Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Bob Y. Sakata Interview
Narrator: Bob Y. Sakata
Interviewer: Daryl Maeda
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 14, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-sbob-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

DM: Good afternoon, Mr. Sakata, it's, my name is Daryl Maeda, and we're here with the Densho project in Denver, Colorado. Today's date is May 14, 2008. And welcome. So just for the interview here, can you please state your full name?

BS: My full given name is Bob, initial Y is Yoshiharu, Sakata.

DM: And where and when were you born?

BS: I was born in Alameda County, that's the county we lived in, but I was the youngest and very fortunate to be born in a hospital, at San Jose Children's Hospital in April the 15th, 1926.

DM: And what are your parents' names, or what were your parents' names?

BS: My father's name was Mantaro Sakata, and my mother's name was Aki Sakata, but her maiden name was Aki Nishimura.

DM: I'd like to get a little bit of information from you on your mother's and father's stories.

BS: Very good.

DM: So where were your parents from in Japan?

BS: My parents were from Kyushu, Fukuoka, and I think the city or the town was called Kurume. And both my mother and father both were from there.

DM: And what year did they immigrate?

BS: As far as I know, my father came around 1904. I did have, look back into history, and he was eighteen years old and eight months when he came.

DM: And do you know the reason why they left Japan?

BS: It is my understanding that there was a... [coughs] -- excuse me -- there was a Caucasian entrepreneur that had a vision where he can grow rice in central California, but there was no one in the United States at that time that he could find that knew anything about growing rice. So he was given the permission to go to Japan to recruit workers that knew something about rice, and that's how my father came to the United States. But when he landed in the United States, I believe it was right during the time when San Francisco had that devastating earthquake. And so that whole crew that was gonna go to the rice field were asked to help rebuild San Francisco.

DM: So how long did he stay there, or did he actually move, then, on to the rice fields after that?

BS: No, he never did. He settled in Alameda County after San Francisco was rebuilt, and he permanently made his home there.

DM: And so that was your father's story. When did your mother come to the United States?

BS: Through "picture bride." As, as much as I know, it must have been somewhere in 1915, 1916, somewhere in there, she came as a "picture bride."

DM: So that means that your father had to, did your father then request that his parents or somebody set, set him up?

BS: Yes. That, I think they went through the old tradition where he sent his picture to, back to the community and had what you call some baishakunin to be the matchmaker, and that's how Mother was chosen.

DM: And you mentioned that your parents settled in Alameda.

BS: Uh-huh.

DM: How did they settle in Alameda? What drew them to that place?

BS: I think because there was a, there was a group of Japanese people that settled in Alameda. And right in Alameda was a well-known Buddhist temple, and I believe that is why they picked that area.

DM: And how many siblings did you have and where are you in the birth order?

BS: I'm the youngest one of four. My, my oldest brother, who is seven years older than I, his name was Harry Harumi Sakata. Then a year afterwards, why, my two sisters were born, who were twins. And their name were Fusako, Sally, and Mitsuko, Mitsie.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright ©2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.