Kazuko Umezu Stout and Tsuchino Forrester

Kazuko Stout re: Japanese War Brides & the International Marriage Society
And Tsuchino Forrester, War Bride
Recording by Sara Kolbet
Date: 1/27/05
2 Discs
Disc 1 – 74:53 – 8 Tracks
Disc 2 – 7:22 – 2 Tracks


TRACK 1 – 8:54

SARA: Introduce yourself.

KAZUKO: My name is Kazuko Umezu Stout, and Umezu is my maiden name. And I am born in Yamamata Prefecture, it’s about three hundred miles north of Tokyo. And my father was a farmer. So I am a farmer’s daughter. Anyway, I am for the past fifteen years I am the International Marriage Society President. And we send newsletters four times a year and we’ve got about four hundred eighty members right now in six different countries.

SARA: Tell me about your life in Japan.

KAZUKO: I was such a sickly child, so even though I was born a farmer’s daughter. I never did anything outside. Mama used to say as long as you go to school that’s all you have to do, nothing else. So I didn’t learn to cook, I didn’t learn to do nothing. So anyway, after I finished school I went to Zushi, that’s Kanava Prefecture, that’s across from Tokyo. And my father introduced me, there’s a schoolteacher and he wanted to have young company because his wife had no children. So I went there and I worked in the Zushi city bus company office for a few years and my girlfriend, Miss Tee, Tanigasan, become a good friend, and Tanigasan was working in the army ammunition depot, the US army office. And she’s the one that introduced my husband.

SARA: Was your life fun growing up?

KAZUKO: Oh yeah. Even though during the war, that’s tough. Especially people living in the city. They got bombed, atomic bomb and all of that, but because we’re living in the country, we have all the food, so at least I didn’t have no hard time at all. Because my father had a lot of land, landowner, that’s what he was, and when my mother married my father the wedding was the first time my mama saw dad. They exchanged pictures before. My father’s parents was still living and grandparents’ parents were still living there. That’s three couples living in the same house. House is big enough so they can. My father’s brothers and sisters, six of them, living in there. And as farmer boys five are living in there, besides me and my sisters. So large, I think about nineteen people. And my mother have to cook all of that, the meal for three times a day. And I was not quite as smart as a kid, but I was a real athlete. And coming to PE or running or jumping and I was number one every time. And every four they have a family picnic and they have mother/daughter hundred-yard dash and father/son hundred-yard dash and we always win. So I can’t say I had a hard time at all in childhood. I’m sure the subject is going to come up later on about marrying a foreigner. But that’s different.

SARA: Introduction to your husband.

KAZUKO: Miss Tanakasan, she said why don’t we go to a movie sometime? And I said sure, it will be fun, so when we went to a movie, my husband was there, and that’s the first time I saw him. We all three of us went to movies, we’d go to dinner sometimes, and I didn’t think nothing of it, and it must have been four months go through and after that we had another dinner date. And she didn’t show up. Just my husband Carl did. And the next day, when I saw Miss Tanakasan she said did you have fun? And I said yeah. She said it’s funny. And I said what’s the matter with you, why do you talk like that? She said, did he do anything? I said he didn’t do nothing. He didn’t do nothing. After that we started dating. And it must have been six months and he asked me about getting married. He was twenty-eight, I was just nineteen years old, so eight, nine years difference between me and him.

SARA: Continue.

[During this part, she starts to cry and gets some paper towels and I interject with ‘it’s okay’ and she gets farther and farther away as she gets up and goes to get tissues.]

KAZUKO: So I told my husband if I’m going to marry you I have to go home and get permission from my dad and family, so I went home. And my dad said you know we have to have the whole family, besides aunts and uncles and cousins and niece and all of that. And I said yeah, so one day he invite everybody, about thirty people. My mama cooked a beautiful dinner. And me and him sitting next to each other. And everybody, he thanked everybody for coming over. And he said I know her more than anybody. I’m sorry, I get emotional. I do that every time. I do that every time. So he told everybody, don’t stop, just let her go. So I did. Even my dad wasn’t, if he didn’t said what he said it, and I’m sure I had a hard time getting married to a foreigner, because everybody going to stop me. So I sure appreciated my dad. Yeah, married fifty years and I do that every time. I even do that on stage when I’m making a speech. I do that every time.

