we went to San Francisco where her brother was working as a medical doctor. And from there, we went Los Angeles and looked at Disneyland, taxpayers money, and then Grand Canyon and then went to El Paso. By the time I got to El Paso, I was too tired.

And then when we went into a restaurant in Flagstaff, I ordered this lettuce with the mayonnaise on top, and mayonnaise, it was the only language I knew as salad dressing. I always asked for mayonnaise. And then when I lifted mayonnaise to spread over the salad, I found a green worm dead, and I screamed, and somebody said the next table, "They don't want you here." And I didn't know what to do, and then nobody helped me out, and my friend said, "Let's get out." So that's the way I learned about prejudice in this country, in Arizona. And then by the time I got to El Paso on the bus, I saw another Asian girl, so look like Chinese, the long face and so on, so I went up to her. In the broken English, we communicated. Then I finally asked her where she was from and she said she was from Tokyo, and she thought that I was Korean because my face was kind of square. And then I realized that we can't tell the difference between Asian, I mean, between Japanese and Korean. So ever since, I never judge people by their appearance. And by the time I got to El Paso, I was too tired of traveling by bus, so we flew to New Orleans.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

MK: And when I get to New Orleans, East-West Center had already arranged it at the Rockefeller Hotel to stay. And then, but the moment I walked into the lobby, the counter, the man looked at me and then said that well, price will be such and such, but I said, "Well, the East-West, University of Hawaii already arranged it to pay you," and he said, he just very coldly said that no. It was just impossible to stay there, and I got practically thrown out of the hotel, so I went to the YWCA. Then I learned about prejudice, you know. I was not white. And then I went to Atlanta, Georgia. And the reason why I was able to get the scholarship to Atlanta, Georgia, CDC, was because I didn't understand English. The prerequisite was PhD or MD. I didn't have either one. But since I didn't read the fine prints, they took it for granted that I had that, and then they said, "It was excellent to have a Japanese, physician or a Japanese person in this international community." That's why I got accepted. And I got there and, Okayama where I lived was famous for encephalitis B and encephalitis diseases, but then they didn't know the cure, so I was able to learn how to separate certain serum and so on at the, while I was at the Communicable Disease Center. And later on when I went back to Japan, I was able to teach some of the health technicians on how to do it in the American way, so I felt good about that.

Then I stayed there, but my friend went on to visit another brother in Charleston, South Carolina. And then later on, I used to take a bus during the weekend, and then I'll go to my friend's place. And one day, I got on the bus, and you know how 1963, everything was burning, all kind of uprising everywhere, and then I fell asleep. I am very good at falling asleep on the bus. And when I woke up, I saw nothing but black faces looking at me, and I felt comfortable in the back of this bus since I was sleeping there. And then nobody was sitting next to me, but they are all looking at me. And the two black children's faces looking at me, turning, they are sitting on the seat ahead of me then turn around and looked at me, and they said, "Where are you from?" I said, "Wow, your eyes are beautiful brown," and they giggled, and everybody giggled. And then it was open here, empty seat. "Now, why don't you sit here?" and then they're hesitant. Then one woman said, "Oh, why not?" She came and sat next to me, and we had a good time in talking to each other. And then I taught them how to sing Japanese songs, the children's songs. So by the time I got, the bus got to Charleston, South Carolina, whole busload of black people, we are all singing Japanese songs together. We're having a great time. But then I said goodbye to them because my friend was waiting outside. Then I got off the bus. The moment the passengers realized that I was meeting Caucasian people there, their faces became like stone. There is just no expression. I couldn't even say goodbye to them. Then the bus went off. In America, then I realized there are lot of problems.

And then after one semester at the Communicable Disease Center, then I went to Miami where another East-West Center grantee's parents lived, and they accepted me as a host family. And while I was living in Miami, and then I had to buy some clothes, and then I, the breakfast was, everything had to be kosher. I didn't know what that meant. And then later on, somebody taught me, other student who was traveling with me told me that, "Oh, these are Jewish people." Now all the stores this woman took me was Jewish stores, nothing else. Then my friend said that, "Oh, they stick together." Then I'm learning. I'm picking up about this country. And after that, then I took a bus all the way to New York. And when I got off in New York terminal, came out. When I came out, Cadillac stop right in front of me and a well-dressed man got out of the car and then flipped open his back of the car and said, "Welcome to New York. I'll take you for a ride. I'll show you this island, Manhattan Island. We'll drive together." I got so scared. I just said that this is, something is wrong. I was so scared. I pretended I didn't understand what he was saying. Then after a while, he apologized, then went away. And then I learned that later on in the newspaper that there is a kind of gang of people collecting Asians to sell as prostitutes, and I was very lucky. And then at one point... no, before that at Washington, D.C. when I visited Japanese embassy, and I asked a question, I always ask questions. I said, "Suppose I stay in this country, marry American, how do you feel?" And embassy people said, "We welcome that. One less person to worry about. Japan is suffering from population, the increase, too much, too many people. So if you want to stay, why don't you do it?" Then I thought, then because of that careless statement, I lost kind of loyalty to Japan or the feeling, whatever feeling I had. Well, if you think so, if the government feels like that, besides, my mother has been mistreated so badly by the government, and I had questions to begin with, and then that man's statement in Japanese Embassy made me really relieved. I became a free agent, spiritually. That's the way I felt.

