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-01-0024

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: What were the, I'm curious, what kind of living conditions did you see in Fukuoka in terms of food, being sick?

SY: The food was terrible. But I had American citizen, I mean, they said I was American, so my brothers were certainly American citizens because they couldn't renounce their citizenship.

BT: Oh, your younger brothers.

SY: Yeah. So they got their rations of butter and sugar from the village. I don't know how they got that.

TI: And let me make sure I understand. These rations were because they were American citizens?

SY: Because we were.

TI: Were Americans, you would get a special ration?

SY: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: But if you were Japanese, you would not get this food.

SY: No, no.

TI: So you were in better shape because you were American.

SY: I guess so, always of sugar and butter, that's about it.

BT: But, oh, I see. It's the Japanese citizens could get the rice rations.

SY: Uh-huh.

BT: But apparently you were getting different rations because you were Americans?

SY: I guess so, American citizens.

BT: You were getting butter, which is a very non-traditional Japanese food, right? [Laughs]

SY: I know.

TI: So this is a little bit, I haven't heard this part in terms of special rations. Because what I've heard is that, yeah, they had special rations for Japanese, and so oftentimes Americans or people who renounced had difficulties because they didn't get that, so they were sometimes viewed as a burden on the family because they would have to dip into the other people's food. But it sounds like it was a little bit different for you.

SY: Was anybody else getting things like that? Butter and...

TI: Not that I've heard, so this is...

SY: Oh, really?

BT: Especially butter.

TI: Yeah, so this is special. That would be like a luxury to get sugar and butter and things like that.

SY: It wasn't much, but at least we got butter and sugar.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.