TRACK 2 – 11:46

KAZUKO: I don’t know if American people could understand, this is an old Japanese custom. Mom and dad find a husband for you. And in those days, back in the 1940s and 50s, you didn’t even think about marrying a foreigner, and especially an enemy. Was an enemy not too long ago. So it’s tough. Even though I grown up and nothing prejudice about nobody. But it’s tough. So anyway, my dad said I know her more than anybody else, just let her go. Don’t say anything bad so, that’s all it took. Just one word, that’s all it took, nobody said anything. I’m sure they said one word behind my back, but they didn’t say anything. So I had everybody best and I marry him. So I think it’s pretty good.

SARA: What was your husband doing there?

KAZUKO: My husband was a sergeant in the army. He was a medical sergeant in the Zushi ammunition depot. He had an ambulance to drive and quite a few people working for him. And he’d been a medic until he retired, so it’s been twenty-two years he’s been retired. And back in 1954…we married in 1953, November 17th. And in 1954 I come to United States in San Francisco. And it took twelve days in a boat. And seasick, boy I was seasick. And I was four months pregnant then so no wonder I was sick. But anyway, after San Francisco we went to my husband’s family, Springfield, Illinois. That’s Illinois’ capital. About eighty-five miles from the town of Springfield. We stopped at his sister’s place. And my sister in law had seven children. And in those days I couldn’t understand English good enough to keep a conversation. I could say goodbye, just the simple language, simple English. For this thing, when my husband introduced his sister to me, her name was Gwendolyn. I had such a hard time saying ‘Gwendolyn.’ Even now I had a hard time saying it. And one more thing: I wondered do I say Miss Gwendolyn, or do I say Mrs. Gwendolyn, or Ma’am. I didn’t know exactly what to say. If it’s in Japan you have a certain Nanyasan. Nanyasama or it’s got different respect, showing respect. And I didn’t know exactly what to say, but we get along pretty good. And after that we went to his mother’s. And his father passed away before we got married, I think two years before we got married. And we went to his mother’s and his stepfather. And we stayed there for a few years and he got stationed in Fort Knox Kentucky.

SARA: What did the family think?

KAZUKO: I’ve been living in the United States for close to fifty years. Forty-eight years. But I never experience any discrimination. That I could say it. Maybe one time when my husband want to join Moose Club. Like Lions Club, Moose Club. And he put all the information and put my name, Kazuko, and they said what’s this name? Oh, my wife is Japanese. No, he couldn’t join that. That is the one time I feel discriminated against. And other than that I never had…I’m sure a lot of people did. But I never did. I am real lucky that way. I heard a lot of people say a lot of things, discriminate against Japanese war bride. I heard about it but I never…

SARA: Do you know why?

KAZUKO: I couldn’t tell you. Discriminate against second-class woman. Japanese people in the Japanese Isei, Nisei, Japanese people living in the United States, they thought war brides were second-class people. That’s the way, I think what they started in the newspaper reporter, media, they said anybody couldn’t even speak English and move to the United States and how they surviving. Different customs, different language, and how are they going to survive? And nothing good to say about the media. Always say negative things. So more they say negative things, more the Japanese immigrants they feel the same way. And the one thing I had to say is that Japanese immigrants lived back in the ‘40s and ‘50s you know how Americans treated them. They were discriminate against and had to put in concentration camp. Here they are, worked awful hard, no makeup and tighten hair in the back, they made themselves good citizen in the United States. And here we are, starting ’47 to 1952 is more people come. And we had a permanent in our hair and lipstick and high heels you know? And we grab our husband’s arm and walk around. Now, how do they see it? I know why they got mad. Or disappointed. Because I feel right now if I see a Japanese exchange student with a hole in the pants, hair that’s messed up, I get awful disgusted. So they feel the same to what feel towards us, now I feel the same thing to young people. I don’t think it’s nobody’s fault, it’s just a generation gap.

SARA: What was the relationship between you and your in-laws and setting up your household?

KAZUKO: because I married to a soldier we didn’t stay in one place. So we stayed at their house maybe a month. Then we moved to Kentucky, stayed two years, eighteen months actually. Went to Japan. And every time we come back we’d take vacation, maybe two weeks, three weeks and stay at the mother-in-law’s. And after we settled down in Washington State they come and see us. Just two weeks or ten days. I couldn’t tell you. I’m sure they say something behind my back but I didn’t hear it. And even if I did I don’t care. Well, I say I don’t care, I’m big enough that it don’t have to bother me.

