Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yukiko Miyake Interview
Narrator: Yukiko Miyake
Interviewer: Sara Yamasaki
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 4, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-myukiko-01

<Begin Segment 1>

SY: Yuki, you were born in Seattle almost eighty-eight years ago. Your birthday will be next month. For some people, turning eighty-eight has special significance. So what does that mean to you, turning eighty-eight?

YM: Eighty-eight. To be very honest, to me it didn't have any meaning. I was just eighty-eight and I was getting old. And I don't know. One day I thought, I've lived through so many different things that happened in Seattle, and I feel that eighty-eight isn't bad after all. And I'm enjoying eighty-eight. I'm enjoying my...

SY: Your age?

YM: My age. I think I really am enjoying it, and I have done quite a few things, and I thought I would never be able to do, so I like it.

SY: One of the things that you'd said that you've really enjoyed in your life was cuddling, and you cuddled for about five years?

YM: Five and a half years because I think I told your mother I wanted to cuddle 'til I was... 'til ten years, and I was going to retire, but I started losing my eyesight so I think, and then...

SY: How did you lose your eyesight?

YM: It's some kind of a syndrome and I hear it's hereditary, but at first when I got this thing, I thought how awful. I'm the only one that had it. Of course, my father, my mother, they probably died when they were quite young and my sister or brother -- my brother had cancer, but outside of that I have never heard of...

SY: Anyone else in the family.

YM: Having this.

SY: Well, so how long have you been legally blind?

YM: With this syndrome?

SY: Uh-huh.

YM: Gee, I was living on Beacon Hill when I started having it so... has it been more? I think...

SY: Maybe seven years.

YM: Seven years, maybe eight years.

SY: So what made cuddling so special to you? Why did you like cuddling?

YM: Well, I liked cuddling because I was carrying a baby. [Laughs] No. No. Maybe it's because I didn't have -- I always wanted four children and I never had them. I only had one, but I lost her early so maybe that's why cuddling made up for all the feeling I had. And then these were premature babies and so they were really, to me, they were special. And some of the mothers used to call me Grandma, and they were -- but the thing that used to impress me most is there was one blind boy. I forgot his name, but he was born blind. So he stayed there a little bit longer than the rest of them, but, you know, whenever I went to see, whenever it was my day to cuddle him, I used to go up to him and I would say, "Good morning, this is your Japanese grandma." And he couldn't see me, but he looked toward me and he used to smile. Then there was another boy. His name was Jack. He couldn't see and he couldn't talk and yet when I went and touched him, he seemed to know who I was. And it's really surprising. I thought these children -- they're so small, but...

SY: They could sense so much, even in their blindness.

YM: Yeah.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 1>

<Begin Segment 2>

SY: Well, how about now for you in your blindness, do you feel that you sense a lot?

YM: In my blindness I feel -- I think, I shouldn't say I enjoyed it at all, but at first I thought, "God, how awful." But now I find is a beauty even in being blind because the doctor I have, Dr. Francis, has been very kind, and he has made me realize there's more to life than just being blind. There's more to life.

SY: Oh, than just being able to see.

YM: Uh-huh.

SY: And what would you say that is? What is more to life since you have lost your sight? What have you seen?

YM: I think I am enjoying life because before when I used to get up in the morning, I said, "Oh God, another day," but now I get up and I says, "Gee, what shall I do today?"

SY: And you have more interest in life because you've been blind?

YM: Uh-huh. I think so. When I was younger, when I had my daughter, I was, I think -- I was kind of conceited, not conceited, but life was good to me, and I didn't think anything of it. I didn't think people died. I didn't -- I was maybe too young or maybe not enough.

SY: And you took things for granted?

YM: Yeah, I think I did. And when I lost my daughter, I think it changed everything. Well, when I got blind it really changed everything.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 2>

<Begin Segment 3>

SY: You know, we were talking about how you mentioned your life had changed so much when your daughter died, and then it changed a lot very much again when you lost your eyesight. Can you tell me about those two moments?

YM: When my daughter died, I think my whole world collapsed. It felt, I felt that everything -- when my daughter died, I felt that there was nothing there for me. And at the same time I got sick and maybe that was good for me. I don't know. But I was in bed most of the time, and then Reverend Ichikawa of the church used to come and talk to me once a week, and he used to chant the Sutra. That was more because of Kako, but at the same time he was talking to me. "You mustn't give up. You must keep on living," but I thought Reverend Ichikawa, but I thought oh, phooey. [Laughs] My whole world had disappeared, but Grace McLeod made me join the research committee at the church, and then she made me become a teacher. Reverend Ichikawa had a lot to do with it, and I found that life gradually started taking, was becoming more livable.

SY: Did you learn much more about life through Buddhism?

YM: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. I think I did. Because before that I took too much for granted. I thought everybody's life was just happiness, and we went dancing, we went to church; but at the church, we were dancing and... we had parties and things like that.

SY: What do you think is the strength you found in Buddhism?

YM: Well, I think I'll tell you. This morning while I was waiting for you, I went to say good morning to the other patients in [Inaudible]. And I said I got impatient because I thought -- well, I came to say good morning and then I got impatient so I'm taking my -- I take a walk every time -- and she says, "Patience is virtue." And I says, "Well, I don't know." But we three are in the same position. These two people have suffered a stroke, and I thought, well, I'm luckier than they are because one lady is really, really becoming quite forgetful; and the other lady can't walk as well as I can, but their attitude toward life is different, but then they are Catholics. Both of them, I think, are Catholic.

SY: What's the attitude like? What's the difference in attitude between let's say...

YM: Because they always end up by saying, "God will take care of us."

SY: Uh-huh. And what's your attitude?

YM: But in Buddhism we never say God will take care of us. We never say, Shakamuni (will help us). We just say, "Namu Amida butsu." That means thank you for everything, and I think this is just my way of thinking. I think it's the way we think. For me, Buddhism is thank you. We are grateful for each day and I think that's the way.

