Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yoshiye Handa Yasuda Interview
Narrator: Yoshiye Handa Yasuda
Interviewer: Virginia Yamada
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 15, 2021
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-485-3

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[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

VY: So let's talk a little bit about your early childhood. What part of San Francisco did you grow up in? Where was your house?

YY: What part of San Francisco, what?

VY: Where was your house in San Francisco?

YY: The one that's (listed) in the magazine, that's the first one, and only house that I knew.

VY: What was that area called? Was that in Japantown?

YY: Yes, yes, on Sutter Street between Buchanan and Webster.

VY: So this was (part of) Japantown, was this primarily a Japanese American neighborhood?

YY: Yes, it was, (but not exclusively). I don't really (know) when it started (...).

VY: So tell me a little bit about what a typical day for you was like when you were very young in Japantown. What would you do, who were your friends, what kinds of things did you do? Did you play games with your friends?

YY: (I attended Kinmon-gakuen, kindergarten, from age 3, while my mother worked. The building also housed classrooms for students through high school for their Japanese school lessons, which we were expected to attend after public school classes. Due to the beginning of the war, however, I attended only during my first and second grades.)

VY: What was your first language? What language did your parents speak at home?

YY: What was their first what?

VY: What language did your parents speak at home?

YY: What did they do?

VY: Well, yes, actually, what kind of work did they do, but also what language did they speak at home?

YY: Oh, it was always Japanese. My father spoke broken English because of (some) clients he had, but mostly he worked at the Japanese homes.

VY: So most of your father's clients were Japanese?

YY: Most of them were, yeah. But he had to (buy) lumber (and other supplies), so he had to learn (...) to communicate with everyone.

VY: And how about your mom? Did she also primarily speak Japanese?

YY: (Yes. That was all she knew.) When I was (about 3), she started working to earn some money because this was during the Depression, and it was difficult for (my father's) clients to pay their bills, too. So it was a difficult period (for everyone).

VY: What kind of work did she do?

YY: She (...) cleaned houses for an hourly wage, and I think at that time it was (about) sixty cents an hour, (maybe less).

VY: And what would you do while she was working?

YY: I went to nursery school.

VY: How close was the nursery school? Were you able to walk there?

YY: Actually, I didn't have to cross any street, I just walked around the block.

VY: Was that the same school that had the Japanese language school? Is that the same place?

YY: It was the same school that my older brothers and sister went to after their regular school.

VY: Do you remember the name of the school, the Japanese name?

YY: Uh-huh, (it was called) Kinmon Gakuen. "Kin" (means) gold, and "mon" (translates as) gate, so (it was known as) the Golden Gate school.

VY: So what was your relationship like with your parents when you were very young? Do you remember?

YY: With who, my parents?

VY: Your mother and your father. What kind of memories do you have of your father and memories of your mother when you were very young, before the war?

YY: I was very close to my mother because I was with her all the time, especially during those first few years. And my father was always working, he was away, and I only saw him at, he would come in for lunch sometimes, depending on where he was working. And so usually it was dinner time that we all got together.

VY: Where was his actual shop?

YY: Downstairs in the garage, that was the shop.

VY: Did your brothers or your sister, did they also work?

YY: Did they what?

VY: How about your brothers and sister? Did they work or were they still too young?

YY: They were always in school, and then they'd go to the Japanese school, so by the time they'd come home, it was usually dinner time. [Narr. note: After graduating from high school, my two older brothers worked with my father until we left for the assembly center. My youngest brother delivered newspapers and earned enough to buy his own bicycle, which enabled him to take on longer routes.]

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.