Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sumiko M. Yamamoto Interview
Narrator: Sumiko M. Yamamoto
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Barbara Takei (secondary)
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: December 8, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ysumiko-01-0023

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TI: Did you see much American presence? You mentioned seeing the American flags on the ships when you first came to the port. Once you were in Japan, did you have other examples of the American presence there, whether American soldiers or things like that?

SY: Uh-huh. When we went to Fukuoka, my stepbrother's place, we saw soldiers, I think they were cavalries, they were on a horse and going up the mountain and back again, and I think they were close by. They said that was a Japanese military camp there, so I guess that's where they were staying.

TI: I'm curious, for the people around you, what was the feeling when people saw American soldiers on horses going by, what did people say or...

SY: I guess, I guess they were used to it by the time we went there, because I guess they were there for a while.

TI: And how did you feel? Did you ever attempt to communicate with U.S. soldiers in English?

SY: No. My sister and I were sitting out sunning ourselves in the morning, and there were a couple of cavalrymen riding, and it was a little hill up behind us, you know. And we were sitting there, and these horses were going, passing the place where they could turn off and come to where we were staying. They passed, and then they retreated and they came in. "Oh, oh, trouble." So I ran back in the back of the house, my sister stayed there. And he was, they were conversing, but I don't know what they were conversing about. I went under the, into this bathroom, Japanese bathroom, and I locked the door. I heard the footsteps, you know, come back, and then they came near, but they went back. And when I asked my sister, "What did they say?" Said, "Where's the other girl?" [Laughs] "Where's the other girl?" She said, "I don't know." So every time I see those military guys coming up, I'd run in the house. I don't want to talk with them.

TI: And why? What was your feeling when you saw them?

SY: I don't know.

TI: You wanted to not be near them and hide from them. What were you thinking?

SY: I don't know. I was just, just scared of them. I don't know why.

TI: But your sister would talk to them.

SY: Yeah.

TI: Do you remember, were they, were the American soldiers surprised that she could converse with them in English?

SY: I guess, I guess so.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.