Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Etsuko Ichikawa Osaki Interview
Narrator: Etsuko Ichikawa Osaki
Interviewer: Valerie Otani
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: December 17, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-oetsuko-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

VO: So how long did you spend in Kobe then?

EO: Two years. And then I think that's when he met the bishop from BCA, the Buddhist Churches, in this country, and the bishop told him, "Why don't you come back?" And I think that's why he came back, and then he went to Seattle, and that was in 1936. So we were just two years in Japan.

VO: And what was the name and the location of his church in Seattle?

EO: Oh, Seattle? It's now called the Seattle Betsuin, because they're the headquarters for the Northwest region, but at that time it was called Seattle Buddhist Church.

VO: And where was it located?

EO: It was located right in, on Main Street, that was the old temple. And then the government took over that area and built Yesler Terrace for low-income families, so we had to move. And that's when they built the new temple on Jackson Street, Fourteenth and Jackson. Oh, actually it's on Main Street, I take it back. Fourteenth and Main, because we lived on Fourteenth and Jackson.

VO: And so you lived in the temple? Did the temple then own a house?

EO: Yes, the temple purchased two homes right in the back of the temple, facing Jackson Street. So there were two ministers. My dad was the head minister, and then there was an assistant, so we lived in those homes.

VO: And what do you remember of that childhood in Seattle?

EO: Well, I was in grade school, I enjoyed school. I went to Bailey Gatzert where it was like ninety percent Japanese. [Laughs] Some Chinese and Filipinos and hardly any white kids. It was kind of unusual to have a white student in your room, in your class. So I enjoyed school, and, oh, I started piano lessons. And to this day I think my parents had me take piano so I could play for their service. [Laughs] So I'm still playing for the church services. Let's see... I don't know, we just did the usual children's things.

VO: Well, what do you remember of your father's work as minister?

EO: Yes, my father, I think, was very well-liked. I don't think he had an enemy. He was very humble, kind, very open-minded. So I just think everybody liked him. We had really nice members that looked after us, too.

VO: So that congregation was almost entirely immigrants from Japan and their families?

EO: Yes, in those days it was almost all Japanese.

VO: And how large a congregation was it?

EO: It was big. I remember just the Fujinkai with the ladies, members, I think it was like, it must have a thousand, just the ladies. It was huge; it was a huge temple. And in those days, the temple was kind of a social place, too, so they could meet friends and do things together.

VO: You were saying your father had some responsibilities out beyond Seattle.

EO: Yes. In those days, he would go out to outlying neighborhoods like the islands. I remember going with him to Bellevue and what's that other... Bainbridge, Bainbridge Island, Kirkland, 'cause in those days they didn't have the bridge across Lake Washington. So I can remember those ferry trips going with him for these services. And he used to take these old rented tin silent movies, and he'd show it to the kids after the service. I do remember tagging along. [Laughs]

VO: Did your other brothers and sisters go, too?

EO: I think they did sometimes also, yes. I wasn't the only one.

VO: And how about your mother? What was her role?

EO: My mother was strictly a minister's wife and a housewife. She was kept busy because in those days, the minister's wife was in charge of the women's organization. So she was very busy, and she'd be on the telephone calling members to come make sushi at two o'clock in the morning. [Laughs] She was almost always on the telephone calling members. So that's what she did.

VO: And in your family, what was her role?

EO: Oh, yeah, she was the disciplinarian, because my dad wasn't home very much, and he was very easygoing. So if he had any complaints, he would tell my mother and she would discipline us. So she did all that.

VO: So there were three of you that were born in Fresno.

EO: Uh-huh, then one in Japan, and then the rest, there were seven of us kids. So that means, what, three were born in Seattle.

VO: And you have a brother who still lives in Seattle?

EO: Yes, Satoru, or Sat, they call him, he still lives in Seattle. He's the only one in Seattle.

VO: And where is he in the birth order?

EO: He's the oldest, and I'm second. And I'm only year and a half younger, so a lot of times people thought I was the oldest. I guess because... I think when we were growing up, I was taller than him at one time, and I was kind of bossy. [Laughs] So people thought I was the oldest.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.