SARA: Anything else about your own life? Did you know other women who were brides?

KAZUKO: Yes, I do. Because once I had five hundred members in the organization…

SARA: Before the organization. Any other stories about when you were young? Was it difficult to go back to Japan?

KAZUKO: No. My husband promised my mom he’d bring me back in three years, so he had stationed in Korea. So I went to Japan and stayed with my mom and dad for a whole year. And my oldest daughter was eighteen months old and I was pregnant then. And that’s a really warm story about my daughter and my mom. Here’s two different kind of people, my daughter speaks English and my mama didn’t. And I wasn’t quite good enough at speaking English. Broken English, that’s what I was, so….

SARA: Wait for the plane.

TRACK 3 – 13:16

KAZUKO: Okay. My daughter was eighteen months, almost two years old, and when I talked to my daughter my mother copied just what I said and put it on notepaper. And in six months she could speak good enough to talk to my daughter. And at the same time my daughter learned Japanese. So my mother is speaking English to my daughter and my daughter speaking Japanese to grandma. That was a good one. And one year I had a good time. I fulfilled, I did what I feel do for my dad and mom.

SARA: Talk about the Society. How many Japanese brides have immigrated to the US?

KAZUKO: Actual numbers I don’t think anybody knows. But according to a Tokyo University professor’s study, there’s 70,000, or 65,000 to 70,000. That is between 1947 and 60. You don’t count after ‘60s because the way they steadied right after World War II and the Vietnam War. And the Vietnam War soldiers got hurt in Vietnam, come to a Japan hospital and some of them got married. Some newspaper reporter used to say 100,000. So actual numbers nobody knows. In Australia they’ve got 650 Japanese war brides. And England and Canada have quite a few. And New Zealand and Switzerland they have that too. I understand they’ve got them in France too, but I never could contact war brides in France. Other countries I could contact but not in France.

SARA: When and why the society was founded.

KAZUKO: Back in 1987 I read the Seattle Japanese newspaper, Hokuhochi that came in the post. And this Tokyo reporter said War Bride land in Seattle back in 1948. First war bride land in Seattle. So after I read that I say ’48 and this is ’88, it’s forty years. We should do something. So what I did, and I did ….. The fortieth anniversary of Japanese wives into US, the title was. And I started writing a letter to everybody I know and all the Japanese newspapers in all the United States. And one thing about war brides is because they’re married to soldiers they moved to different states. So every time I moved, I moved to Kentucky and found some Japanese there to become friend. And every one of them have two three good friends. So if I write a letter to one lady, that lady have two, three other friends. So that’s the way actually you’re connected. So when I had a convention in 1980 we had 330 people showed up in Olympia. Washington State, Olympia. Restwater in those days, now it’s a Red Lion. But anyway, reporter from Tokyo from the famous Osahi newspaper, Yomudi paper, and they have about fifteen reporters come to IWS. And one reporter from Los Angeles said I interviewed quite a few people and the question was after you come to United States when is the most happiest of time? And I think two of them said this is it. So he said you know…he said just that made it worth doing that. I think so too. I had several speeches. The consul-general in Seattle and the mayor in Olympia and I had professors. And another woman’s club president all made a speech. And a lady, her name Mietche. I can’t remember that. Let me see…Nangawa…Miss Mietche Nangow, she published New York, Japan-New York in New York and she was the main speaker and a wonderful lady. I think that ’88 convention made this old war brides realize we’re doing okay. I hope. The way I heard everybody was proud of it. And before that, because Japanese media talked about that girl’s not going to make it, they feel she wasn’t strong enough to be yourself. So after then they realized we’re doing okay. And in 1989, because I had over 300 addresses from all over United States we talked about it and why don’t we have an organization? Woman’s club? So that’s how we began the International Marriage Society, born in ’89. And I was president and newsletter publisher and Kinko Cork was Vice President. And Uke Matreo is helper. Kinkosan, she passed away just before the convention in ’99. She was sixty-nine years old. Now, so Mrs. Tsuchino Forrester is Vice President right now. We’ve had five worldwide conventions in the last ten years. The last one we held in Hawaii. And for this one we had in Hawaii and the last one, number five, we had the same place, same hotel at the convention, we had 170 people. From Australia, about ten, United States thirty…I think thirty states they come from. So that was I hope it’s last worldwide convention, but we will continue to have a mini-convention locally. And if anybody from Hawaii or Florida want to come, it’s fine. But a mini-convention. Worldwide is too much a job for me anymore.

