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-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Earlier you said that Spokane was a friendly place. Why, why do you think Spokane was so friendly?

MA: Well, all these Caucasian Methodist people, they helped us quite a bit, see, all through Sunday school.

TI: Well, you're lucky because lots of, lots of places weren't friendly.

MA: I think we're lucky, yeah. And even our, our preacher was a Caucasian... oh, I forgot his name, but he was very helpful and he helped all the people that moved over here. (His name was Reverend John Cobb.) And the only, right after the war started, we were having a reception, wedding reception at the Desert Hotel, and at that time we were just surrounded by police, and they took away two, two Japanese leaders, Issei leaders, and they were sent to Montana, internment camp there, and they were not released 'til after the war. That was the only bad part that I know of.

TI: Now, how did that make you feel? So you were there, you were at the reception?

MA: Yeah, oh, yes.

TI: So this was the wedding for the Okamotos.

MA: Yeah, Okamoto.

TI: And their reception was on December 7, 1941.

MA: December 7th. Oh...

TI: And so that day, the police surrounded...

MA: Police surrounded, they took away the two, two leaders.

TI: While this was happening, how did you feel? Were you frightened, what were you thinking?

MA: Not very good. [Laughs] We were kept there for oh, over an hour, I guess. That incident still is in my mind. I felt awfully bad about it because I don't think the Issei leaders did anything wrong, except that they were the leaders of the community. That's the only thing I objected to. Otherwise, everything went pretty well, even after the war.

TI: So tell me about that reception. Who, who else was there? Was it just Japanese, or were there other people like Caucasians also, or just Japanese?

MA: A few Caucasians, but not too many. Mostly Japanese. Okamoto, Sumi Okamoto was the bride, and Sumi, well, it was Yoshida then, Joe Okamoto, he died quite a while ago. That's a day they'll never forget. You heard about that, huh?

TI: Yeah, I did.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.