And then before that and then when I was living in Charleston, South Carolina, for a few months, my friend's brother was working for the navy. He taught me how to fly a Cessna. And then that was one of the best experience I have ever had. And then I used to have hair very long all the way down to the floor, when I sat. And then he said, "Michiko, why don't you chop your hair off, because you'll feel better that way. You look much better with the short hair." So he took me to kind of a military, in a barber shop and had my hair cut. When that hair disappeared, I became very light, spiritually as well, and somehow I felt that the tie with my mother was cut. It's so strange, but that's the feeling. It's a freedom that I felt. Then I read somewhere, same way. If you cut the hair that you're cutting off the tradition, away from tradition. And then after New York, I visited and then took a bus and visited various friends. And then in mid New York, I had a friend with whom I studied in the CDC. And when I was there, the neighbors came, and they had a big party for me. And then they told me that how American Indians used to charge from between the valleys, into the valley, and then kill the white people and so on. They said those Indians are horrible. That's something I heard from these people, and oh, I see, so I learned about American Indians. Then I stayed at Professor Kennedy who used to give a talk at University of Hawaii that I got to know very well. I visited his family. But his daughter was suffering from multiple sclerosis. And then I learned how to feed the patients or how horrible the situation of that disease was at the time. Then I moved up into Boston where I had one of the professors from Okayama University Medical School working at Harvard Medical School. So for a while, I worked there and helped him out with languages as well as his laboratory experiments, and his wife didn't know any English. And then also that the ceiling had a big hole, but because they couldn't communicate that I think the landlord took advantage of Japanese visitors, so I had to be a bad woman and then go and talk to the landlord to fix the ceiling, and at the same time introduce this doctor's wife, professor's wife, to the common supermarket where she could shop for American food. Because up 'til then, she was buying nothing but Japanese looking things like canned foods and so on. She didn't know how to cook American food. You know, it was a nice experiment.

And after that, and then I went to Roseville Memorial Park Hospital, Roseville Memorial Park Hospital in Vancouver. It's a cancer institute, and there I helped another professor for a while. He was working on the cancer research, and I was able to do that. And then I visited Cincinnati, Ohio. I had another friend. And then there, the next day when I woke up, about twenty well-dressed Caucasians was standing in front of my door. I hadn't even washed my face, and they said, "Well, we belong to Ikebana International. We want to learn fresh idea about how to make a Japanese garden." I said, "Japanese garden? I don't have the slightest idea how to make a Japanese garden." But aren't you Japanese? I said, "Wow." Then I learned once you leave a country, you become the representative of that country. Then I said to myself, I have to study about my own country. And then after that, I went to Chicago where another professor was waiting for me. I was very lucky, one after another. Then there's another woman researcher whom I met at the Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta who asked me to come and visit her in Chicago, so I did. She was I think Chicago, I think public health institute, head of some division, and she invited me to her apartment, very nice, very luxurious apartment. She said, "You know, Michiko, I come back here every night, nobody is waiting for me. To me was very important to get PhD. But now, I'm this age, no one to share my life with. Now, I don't want you to do this. So if you have a chance, I want you to get married and have a family." That's what she told me. So I said, "Okay."

Then I flew to the University of Washington to Seattle, and I spent the summer there in 1963 and then took marine biology at the University of Washington. And then every once in a while, I think, we worked at the, what's the harbor that's the institute, the laboratory, the marine laboratory, we worked. And I had to use a little boat to go out into the lake-like ocean and collect samples from the ocean. It was so beautiful. I could see the bottom of the ocean. Then when I looked up, I saw the mountains in the distance with the snow on top. It was so dream like. I said to myself, this is my dream. I hope I can live here for the rest of my life, and that's the way I felt. So now living here, I feel that my dream came true because I'm very happy living in Oregon. Seattle is too big for me. The frantic traffic scares me. But I felt very good at the University of Washington. When I was staying at the girl's dormitory, the toilet, bathroom, the door, you can see the legs of a person when they are using the toilet, and one day, I was washing my face. I saw a little Vietnamese or a Chinese looking girl coming in, and then I happened to see her. Suddenly, her legs disappeared. Then I thought about the time when I first came to this country, you know. I didn't know how to use the toilet. That woman didn't know either, so she was on top of the toilet. [Laughs] Then when I was there, I got to know a Czechoslovakian refugee, and she and I became very good friends. You know, she's dead now, but then we used to do things together. And then she wanted to belong to some kind of organized, campus organization. But because she was a Jew, she was not accepted at any kind of house residence. And then I learned about segregation, not against blacks, not against just Japanese, but against Jews too. You can't tell the difference by looking at them, but that's something I learned. Then the night before I came back to Hawaii, I cried. I didn't want to come back to Hawaii, so hot and humid. I love Seattle, their life in Seattle. It was so beautiful. That's the study tour that the East-West Center gave us. And American students had a chance to go to Asia of their choice. We, Asian students, had a choice to come to the mainland of our choice. It was the best scholarship I've ever known, graduate scholarship I've ever known.

SG: How long did you travel for?

MK: So I left Hawaii in February and went back to Hawaii in August, end of August.

SG: Were you corresponding with your mom?

MK: Yes. I always wrote diary. And while I was at the East-West Center, every day I wrote a letter, I mean, that's at my diary and sent to my mother. And then after I came back married, East-West Center wanted to publish my diary, so I asked my mother to send me the entire correspondence. She had burned them because I married American. She got mad. I don't have anything anymore.

SG: When you wrote her, did she respond to you usually?

