Oral History Interview with Kotono Kato
Issei female, born on March 3, 1896 to a farm family. She developed a love for craft art from her mother who was educated in Japanese cultural arts. In 1914, at age eighteen, Kotono came to America as a picture bride for Mr. Kato. Her life was to change forever: from 1914 to 1942 she lived under harsh conditions, performing hard field labor, housework, and child care on a variety of primitive farms. Two of her children died by 1926. In 1942, at age forty-six, Kotono and family were interned in Merced, California, then Amache, Colorado. From 1942 to 1945, Kotono had a respite from twenty-eight years of hard labor teaching artificial flower making and flower arranging full time. Using tools she brought from Japan, she and students made flowers for wreaths for Nisei soldiers killed in action whose families held funerals. She grieved for each of the soldiers as she thought of her own two soldier sons in the U.S. Army. In her senior years she found new approaches to old arts and crafts skills and created beautiful artifacts. The appendix in the bound copy includes photos of Kotono's flower-making tools and her flower arrangements.
Transcript available at the California State University, Sacramento University Library
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