SY: So the difference in some ways is that in Buddhism you're taking each day with gratitude, whereas what you think is another way is people are thinking someone will take care of them in the end? I see.

YM: But I could be wrong.

SY: Sure.

YM: But that's the way I feel because they always end up by saying God will take care of you, but I never say that. I never say. I always say, well, we take each day as it comes.

SY: So in Buddhism you practice finding gratitude in each day; is that correct? So did that really help you through these hardships when you lost your daughter and when you lost your sight? So when you think about that, what would you say is your most grateful for, every day?

YM: Every day? That I'm still alive. Because I was not grateful that I was alive. I felt oh, heck. I have a little shrine in my room, and I used to say oh, God, I'm still living. I think I even told my doctor that you can die when you want to. You just keep on living and she said yes, and that's true. We have to accept each day for what it is, but I find in my -- well, in my gratefulness and thankfulness I find that I have become more interested in things, like haiku. I have become interested in poems, and I am more interested in what happens to other people.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 3>

<Begin Segment 4>

SY: Let's think about your childhood a bit. When you think about your childhood, how would you describe it?

YM: It was really -- well, I was raised by my grandmother. And so I think it was a very, not a happy childhood, but it was -- she was so good to me that -- well, it probably was a good childhood in those days. We didn't have TV or we... I don't think we even had a radio for a while.

SY: What would you say are your very earliest memories?

YM: Hmm?

SY: Your very earliest memories. Your earliest, earliest memory.

YM: Earliest memory... earliest memory is when my -- I love to eat and Grandma always tried to give me something. And I remember my uncle saying, "You'll spoil her," [Laughs] but my grandma never answered him but just made... because if she served something I did not like, then I wouldn't eat it. Then as I grew older, I realized that what she was doing so I ate whatever she served me. When I was really little, I just refused to eat and so she gave me what I liked, and it was usually fried cabbage or scrambled eggs or kamaboko or something like that, but I think in those days kamaboko was quite expensive.

SY: So did you eat mostly Japanese food?

YM: Yes, it was mostly Japanese food.

SY: And what language did your grandmother speak to you?

YM: Japanese.

SY: And you mentioned your uncle, was he --

YM: Because he graduated university in Japan and then he came -- that, I don't know, but I am just thinking he came over here and went to business college. So his English was -- well, from my point of view, it was very good.

SY: So did your uncle live with your grandma?

YM: Uh-huh.

YM: And your uncle was your grandmother's son?

YM: Son.

SY: And so the three of you lived together?

YM: Yeah.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 4>

<Begin Segment 5>

SY: And where was your mother and father?

YM: My father and mother had -- my father, I never knew too much of, but he went down to California. My mother hardly ever came to my grandma's place. Why? I don't know. There must have been some misunderstanding, but I think there were other cases like that. But, I never knew my mother as well as I knew my grandma.

SY: How was it that your grandmother took care of you and probably took you away from your mother, or what was the situation?

YM: Gee, I really don't know because they never told me what really happened, but I think my mother did not know how to take care of a baby. And so I think Grandma came one day and heard me yelling, and then she found my mother. My mother was quite young so...

SY: What was your mother doing?

YM: Huh?

SY: What was your mother doing?

YM: She had stuck me in this -- what do you call those? Big pan, and had it on top of a stove and naturally I would get red and was yelling because it was burning me. Well not really burning me, but it was hot. And when grandma saw that, she just took me home. But I was there, but I was too little, but I think, gee, about six months, seven months.

SY: So in many ways you've pieced together your infancy and really very young moments by just hearing what your grandmother has told you?

YM: Uh-huh.

SY: Or what other people have told you?

YM: More and more what my grandmother told me or what my uncle had told me as I got older.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 5>

<Begin Segment 6>

SY: What do you remember about your grandmother?

YM: She was a nice lady. No. She was, from my point of view, she was a very lovable lady. And she took care of me after she raised her two children, and I think she did so much for me like -- well, maybe other grandmother did the same thing, but she used to take me to the library every Saturday, and she even took me to my first dance. She sat through the dance and brought me, took me there, and brought me home. My biggest regret is I never told her how much I loved her. So I wish all the young people would remember that. It's nice to tell your folks. It's nice to tell your relatives how much they appreciate what they have done for you. It's not, hey, what are you going to do for me next. It's nice to know. That's my biggest regret. I didn't tell my grandmother.

SY: That's good information for all of us to remember. I think we forget to do that especially when you are young and we can see, we have our health. You mentioned that in many ways your grandmother spoiled you.

YM: That's what my uncle used to say, but I don't think so. Maybe she did, but then, I don't think I turned out that bad.

SY: What did your grandmother do to earn an income?

YM: Oh. She had a -- I think when I wasn't born yet, I think she had a little hotel, but that is all hearsay so I can't say for sure. But I know as I grew older, as I grew up, maybe I was about four or five, she had a big house where she rented out rooms. And it's not really a boarding. I don't know -- what you called it? She just rented the rooms out to the bachelors or to older men.

SY: Would it be mostly men, or would there be families?

YM: Huh?

SY: Only men in this hotel?

YM: It's just men, just men.

SY: What was the name of this building?

YM: It didn't have any building. It didn't have any name. It was just a big house.

SY: Oh, I see.

YM: It was just a big house and she didn't feed them, but for holidays or Christmas, she always did something and invite them.

SY: Where was this located?

YM: Huh?

SY: Where was this house located?

YM: Oh, it was on 8th Avenue. It's not there anymore.

SY: Is that Japantown?

YM: Yeah.

SY: Nihonmachi?

YM: Nihonmachi.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 6>

<Begin Segment 7>

SY: So what was Nihonmachi like?

YM: What was Nihonmachi like? Gossipy, kind, mixed up people, because they didn't have much education, you know, in Japantown, but they were always -- come to think of it, maybe there is -- I can't see that, but I think there are more people that was always taking food to somebody that's sick or giving them something, but they were very kind people, but they loved to gossip from my point of view.

SY: What stories do you remember about the gossip?

