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-01-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: I want to talk about, a little bit about the Japanese community and other races, like hakujins and Japanese, how well -- this is before the war -- how well did they get together, or get along?

MA: We never got together too much for, with hakujin groups, Caucasian groups. We never got along with Chinese groups either, and the Koreans, they never liked us anyway. [Laughs]

TI: Well, talk about Chinese, because Chinatown was right next to Japantown.

MA: Yeah.

TI: So was there, like, friction or fights, or you just didn't talk to each other?

MA: Oh, no, there wasn't much friction. The only thing I didn't like about Chinatown is they had a lot of gambling places, and some of the Isseis, they'd go over there to gamble. But I'm a kind of a reformer and I don't like that kind of stuff. After I grew up, I was kind of what they call a vigilante, and I used to write articles in the newspaper about that gambling going on in Chinatown, and I got a lot of threats over that. [Laughs]

TI: So how old --

MA: That was in the...

TI: Yeah, when was this?

MA: ...'40s and the '50s, you know.

TI: And because you saw that back in the '30s and, lots of this gambling?

MA: Oh yes, uh-huh.

TI: Well, how about in Japantown? Did they have gambling in Japantown?

MA: No, no, just Chinatown had gambling. There were other groups had gambling, too, but mostly in the back rooms.

TI: Well, how about, I mean, earlier you, I saw this article you sent me about prostitution. Like in the '30s, did they have prostitution in Japantown or Chinatown?

MA: No, no, not that I know of.

TI: So that was, that was much earlier.

MA: That was much earlier, way back in the turn of the century there was a lot of prostitutes from what I hear. [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, because back then it was much more open and they had it then.

MA: There's only one case that I know of in the early, late '30s, one Issei lady, which I don't mention names, was charged with being a madam for a couple of hakujin girls, but that was all.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.