Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mas Akiyama Interview
Narrator: Mas Akiyama
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Spokane, Washington
Date: March 15, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-amas-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Wednesday, March 15, 2006, and I'm in Spokane interviewing Mas Akiyama, and on the camera we have Dana Hoshide. Right now we're in the basement of the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture in Spokane. So I'm going to start, Mas, and just ask you where and when were you born?

MA: I was born in Eastport, Idaho, which is up near the Canadian-U.S. border. I was born on a little farm, and my dad, he worked for the railroad as well as at the immigration office. He was a, he was a janitor there, in both places.

TI: So they had an immigration office in Eastport, Idaho.

MA: Yes, right there at what they call Kingsgate.

TI: And, and when were you born?

MA: I was born in May 19, 1917.

TI: Okay. And what was the name that your parents gave you when you were born? What was your full name?

MA: What school?

TI: No, what was your full name when they, when you were born, what did your parents call you?

MA: Masuo, Masuo, and I had a twin brother, Makiyo. And we were identical twins. [Laughs]

TI: So who came out first, you or Makiyo?

MA: I was, I was the first one.

TI: So you're the older brother.

MA: Uh-huh. My mother was rather surprised that it was twins; she wasn't expecting twins.

TI: So how big were you when you were born? Were you pretty small?

MA: About four-and-a-half pounds. [Laughs]

TI: So pretty, pretty small.

MA: Yeah.

TI: But both of you were healthy, both you and Makiyo?

MA: Yeah. Well, I was the weaker of the two; my brother was more healthier.

TI: Well, so when you were growing up, so you spent, how long did you live in Eastport before going to Spokane?

MA: It was in, from 1917 to 1923. I went to school one year in Eastport, in a one-room schoolhouse, which I enjoyed going. Then I came to Spokane as I say, in 1923, because my father was in poor health, and we started a hotel in Spokane, Washington. The hotel's name was Spokoma Hotel, which was downtown Spokane, just right off of Washington and Main Avenue.

TI: Now, before we go to Spokane, I just wanted to ask one question about Eastport. Were there other Japanese families at Eastport?

MA: Not that I know of. There were some earlier that I, I think there were about two families, but they had already moved to Spokane when I was born.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.