YM: Well, best not said. [Laughs]

SY: We would be gossiping. Well, I remember you talked about a time that some young boy had treated you to ice cream.

YM: Oh, yeah. That was, I had gotten off a streetcar so it must have been, I think it was, I don't know whether it was high school or middle school or something, but this boy was waiting for me and he had ice cream cone, one for himself and one for me. And as we walked up the street, and I think the street was only about one or -- no, two blocks long. By the time I got up to the house, my grandmother was waiting for me because she had already heard Yuki was eating ice cream with a boy. What a scandal there was. [Laughs] But she never said, "You mustn't do that anymore," but she said, "If you wanted ice cream so badly, I could have gotten it for you." I said, "Well, he had it for me," so I took it.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 7>

<Begin Segment 8>

SY: So gossip traveled fast.

YM: Oh, yeah. In those days, well, I suppose it does nowadays too, but in those days it was all Japanese. Main Street was all Japanese and I think Jackson was all Japanese. Yeah. It was... I don't think we were so apart. We are always so close when we went to the -- every Saturday or Friday, we went to the Japanese bath, and we meet the same people every week. We got to know them and they were, we became friends. Yeah. It was very interesting because we had -- we don't have that any more because we all have a bathtub, jacuzzi, and things like that in our home now. But in those days, we all went to the bath, to this great big bath.

SY: What was that like?

YM: Bathhouse.

SY: What was the bathhouse like?

YM: What was it like? I think I don't know how much we paid, but I remember my grandmother paying for me and for herself, and then they gave you one big towel or maybe -- I don't know how many. Two big towels and one face cloth. And we went into the bath and she would bow and I would say hello because the same ladies were there, and they would talk and she would wash me.

SY: The lady of the bathhouse would wash you?

YM: No. No. My grandmother washed me.

SY: Oh, your grandmother would wash you.

YM: The lady of the bathhouse would never -- unless you asked for special, but I don't think so. I don't know that.

SY: So your grandmother would wash you?

YM: Uh-huh. And then I would soak and I come out and wipe myself, and I wait until she was finished and we used to -- I don't know. There used to be a Coca Cola or Pepsi or something, cream, outside of this bathhouse that we could buy. I don't know how much it was.

SY: So how old were you when you used to go to the bathhouse?

YM: Gee, must have been three, four, five.

SY: And then as you got older, did you continue to go on your own?

YM: Yeah.

SY: Just by yourself?

YM: I never went on my own. My grandma always went with me.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 8>

<Begin Segment 9>

SY: You mentioned about the gossip in the community. I'm wondering, living in a community where people knew each other's business very quickly, how did the community accept you and your grandmother knowing that your grandmother was raising you without your mom and your father there?

YM: How did the community... I don't think they thought anything of it. Well, at least not to me they didn't think anything. They never said, saying derogatory except one lady did say, "She is Ichiko's" -- that was my mother's name -- "Ichiko's daughter." And I know the other ladies would look at me. I was not what you would say, a very pretty child. I was really homely. You call them stodgy? What do you call them? I wasn't fat, but I was not, I was not a pretty... because my mother, according to what my uncle used to say, my mother was a very attractive, and I was the shortest. They were tall.

SY: Your mother and...

YM: My mother was tall and my sister was nice and slim and tall, but I was short. And I don't know what you call it. Chubby? I wasn't chubby, but I was more chubby than the rest of the family, I think now.

SY: So when the, when you overheard women whispering that you were Ichiko's daughter, what did that mean to you?

YM: Nothing because my mother, my mother had no meaning to me.

SY: Did you know --

YM: Because my grandmother was my mother.

SY: In your mind.

YM: In my mind.

SY: Your grandmother was your mother. What did you call her?

YM: I called her Okaachan. I never called her Obaachan. I called her Okaachan. That's mother. And my uncle used to call her Okaasan.

SY: So when did you learn that your grandmother was not your mother?

YM: As I got older my friends, they must have told me because I started thinking.

SY: Thinking about it. What was that like when you first met your mother?

YM: Nothing. I don't think -- I shouldn't say I don't think. I don't know, but I don't think my mother cared for me the way she cared for her, my younger sister and my younger brother, but that's one thing is they always lived together, and I lived with my grandmother. But it was after I got married, my mother started treating me more like a person. But before then, I don't think she cared much one way or the other. That's what I think, but I don't know.

SY: Would you ever see your mother?

YM: After I got married, when I went to visit my grandmother down in California, yes, I did see my mother.

SY: With a community that is very closely knit, Nihonmachi, and you had overheard some people whispering and then other friends tell you about your own history, did it make you feel like your, the community was supporting you, or did you feel a little bit like the community tried to keep you at a distance?

YM: No, I never felt the community was at a distance. I think they were kinder to me, but that's how I felt and so I really don't know. This is all in my mind, you know.

SY: It's just it's interesting because the Japanese community was so different then than it is now. So when you tell us about the way the community was, it helps me get an understanding of the feelings that went on so it's very helpful.

YM: Oh, I don't know, but I get the feeling that maybe they were kinder to me because of that, because my grandmother raised me.

SY: In what ways did you feel that people treated you with more kindness?

YM: Well, when you're a child, when you get the first candy from somebody, you feel that, they... until I got married, but I know they were really good to Kako. I don't know how I knew, but to me they were kinder. I think I felt the kindness behind all that.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 9>

<Begin Segment 10>

SY: You talked about this feeling before and that often you identified yourself as an Issei more than a Nisei, and you talked about the feeling of a very big difference between Issei's way and Nisei's way of doing things. Can you tell me more about that?

YM: Maybe because I was raised by grandmother and she was so Japanese-y, I think I was really more Japanese-y than my friends were. My friends were more Americanized, more Americanized. They went to the movies more often than I did, and so if anything did happen that was detrimental to Japan, I would say, "Oh, no, no, Japan would never do things like that." But I think that was greatly influenced by my grandmother because she was so pro, but I think anybody would be at that time.

SY: Why is that?