SARA: Describe the makeup in a paragraph.

KAZUKO: Nikkei International Marriage Society once upon a time, back in 1998, ’99, we had 500 members from seven different countries. United States, Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland and Japan. And most member is so-called war bride. Ladies married after World War II and before 1960s. So average age right now is 80 years old, 75 to 80 years old. And background, people when they meet husband, most are working for PX or close to army camp or air force camp or people working, that’s where they met husbands. And I don’t know exactly how they managed in the US but a few I know. One lady took nine years but graduated college and took a master’s after raising five kids. And another lady went to college and at 70 years old they graduated. And a lot of Japanese cultures like tea ceremony, flower arrangement, musical instrument, koto, and all of that they learn when they’re young, they come to this country to teach other children, their own children or neighbors. Even Japanese dance. The traditional dance. They’ve got a lot of good teachers around here. Even in Portland they’ve got beautiful dance teachers. After the kids are grown up, they do volunteers, old folks’ home, they’ve got a Seattle home, Japanese people living in home, they volunteer all the time.

TRACK 4 – 17:35

SARA: Japanese and Okinawans.

KAZUKO: I don’t know how many. But in my woman’s club members quite a few Okinawans. And Okinawan girls who married are young, 50, 55, some are forty years old. Because in Okinawa they still have an army camp in the air force, so they’re still marrying and come to the United States. They’re not war brides according to professors in Tokyo. People married before the 1960s you call a war bride.

SARA: Main things you do?

KAZUKO: Yes, I organize all the conventions.

SARA: Why is your organization important?

KAZUKO: Why? Because for the past fifty years, nobody knew we existed. Even in the United States, in Japan. Family yes, but the whole Japanese country they didn’t know we’re living in the United States. If it’s 50,000 living in the United States it’s a whole large group of immigrants. So I said you have to have a legacy to leave to young people. Don’t let Japanese people think we are second-class citizens. We’ve got to stand up to. But now, because of this convention, because of this newsletter. My newsletter goes to the Japanese government’s library. And the Empress, Empress Mitchko, reads my newsletter. I met the Empress three times already and I think we could stop right now, still we did leave legacy. I am satisfied with it. So people say what happens now? We stop right there after I quit someone could take over. Yeah, young people could take over. But they think different than we are. Because there’s 30 years different between the two generations. When young people married and come to the United States they knew English already and they come here and have Japanese food. I didn’t have none. I didn’t have Japanese food for two years in Kentucky. You talk about tough. Because you’ve grown up with rice and pickles and soy sauce and miso, they didn’t have that. That was the toughest for two years. So people, I don’t think they could continue the International Marriage Society. It could be a different kind of woman’s club. Somebody could take it over. We’ve got our address now so somebody could take over. I’ve been looking for the last four years, I couldn’t find it yet.

SARA: Are there other organizations like this with other Asian brides?

KAZUKO: Oh yes. Seattle have one, I’ve got it all here.

SARA: Have you done work with other Asian bride groups? What have you done?

KAZUKO: Oh yeah. Every time I have a convention, there’s another war bride club they back me all the way. So Seattle have Sana Nikkei. And Bremerton have Peninsula Japanese woman’s club. Oko Harbor have Shakunane Japanese Woman’s Club, Takuna Harbor have Takuna Woman’s Club and Portland have TWS, Transpacific woman’s society. I think Portland TWS is the most oldest. Forty-some years, the club. And Seattle my Vice President, she was the president for ten years so she could tell you. And Corrada have Tsirakada Nikkei. And California have Nikkei. And they have Massachusetts and Florida. They have smaller ones and some of them get together to talk or some of them get together to go to a restaurant. But still it’s there. So they could talk to each other.

SARA: Any with younger Asian brides?

KAZUKO: No, not so far. I’m just Japanese war brides, Japanese in the United States, Japanese in five, six countries. I’m not all the way to other country people yet.