MK: Oh, no. For a long time, she didn't because, "How could you marry an American when your father was killed by American?" That was her answer. But actually, she didn't want me to get married. So when I came back to the East-West Center after University of Washington, I had one more semester to go. And then at that time, first international student organization was formed and everybody had to run for offices, and I wasn't going to run for anything, but somebody played a dirty joke on me. They put my name as a secretary, running for secretary, and I didn't know what secretary meant, but I had to give a political speech. And somehow people liked me, and election came, and then later on, and then I won against American student from New York in political science department. She was much more suited to the position than I did, but that's the way election was. Later on, I learned that most of the Japanese male students, mostly men anyway, voted for New Yorker. Most of the American students voted, men voted for me, so it was so funny. [Laughs] That's what I learned. But my academic study really suffered because of this, but I had a great time. I became a kind of, I must say I became like a playgirl in a way because I'm doing more political things than the academic study really when it comes down to it. I'm sure as far as microbiology department was concerned, it was a great disappointment to have me as a student there because why did I choose microbiology in the first place? I never studied microbiology. Going into, directly into the graduate school is so ridiculous. But I was looking, we had, according to my dean, he said that bring mutual understanding between East and West, so I didn't think that I had to study, you know. So I came to the University of Hawaii and then microbiology, I had to choose a subject, I was told. Then I said, "Well, I don't know what to choose. I don't know what this is." But I said, "My name is Michiko and, hey this is MI," you know, so that's why I chose microbiology. Isn't that crazy? That's why after me, of course of the mistake they made, they required English. The applicants had to take English examinations, I think. So the more I think, English teachers came than a person like me. I was just sheer lucky.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

SG: What kind of idea did you have about the United States before you came and then what was different? What did you, your vision before you came and then your experience or your thoughts after you arrived here and see what it was really like?

MK: Well, America is so large, contained so many different people with so many different ideas and manners and attitudes. There are good people and the bad people just like Japan. And then before I came, because of the experience with the shoe boxes from Wisconsin, the magnanimity of Americans, I felt, I found like my host families, Japanese Americans as well as Caucasians, they are always good to me. Some people took me to Maui, island of Maui, island of Kauai. I didn't have to pay anything, and then it's just amazing, the attitude. And then so America didn't disappoint me. But when I, soon after I went back to Japan, I remember I had a chance to give a talk on America, my experience in America, and then I told the truth about America, what I saw, because the request came: what I saw in America, would you explain it? So naturally, I talked about my Jewish friends not being able to go into, in a sorority house and all these things as well as what happened to black people. Even in New York, in the Chinatown when I wanted to, when I was having meal and then on Manhattan Island, couple black people came, sat down, all the waiters and waitresses disappeared. And the next time a woman came by herself, the waiter came out, head waiter came out, and, "You, out." I couldn't believe.

And then when I was in Atlanta, Georgia, my host family mother was ex-WAC, and then she was very skillful at driving. She said, "You live in a nice place, northwest, northeast, very nice residential area, medical doctors, but there is South Atlanta that you ought to know that exists." So one evening, well, one afternoon, she drove me to the ghetto area. The moment we entered, it was my fault I had camera, began to take pictures around from the car, somebody shouted, and pretty soon we're being chased after by black youths with sticks and whatnot they had. Fortunately, the driver, my host mother, was very skillful at driving. We'd meander this way and that way. But three cars full of blacks just all shouting, kill, kill, kill, and they came after us. And then she came to one street, and then she saw the cars parked alongside the street. She said, "Michiko, get under the dashboard," so I just got under the dashboard, and she went into the open space and then parked the car. She, herself, just came over my body and just stopped the engine. But I was so curious. I just peeped. And then all these black people in the car, three cars full, yelling with the sticks and whatnot, and they passed by us. And we waited there for a long time and then finally came back safely. But things like that I spoke at the Roppongi International House when I was invited.

And then also I talked about what happened when I was at the East-West Center. East-West Center students became like kind of a goldfish in a fishbowl. That's something new. And then sailors in Pearl Harbor thought that East-West Center was someplace that provided girls to the sailors. So one time I got a call from the German and then said, "Michiko, you have an invitation. Why don't you wear kimono and then go out?" and so I said, "Okay." And then this man came in a red sports car and then scoop me up and then put me in the car and then took me to a bar, and then he hoist me right on the kind of a grand piano. "Sing a song," he said. I didn't know what to do. And then he wanted me to have a drink, and I can't drink any alcohol. And then obviously, he pretty soon realized that it was the wrong girl, just like I didn't know how to dance.

And then another time, the Thanksgiving Day came, and one family, one woman invited us, invited three girls, two Americans and then myself, and then we went. And during the dinner, throughout the dinner, drinks and so on, she, four sailors are invited from Pearl Harbor as well. I kept noticing that these people kept going back to their car, and I didn't know what was happening. No drinks were served at the dinner. And then finally at the end, the host mother, the lady who invited us said, "I'm very busy trying to clean the place. I can't take you girls back to the East-West Center dormitory." And then one of the sailors said, "Well, we can take the girls back." And then we got in the car. I sat right behind the driver, and then I noticed whiskey bottle empty at my feet, and I knew what was happening. And then my friend got in next to the driver, and the other friend got, American friend sat next to me. And then the moment the car began to move, the driver said, "I don't know where East-West Center is." So my friend from New York said that, "Oh, you go straight ahead. I'll tell you how to get there." And the driver said, "I don't like the way you speak." The car began to go at high speed. I didn't know what to do, and then I was shaking. And at one point, the driver tried to make u-turn. Fortunately, driver's side was this side. It's particularly still, right? Now I was very light at the time, 95 pounds or 97 pounds, and then had been riding horses. So exactly at that point, I had three-inch high heels, the Chinese very tight Hong Kong made Chinese dress, but when I was desperate, I guess, some kind of courage comes up inside me and I opened the door and then put my, the high heels out. And then just using the momentum, I was able to turn myself, body out and jump out of the car, running car. [Laughs] And when that happened, the driver, everybody was ooh. The driver stopped the car, and I just rushed into the other side and then stopped the oncoming car and then jumped into the car and just screamed, I remember. Then two other girls followed me, and then we were taken to the, back to the East-West Center. Fortunately, the blind date, the American, Japanese American young people were driving, and then they took us back to the East-West Center. And later on, I was told that those sailors got thrown into stockade or something.


