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Interview with Yuko Otsuka

Otsuka, Yuko
Reese, Kay
Date of Interview: 
Stories and storytellers
Yuko Otsuka talks about stories she likes to read and stories her class likes.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Kay Reese interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
KR (Kay J. Reese): I am interviewing my friend Yuko Otsuka. Yuko is from Japan and she is one of the ESL teachers in Gaston County. Yuko when you were a young child were you told stories or read books?
YO (Yuko Otsuka): Yeah.
KR: Who read them to you or who told you the stories?
YO: My mother.
KR: What were some of these stories?
YO: Um I don't remember what story I read.
KR: If you can't remember the names of the stories can you remember what some of the stories were about such as animals or certain kinds of people or legends?
YO: I think the books were about sometimes they were about fairy tales and sometimes they were uh about like people and.
KR: I'm not familiar with Japanese literature? When you say fairy tales what are some of the fairy tales told to Japanese children?
YO: Well they were mostly from the other countries. We have I read Japanese tales all the tales too but I read a lot of maybe from some European countries of some fairy tales I think.
KR: So you've probably heard the fairy tales or, or versions of some of the fairy tales that maybe I was told. I was told Red Riding Hood. Were you ever told that fairy tale? Red Riding Hood was the little girl had on a red cape
YO: I know.
KR: And it had a hood.
YO: Yes, yes I know that story very
KR: What can you remember about it?
YO: Well I think that's about uh a little girl who's wearing a red cape and she wanted to go she wanted to be with her grandma is that right?
KR: That's what I remember.
YO: Yeah and a wolf a wolf ate her Grandma.
KR: That's one version and one version the wolf eats the grandmother and the hunter cuts the wolf open and.
YO: Ah yeah.
KR: Gets the grandmother out. I've been told that that's the European version. It's more violent, violent. I've, I've been told that there's an American version where, uh, grandmother is simply put into the closet and when the hunter comes he pulls her out and I think there is some difference in the way fairy tales are told around the world. Of what maybe were some Japanese stories that you were told?
YO: Japanese stories. We have a the very famous are Japanese stories are, uh, name, name?
KR: If you don't remember the name just what were they about?
YO: I remember one is called the "Peach Boy" in English and they there were old men and old women who lived in the woods and they didn't have any kids and one day the old woman went to the river to wash her clothes and, and the she found a big peach coming down the river and she took it and she brought the peach to home and when the men got home she tried to cut the peach and there was a there was a boy coming from the peach. And when she cut there was a boy inside come coming from the peach and, and he the boy grew out and I think he wanted to there were a lot of evil right?
KR: Uh ( )?
YO: Making troubles around the town the village. And he wanted to fight of them. And, and he wanted to wanted to fighting with the ( ) the bars like that.
KR: So the peach boy was a good guy?
YO: Yeah he was a good guy.
KR: Did he defeat the evil in the end?
YO: Uh-huh, yeah.
KR: Oh I've never heard that fairy tale before.
YO: No?
KR: That's, that's interesting. Were there any other stories or books that read to you that you can remember what they were about?
YO: Uh, you mean Japanese stories?
KR: Yes or any kind really. But I guess I'm interested in Japanese stories since I don't know about Japanese stories.
YO: Well I think we have lots of stories about old men and women who( ) who do something and them well all of them are usually about a good men I think. I can remember stories called ( ). And Japanese say legend of. But that wasn't a good men right? He went to the beach one day and that he saw what is it?
KR: Shell?
YO: No
KR: An animal?
YO: Uh turtle.
KR: Turtle.
YO: Uh-huh turtle. And some of the kids were feeding the turtle and he wanted to try to uh he wanted to try to help, help the turtle. And he saved him saved the turtle and the turtle speaked Japanese and he the turtle wanted to bring him to the castle in the ocean and he took him to the castle and then they was having a good time when, when he wanted to go home and the turtle gave him a box but he told him not to open the box but he was very curious about, about the box and when he got home he open it and then actually he was spend so many years in the ocean that finally he got when he open it that finally he got to be very old he became a very, very old man. And that's the story?
KR: Well what happened when the turtle opened the box? I think I missed something.