YM: Pro-Japanese? Well, nowadays you don't feel it as much, but... there was discrimination. No one can tell me there was no discrimination. There is a discrimination. There was a discrimination. I don't know how it is now, but the thing is, they took so much for granted. They were never the first class citizen. They were the second class citizen, or I don't know what you would call them, but they didn't care.

SY: You mean the Japanese didn't care?

YM: The Japanese will say, "They are very insulting, aren't they? Oh, well, after all they are hakujin."

SY: What kinds of experiences of discrimination did you have?

YM: Well, what kind of discrimination did I have? I think I was always discriminated unless I went to the Buddhist church, then I was never discriminated because it was all Japanese. When I went to school like I said, they called me a heathen and I didn't know any better.

SY: A heathen?

YM: Uh-huh.

SY: And you didn't know any better? What do you mean?

YM: Because I didn't know what a heathen was. And I remember 4th of July. Yes, I remember one incident 4th of July. Some of the young people started throwing fire crackers, and they threw it at us, and we had to hide because it might hurt us. But it happened so often that if it didn't happen, I think we would be surprised.

SY: So every day something would happen.

YM: Yeah, something really small, but...

SY: And this is in elementary school?

YM: Oh, yeah.

SY: And that was Bailey Gatzert then?

YM: Bailey Gatzert.

SY: So were there a lot of Japanese in Bailey Gatzert?

YM: There were mostly Japanese at Bailey Gatzert and Chinese and few, very few, hakujins.

SY: But even there you felt discrimination.

YM: Oh. Well, yeah, I think so. I think so. We were never smart enough. Like, if we couldn't understand English, the teachers would get mad at us, but why should they get mad at us because they knew at home we spoke nothing but Japanese. And they said if you want to be a good citizen, you must learn to speak English, which is true. We should and we tried, but if we made a mistake, they would really get mad at us.

SY: Like what would they do?

YM: Oh, well, I remember one teacher used to take a ruler and she, well, never hit us girls, but hit boys with a ruler. And, in fact, I remember the teacher's name. Her name was Miss Lewis and she would hit so hard she would break the ruler, but they were always in the right. But nowadays you can't do that with children. You don't go around hitting them.

SY: Why would she hit the student?

YM: Because we didn't speak English and that's the part that was hard to take, I think. But on the other hand, we thought oh, well, we can't help it because at home we spoke Japanese. And I think I was very fortunate because when uncle came to stay with us, well, he taught me English, so, but that doesn't mean that I knew more English than the rest of them. I think, so I think the children nowadays are very fortunate because the teachers can't hit them.

SY: What else happened in school?

YM: They had a rubber strap, but I really don't know what happened. And the boys would come back and they said wow, and they wouldn't sit in a chair for a while, but I don't know whether they really got hit or they got scared. So I really can't say much about that, but they did have a rubber strap and the teachers... but there were some really good teachers, too. They were very kind teachers and they did everything for us, and they tried to help us out, but when you come from a Japanese community and learn nothing but Japanese and then go to school, it's kind of hard to learn to say -- maybe we could say "good morning" and "how are you," maybe, gradually. You can't go to school one day and say "good morning" or "how are you." We have to learn that. And some of the teachers forgot that we came from an entirely different kind of family.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 10>

<Begin Segment 11>

SY: How would you describe yourself in school?

YM: Medium. Not too smart, not too dumb. [Laughs]

SY: Did you enjoy school?

YM: I enjoyed school, I did. Well, for the simple reason my grandmother, all she could understand was A. If I got A that was good, but if I got B or C, if I got D -- I didn't get D -- but if I got B or C, she was very, very unhappy and just to make her happy, I think I tried to get A. But I don't know how many A's I got, but she was very happy. [Laughs]

SY: When you went from Bailey Gatzert to Central School and then to Franklin High School, do you have any particular memories about your experiences growing up into a teenager?

YM: No. Well, in Central school I think I was very fortunate because I had good teachers, and they were very kind to me and they helped me. And, fortunately, I could write and so one of the teachers would always make me write on the blackboard what was the lesson for today and what would be the lesson for tomorrow. That helped my ego. And, well, outside of that, so let me see. 7th and 8th. Was it 6th, 7th, and 8th? I forgot. And so until I went to high school, I was always writing on the blackboard to help out the teachers. That helped me. And so when I went to high school, why, high school there is more hakujin. There's a lot more hakujin. I think I happened to be the, only two Japanese in my class for a long time, and this fellow's name was Dick Setsuda and he was a graduating senior then, but I went in as a freshman, and he said -- the teacher, I don't know why the teacher called me Yukiko "Highrata," and I told her my name is Yukiko Hirata. She never changed it. She was always, "Yukiko Highrata" and so Dick used to say that was a fun part whenever I stood up to say, corrected the teacher saying, "Yukiko Hirata is my name," and the teacher would say Yukiko Highrata. [Laughs]

SY: So that's something that stands out in your mind that you weren't called by your correct name throughout all your years in high school.

YM: Uh-huh. That's a funny thing. They never called me... it was Yuki, Yuki, and then when it became Yuki -- I think they called me Yuki -- but they never could call me Hirata. They could always Highrata. I don't know why.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 11>

<Begin Segment 12>

SY: What did you do after school?

YM: After I came home from school? I stayed with Grandma.

SY: Did you have any jobs helping her in the home?

YM: Oh, I helped her wash dishes and I helped her clean rooms. Actually I didn't do much of anything but read. I loved to read, and so when I went to the library, she always went with me and read all the fairy stories and everything.

SY: How about in high school, by the time you were in high school, what did you do after school in high school?

YM: What did I do? I think I was a very immature child then. I was... already my friends were thinking of boyfriends and things, but I was still playing with dolls so when I came home from high school -- Grandma always saved matchboxes for me, those big ones, and then she would make me doll clothes, and so I was happy then. And she sewed all my clothes. That, I didn't care for too much because that was her way of sewing and all my friends were already buying clothes and that's kind of behind times, but I couldn't say much of anything because she sewed. She said, "You don't like my sewing?" I said, "No, it isn't that, but I want black." And she says, "Why?" [Laughs] Because the kids in gym always wore black bloomers at that time.