The accumulated experiences I had that I thought that there were something that I could talk about at the Roppongi International House that when I was, requested to give a talk about America. So I honestly talked about what I saw. Well, the big hall was full of people, very close to American Embassy. Embassy people are there as well. And after I talked, one man got up, obviously from the South, and he shouted and then said, "Don't you know that we love niggers? They hate us. You are not telling the truth, and then you're just trying to cause problem. You are trying to make Japanese people hate Americans." I was really shocked. I realized that I can't even talk about the truth about this country. That's what I found out.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

SG: And you, at the same time, you wanted to stay in the United States?

MK: Well, that's because I met my husband at the East-West Center. And when I came back from University of Washington, because of the time difference, I got up early in the morning next day, and I went to the cafeteria. I went down. I saw Doctor Anderson, head of Asian Studies Department, and then he was sitting with another gentleman, and that was Dave Kornhauser. And then we introduced each other, and he came over and then said, "Please come to my office. I'd like to talk to you because I did PhD in Okayama at the Michigan Center." So later on, I went there to his office, and then he said, "After you finish your grantee scholarship, why don't you become my research assistant and stay in this country?" But by looking at him, I could tell from his eyes that it wouldn't end there. Men are very honest, you know. So I said, well, different vibration coming. So I said, well, after February, that was in August, and then I said, "I have to go back to Japan in February." And then he said, "Well, I can do something," he can do something so that I can stay on. But still, it's very strict for Japanese foreign students in this country. With the student visa, they have to be out of the country in two years, and then so I told him that that's not going to work. And besides, he looked much older. And then I began to do some research on him because obviously he was interested in me. And one of the students who lived in the same dormitory said, "Why do you ask about him? He's a peculiar man. He was married before. His wife just died. And you should find a younger man." Well, that's the way it went. And then, but then Dave and I exchanged the name cards, and then that's where it ended. And then I said, "If I start dating this man, I knew it's going to become serious. He means business, and I have to be ready for that, and this I'm ready for that. I'm not going to have anything to do with this man."

And so after the scholarship was over, I went back when I gave that talk at the International House in Roppongi. Then I went back to the Okayama University Medical School and then began to teach there. At the same time, I was given a job to teach public health at the school for nurses attached to the medical school and then also worked as a research assistant in the public health department. Then the summer vacation came, and then I was more interested in studying, continue to study, something to do with international understanding or international studies, so I went to the department, political science department and so on, different from medical school. Medical school is on this part of the city and then general education that be different, law school and so on is different places, so I went over there to register. Then after that registration for the international studies, I was having, I came to the student cafeteria, and it's all full except for one seat. When I sat there, in Japan, we usually introduce each other, when we sit together. And I said to him, "My name is such and such." He looked at me and said, he's a professor obviously. He said, "Oh, my name is such and such," he said. "Do you know Professor Kornhauser?" So I said, "Yeah." "You're Michiko Osui?" "Yeah." He says, "He was looking for you. He was here with a graduate student touring Japan, but he just left, but he's coming back next summer." Then I knew he was still interested in me. And then his students used to come with all kinds of messages. He'd send special aloha to you and so on. Then I said, hmmm. Then I began to think, well, let's wait for another year and see what will happen. Meanwhile, I decided to look around, so I had more kind of meeting other gentlemen and so on. Then one day, I was invited out to dinner by a classmate of mine from elementary school days. He had somebody else with him, vice president of some organization. As we had steak dinner, very nice, this man said, "You have a good job, so you don't have to worry about financially, but you don't seem to have any pleasure. This man will give it to you." When I heard it, and then this man also said, "You must have learned some different techniques in Hawaii. That's beyond me." I knew I was in the wrong place, so I excused myself to go to the bathroom and run away and went home, and that was that.

Then I began to work, and I needed money for my brother's education, younger brother's education, so I began to work as a kind of a translator for some corporation which wanted to do business with the United States. Then first that weekend was fine. The next weekend came, the man called me up and then said, "You know, my wife objected, so you can't come," so I lost the job. And my wife was so jealous. She doesn't want you to sit next to me, so another job was gone. And then also for a while, I worked for the bedridden old man who once had something to do with California, and then I did that for a while. And a whole year passed, and then I got a letter from the East-West Center saying that Professor Kornhauser is bringing a student. "Would you represent the East-West Center in the Okayama prefecture?" So I said, okay. So when I went to the station to greet them, he was there. Everybody else was there. We said hello, and he said, "Could you have dinner with me tonight?" So I did, and then, "Would you like to go see a movie?" Well, he was there for two weeks. We went out every night. Then I brought, since I was treated for dinner, I wanted to reciprocate, so I invited him to come to my house. You see my mother thought the age difference between Dave and I was something like eighteen, but the difference in age between my mother and him was eight, so my mother thought I brought him for her. So my mother was very nice to him because I did this before when I was a student at Okayama University. I took this biology professor to my mother because both of them are not married that they would go along very well, but somehow it didn't work. So my mother was so nice to Dave, so I knew right away that she misunderstood, but then I couldn't tell that. And then after a while, it became evident. Then my mother's attitude changed, and I learned how scary it is when a mother becomes a woman. I really learned. I thought that I would be murdered because she used to torture me like in the middle of the night because I work at medical school, eight hours in the daytime, maybe even longer, come home, then tutor sometimes students in English and so on, homework, and I'm exhausted and then go to bed at about midnight. The next morning, I had to get up about six o'clock to go to medical school. She would wake me up and start talking about how horrible it is to marry an American and how, "Your father was killed by an American," and all these things. Maybe this man may be a professor right now, but who knows, may came in Europe. Maybe his ancestor came from a kind of poor, dirt farmer's background and all these things. She was ready to investigate, the past history and all that stuff and was going to tell Dr. Reisher who happened to be the ambassador at the time to make sure that this man would never come back to Japan and all these threats that I went through. And then every day, Dave kept writing love letters sent express, you know. About 8:30 in the morning, the motorcycle would come and then love letter arrives and that driving my mother up the wall. And then that was the hardest time in my life. It was the hardest time. And then finally, he said that tour is ending, "And I want you to come up to Kobe, and we'll get married." And I said, well, I think, but I can't have any kind of ceremony because my mother wouldn't allow it. And he said, "Who cares, all you have to do is sign the paper." So I said, "Okay. If you say so." Besides, I was not that much, I never thought about for marriage it was that important. I would rather go up to the top of the mountain and declare to each other we got married. That's the kind of feeling I had about marriage. So I just went along. I felt just fine, and then he was somebody that I could trust. I felt that I could trust this man, and I was always, I always the leader of the family, the siblings, brothers and sister always, they are tagging along, they're always looking up to me, and I wanted to get somebody who would just pull me up. And he felt, I felt that he was just perfect for me. So, no matter what my mother said, I was ready to... yeah.

