Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: James Yamazaki Interview
Narrator: James Yamazaki
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Van Nuys, California
Date: February 4, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-yjames-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Today is February 4, 2005. We're at the home of James and Aki Yamazaki in Van Nuys, California. I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda, for the Densho Project, and on camera we have Carl Wakamoto from the Asian Pacific Arts from UCLA. And also in the room we have Aki, who's listening in. And Jim, this is really just a continuation of our conversation from this morning. I've been here for the last day and a half getting to know you, and we're going to interview you for the Densho project. But before we start with your life, I actually wanted to start with your parents. And I wanted to start first with your father. And so can you tell me what his name was and where he was raised?

JY: John Misao Yamazaki, my father's name. He was born in the city of Matsumoto, Japan, in Nagano Prefecture.

TI: And what can you tell me about his family?

JY: My father's father was a samurai who worked in the Matsumoto Castle, which is a well-known castle in Japan. And at the onset of the Meiji era, when the samurai were disbanded, he started a textile business in the city of Matsumoto. And the family was very much involved in this, in the city's activity, and they were a major supporter of a Buddhist temple in the city.

TI: So was the family fairly prominent and wealthy?

JY: That's what I was told. Relatively wealthy because I think they had a two- or three-story home.

TI: And how about land holdings? Do you know...

JY: Pardon me?

TI: Land holdings. Were they land owners?

JY: No, not big land holders. I just heard of the home, and that they had some, the usual Japanese structures where they kept family belongings.

TI: And so what was your father like?

JY: Well, my father was a minister, but at home, he enjoyed very much doing his ministry through fairly novel ways when I think back to it.

TI: So you're talking about him as a youngster?

JY: Yes.

TI: Okay, so what was that?

JY: Well, he was very interested in the young people in the neighborhood. And the activities around the church where he was the pastor was mainly oriented toward the young people. Since being a minister, he would have some bible lessons on Sundays for the kids. But at the end of these lessons, he would always have a movie for the kids.

TI: So this was later on in the United States when he was a minister.

JY: Yes.

TI: But going back to Japan, growing up as a child, as a youngster, as an adolescent, what was he like then? I mean, what kind of things did he, do you think he wanted to go into or do back then?

JY: I really don't have a clear picture. Only with little sporadic comments he might have made about his boyhood, would I get a little picture of what it was like.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2005 Densho. All Rights Reserved.