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Title: Bessie Yoshida Konishi Interview
Narrator: Bessie Yoshida Konishi
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 13, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-kbessie-01-0009

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MA: It seems like the Japanese American community in Alamosa was pretty tight-knit, as a strong community, would you characterize it that way?

BK: I would say so, yeah, uh-huh. Yeah, Alamosa and La Jara were together, kind of. And then there was an area, let's see, that would be west of Alamosa called Blanca. And San Acacio and Fort Garland and there were Japanese families in that area. In fact, they had their own Buddhist church there, too. There were just a couple of families in Monte Vista and Delnor area, which is west of Alamosa. But mainly it was La Jara and Alamosa.

MA: Would you have community-wide activities, field days, or New Year's celebrations?

BK: Oh, yeah, big New Year's celebration. Yeah. We'd either meet in the homes or at the Buddhist church. There'd be a lot of sake drinking and singing and it was fun. We looked forward to that. And then we always had an annual picnic up in the mountains. So all the Japanese would get together, the men would go up earlier and they'd fish for trout, and then we'd fry that the next day. We'd have races and also, there was a basketball team and a baseball team of all the Niseis. And we would play teams from Rocky Ford area.

MA: Are they all Nisei teams?

BK: Yeah, all Nisei teams. Other teams in Colorado, so it was fun. And we'd have dances afterwards.

MA: Did you participate in sports at all as a young child?

BK: Are you kidding? [Laughs]

MA: I'll take that as a no.

BK: No, no. I couldn't even wear a mitt and catch a ball at the same time. I wasn't a good batter, no.

MA: What were some of your hobbies kind of elementary school age?

BK: Oh, this sounds strange, but I used to like to write. I'd write plays. And then my sisters and my cousins would act them out, and then we'd play house all the time. We'd get empty vegetable crates and build house in our yard, pull weeds and use them for food. And I liked to dance, I liked to tap dance, so I learned how to tap dance. And then, as I got older, I also got to take Japanese classical dancing. So I did that, too. No, I wasn't athletic at all.

MA: I'm curious about your dance class. Was that in, would you take those classes in the church?

BK: It was in Denver. It was in Denver. When I was going to school up in Denver. So that was just during the winter months, too. In fact, my sensei was from Seattle, Washington. I don't remember her name any more, but she was from Seattle. And she gave the lessons and then there were several of them who would play the shamisen and the koto. I really loved that. I loved it.

MA: I wanted to ask a little bit about the church, or the Buddhist temple in Alamosa. Who was the priest there?

BK: They didn't have a regular one, because they were so far away, so the men would take turns and two of my brothers-in-law were very good, and were very religious and good speakers, so they were, they served a lot of times, kind of like a lay priest. And then once a month, Reverend Tamai from the Denver Buddhist church would come down. And somebody still does that, even though there's still just a small group. Once a month, he'll go down and meet with them.

MA: Oh, still present day.

BK: Still, uh-huh.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright ©2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.