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-01-0016

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TI: Okay, so Mas, we're now, we just took a break, and now we're in our second hour of the interview. We had just talked about, oh, visiting, you visited all these camps. But now let's go back to Spokane because I wanted to ask you about, during the war and after the war, lots of Japanese Americans from Minidoka came to Spokane. And so the population of Japanese increased in Spokane during the war, and I just wanted to ask, how, how did that change Spokane? Did that change the community very much?

MA: Well, I don't think it changed too much. Quite a few people came from the various camps, even Heart Mountain, some from Minidoka. I'd say it increased pretty close to two thousand people, I think.

TI: So what was it --

MA: From about five hundred, prewar was about five hundred people.

TI: So that's, that's a lot. That's going from five hundred to two thousand.

MA: And then started various businesses, you know.

TI: And where did they live?

MA: Mostly downtown. They had all these hotels, and they bought, bought a lot of hotels and restaurants and barber shops started. There were three, three pharmacists started a pharmacy here, we got doctors from Seattle that came over.

TI: Now, how did the people, how did you and the other sort of Spokane Japanese, how did you feel about that, having all these other Japanese coming?

MA: Oh, I felt good to meet new people and to help them out. A lot of 'em came, they needed help, I had a home up on Fourth Avenue and we used to put up people. This one lady, I forgot what her name was, I never did see her again, we put her up for about a month. Help 'em out and she finally found a job, job and moved out. I enjoyed talking to all the people. And that's, then the Buddhist Church started about that time, too.

TI: Now, how did the other Spokane people feel? You know, like the Caucasians and people with all these new Japanese coming to Spokane?

MA: Well, Spokane was known as a friendly city, you know, and Caucasians helped us quite a bit finding jobs, which was hard to find, even, even with myself, I had a hard time finding, finding good job. I worked in a greenhouse, I worked on a farm before, then at that time I was taking various night school courses, and that's how I found this job illustrating and painting and painting signs. But I think as a whole, they were all accepted well in Spokane.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.