“I just came without thinking anything, like how foreign countries might be scary”
Born and raised in the Waseda district of Tokyo, Sadako was working in Ueno. At that time, her monthly salary was about 3500 yen. An acquaintance of Sadako’s came to her, surprised at how low her salary was, and introduced her to a job as a waitress for the base cafeteria, claiming, “at the base, you can make more than 10,000 yen a month!” At that time in 1956, many Japanese people were working on the base. It was during that time when she got to know her husband, Alan. “Although at first, I thought, ‘really? A blonde?'” laughed Sadako.
The standard of living inside the military base was much higher than that of the average Japanese person at the time. While working in the cafeteria, Sadako saw scraps of all this food she had never had before, like fried chicken, being thrown away. “What a waste!” she had always thought. “Even though I wanted to bring home the leftovers, I couldn’t because the Japanese had to go through a full-body search when leaving the base. I couldn’t even hide it in my clothes.” Alan, who owned a car, seemed very attractive to Sadako at the time. “Back then, I had no food at home. I figured that if I left the base in a car with an American, I could get through the gate without being searched and take as much food as I wanted. That was the start of our relationship.”
After she got married and came to Washington, she did not feel as bad, Sadako told us. “Washington is a place where the first and second-generation Nikkei really fought for me. At that time, Japanese trusted each other, and I was hired as soon as I said I was “Japanese.” I am so grateful to the pioneers of the Nikkei community.