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Title: June Yasuno Aochi (Yamashiro) Berk Interview
Narrator: June Yasuno Aochi (Yamashiro) Berk
Interviewer: Brian Niiya
Location: Studio City, California
Date: December 18, 2018
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-453-7

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BN: Now, as time goes on, camp is closing down, your family ends up going to Denver. Was there discussion or thought about going back to California? Do you know what drew you to go there?

JB: Well, when we first left Los Angeles, we signed up with the Little Tokyo group because the Little Tokyo group was all into Japanese culture, the kabuki and the odori. That's why Kansuma was in Rohwer. And my father, kabuki singer, people wanted to all stick together, the Japanese cultural group. So they all signed up together from Little Tokyo. So instead of signing up from Hollywood, we signed up with the Little Tokyo group. And we were good friends with the Hamano family who had Mikawaya at the time. So from Rohwer, the Hamano family went to Denver and they opened up Umeya Senbei and Mikawaya. And so when it was time for us to leave camp, they sponsored us, so we went to Denver.

BN: They had already gone out first?

JB: Yeah, they already had established Mikawaya and Umeya businesses. So when we went there, my father worked as a janitor and my mother worked as a cook, and they also had a Chinese restaurant called Laramie Chop Suey, and I was the dishwasher there. We worked for our food, basically, we didn't get paid. It was just room and board. Then later on, my parents borrowed money and we bought Mikawaya from the Hamanos who came back to L.A. And then they opened up Maruya because the Hashimotos already had Mikawaya here.

BN: Are the Mikawayas related?

JB: No.

BN: Just same name?

JB: The Hashimotos had Mikawaya back in the '30s, and then Mr. Hashimoto wanted to go to Japan to retire, so he sold Mikawaya to the Hamanos. Then when the rumors of war started coming out, Mr. Hashimoto wanted to come back to America. So he came back just before the war started, and he asked Mr. Hamano, "I want to buy the store back." Mr. Hamano said no, but, "We'll talk about it after the first of the year." And then December 7th happened, so the Hamanos get sent to Rohwer, Hashimotos go to Amache. Then when the Hashimotos come out of camp, they come back to L.A., so they open up Mikawaya. Hamanos come out of Denver and they opened up Mikawaya. So there were two Mikawayas but totally unrelated.

BN: And the Mikawaya today is derived from...

JB: Hashimotos.

BN: The Hashimotos who lived in L.A.

JB: And the Umeyas are from Hamanos.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.