So when I, finally, I had to leave home. I had only thirty minutes before the train left and only five minutes to, next station. I told my mother that I'm leaving. My mother said, "I'll disown you and consider you dead." But I told my mother, "If I were eighteen, when I was eighteen, I listened to you, but now I'm twenty-eight now and have lived in the United States by myself. I think I know what I'm getting into," although I didn't, but I told my mother and then just wrapped up things about, in this much, bag. That's all I brought to this country, and then rushed to the station. The train was leaving. I just hopped on and went to Kobe and got married. That's the way I came to this country.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

MK: But during that time, before Dave came to Okayama, I belonged to the English conversation class in Okayama through American Cultural Center, and then we used to get various visitors come and talk about it, that's 1965. You know, I know McCarthyism has ended. But at one point, Doctor Frasz, cultural attache was sent by Doctor Reisher to Okayama or various cities and came and talked about how horrible Communism was, never listen to Communist and all these things. After the lecture and then moderator said, "Is there any question?" You know, Japanese never ask questions. I felt sorry for him coming all the way from Tokyo, so I said I had to think about some question. So I just volunteered, and I said, "What's wrong with Communism if it works in that country, if nothing else worked?" You know, they are trying it. It's none of your business to tell them what to do, and I just said that. Immediately, I got blacklisted by CIA as a Communist. So when my husband came and then had a big banquet at the Cultural Center had a big banquet and we were there, when I introduced myself, Dave was sitting next to the American consulate of Kobe at the time, and consul General said, "Well, do you know that woman?" And the consul general said, "That's a Commie. You shouldn't touch her." So my husband just said I'd better be quiet. Circumvent Kobe, consul general, consulate, so we went directly to the embassy. And then we wanted to come back together at the embassy. The man, clerk said, "Where is the passport, where is the visa, where is the waiver?" That's right, where is the waiver? And he said, "What's the waiver, what for?" "Well, this woman has student visa. She has to stay in this country for two years, six more months to go." My husband said, "Wow, my goodness. But I thought the marriage will make it possible?" No, very strict. Marriage has nothing to do with it. A promise is a promise. I signed it when I received the scholarship. I had to stay out of the country for two years. So Dave immediately went back to Hawaii and began to work on the waiver through Congress, Senator Inouye as well as he had some friends in the White House, so I was able to come back to this country on Thanksgiving Day.

SG: So how long did you wait?

MK: Three months. Every day, I had to be near the embassy, so I stayed at the International House in Roppongi in a storage because that's the cheapest place was a storage, so they let me stay there. And I had the most wonderful time meeting all kinds of people without doing all the domestic chores. [Laughs] I attended people's weddings, the reception. Nobody knew that I was, you know. So when there is a party, I went. I had a good time. And then finally, I was able to come to this country. And the first thing my husband asked was, "Would you please iron this?" And I said, "Why did I come here? I was having such a good time." Then while I was there at the International House, I used to have lunch with many different foreigners, different kinds of foreigners. And I said, "Wow. My husband bought me a house. This is the wedding gift from him." And then one woman said, "How dare he does that without consulting you." Then I realized that, oh, I have say in things like this once you get married in America. But I don't have any money, so I'm not doing anything for him, so it's all his money that he has the right. And the woman said, "No way. You don't think like that." So she taught me a lot about how to live in America as a housewife. [Laughs]

SG: Did you and your husband have cultural conflicts, misunderstandings?

MK: Cultural, well, fortunately, he was married to a Japanese woman from Osaka before who was a secretary to him during the occupation. He worked under MacArthur. In fact, he and George were in the same MIS program at the studied in Minnesota. He was, George was in Company F, but Dave was in Company A, but exactly at the same time. Isn't that strange? So then right after the war, Dave was shipped to Tokyo, eventually to Osaka where he met his future wife. But then she was killed. He went to, after his finished his tour, he tried to live in Japan for a while because his wife couldn't come back to the United States. She was a Japanese so stayed to make the living but couldn't do anything, so eventually came back to University of Michigan, and then he got PhD there. The PhD thesis was done at Michigan Center in Okayama, and then after that, taught at Pennsylvania State University and after that New York State University. When there, he was teaching there, his wife was killed by the automobile accident. He was driving the car. He used to drink. And then exactly at the same time, he had a job offer at University of Hawaii. So when he came to Hawaii, and then he met me. So he knew Japanese. And I noticed that I couldn't tell him anything about Japan because he knew so much about it. And statistical things, he was a geographer, so he knew a lot about geography of Japan and environmental geographer. And then I have lived in this country for two and a half years and had so many host families. As a result, I was able to see American families. It's very different from Japanese families, and I got used to it. I never felt the cultural schism, difference or problems when I got married, no. I was lucky I was here as a student.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

SG: So then what was your life like back here in the United States after marriage?

