Kinko Ogura

As Interviewed by Michael Masuo, March 29, 2012

Kinko Ogura: In Her Own Words

My name is Kinko Ogura. I was born on November 1st , 1938. I am from Kanazawa City, Ishikawa prefecture in Japan. I moved to Osaka City a couple of years before World War II. During World War II, I went to live in the countryside of Tottori prefecture to escape the U.S. bomb raids. While in the countryside we rented a small cottage to live in during the war. After the war, I moved back to Osaka City and lived there ever since.

When I was little, there were people that we were segregated from called the Buraku people. I was not sure why these people were segregated from us, but we were told to stay away from them. Back then people thought that the Buraku people were kind of gross and not like normal Japanese people. When we walked through their area of town, we felt uneasy and a little bit frightened.

My friends and I never went through the Buraku because we knew that it was dangerous. We knew that a lot of the men in the Buraku were part of the Yakuza gang, and we wanted to avoid that area. The Buraku areas always had more crime because that is where the majority of the gangs were residing. We feared that we would get mugged or killed if we went through that area of town.

If you were from a Buraku neighborhood, it was very hard for you to get jobs at normal places. For instance, if a normal Japanese person and a Buraku person walked into an office to get a job, the Buraku person would automatically be turned away just because they were from the Buraku neighborhood. Back then, companies would even run background checks on people that they were hiring to make sure that they were not from the Buraku.

People from the Buraku could only get undesirable jobs. Those were the only jobs that were available to them because nobody else would hire them. The only types of jobs that the people from the Buraku could get are jobs involving slaughtering animals and jobs that involved danger. The Buraku people also got jobs that were associated with death. For example, people from the Buraku got jobs like the executioner and the undertaker.

When I was young, normal Japanese people did not want their son or daughter to date or marry people from the Buraku. Parents thought that people from the Buraku were inferior to regular Japanese people even though that is not true. So the parents did not want their son or daughter to marry or date people from the Buraku.

Children from the Buraku would never be able to attend private school because the school would not allow them to attend, and they would never have enough money to be able to afford the tuition. Buraku children can attend public schools. However, they need to hide their identity to avoid being bullied.

If a person from the Buraku neighborhood needed to borrow money from the bank, they would almost always be turned down. Bankers did not trust people from the Buraku so the bankers would never lend money to them.

When I was just entering the work force, there was an illegal book being published that listed all of the people that were living in the Buraku. Many businesses bought this book to make sure that the person that they were hiring was not from the Buraku. Many major companies in Japan such as Honda, Toyota bought these books to avoid hiring people from the Buraku.