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-01-0022

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: Well, what about other, like, organizations? You mentioned like Boy Scouts?

MA: Oh yes. I, I was very active, volunteer in the Boy Scouts. I served on the committees, served as scoutmaster and chairman of various committees, and I also was involved in getting people, I mean, Boy Scouts in this "inland empire" to go to Japan. We did a lot of advertising and recruiting. And I was able to get together seventy Boy Scouts, and we were able to take 'em to a Boy Scout jamboree in Japan, and we camped right at the foot of Mount Fuji there. The bad part there was the next day, we ran into a typhoon. [Laughs] And it blew all our tents down and flooded the place, and we had to evacuate out of there for, for three days and able to return later.

TI: There must have been thousands of scouts there, right?

MA: Oh yes, there were thousands of scouts, even from Seattle and all along the coast. As I say, I met one friend in Seattle, I think it was Nishimura.

TI: So when you did Scouts, was it with a Japanese American troop, or was it a more Caucasian troop?

MA: Mostly Caucasian. We had about four or five from our church, and they were very, very good scouts. Some of 'em made Eagle rank, and they still keep in touch with me, these, some of these Sansei scouts.

TI: Now did, were you very involved with, like, Japanese American organizations like the Methodist Church and things like that?

MA: Oh yes. I was, I was quite active, various, chairman of various organizations and we used to have an old church down on Cowley and Fourth Avenue and we got too old, so I've become building chairman, me and another Issei, Mr. Kuroiwa. We got together and raised funds from the Japanese community to build a church where it stands now on Garfield, on Garfield and Hartson there. We were able to build that church in 1950, about 1955, I guess it was.

TI: And you were one of the, the, oh, I guess campaign chairs for that?

MA: Yeah, I was a, I was a...

TI: The Nisei...

MA: ...chairperson and finance chairman.

TI: Wow.

MA: And we built that church. And we raised seventy-five thousand dollars, which at that time was a lot of money. But oh, we got started building, we had a Nisei contractor build it, you know, but it went way over estimate, and by the time it got built it was $125,000. We had to borrow twenty-five (thousand) dollars from the headquarters of the Methodist Church, and they gave us that money. [Laughs] And then, and about five years later, we paid that all off.

TI: So now when you look at today, 2006, the Methodist Church, is it still a large, thriving Japanese American church, or is it changing?

MA: It's changing fast, yeah. A lot of your chairmen are Caucasians, at least three, three of them. Four of them are Japanese. Gary Saiki, he's an architect, he's, he's the lay leader and chairperson right now. Yeah, Buddhist Church is, too, prospering right now. And they too, it's not all Japanese, but there are Caucasians getting involved, especially Christopher Marr, (a Nisei). I don't know whether you know him, he's a businessman. He runs an auto dealership on Northshore Drive that he's a very active, he and his wife were both active in the Buddhist Church. He has a Caucasian wife, and she's a very strong Buddhist. And they're able to, I think, almost half are Caucasians now at that Buddhist Church. Yeah, it's thriving.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.