MK: Oh, after when we came, for one week, we lived in apartment. Then we bought a house on the top of the hill, one thousand feet high in the Maunalani Heights. He was able to buy that house because I was in Tokyo. If I had been with him, I don't think we were able to buy the place. That was for the Caucasians. And then so I remember tradesmen used to come up, and then when I open the door, he says, "Where is the mistress of the house?" So I used to say, "She's out." [Laughs] That's the kind, so the neighbors, rich neighbors, had Japanese maids, and they thought that I was maid too, so they used to come and say hello until they found out that I was mistress of the house. And then immediately, my husband began to bring his friends to lunch and dinner. It was like my mother's life, unannounced, and suddenly, so we had to spread the lunch in three or four. I never resented that because that was my mother's life. I thought that I was reliving my mother's life, so I really enjoyed it. Then he loved to give parties, and we happen to have the biggest house among all of the faculty in geography department, so we always had the parties at our house, university functions. And then I realized the first time, "Oh, would you please cook roast beef?" What's roast beef? And he got me a roast beef all tied up, so I cut the strings and open it up. Now, what am I supposed to do? And when he saw that, he just dashed down the hill and then got me the cookbook. "You study this," so I opened up and learned how to make roast beef. And then at least every two weeks, we had somebody come to our house or otherwise from Europe or Japan. Somebody is coming through Hawaii because airplanes those days couldn't fly directly from Japan to the mainland, so they always stopped in either Alaska or at Hawaii. So those people came and stayed with us. The European people came and stayed with us, and so my house was always full of people, then always with professors and graduate students. Then I was able to cook something, sat down, and I didn't know what they're saying. You know, by that time, I was able to understand what they're saying, but the meaning of it, I didn't know the difference between gray uniform and blue uniform, and I was getting so frustrated because I was a maid, no more than a maid preparing meals and sit quietly and listen.

Then I realized I was getting so frustrated inside, so I told him I'm going to study American history. And then also I had a German friend who saw my life and then said, "Michiko, you're being taken advantage of. How come you can't make a sandwich and send him off so you have free time all day?" And then I told that to Dave, and said, "Well, I want to have free time. I want to learn how to drive the car." And then he said, "I don't like that woman." [Laughs] Well, but she's still my friend at University of Washington. But I was able to take, so when I took him to the campus, my life was up till then took him to the campus, came home, made lunch, made hot lunch and took him to the campus, ate lunch together, went home. At 4:30, I went back again to the campus and then came home, just, that's my routine. And then my German friend said, "That's crazy. If you can't give him sandwiches, why don't you make sandwiches for two of you and take to the campus and stay there on the campus, take couple of courses," which I did, and that's the way I learned. The more, I took all the 101 level courses, anthropology, political science, and whatnot and then Chinese literature, Japanese literature, and American history and everything that's available, and then I began to enjoy myself. And I enjoyed giving parties, and I enjoyed having professors and so on and so forth. It was a wonderful life.

Then my son came along, and I realized that my body is allergic to children, and then I had three miscarriages. And then finally, I was able to have my son by, staying in bed. In fact, after 5th month, he almost killed me because he became the poison to my body because my body was so allergic to foreign substance. But I was able to have him although I was half dead. And then when he was born, the doctor gave me too much medication and painkiller that went up to the head. And then when I woke up after he was born, I was out of my body and looking at myself from the corner of the room, and I had a horrible time coming back to my body. And I tried to get in through my nose and every opening in my body that I couldn't, I just couldn't. It was a fascinating experience. I wrote about that. And my vision became split in two, dead people here and then this is where I was. And then sometimes this became big and then dead people, Dave's parents I never met said, "Come, come. It's beautiful, like May weather with forest-like atmosphere, just come, just come with us. It's a beautiful place." Then the next moment, this scene appears. Dave was going around the delivery table around and around, "Michiko, Michiko," going like that, and that became, like this, and I got so confused. Then I said, "Where is the baby?" The moment I thought about the baby, I came back to my body. That's the way I came back. And then doctor said that, "You shouldn't live with modern medicine. You should live in Africa with all the plants." That's what happened. But otherwise, I was able to have a wonderful life throughout Hawaii. And we went to, he had to teach at UBC, University of British Columbia, [inaudible] College, and then Miye University in Miye, Japan, and so we traveled a lot. And we taught on the cruise ship towards the end, so we are on the ship for six weeks teaching about Japan. I took care of the cultural aspects of it. He took care of the geography. And as far as the life is concerned, in Hawaii was I think the best anyone can think of, but I had to make a lot of effort to enjoy it.

SG: You worked during any of that time?

MK: Well, he didn't want me to work. He was so jealous. I felt like a bird in a cage unless I assert myself. Then one year when I came back from Miye University, I didn't know anything about taxes. He didn't know anything about taxes either. All the income he was getting was taxable. I didn't know what taxable meant because always CPA took care of it. And then CPA made a mistake. We had to pay tremendous fine. Then I said to myself, this is ridiculous. I'm going to do it myself. So I went to school, business college, and then became a tax accountant and worked in the CPA office in charge of computer room. That lasted, every day was a battle because he didn't want me to work, but I'm glad I did. And that's the only time I worked maybe only a few years, but I was able to take care of myself when he died.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

SG: When did your husband pass away?

MK: November 17, 1993. When I woke up, he was dead. That's the worst experience I've ever had.

SG: Where were you living at that time?

MK: Here, this house. I couldn't believe because after he retired, he said, "Thank you so much for being a good wife. You always helped me. So from now on, let me prepare at least your breakfast." So, every morning I waited. I couldn't get up. I tried to help, and he thought I was insulting him, so I always waited for him to wake me up by smacking the back of the pot. That's the sign I'm supposed to get up and wash my face. One day, I waited, no sound came. And when I came here, two glasses, juice glasses, are already on the table, but he wasn't here. When I went into the family room, he was dead watching TV. Yeah. So that was the worst experience I had in my life.