SARA: Are current perceptions different from the ones in the ‘50s and ‘60s?

KAZUKO: Just like I said, they knew English already, young international marriage. They know what kind of place United States is. They know all about it before they get married. They got married so it’s much easier. Much, much easier and more spoiled.

SARA: What about the media. Has the media or the public changed?

KAZUKO: nothing. They don’t have a problem, just married to next-door boy.


KAZUKO: You don’t separate from United States to America. Just like neighbors. So I’m just going to marry neighbors, that’s the way they do it. So parents… we got married in the ‘50s and we thought we’re never going to come home to Japan. We couldn’t. In the first place we don’t have enough money to do it. And most of the time it’s a boat. No airplane. If you want to buy air tickets …if you want to fly from Tokyo to United States and tickets price was equivalent to University professor’s three months salary. So you know we couldn’t afford it, most of people couldn’t afford it. So we said okay, we’re not going to be able to come home anymore. But now in the ‘70s and ‘80s everyone go home twice a year.

SARA: Tell me about your book.

KAZUKO: Four years ago Kyorits Woman’s College Professor, Dr. Reicke. He’s a great friend. He said why don’t you write something and we’ll try to put it together in a book. I said okay. So I picked people I think were good writers. I picked ten ladies and one husband, Colonel Silver. And wonderful book. Two ladies from Australia and the others from the US. Two years ago and Kyits Woman’s University professor Dr. Yasatomi, he ask me why don’t we write a book, you and I? So he’s going to research all about connected with the government and what the Nikkei community thought about the war bride and I say what do I do? And he say you write about what you experience from childhood to old age. To marriage and the club until now. So it took two years, we finally got it, I got it yesterday. Only thing is it’s in Japanese so American people couldn’t read it. I’m going to translate it in English next two years.

SARA: What’s it called?

KAZUKO: Seitso, Hayonomei. Pioneer Kyroku. It’s like Mr. Forrester wrote that. ‘Tsuchino my Japanese wife.’ It’s all the history from the husband’s point. Mine is from war brides’ point. It will be real interesting. It’s published already and the professor sent me fifty books so I should get it in another ten days. So far we’ve got it all sold out, but professor is going to send more. Takes a good four weeks to send it because ship.

SARA: Anything else about the book. Who will read it?

KAZUKO: Because it’s in Japanese, Nikkei people could read it in Japanese they will. And in Japan they’re doing real good right now. Japanese people are interested right now. But if I do it in English, and I know a lot of people, especially like my children and their children, grandkids, maybe two hundred thousand young Japanese brides living in this country and they could read the English. So probably I could send that. I hope.

SARA: Now that you’ve been here, what have you done?

KAZUKO: I have three girls, my oldest is fifty years old. She’s semi-retired. She draws pictures, she’s a good artist. And the second one is a typical American girl. She drive a truck. She can even drive a semi-truck. She’s got a license to real estate. She’s a carpenter, she could build a house. She’s got a hamburger stand in the summer. That kid got energy, no one can copy her, she’s gone all the time. Anyway, my youngest one is working in the post office for the last twenty years. And step-grandkids included, I have thirteen grandkids. And five great-grandkids. So I’ve got four generations. And everyone living in the Yelm community, somewhere around there. Everybody within ten minutes. The only grandson living in Boston. He graduated from medical school and he become a doctor really soon. He’s working at a hospital right now. So other than that, my husband like to fish and hunting and he’s outdoor guy. And me, busy with the club and we don’t go to far, vacation and go to Europe, we don’t do that. But we’re comfortable. I had a good life. I have to say I have a good life.

SARA: Happiest moment of your life.

KAZUKO: That was when I had the convention and the newspaper reporter asked and the two ladies said this convention is the most happiest time in their life. That’s what they said, so they must feel comfortable. Like a class reunion. Even though …because they’ve got so many experiences, you see.

SARA: What was your happiest moment?

KAZUKO: Writing this book. I don’t know. I’m happy all the time, so I’ll put it that way. Anybody, any marriage of fifty years you have a happy time. You can’t say all the way smooth but we had it pretty good, I have to say. My husband been good to me. My thing I have to say about it, all I have to say is 90% of war brides is strong, really strong ladies. And one husband said to wife, you know I thought I married Japanese cute little kitten, but after you come to United States and you turn out to be tiger. That’s what he said to her. But he’s happy, though. He’s not mad said it, that’s how you become strong. But you have to. The only thing we know is husband, nobody else. So you have to be…


TRACK 5 – 0:13

KAZUKO: I think that’s everything I said. I said too much.