SY: Bloomers? What did bloomers look like?

YM: Oh, my. They were baggy and big and it was black.

SY: And what did you have? So what did Grandma make for you?

YM: Grandma made me black, but actually she always made me pink, pink bloomers. Can you see me in pink bloomers? [Laughs] But that's what she did.

SY: So you were the only one in the P.E. class with pink bloomers?

YM: Yeah, and I tell you it was embarrassing, but I couldn't say much because she was a determined lady, too. If it was pink bloomers for her, she's going to wear pink bloomers. 'Til I think I was a junior -- no, sophomore. No, junior -- I think she changed. She gradually changed because I think her friends told her, "Don't you think Yuki should wear something else?" [Laughs]

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 12>

<Begin Segment 13>

SY: But what was interesting is you actually met Henry Miyake, your husband, when you were eighteen years old.

YM: Uh-huh.

SY: And you met him then for your first time. Yet you were saying you were still pretty immature, still playing with dolls.

YM: That was the first time I met him because Mr. Takano still had that Takano Studio, wanted Henry and I to get together; that is, to become friends, and I think at that time I said no.

SY: Now, just going back a little bit Mr. Takano, who was he?

YM: Mr. Takano owned the Takano Studio.

SY: And what studio was that?

YM: That's the Takano Studio.

SY: What did he do?

YM: He was the owner of Takano Studio. He took pictures.

SY: Oh, so it was photographer.

YM: And then Henry came from Alaska and started working under him and...

SY: And so then Mr. Takano arranged with your grandmother for the two of you to meet?

YM: Uh-huh.

SY: Is that like an arranged marriage?

YM: Not necessarily. He was more interested in introducing us, but I wasn't interested.

SY: So when you said you said, "No," did you mean that you told your grandmother you didn't want to meet him, or that you didn't want to marry him?

YM: Gee, I don't know what I said. Probably not to marry him. I wasn't playing with dolls either.

SY: Oh. You mean by then you weren't. What were you doing?

YM: I was interested in ice skating, but I didn't know Henry could ice skate. And then one night I was going -- I wasn't really going around with this fellow, but I was going around with another fellow. I was going around with this one fellow that was really kind to me and he took me skating. I said, "Do you know how to skate, Jimmy?" And he said, "Yeah, we know how to skate." I said, "I want to go." He said, "Okay. We'll take you." And he and his brother, they had a car so they took me, but instead I didn't want to go roller skating, I wanted to go ice skating. And they didn't know how to ice skate, and I didn't want to roller skate. So that was the first time we learned how to ice skate. All of us were on the floor most of the time.

SY: Well, what made you so interested in ice skating as opposed to roller skating?

YM: I don't know. I really don't know. I just like ice skating very much. I think maybe because I knew how to roller skate a little bit, not too well, not too good either; but... and another thing about ice skating: they had music. I don't know what kind of music they had, but they had music so we, everybody that went ice skating, danced with the music and then they had instructors there, but we couldn't afford his price so most of the time somebody that knew how to ice skate would teach us. And then I think maybe Henry found out, but Henry knew how to ice skate because he came from Alaska and he was a good ice skater, and I think then I started getting interested. [Laughs]

SY: Do you think that that was actually attracted you?

YM: Yeah, I think it was his ice skating. Isn't that terrible?

SY: So if you were to do it over again, would you have picked the other guy?

YM: Jimmy? [Laughs] I think so, but Jimmy was, he was not what you would -- Henry was a very ambitious person, I think. Now, this is just my, but Jimmy was not a very ambitious person, but he was going to the University of Washington. Maybe because of that, he couldn't afford a lot of things like Henry had was working for Mr. Takano so, you know...

SY: So Henry could take you out?

YM: Uh-huh.

SY: And Jimmy could just...

YM: Jimmy couldn't.

SY: So you finally decided to marry Henry.

YM: Yeah.

SY: And at that time he was -- was he apprenticing with Mr. Takano as a photographer?

YM: Uh-huh.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 13>

<Begin Segment 14>

SY: Okay, and at some point Henry took over Mr. Takano's business.

YM: Yeah, because Mr. Takano wanted to go back to Japan and...

SY: So...

YM: I think he told Henry he knew, and then Henry had saved money, and I think Henry was only one that was able to buy Takano Studio for the price Mr. Takano wanted. And so he went back to Japan, Mr. Takano did, and Henry took over. And then I think three years later or something we got married. At that time, though, I didn't know Henry that well 'til later on.

SY: So it must have been a big change to get married after having been so close to your grandmother.

YM: Oh, Grandma came with us.

SY: Oh. She lived with the two of you?

YM: She didn't live with us, but we lived right close to each other.

SY: Oh, I see.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 14>

<Begin Segment 15>

SY: So what was it like being married?

YM: I went to Grandma all the time to ask her what to do. I think she might have been very exasperated because I was very childish, but then she might have realized it was her fault too. She never raised me to learn how to cook. I didn't know how to cook. I mean, maybe I could iron a shirt or two. God, I was really a child, a very immature.

SY: But then ten months after that you had a child. Kako was born.

YM: Yeah.

SY: What was that like?

YM: Wonderful.

SY: You grew up quickly.

YM: I certainly did. And I used to go to this one drug store -- I forgot the name of the drug store -- and finally he told me, he says, "You know, you come here every day to ask me what to do." He says, "Why don't you buy a how to raise a baby book?" [Laughs] But then finally we found this doctor that took care of children so I used to take Kako there all the time.

SY: Was that because she was always sick?

YM: Yes. She was a sick child, but we found out later that it was because I wasn't feeding her well. And I was giving her my breast milk, but my breast milk wasn't agreeing with her so she was losing weight, and so we finally took her to the -- what you call these child...

SY: Pediatricians?