SG: How did you end up in Portland?

MK: That's, one year in 1984, my uncle, my mother's brother, was to receive some kind of emperor's award. And when I received that information, my uncle, my favorite uncle who always treated me so well, when I grew up without my father, he was my father figure, and then, "Michiko, would you like to come?" So I said, of course, I wanted to come to celebrate the occasion, so I went. When I was there, I saw on television Love from Oregon, the movie. I was looking at it. Then I looked at the newspaper, everybody is deserting Oregon because of job market. They are all going to Texas or California. So when I came back to Hawaii, I said to my family, "We are looking for a place to retire anyway, and Hawaii is no place to retire to us, and let's go to Portland, find a place." They said, "Why Portland?" But let's go find out because we had already investigated Washington, D.C., and I didn't like the weather, and I knew I liked Seattle as a student, so we came to Portland. Then we had only one week and found it, found a house. And then I wasn't going to live here. I thought I'll use this place as a rental and then get house somewhere else. But after he retired in '86 and I thought I would have about one month before the furniture arrives, I said, I could find a house. But the furniture came before we arrived here. And then all this furniture in here, it cost $8,000 to move, and another move would be just another expense that we didn't want to pay, so we ended up here. You know, that's the way it is, and I think this is a very lovely place, a little bit too small for me, but it's good excuse not to have people as far as he's concerned. George doesn't like parties. [Laughs]

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

SG: You said you have one son?

MK: Yes, just one son, yeah, 1987, July 25, yes. He's somebody more intelligent than I am. When he was five years old and from our porch, we were able to see the entire Honolulu from Diamond Head all the way to the airport beyond. The view was spectacular. And I was looking at it and looking at the moon over the Waikiki Beach. I told my son about some story that I used to know as a child about the moon. And suddenly he looked up at me and said, "You know, Mama, I'm sorry. When I grow up, I won't be able to live with you." So I said, "Oh, what are you talking about?" He said, "I'm going to become the first governor of the moon." [Laughs] So I knew he wouldn't be with us. And I also I brought him up to think. He's the only son. My husband was eighteen years older than I was, so I was afraid that maybe, we become like my mother, alone, he without the father. So ever since became ten, I just gave him specific instructions about what to do with the life. He has to be independent. So I brought him up that way and also to look at the world as one, not, Hawaii is not everything. So we took him to everywhere, Europe and all these places, so he was able to think the entire earth as one, kind to the earth. That's the kind of way of thinking he has. That's why he's in China now in American consulate working there in the State Department. But I don't feel that he's that far away, and he's doesn't feel that way either because when we think that the entire earth is our home, doesn't matter where the person is. I'm glad I brought him up that way. And then also he's a forward-looking person, and I am very proud of that.

And then when George came into my life and just, he and I worked together for seven years before we lost our spouses at the State Department of Education, Oregon State Department, and we're on the selection committee to send the teachers to Japan, so we knew kind of but not really well. But after we lost spouses, he was having an exhibit of Issei at the Oregon Historical Center. And when I was there, my son was there. My husband had just died, and all the Japanese friends said, "Don't cry and stay home, let's get out and go see the exhibit." So when I went there, he was there, standing in the corner. So I said, "Did you know my husband died?" So he said, "No. Did you know my wife died?" So that's the way it started. And then he met my son at the time only briefly, but still they met. And then my son went back to Japan to finish master's degree at the International University there. And then I called him up and then said, "Well, George is asking me, Mr. George Katagiri was asking me to go out. What do you think?" you know. Daddy just died in November the 17th. This is, February 1, and he said, my son said, "You know Mama, you have to think about your future, and Daddy always felt like a king. You were so good to Daddy and envied no one, but he's not here anymore. You have to think about your future. I think Mr. Katagiri is a good man. Why don't you go ahead? I don't complain." Without his assurance, I don't think I could have done it. And then when we began to go out to dinner and so on, the first thing he asked me was, "Who does your yard work?" So I said, "I haven't even thought about it. It's wintertime." He said, "I'll do it for you." So I said, "What shall I do for you?" And he said, "Well, I'm getting sick and tired of eating takeout food from Safeway. Could you cook for me?" That's the way we started. Up until then, I didn't know anything about Japanese Americans because in Hawaii, Mr. Koike was taken to somewhere in Texas into the prison, but nobody else did that I knew of. So by getting to know George, I learned about the history of Japanese Americans. So it opened up completely different dimension or something because until, when my husband was alive, I was involved with Portland Art Museum, Asian Art Council, Japanese Garden Society. And consul general asked me to be a liaison between corporate wives and then American ladies, American society, I became a liaison, and then established Ikebana International Sakura Singers group and was introducing Japanese songs to the community. But George brought in a different angle to my life, so it just, my life is becoming wider and wider, and I'm getting buried. [Laughs] I met wonderful gentlemen like Tim Rooney and others.

SG: I'm curious, when you were raising your son, are there certain aspects of Japanese culture or some --

MK: Culture?

SG: Cultural ideas that you wanted to teach your son or preserve?

MK: Well, I didn't have that kind of honorable feelings about preserve or anything like that. It came so natural. Whatever I am, I will try to teach him. Whatever I know, I tried. But then when he started preschool, Hawaii is small. You have to get into the right preschool to get into Punahou. I visited Punahou, Iolani, public schools. I didn't want him to go to public schools in Hawaii because the teacher, the first grade teachers I talked to didn't speak decent English, spoke pidgin English. I didn't want my son to go through that, so that gave me the only opportunity for either Punahou or Iolani. So I got the right preschool. And when he went there, he came home and said, "Mama, I don't know any of the songs that the other children are singing." Then I realized I brought him up with Japanese lullaby, all the children's songs, Japanese. So immediately, I made myself into a room mother, and I went to preschool, kindergarten, elementary school with my son from time to once a week as long as the teacher wanted me. Until one day, he said, "Mama, don't do it anymore," because when they have excursions, teachers will say, "Who would like to go with David's, in David's car, David's mama's car? Who would like to go with this car and that car?" My Toyota or Datsun, it didn't have fancy gadgets and the roof will come down because it's a rich school, and other people have Lincoln Continental. "You know, Mama, I always have to make excuses. And then next excursion, I'm the only one who's in your car." So that's the end of it. Then I began to work on taxes, then took an examination with the Department of Treasury and became an enrolled agent so that I can represent my clients. But when I came to this state, I had to take another examination. Oregon has a requirement, and then I passed that so became a tax consultant in Oregon. But I don't work. But at least I can take care of myself and my friends.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

SG: What was your relationship after you moved to the United States with Japan?