SARA: Thanks, etc…..

TRACK 6 – 5:44

SARA: Introduce yourself.

TSUCHINO: My name is Tsuchino Forrester and I born in Nafuko Japan and I…beside…

SARA: Don’t move your hands. It’s okay.

TSUCHINO: Besides the International Society Vice President and I also involved Japanese Rongonichi School Board Member and the Japanese Komogichi board Treasurer and of Koko Kangi Secretary and I also recently opened a library in the Japanese Language School. This was my dream, probably my last dream for volunteer jobs. This is my dream, I’ve been dreaming this for about thirty years and finally I got the place and the situations able to open so we opened that in last year, I guess fall of last year. Then we got almost nine thousand books donated by those interested and quite busy right now.

SARA: Tell me what life was like in Japan and where you met your husband.

TSUCHINO: I met my husband in my girlfriend’s place and we dated a couple of times and he liked to get married so we started to make arrangement for marriage but I guess right, my husband wrote a book, the Japanese title was ai, means love, so he tells it all the kind of detail for that, how we went and how much trouble we got, and finally we get permission to marry.

SARA: Could you tell me about the trouble?

TSUCHINO: Well, the family both sides doesn’t like the idea of get married because Michael’s family is typical Irish so I guess grandma is the one that has all head of household at that time, and she have heart set on him to get married to Irish girl, which is red hair and freckles and all that, right? But he promise okay I’m not going to marry anybody, overseas people and stuff, but happen to be he met me so he want to get married but I take a whole family except the father. He have five boys but he never have a girl, so he’s kind of looking forward to having a girl. But unfortunately he died before I get to here. I come over to this country because for his funeral. So we got notified and leave next day and come over here so my trouble is I just …I say. I young, I don’t know any place except Japan my hometown really. I never been Tokyo or any other place either. So that’s all the trauma to get to here but somehow we survived and now we’re forty-seven years marriage. And also my family are against because also the reason is my uncle died in Indonesia in the wartime so my intermarry to the…my family had something come up, we have a family meeting and he come and he’s kind of give idea what he think, what he should do, stuff like that, but I think he had sentimental reasons because of my uncle, he said for that time, 1957. That’s still, Japanese people didn’t understand Americans too much, they’re still kind of enemies, feeling still left. Especially my hometown, that’s the countryside. So they don’t have too much knowledge of it. So they say if you want to get married to Americans, you have to take off the family register from the family. That’s what they say. So I thought at that time and I wrote a letter to him. I say you are the professor, you teach younger peoples what is moral people to do. I should before war he tells you have to be honor to country…


SARA: Wait a minute

TRACK 7 – 0:54

TSUCHINO: I say after war you don’t teach people America is enemy and stuff like that. I’m sure you change to teaching subject. So to me, after you knock the door someplace what do you want? You either get the answer yes or no. At least you know what you’re going to get it. So I want to try to knock door for my life, not for your life. So if you want to disown me, I say it’s fine for me…


TRACK 8 – 16:26

TSUCHINO: So I wrote him that so I haven’t talked to him after that but ten years or so more I never talked to him after that and he never visited my house either, and just kind of up in the air for a while. In the meantime Michael was sent back to the states because the commander didn’t want him to marry Japanese people, they’re just a foreigner. So they went away to sent him home. But he still have one year left in Japans. So we kind of break up. I think maybe that’s a good idea to cool off from each other. He think no but he wrote every day, every day, every day, so my mother finally give up because she say well, this way I don’t think we can stop her. We can’t stop him either, so he give me permission, it’s okay to get married. So he came back, we had a Japanese ceremony because that’s the only way we can do it right away. His station was Okino at Yaroshima, that’s at the north side of Okinawa. Okinawa wasn’t Japan at the time, but a side of the Island was Japanese. So I can go on that side without anybody’s permission. If in Okinawa I need to get permission from the air force, and they don’t give permission for us to get married. So we got a Japanese wedding, then we went to the island together because I have tickets and everything, so I’m not stopped at police stations.

