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Title: Mas Akiyama Interview
Narrator: Mas Akiyama
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Spokane, Washington
Date: March 15, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-amas-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So I want to go back to talk about the church, the Methodist church. When I go to different cities, usually Japanese communities have a strong Buddhist church and then maybe a strong Christian church. But it seems that in Spokane, it was more a strong Methodist church and not so much Buddhist.

MA: Yes. The Buddhist church didn't start 'til after the war. See, some evacuees from Seattle came, and they did start a Buddhist church in a small house not too far from the Methodist church, and they finally got started. There, there are quite a few Buddhists now, even among the Caucasians.

TI: But I'm curious, so when the Isseis first came over, most of them were probably Buddhist.

MA: Oh yes, I'm sure.

TI: And I'm surprised they didn't start a Buddhist temple or church in Spokane.

MA: Yeah, I'm surprised at that, too. I don't know. The Methodist church here was, was very helpful to the Isseis, teach 'em how to wear clothes, how to sew clothes, and they taught, they taught Isseis American customs, how to handle... you know, they come, they don't know anything about handling chop-, I mean, knives and forks. They had to learn because they always used chopsticks. [Laughs] But they were very helpful in that sense, and that's why I think a lot of 'em become Methodists.

TI: Now, was there a particular person at the Methodist Church that really led this, like a minister or...

MA: Yes, there were several Caucasian women, Mrs. Ellis, Mrs. Butler, Mrs. Henderson, I remember all those because I went to Sunday school there and they taught, they taught us all about Methodism and Christianity. After the war started, though, and the Buddhist church got started, quite a few did change back to the Buddhist church.

TI: And why do you think that? Why do you think they --

MA: I'd say about one-third of the population.

TI: And why? Why do you think they did that?

MA: I don't know. Because I guess they were Buddhist to begin with, you know.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.