YM: Pediatrician, and he told us. And fortunately as long as I fed her and kept her clean, she was a very, a very easygoing child to raise. She didn't have problems at that time.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 15>

<Begin Segment 16>

SY: So during this time of raising Kako and Henry working at the photography studio, what community events did Henry become involved in?

YM: Oh, he got involved in everything. Oh, in the first place, Shizuoka so he was a Shizuoka member, and he was greatly involved in the church. Oh, and then they had this Amateur Photographers Association, and they were really good photographers. But they were mostly amateurs, and they were not interested in taking... what you call? Photographs like Henry did. They were interested in going out and sit for seven hours or eight hours, take scenery pictures. And one was Dr. Koike.

SY: So they were mostly Japanese?

YM: Oh, yeah. They were all Japanese and then once a year they used to have a exhibition of that, and then I think Dr. Koike used to -- even among the hakujins, he was well known and he got prizes.

SY: What other events, community activities, was he involved in?

YM: Well, we joined... Henry and I joined Dale Carnegie. I forgot the title of that class. He thought we should both learn how to speak better English or something, and we joined that. Oh, I don't know. He was in all kinds of organizations because I remember many a time he would come home for supper, then he would be rushing off to go to some meeting or other and so Kako and I were left alone quite a bit.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 16>

<Begin Segment 17>

SY: So what would you and Kako do?

YM: What did we do? Oh, we went visiting because we were living near Star Apartment. That's on 11th... oh, it's on 11th Avenue and was that... that was about a block away from where we lived. We lived in a little flat on... so I went to visit my friends, or they would come over and visit us and we had fun that way.

SY: So you and Kako were very, very close.

YM: Oh, yes.

SY: And would you say Henry -- what kind of relationship did Henry have with Kako?

YM: In those days, I don't think the -- I don't know. I'm just talking about myself. I don't think they showed much affection for anybody except themselves because that was the Japanese way of thinking. A man comes first, you know, but maybe I'm wrong.

SY: And Henry what was -- what was he? Issei? Nisei?

YM: Issei.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 17>

<Begin Segment 18>

SY: You mentioned -- we were talking about Henry and he's actually an Issei; is that right?

YM: He is an Issei.

SY: And so you were married to an Issei. You were raised with an Issei. Were you basically seeing mostly Issei people too?

YM: I think I saw more Issei people than Nisei at that, when... Yeah, I think so.

SY: What would you say you notice is the difference between Issei and Nisei and how people console you or how people communicate with you?

YM: Well, I think Issei -- the men folks, now, were the boss. Whatever they did was okay and so the wife has to listen, and I think that was, well, in a way a problem, but we did because most, some of my friends were married to Issei. Well, of course, behind their backs we might complain, but I notice a difference because a young fathers, they take care of the children. Henry never changed a diaper. That was beneath his... and he only carried Kako if she was good natured and she wasn't crying, but the minute she started crying, he says, "Here. Take her." And then another thing I noticed the difference is I think most of the young men take their girlfriends or their wives out to dinner when there's a big party going on, but in those days we had to stay home, and it was only the men that got invited.

SY: There's probably a bigger difference between Issei and men nowadays.

YM: Oh, yes.

SY: But what about Issei and Nisei, and not just men, but just men and woman. What would you say would be the different ways of communicating because in many ways you were in-between. You were like an Issei and a Nisei. So I would be curious to know what ways you noticed the difference of communication when you spoke with Isseis or when they spoke with you as opposed to Niseis.

YM: Well, I will say Henry was very charming because he was a photographer, and he knew how to speak and... but he was the boss. If he said it's this, even if it's black and it was white, if he said it's this, I had to say it's white.

SY: So his word was law.

YM: Yeah. His was law.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 18>

<Begin Segment 19>

SY: Well, you mentioned one time that there was a very different way Isseis communicated as opposed to the way Niseis communicated, and you had given me some examples. One was when after you just lost your daughter and...

YM: I think there is a difference when the Isseis communicated. I don't know how to explain it, but I will say in my circumstances, I felt that Isseis were kinder. They showed their feelings toward me. They were kinder to me, but the Niseis, maybe they wanted to show it, but all they would say is, "I'm very sorry" or something like that, but Isseis -- I don't know how to explain it. Was there something behind what they said? I don't know, but I remember one lady, Mrs. Otani, she used to bring mochigashi to me. She used to come down to Jackson Street once a month or once in two month, and she always brought me a little dish of mochigashi and give hotokesama agete choudai. And Niseis didn't do that. I'm not saying it's against them, but that was, that's the difference. Or Issei would make osushi and they'll bring it to me and, "Tonight kore tabenasai." Or I remember one lady bringing me vegetables or strawberries, but the Niseis, maybe they do it now, but at that time I find that the Niseis didn't do that. All they did say was, "I'm sorry." I felt because of that, there was such a difference. Maybe there isn't. Maybe Nisei nowadays might be entirely different. I don't know. But when you have a small family like I did -- I didn't have much of a family -- so you appreciated it or maybe the Niseis felt that I had lots of it so they didn't feel like doing it. But I remember going to a memorial service for Kako. Well, it wasn't for Kako. It was for some kind of a memorial service at Washelli, and the Issei ladies would come and say, "How lonely you are," and, "I'm very sorry for you," and they shake my hand or they hold my hand, but the Nisei didn't do that. In fact, to this day I remember two of the Niseis came up to me and said, "How come you're dressed like that?" And I felt like saying, "Well, it's none of your business." I could dress, but I didn't say it. [Laughs] They will never come to Takano Studio after that, but... I never said it, but maybe they were -- Niseis were able to talk out things more so they were able to say things and the Niseis -- maybe the Isseis felt the same, "How come she is dressed like that?" I was all in black and maybe that was... well, I didn't see anything wrong in that, but I was all in black. Maybe the Niseis, these people that I knew, felt that I shouldn't dress like that. I don't know. I really don't know, but the differences... they don't have to say much, but they hold my hand and they bring me things, maybe they brought me things, maybe I thought more of them. I don't know. But I did appreciate it though because I always felt how kind that they remembered because I'm not the only one that had lost a child. There were others.