MK: I liked to write. I always write, and then the relationship with my friends?

SG: With the country, with your friends, with family?

MK: Very close. I am very good at keeping friends intact because that's the only way to live, I feel, help each other. And then I have been helped by my friends so much so that I help them too. So Japanese or Americans or Europeans, whoever my host families, I always send Christmas cards, Christmas gifts, yes, so we are still friends.

SG: I didn't get a chance to ask you about your thoughts on religion.

MK: About religion, oh, finally. [Laughs] Religion is an interesting one. You know, as you know that the Japanese grow up with Shintoism and then Buddhism, and then my home always had altar, Buddhist altar, the black container, and there, there were the ancestors of deceased family. For example, in my case, my brother in there. And then so every morning, I had to make peace with the deceased. And then my father went into shrine because it became, that's the war deceased, so one there. And then every morning, I have to make peace with my father, so I said, "Good morning," and then good morning to my ancestor, my deceased brother, and that's the way I, grew up, I was brought up. One day after the war when I was coming home from school, I came across this Catholic church, and then I noticed there was a door wide open so I could look into the courtyard. And when I looked into the courtyard, I saw a westerner, very round, fat, reading some kind of book, going back and forth, reading very slowly. And when I was looking at him, my gosh, he's fat, well fed. Maybe if I become a Catholic, I'll be well fed too, so that made me so happy. So I went home, and I told my mother, I said, "I'm going to become a Catholic." My mother said, "Go ahead. Where do you have the money to give them?" So I said, "Why do I have to give them money?" She says, "Well, yeah, every garden needs money. Look at the church. Who's going to build that church?" And I said, "You mean they take money from me?" I said, "But I don't have money." "Then you can't become Catholic." That was the end of my adventure with being Catholic. But then when I became student at the university studying English, there were missionaries, and then they taught us to read bible, so I read bibles a lot. And then they always ask me to get baptized, and I couldn't understand what, what baptize meant. And they said, "Well, if you get baptized, you become a different person, you'll be happier," and I didn't believe it, so I just was there at the church to study English in Japan. When the people need help, I help. Then also my mother's feeling was that, unless you can stand up on your feet, even God will love you. So that's the way it went. And as a result... and my husband was an atheist. His influence was very great on me, and he taught me how to be an American. "Open your mouth," he used to say this. "Stand up on your feet. And if you don't like it, then you say so. This is not Japan." So I used to be a very demure Japanese girl, not anymore, poor George. [Laughs]

SG: Well, Mrs. Kornhauser, is there anything you would like to add that we might have missed?

MK: I'm sure it will come back tonight. [Laughs] Yeah, but I've been talking a lot, you know. But I have been I think very fortunate, and I feel fortunate because I had such a hard time as a child and then lost so many loved ones, and that made me appreciate more. The little things that the people do that, in a way it worked out well for me that I was able to survive what I survived and came out positive, and people have been good to me all along.

SG: Do you have a message that you would like to pass on to the next generation?

MK: Study hard. We have only hundred years at most. Don't waste your life. Don't injure yourself. That's the way I feel. Also that if you are an American, if you're living here, not just read American newspapers, try to look at this country from the outside too. That's so important to understand where you are, particularly now with the world is getting smaller and smaller with the computers, internet, and so on. I think the more, that comes from the East-West Center, the philosophy of East-West Center. Next month, I'll be, the reunion at the East-West Center, I'll be giving a talk but, in this vein. The most important thing is peace. But then in order to have peace, you got to understand each other. That's the way I feel.

SG: Well, just before we end, can you tell us about little bit about the calligraphy behind you on the wall?

MK: Oh, when my husband died, Mrs. Henjyoji told me that, not to conquer but to tolerate grief, calligraphy is a good thing to do, and that's why I started. And then of course in Japan when I was small at school, we had to do something. But anything beyond that, I never did except the University of Hawaii, I did some, but not much. So I restarted here in 1994, and I have been very fortunate to have an excellent young teacher who comes here twice to Henjyoji Temple from Seattle to teach, and his students have been outstanding. And I have been very lucky that I had a teacher that's, if I received the number one prize in the United States, not only United States, the entire America, that's because of him because I wrote about close to fifty of them, then he chose this. I cannot tell the... and I was asking my teacher, "What does this mean?" you know. "Enjoy the flow of the brush. Don't talk about the meanings." So I said, "One of these days I'm going to find out." But that's the way it is right now. I'll probably continue to do so because I enjoy it.

SG: All right. Thank you, Mrs. Kornhauser.

MK: Oh, thank you for letting me talk like this.

SG: It's so interesting. Actually, I could keep going. It was really interesting, yeah. I'm sure there's so much more.

MK: Better tonight, I forgot. I forgot to talk about my family secret, but that's all right. I'm writing so --

SG: You're writing a book?

MK: Well, something, from time to time, have it published at the San Francisco newspaper or somewhere.

SG: That would be great.

MK: The East-West Center may be interested, too.

SG: Thank you so much.

MK: You're very welcome. Thank you so much for having me.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.