Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yasu Koyamatsu Momii Interview
Narrator: Yasu Koyamatsu Momii
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: October 25, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-myasu-01-0001

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SY: Okay, we're talking today with Yasu Momii. It's October 25, 2011, and we're at the Centenary United Methodist Church in Los Angeles. My name is Sharon Yamato, and Tani Ikeda is our videographer. So Yasu, I want to start by saying happy birthday.

YM: Thank you.

SY: Tell us, tell us when your birthday was and how old you became.

YM: It was October 23rd.

SY: So two days ago.

YM: Two days ago, so I'm ninety years old.

SY: A milestone.

YM: [Laughs] Yes, it is.

SY: You are amazing. You look so wonderful for ninety years old.

YM: Thank you.

SY: So I guess the best place to start is where your parents were from, if you could tell us.

YM: Yes, okay. Both my parents are from Fukuoka prefecture, and my dad came to the U.S. in 1906, leaving my mother and two children.

SY: So they were actually married in Japan?

YM: Yes, he was married and he had two children. And he landed in Seattle, Washington, and I think he did a lot of odd jobs during the time before he, before my mother joined him, like lumber mills. He was a little guy, I don't know how, what he did in a lumber mill. [Laughs] And they worked on a railroad gang, they called it. Laying the tracks, I guess that's what it is. And at one time my mother said she was a cook for the crew and said it was a very lonesome job because after all the men went to work she was by herself for the whole day. Well anyway, my mother joined my dad in 1918.

SY: I see. Now, can we go back a little and talk about how, do you know, were they married because their families knew each other in Fukuoka?

YM: I know their, the villages are adjacent to each other, because we visited Japan, so we were able to see where they were from. And my mother's family are farmers, but my dad's family was not. I don't know exactly what it was, but I know my uncle worked for the depot or something, so they were not farmers. But I don't know how it was arranged or anything. I don't know that part.

SY: And, and your mother and father both had siblings, right?

YM: Pardon?

SY: They both had family, like siblings?

YM: Yes. My mother had, all the time that they were separated, my mother lived with her brother, who had eight children, and I think her mother was still living at that time, so that was a big...

SY: Right, plus she had two of her own children.

YM: That's right.

SY: And they lived in the same house.

YM: I think so, yes. [Laughs]

SY: Amazing. And you don't know, you never found out why, or why your dad came to the United States?

YM: No, but I've, for the first time I tried I figured out how old he was when he came, and he was, like, in his thirties, which is older than most of those who came from Japan.

SY: Right.

YM: But I'm sure it's for a better life.

SY: Right. And he was, I think you mentioned, when was it that he actually came? Do you know that?

YM: '06. 1906.

SY: 1906.

YM: And then my mother joined him in 1918 and left the two children because her brother insisted that he was so fond of the two that he wanted them to stay there. But then my mother, I think my father decided, oh no, that he wanted them, so my brother and sister joined them, I don't know whether it was 1918 or 1919, but they joined the family.

SY: So they were fairly old and your dad had not seen them in that long period of time.

YM: And then my brother who's right older than, right above me, was born in 1919 and I was born in 1921.

SY: I see.

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