SY: That's interesting.

YM: Yeah, but that's the difference. And I don't know about now. I know my friends are all so kind to me. I don't feel -- well, I hope. In a way, I wish they would become like Isseis, not the gossiping part, but bringing things over. I think that's so sweet. That's nice. I liked it and so I always, as I got over my loss, I used to take things over. And, of course, my cooking wasn't the best so I'm sure they didn't eat much of it, but they liked it.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 19>

<Begin Segment 20>

SY: Let me go back a ways about the time maybe right before the war, before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. You were pretty active in the community, and you were living in the community. What would you say the community environment was like before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor?

YM: I could say they were very carefree, I think. If they talked about war, they didn't say too much unless they went to a battleship or something that came in and visiting, but aside of that, the men folks gambled their -- it was sometimes sad, but in a way it was... then my friend would go looking for his father, and he had gambled. When he used to go to the market, his father would take care of all the money, and he gambled it all away. And the son would take his father home, but they never scolded him. They let him do it again; but, of course, the son went him though this time.

SY: You mentioned if there was a party on the battleship, did Henry ever go to any parties?

YM: Oh, no. I never went.

SY: How about Henry?

YM: Oh, Henry went.

SY: And what kinds of things would he hear?

YM: Huh?

SY: What kinds of things would he say or hear?

YM: He didn't say much, but they're always talking like that, "There is going to be another war." But come to think of it, there was a book out, and I think I read it. I wish I remembered the title. It was a war between Japan and America, and I think Japan lost, but it was on the -- but I don't think it sell good or anything.

SY: Was this a fictional story?

YM: Yeah. Well, this man made it up because there was no such war. As far as I know, there was no such war, but he did say that it was... whether he was on the side of America or he was on the side of Japan, I do not know, but I remember reading the book because somebody lent it to me.

SY: Well, you had talked about a time when you remember Henry coming home after a party and where officers were drunk, Japanese officers were drunk. Can you tell me about that?

YM: Yeah. He would come home and naturally there was a lot drinking, and then he says, "We'll get them yet." I think, I'm saying it in English, but yatte ageru, you know. "We're going to get them. We're going to get them. Every time they are insulting us. We'll show them what Japanese could do."

SY: How did Henry respond to those comments?

YM: He was drinking so he didn't respond too much, I think. It didn't make much difference to him and to his friends. I really don't know.

SY: Well, how did you respond when Henry told you about this?

YM: Well, I didn't like it and I said, "Oh, it's such foolishness. It's such foolishness."

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 20>

<Begin Segment 21>

SY: Well, at some point did you feel a sense of being suspicious? Was there any suspicion amongst the community of Japanese spies?

YM: No, not when we were living in Seattle, but once we went into the camp, then there were a lot of suspicions, and certain people were called dogs. And the minute they were called dogs, we knew right away that they were spies, and it's too bad because some of the nicest people in the community were called dogs. And they were... I never saw it, but I think they were insulted so I think this one person, I think he left the camp early because he couldn't stand it, and he had been a... really a high community man before the war. They all trusted him and they liked him. I don't know what his business was.

SY: What made people think he was a spy?

YM: I don't know. That is one thing I never knew, but they came and told Henry, Mr. so-and-so is a spy.

SY: I have to just get this clear. Was that when you were in camp?

YM: Yeah.

SY: And so Henry was with you in camp at this time?

YM: I guess, no, he wasn't in camp.

SY: Henry wasn't? And so these people would tell other people?

YM: Yeah, and they would tell me.

SY: I see. And were there many people -- how many people would you say there were that were called dogs?

YM: Oh, not many, maybe three, four.

SY: What happened to them?

YM: They left the camp early. They went to Salt Lake City or if you went to Spokane, you were outside the jurisdiction so you didn't have to go to camp. So they must have gone too, I think. But it is a shame because they were called -- I think they were called dogs for no reason at all because maybe they didn't like them.

SY: So you're not sure if it was actually because they were spies.

YM: No. No. I didn't know them anyway so it didn't make much difference to me, and Henry wasn't here either. Maybe if he had been here, I might have heard a different version entirely.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 21>

<Begin Segment 22>

SY: Earlier you had mentioned that before the war, before people were picked up to go to Puyallup, the community felt a little bit careful about talking because they were afraid that other people in the community might...

YM: Because I remember when Henry got picked up, very few people came to see us because they were afraid I might say something about them or... yeah. I think at that time when they, the FBI started picking up people, I think they were really afraid of everyone, and it was a very close-knit family so I know one thing is I lost a lot of Henry's friends because they wouldn't come near me. They were so afraid that if they came near me, that they would be picked up, too. And it wasn't so because from what I have heard, already the FBI knew who to pick up. And, see, when the war started on December -- was it December 7? -- all the people that were supposed to be picked up were picked up. And then they went on the line.

SY: Do you remember -- can you tell me what it was like when Henry was picked up? What happened?

YM: One morning, I think it was in February, we had worked late and I really don't remember, but all I know is that FBI came, two men came, and told Henry to... they were very nonchalant, as though nothing. Pack up your suitcase. You got to go to the immigration office and so he did. But they were very kind to Kako. They weren't kind, but they wouldn't go into her room because Kako was sitting like this and standing like this, and she wouldn't let them come into her room. And she had a dog -- come to think it, she had a dog and that dog was wagging his tail. I'm just remembering little things, but I think the FBI men went through her bookcase.

SY: Kako's bookcase?

YM: Uh-huh.

SY: So they went into her bedroom?

YM: Yeah, they did.

SY: Okay, but she didn't want them to.

YM: No, she didn't want them to come. But I forgot the detail of how they did it; but they went into her room, looked at her bookcase, but they didn't take anything. There wasn't anything to take because it was a stories of children and things like that. Then they left.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 22>

<Begin Segment 23>

SY: How did Kako respond to all this?