SARA: How did you come to the US?

TSUCHINO: …or give up the military life. And I don’t want him to stay the military life when he want to go school too. So we decide to not stay, so I got vacation to my home at that time and he go to stay also. Then one night the APs and the Japanese toktas come knock on the doors of my house. They say your father has died so you have to go home. So I think at that time I’m already ready to come to this country, but I don’t have the tickets or anything ready. But he have to come back with the air force’s order. Then I have to come back too myself because so much is able to do so quickly. So the red cross gave me peace letters, they say this girl is traveling such, such, such, so, please take care of her, so I hold that letter then I get in the airplanes and I come across the ocean all by myself. And the airplanes got to wait in Anchorage, Alaska, because at that time immigration takes so much time. So they take, everybody takes so long. So we missed the ride to Seattle and I was supposed to get to Seattle, change jet flights to New York that day, but I missed that one, so I have to stay Seattle all night. So everything kind of tossed around so I don’t know if his family is going to be there or not, I don’t know if I’m going to get there so all kinds of worries on there. But somehow everything okay, airline people promise they’re going to notify the Red Cross the next morning, as soon as the office is open, so I just hope they did that so I get on the airplane and went to New York and they did. They did a good job, they helped with everything and the family was there.

SARA: Did you get along with your in-laws?

TSUCHINO: Yes. Because I got there, Michael’s not there either. He’s in someplace Hawaii. Because I got the civilian flight so I got there two days earlier than him. So the airport family meet me and I went straight to the funeral parlor. To the wake. That’s cousins, second cousins, kissing cousins, everybody there. So I all by myself and I have to face the grandma, which she say don’t ever bring foreigners. So everybody kind of carry us. Everybody is introducing, one of Michael’s uncles is married to Germany girl, so he know a little bit more about the international situation and everything, so he tried to introduce everybody. But the grandma says nonsense just come and sit down by me. That takes care of the whole family because she’s the head of the family. So how I’d be buddy, buddy if I stay in New York or anyplace I stay in grandma’s house almost a month, because Michael have to go to Columbia University, so that time we have to move Pennsylvania to New York and we don’t have a house ready. So I have to stay with grandma. And doing pretty good.

SARA: Did you miss things about Japan?

TSUCHINO: My thinks was my family all are arrangement marriage and your family have a certain…my father was a landlord, which is you marry to another landlord. And my sister got married that way, but they have…treasures or whatever still they don’t use. They have to work to keep the treasure handed down to family so they’re so busy or so tired when they come to visit the home they just sleep to get rest because they have to live with in-laws and all the family together in Japan. So I look at that, I tell myself I’m never going to get married that way. I always wanted my own way. So I say well, America I understand you don’t worry about…well, you worry about it but you are not responsible for anything but yourself. You don’t get a penny from anybody but you don’t have to look after anybody either. You get up yourself first. I liked it. So I say I’m going to try that way. Then unfortunately my father died just before war so I had to give up my education. My brother quit, he was in junior college and he had to quit to take care of the house, so watching my mother’s mind, old-fashioned mind. She said only sons. So if sons are not able to get educations girls are not able to get educations higher than him. That way her mind was, so she never let me go anywhere. So I thought my life is finished here, so I had to do something. At that time I met Mike and he say he didn’t finish school, high school, but he want to go. I think he got some sort of equivalency. So he gradated high school that way, but he wanted to get more education but he had so many younger brother so his father had a hard time to keep up. So he couldn’t ask his father to help. So father he thought he going to use the GI bill to go to school. He tell me that, so that time I decide to get married to him, we going to put our life together and I’m going to put to him my dreams to send him to school. Then that’s what it was. And he finally graduated Columbia and studied in California. So I tried to push the PhD but that takes too long and kind of he was in Japanese class. So he did that three years so he get resting now. That’s the story.

SARA: Kazuko was lucky because she didn’t feel discrimination. Did you feel any?

TSUCHINO: No. His family accept me right away because of the situation of the family. Then I come over by myself so they accept it right then, because this girl not just to come…

SARA: What about from other people?

