Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kazumi Yoneyama Interview
Narrator: Kazumi Yoneyama
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: May 23, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-ykazumi-01-0001

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MN: We're at Nishi Hongwanji Temple in Los Angeles. We will be interviewing Kazumi Yoneyama, and we have Tani Ikeda on video, and I will be interviewing, my name is Martha Nakagawa. So Kazumi, I wanted to start with your parents' information. What is your father's name?

KY: Takuichi Yoneyama.

MN: And which prefecture is he from?

KY: Hiroshima-ken.

MN: And what is your mother's name?

KY: Koyuki Yamanaka, her maiden name.

MN: And which prefecture is she from?

KY: Also from Hiroshima-ken.

MN: Now in total, how many children did your parents have?

KY: I think in total they had seven. When I was born, I was the last surviving child of five.

MN: So you were the last, so you are the youngest.

KY: Correct.

MN: And where were you born?

KY: In Hollywood, California.

MN: Were you delivered by a sanbasan?

KY: If that's a midwife, yes. [Laughs] According to the birth certificate.

MN: And what year were you born?

KY: 1932.

MN: What is your birth name?

KY: Bob Kazumi Yoneyama.

MN: Can you share with us the story how you almost got the name Stanley?

KY: Well, when I was growing up, I had three older sisters in this country. And they are like thirteen, fifteen and seventeen years older than me. And none of them have hakujin names. Apparently my parents wanted to give me a hakujin name of Stanley, and my sisters didn't like that name. So the story goes that they convinced my parents to name me Bob.

MN: Did you ever go by the name Bob?

KY: No, I didn't even (know) I had that name until probably high school. And then I put it on my high school diploma, and I used it as a middle name. But when I had to get my birth certificate to get a passport, I found out on my birth certificate that Bob is really my first name.

MN: So before you knew that you had this name Bob, you went by Kazumi. But Kazumi is probably a very difficult name for Caucasians to say. Did you ever feel pressure to adopt another English name?

KY: No. I think as far as before the war, the teachers were pretty understanding in that they didn't say anything about my Japanese name.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.