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-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Okay, so I'm going to jump to when you were sixteen years old. Because when you were sixteen, you and your parents and your brother took a trip to Japan.

MA: I was, that was in 1933.

TI: Right.

MA: And that was during the Depression, you know, at 1929 we had that so-called crash, and my father lost quite a bit of money in the banks, because the banks went bankrupt. And were able to struggle for a couple of years, but he decided he just can't make a living here, so we pulled up stakes and went back to Japan.

TI: So was the thinking that you were going to go back for good, your family? Your father, mother and you, the two...

MA: Yeah, my father and my twin brother, we all went back to Japan.

TI: Now, were other Japanese families doing the same thing?

MA: Oh yes, there were quite a few that left. Yeah, there was, oh, at least five to six families that I know of.

TI: Now, was there a particular bank that all the Japanese had their money in that failed, or was it lots of banks?

MA: Oh, one bank a lot of Japanese had money in was your Seattle bank, Furuya Bank. You know, they went bankrupt, too, and then even here, the Washington, there used to be one, the Washington something, they, well, there were at least two banks that went bankrupt, and they would only give us so much out of a dollar back.

TI: So how did you feel? You're a teenager, sort of American teenager, how did you feel about going to Japan to live?

MA: Well, at that age, I don't think I had much choice. [Laughs] Yeah, the parents wouldn't leave me behind, we had to go. And well, we went to Japan because, well, as I say, poor living, and of course, my father was kind of ill, too. And when we got to Kobe --

TI: Well, before we go there, so you said you didn't really have a choice to go to Japan, but how did you feel? Were you excited about Japan, or did you want to...

MA: No, I wasn't too excited. Yeah, I was a sophomore in high school here at that time, and I had a lot of, I had quite a few friends, too, even among Caucasians, and I hated to leave, but I had no choice.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.