TSUCHINO: We moved almost every two years, here to there, so we met a lot of people, but what we associate with is FAA people, which is a lot of military experience or overseas experience people, so they understand more, they know more about other people. So they don’t take anything wrong with our family. So that’s portion I think we are lucky. And we move so many place but luckily we don’t have kids so no problem moving. Plus, in the short time, you looking something good. And something useful. So you don’t go nearby something you dislike or things like that. So everything went okay.

SARA: The media portrayed war brides negatively. We want to know what was difficult.

TSUCHINO: In Japan that was worse than this country, because I don’t’ know why, Japanese people just still in their minds Americans are still the enemy, so girls who associate with American people or any other they look down on you. In Japan then my situation Michael and I know each other in that short time, so I didn’t spend too much time in that situation. I left Japan kind of emergency, quickly, so I left so I don’t get too much in Japan either.

SARA: What about Japanese people here?

TSUCHINO: Like I said, he’s an FAA and we moved a lot and we moved, we never lived nearby a Japanese community in almost twenty years till he come to Seattle. For the first time I associate with the Japanese community when I come to Seattle. So by that time I think that feeling was almost over. The Nisei, was born in this country people, or people who went to Japan for education reasons. After war they come back to this country again. Those people, even among the Japanese, kibei Nisei come back from Japan too. Among them they not too close with each other either. Then my girlfriend said she belongs to Buddhist church right after she came to this country, some people whisper behind her, oh that’s the girl that comes from Japan, something like that. She told me that. But went I had involvement in the Japanese society, that’s over, that’s almost over. Both understand each other more so they start to get closer. So I didn’t have those kind of big sad waves or whatever. So I think I’m lucky.

SARA: Are there Japanese brides who are coming now?

TSUCHINO: Japanese bride, yes. But they’re so different now. They can get married in a week. Plus, so many come to this country in school, student, and they meet people here and get married, things like that. So marriage is no problem now, I don’t think. Because my niece, she’s studying at Washington University four years, then I send her back to Japan because the Japanese family, they don’t want her to stuck in so many miles away. But she can’t stay in Japan so she finally found a soldier in Japan and she got married in months. She got married and she’s staying on Okinawa right now. So I don’t think any problem right now. So many coming still. That’s next generation have to do.

SARA: Do you want to mention this book?

TSUCHINO: He wrote that. I didn’t. I read it after he finished and certain places is a different feeling because he knows what he knew and he didn’t know my side, everything…



TRACK 1 – 5:07

TSUCHINO: Ah, the book. So he wrote the book called what title is now? My war bride.

SARA: Read what it says.

TSUCHINO: Tsuchino, my Japanese war bride. And the part in Japanese is ai, which means love. That is the book he wrote and it should be published in March, end of March. But he got a special copies he purchased. So he started selling and groups, some what do they say, non-taxable organizations. If they buy, he send if he sell one book he give five dollar donation to them. So we sell a lot of them in our church, the Japanese language school and Sakai, that’s my women’s group, they’re purchasing now. And also international Marriage Society newsletter Kazuko put out so people ordering through her, through us. So the answer is pretty good. They say they like it and some girls say oh, you wrote the story that’s my story. Some say like that and make him feel good. So that’s the book. And of course is International Marriage Society get it all, so I don’t think we have an international conference anymore, but she want to try many mini conventions for us to be together and we’re going to establish other books so personally we can contact each other more. So I hope that work out okay. And for the Seattle women’s group, they 120 member and we have meetings every month. Sometimes we invite somebody to educate on something. We do cooking class, dancing class, things like that. But we do a lot of volunteer. We go to nursing home, daycare place, things like that. Cherry blossom and for the festival everything come up. We do volunteer. So we have a good time here. So I hope if someone is visiting Seattle I hope they catch up with all the activity.

SARA: What has the society done? What is good about it for you?

TSUCHINO: I am sure, like us in Seattle, we have so many activities going in the Japanese society so most people don’t miss it much. But the International Marriage is unique because it is all over nations, Australia, Canada, it’s all over the place. In there, so many people never have a chance to meet Japanese group or some never even get to go home. Live in the countrysides. They don’t have much food or anything, so those people really enjoyed and get encouraged of it, because she send the newsletter four times in months, which is…So she’s the leaders so they can feel you’re among Japanese society. So I think that’s the best of it. She did a wonderful job for that.

SARA: Anything else?

TSUCHINO: I hope everybody’s having a good time. That I want.

TRACK 2 – 2:15