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Kiyo-oka Michiko Interview, 21 November 2010, Part 1

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This is a picture of me when I was a baby. The reason I still have it is that my father sent everything out of the city. We had actually intended to leave the city ourselves. There was a family of farmers we knew in Edogawa that offered us a room to live in. But, anyway, my father was a vaudeville performer, so he had a lot of kimonos and costumes. It would have been terrible to lose them all in a raid. And my sister was a type of singer with many kimonos as well. So, my father sent away all the clothes and other important items like our photo albums. That's why I still have these pictures of my schooldays and the period when I started to work. I'm really thankful that my father protected them like that. My father himself was to eventually die in an air raid. At the time of the March 10 raid, I was working in city hall. ...Tokyo was divided into two areas until they were combined in 1942 or 1943. So during the war I was a metropolitan employee. I worked as a typist in those days. Pretty much the same as an English typist... I'd learned it in school. Our house was in Umamichi, Asakusa. Umamichi is located just behind the Asakusa temple structures. It's a lively area. It felt like one big festival all year long. There were many events. However, I was actually born in November of the year of the Great Tokyo Earthquake. My mother was in Asakusa at the time and was pregnant with me as she fled the disasters. Afterward, she went to stay in her hometown of Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture. I was born there. That's why Matsumoto is listed as my birthplace, but my father had no work in the country so we were soon back in Tokyo. I was raised in Asakusa. When I was twenty-one, I woke up every morning to go to work at city hall, which in those days was located near the moat of the imperial palace, not in Shinjuku like it is today. It was in present day yuraku-cho. The address would be Marunouchi. That's where it was, so I'd take the Ginza Subway line to Kyobashi and walk from there. There were air raids every night. A single B-29 once flew over the city at 10,000 meters to take reconnaissance photos of the Shitamachi district. At any rate, we now had to jump out of bed every time there was a siren. You had no time to change clothes. The winter of 1945 was a very cold one. Bins of water for firefighting were a common sight in those days. They looked like little bathtubs. But we could get water out of them because the tops would freeze. So it was my job to go out and break the ice at such times. That's how cold it was. We didn't have fuel in those days except for coal. And that had to be put out before going to bed. So due to the cold repeated nights of waking up to air raid sirens, everyone was suffering from fatigue. I also had to go to work each morning in that condition. I remember one night when a man in our neighborhood who worked for the post office said, "I wish I could go to America for just one good night of sleep!" Everyone laughed at his joke, but we knew to be careful of the police as well, so everyone scurried off... Anyway, there were people-- --I mentioned my mother having said that Japan would lose the war... That kind of comment could have gotten her into a lot of trouble-- Yes, it could have... But even so, there were still people who had their sense of humor in spite of being so tired.

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 43 seconds
Country: United States
Language: Japanese
Genre: None
Views: 765
Posted by: japanairraids on Nov 25, 2010

Kiyo-oka Michiko Interview, 21 November 2010, Part 1

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