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-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Now, when you were in Japan, did you and your brother ever talk about coming back to the United States, back to --

MA: Oh, yes, yes.

TI: So you both wanted to come back.

MA: We didn't like it, no. And my brother, he, I don't know how he arranged it, but he was able to contact an uncle in Gardena, California, and he was able to go down there. And I wanted to come back to Spokane, because that was kind of hometown for me. On one of my travels, I met a, I met a man named Hirata, and he was from Spokane and he had this little farm north of Spokane. And I asked for a job, and he said, sure, he would give me a job. And he was kind of a father to me.

TI: And so you came back, you were about, what, about eighteen, nineteen years old?

MA: I was about nineteen years old. I was kind of glad that I was able to come back, because in Japan, they have military conscription, and they were about ready to take me into the army, and I didn't want that.

TI: Oh, so that's interesting. So if you had stayed in Japan, you probably would have been drafted by the Japanese.

MA: I think I would have been drafted, yeah.

TI: Okay.

MA: Because a year later, Japan invaded north China. They had already invaded Manchuria, and one of my friends in Japan, next door, I heard that he was conscripted and he was killed over there.

TI: Interesting.

MA: So I was kind of glad to get out of there.

TI: So when you came back to Spokane and you started working for Mr. Hirata, did you ever think about going back to school and finishing your high school education?

MA: Yes, I thought about it, and I did take a correspondence course. I forgot what school it was, but I was able to get a GED, high school diploma. But this Mr. Hirata, he was real good to me, he taught me how to drive a car and how to farm, and a couple years later, me and Spady and a couple of Isseis, he gave us that farm to run. I don't know whether Spady told you that or not.

TI: No, so Mr. Hirata gave you the farm?

MA: So we run that farm until, until the start of the war.

TI: So how many other Japanese were working on the farm?

MA: Generally about six. Two we hired.

TI: So why did Mr. Hirata have, give the farm to you to run? Did he get sick or did he get too old?

MA: No, no, no. He had a business, he had four other hotels downtown Spokane, besides this farm, and it was kind of too much for him to carry out.

TI: So Mr. Hirata was one of the leaders in the community?

MA: Oh yes, yeah.

TI: Okay, so we'll ask more about that later.

MA: Yeah, yeah, he... he was a father-figure for me. Yeah, I loved him very much for the help he gave me.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.