Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Richard E. Yamashiro Interview
Narrator: Richard E. Yamashiro
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: San Jose, California
Date: May 24, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-yrichard_2-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay so Richard, the way I start this is just the date and where we are. So today's Tuesday, May 24, 2011, and we're at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose. On camera is Dana Hoshide, I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda, and we're here with Richard Yamashiro. So, Richard, I'm going to just start at the beginning. Can you just tell me where and when you were born?

RY: I was born in Seattle, Washington, February 13, 1929.

TI: And do you know where in Seattle you were born?

RY: I was born at Swedish Hospital is what my birth certificate says.

TI: Yeah, well, it's still there, it's just literally just maybe less than a mile from our offices in Seattle, the Densho office. So it's well-known, in fact, my parents still go to Swedish Hospital. Yeah, I kind of want to find out how you were born in Seattle and then maybe a good way to start is with your father. So can you first tell me your father's name and where he's from?

RY: My father's first name is Eiro, E-I-R-O, and he's born in Okinawa.

TI: And what kind of work did his family do in Okinawa?

RY: I'm not sure what my grandparents did in Okinawa but my father was like in the merchant marines. And he migrated to the United States so I don't know what... I have no idea what my grandparents did.

TI: So your father, so he was kind of like a sailor or merchant marine and so how did that work? I mean, one day he was just was on a ship and decided to stay in the United States or do you know how?

RY: I think that's how it went but he never talked to me about it.

TI: And so where did he get off the ship?

RY: Seattle, I think Seattle.

TI: Okay, so Seattle. And then what did he do when he got to Seattle?

RY: Well, my father was an accomplished violinist and he was teaching violin, he was a concert violinist.

TI: Wow, that's unusual.

RY: Yeah, so... and my mother was the accompanist on the piano.

TI: And so where did he learn how to play the violin?

RY: I have no idea.

TI: But concert, I mean, so this is like western kind of classical music?

RY: Yeah, he was pretty good from what I could remember.

TI: How interesting. And your mother accompanied him on the piano?

RY: On the piano.

TI: So tell me, what was your mother's name?

RY: My mother's name was Tomiko, maiden name Horita.

TI: Okay, and where was she from?

RY: She was from Yano in Hiroshima.

TI: So how did the two of them meet?

RY: That I don't know either but I assume it was a arranged marriage, but I never got the details.

TI: And yet she was a musician so she could play with your father.

RY: Yeah.

TI: Do you know if that came into play that they knew each other through music or anything like that?

RY: I'm not sure about that either.

TI: Were they married in Japan?

RY: No, they were married here in Seattle.

TI: And did she come from Japan to Seattle knowing that she was going to get married to your father?

RY: That I'm not sure either but she was there with my grandfather who was from Hiroshima too.

TI: Okay, so she was here already.

RY: Yeah, my grandfather was, he was growing hops in Washington.

TI: Wow, that's another interesting story.

RY: Yeah, he's an interesting man, my grandpa.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.