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-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So I want to ask you, it was during the war that you met your wife, and your wife wasn't from Spokane. Can you tell me how you met your wife?

MA: Well, my wife as you say was, she was born in Seattle and lived there until evacuation, but she voluntarily evacuated over to Minneapolis. But her parents evacuated into Spokane and I knew the parents real well. Not 'til, well, her mother got sick, and she had a stroke. So she came back from Minneapolis and started helping her mother, and she was, started nursing at the Deaconess Hospital. And at that time, I got, I had tonsillitis, so I had to go in the hospital and take it out, and that's where I met, I met her, she took care of me. So I decided, well, that's the girl I wanted to marry. So I courted her for two years and we got married in 1945.

TI: So it sounds like it was almost love at first sight. When you first saw her...

MA: I think so. She kind of resisted me first, though. [Laughs]

TI: So what was it about your wife that attracted you to her? What was it that...

MA: I don't know. I just thought, "Oh, I think I want to marry that girl," when I first saw her. [Laughs]

TI: And so what's your wife's name, her maiden --

MA: Miyo, Miyo Yamaura. Yeah, her brother was Gordon Yamaura who was in the service, 442nd. He died in Italy, he was killed.

TI: So you were, you were at this point dating your wife when her brother was killed?

MA: Yeah.

TI: How, how did that, how did that impact her?

MA: I don't know. It kind of affected her quite a bit, but... he was a very nice person. I met him before he left. But all out of the people who volunteered in our Spokane area, thirteen of 'em had died, killed.

TI: And were you friends with --

MA: 'Course, they were, they were people that evacuated, too, you know, to Spokane.

TI: But the, the Spokane people, did you know some of the ones who volunteered and were killed?

MA: Oh, yes. One was Mon Takahashi, he used to work here, he was killed over there. And of course his grave was here. Those two are the original people that were killed in Spokane. The other twelve -- eleven were evacuee people.

TI: And so when a Spokane soldier was killed, what kind of services were there in Spokane? Did they have memorial services...

MA: Oh yes, we had memorial services.

TI: Can you describe what that was like when that happened, when, say, one of the boys were killed?

MA: Well, there wasn't much to it except that they did have an honor guard and present the, presented a flag to, to my wife, because my mother, the mother had already died, and the father was there, too.

TI: So did they have the services, like, at the Methodist Church, or do you remember where they had these?

MA: Yeah.

TI: And then would the whole community come out?

MA: Yeah, the whole Japanese community.

TI: Yeah.

MA: Mon Takahashi, I don't remember his funeral. I don't remember going to his, but he was a good friend of mine, too. And my brother knew him, worked together one time.

TI: So I want to ask, in Spokane, there were Japanese American students who had come to attend places like Gonzaga or Whitman, they would be students to come to Spokane. Did you know any of the Japanese students, Japanese American students who came for school during the war?

MA: No, no, they didn't come during the war, not the Japanese students.

TI: Not Japanese, I mean, Japanese American.

MA: Oh. Oh, yes, several. Oh yes, there was a couple of 'em. One went to, couple of 'em went to Gonzaga, I can't remember their names. But both become podiatrists, one was practicing in Dalles, Oregon, and the other was in Portland, Oregon. Then there are several others, but I just can't remember who they were.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.