YO: Oh no. The turtle wasn't there when the box the boy opened the box.
KR: Oh OK.
YO: Uh the turtle gave him a box as a present as a gift and then the boy did not listen to him. He ignored hearing what he said and he opened the box. He became an old man.
KR: The boy became an old man?
YO: Yeah.
KR: That was his punishment?
YO: Yeah uh huh.
KR: For opening the box?
YO: Yeah.
KR: Uh as you got older and went to elementary school I don't know what you call the elementary schools in Japan but when you were in the age range of say age six to age 12 what kind of books or stories did you enjoy?
YO: Uh I read well I don't know how to say in English. I read a girl I read a story about a girl who had red hair and I, I think she lived in, in Canada. But I thinking of the story about her.
KR: What this an American story or a was it a Japanese story?
YO: No Canadian.
KR: Canadian story. Well when I was in elementary school I read some books about a girl named Nancy Drew and she was like a teenage detective. She solved murder mysteries and things like that. Did you ever read books like that?
YO: No.
KR: These were a series of books that every girl who was in her older elementary school years wanted to read. We wanted to read all of the books in the series. So I would highly recommend picking up a Nancy Drew book at the bookstore [laugh] sometime to see what I am talking about.
YO: [Laugh]
KR: When you became a teenage what kind of interests did you have in reading no say age 13 through 17.
YO: 17 I don't think I read a lot of books during that age.
KR: I don't think many teenagers do. But did you enjoy maybe teen magazines?
YO: Uh-huh yes. I liked teen magazines.
KR: Who were some of the Japanese teen magazine stars?
YO: Right now?
KR: Well at the time that you were a teenager. Can you remember any of their names?
YO: Uh I think we were interested in some Japanese uh teenage groups that sing.
KR: Musical groups?
YO: ( ) Yeah.
KR: What was the name of one of these groups?
YO: ( )
KR: And what kind of music did they sing?
YO: They were singing, uh, popular songs.
KR: Maybe rock music? Would we call it rock?
YO: No it's not rock. Just pops, pops. Japanese, Japanese pops.
KR: Uh, now that you're an adult a young adult what kind of reading do you do newspapers or magazines or professional books for teaching?
YO: Uh, I sometimes read like professional call it teaching, teaching magazines. Sometimes I also read newspaper not every day. And um, what else I read magazines about housing or fashion magazines. But I really don't have a lot of time to read so.
KR: Believe me I understand [laugh] four children a job and graduate school.
YO: Uh-huh.
KR: It's hard to find time to read.
YO: Yeah.
KR: When you do have leisure time to read do you enjoy reading in Japanese? Can, can you find materials in Japanese in the United States to read or do you subscribe to magazines from Japan and have them sent here?
YO: Um, I don't think I can find any books in Gastonia Japanese books in Gastonia. But maybe if I go to Charlotte cause I know there's a Japanese school in Charlotte. Maybe they have some but not a lot. Maybe I have to ask my mother to send me some.
KR: When you do have time to read a magazine is it a magazine written in English or a magazine written in Japanese?
YO: Uh, in English.
KR: What is your favorite magazine?
YO: I like, like I said I like fashion magazines. So that would be, um.
KR: Is it Cosmopolitan, McCall's there are so many I can't remember the names of all of them.
YO: Mary Kay?
KR: Mary Kay?
YO: Yeah Mary Kay.
KR: Or Avon Magazines?
YO: Yeah uh-huh.
KR: Well when you read to the children that you teach what kind of stories do you read them.
YO: Uh, I have very little English still students I read very pattern books and very short stories.
KR: Can you give me an example of one of the pattern books that you've read recently with the children you teach?
YO: Recently I've read All Through the Week with Cat and Dog. That was about cat made cookies on Monday and dog ( ) made cookies on Sunday and cat ate cookies ( ) the afternoon something like that.
KR: Is it was it for the purpose of teaching the days of the week?
YO: No, no it was about food.
KR: Oh about teaching different foods. Well thank you very, very much for letting me interview you and ask you questions.
YO: You're welcome.
KR: Uh, I hope that you enjoy reading as much as I have for the rest of your life.