YM: I think she didn't say much, but she really, really was... what do you use that word? Unhappy? No, not unhappy. She didn't like hakujin at that time. She just couldn't stand them. She felt they took her father away with no reason. Well, we thought no reason, and I still think they had no right to do that, but they did.

SY: She was about nine years old at the time, I remember and...

YM: Was she?

SY: You mentioned it and you said that she never cried.

YM: No, she never cried. I wish she had. I think it did affect her physically or...

SY: Emotionally?

YM: I think emotionally, yeah. I think it did effect her very much because it took her a long time to get over it because when we came back from camp and she went to school, she wrote a essay about her father being picked up, and they had no right to do that. And she was very bitter. Not bitter, but, and the teacher said the government would never do such a thing. The government would never do such a thing. If you wanted to become a citizen, he could have become a citizen and he didn't. Then he found out later that he was wrong. Asians could not become a citizen. I don't know whether it was Japanese or what, but they could not become a citizen so he stood up, and he was very kind I thought --

SY: The teacher?

YM: Yeah, teacher apologized to Kako, but Kako would never accept it because it took her a long time to get over that. And so her friends were mostly Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese, Jewish, and blacks; but never hakujin. That's funny. She shied away from hakujin for a long, long time.

SY: How about you? Did you feel the same way?

YM: I didn't care for hakujins. I felt they're a bunch of liars, but it's all in what I thought.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 23>

<Begin Segment 24>

SY: How did that incident with the FBI coming and taking your husband affect you?

YM: I think when they picked up Henry and when -- but I was really hurt when Henry's friends just stopped coming, and they really did stop coming. They didn't call me or talk to me or anything. And when I had to move, when we had to move, none of those people came to help me, but there were others. I think, at the bidding of their wives or something, they came to help me, but to this day I don't know how we moved. A lot of things we moved and things, but I don't remember, very vague.

SY: Where did you store your things?

YM: Most of the camera went to San Francisco and some of the things I stored in government. They had a government warehouse or something, and I stored a lot of things in there. I should have stored at the Buddhist church, but at that time I didn't know they were storing things at Buddhist church. And when I stored at the government, when I came back to pick it up, there were two trunks, or two boxes missing. So to this day I don't know what was missing.

SY: Can we take a break for a second?

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 24>

<Begin Segment 25>

SY: So go ahead. You were telling me that you really -- how you were feeling.

YM: I still resent it. They had no right to pick up anybody. I still feel -- and so when I hear about people going in because one person I know was just a janitor, a janitor of a warehouse. Not janitor, he was a janitor of Bartell Drug store. He lost his job, but they picked him up too, the poor man. To this day December 7th -- nowadays the kids think differently, but this is how I feel. They had no right to pick up anybody unless they had gone to court and had said this man is a criminal, something like that, then you can't help it, but they were not criminals. They were just having a birthday party and it is too bad.

SY: Who was having a birthday?

YM: Huh?

SY: Who was having a birthday party?

YM: Oh. Mr. Kihara and his group were having a nice birthday party, and they were drunk. You know, they were having a party. I don't think the woman were there or maybe they were in the kitchen. I don't know. But all I remember is the next day, we heard -- next day I heard, really, that Mr. Kihara was picked up. And I said it's not possible. It couldn't be, but they did.

SY: Do you remember any of the details about how he was picked up?

YM: No, I don't because I wasn't there, but I just heard they were picked up, and then they took him to immigration. They all went to immigration office and then they were sent to Montana. Most of them were sent to Montana. And really this one man, of course, he wasn't picked up on December 7th, he was picked up later, the poor guy. He was just a janitor at Bartell Drug store, and he says Nani mo. "I didn't do anything." Of course, he didn't. He was just a harmless old man. That, I resent to this day, I do. And I think some of the hakujins are very sympathetic, but like I told Don, if you were that sympathetic, why didn't you do something? But she was young yet, that's true. I think I spoke -- I started because there was no one to speak for me, I started speaking out more and... did I tell you about what I told the guardsman?

SY: Oh, this is in camp now?

YM: In camp.

SY: So you started speaking out more because Henry was gone and so then you actually went to camp with Kako after...

YM: Henry was picked up.

SY: But let me just back up a little bit. What did you do with the studio?

YM: I'd rather not talk about that.

SY: Okay, sure.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 25>

<Begin Segment 26>

SY: Then in Puyallup, you were there with Kako. What was your overall impression of Puyallup?

YM: I hated it because that day we went it was raining, and I think I told you George Inouye was the only one that came and helped us. He stuffed a mattress for us with straws, and he brought in a duffel bag that was sopping wet and the bathroom wasn't ready. Nothing was ready. But we were put in this big barrack. It was mostly women and night time was kind of nice because there was one lady there with a nice voice, and she used to sing to all of us, but there was no ceiling so we could hear her. And she used to sing to us and the guard would come and say, "Shut up, be quiet." And the minute he left, she started singing again. [Laughs]

SY: You mentioned that you began to speak out more.

YM: Uh-huh, I did.

SY: And you used to say things to the guardsmen.

YM: Yeah, I did. I said, "What are you going to do?" I said, "What are you doing up there? We didn't do anything bad." Maybe I'm using the right word, but I said, "With the bayonet sticking in your gun?" I said, "What are you going to do? Kill us?" I must have said something pretty bad because my friends all told me to shut up. They said, "Be quiet. Don't say things like that," but I said, "That's the truth. Why should they have a bayonet?" Then about two months or three months later, the bayonet was gone. They had just that gun, but it was still the same isn't it? I resented that very much, but I shouldn't get mad at the soldiers because they were all young, and they tried to be kind to us, but they didn't know how.

SY: What ways were they kind or which way did they try?

YM: Well, they weren't kind, but... they wouldn't talk to us. Well, not to us, maybe they talked to others, but I don't know as far as we are concerned. And I know once in a while we passed their -- what do you call those guard...

SY: Towers.

YM: Tower. And I said, "What are you doing up there?" So my friends would never let me walk where their guard towers was. Yeah, I was speaking out more.

SY: What made you speak out more?

YM: Hmm?

SY: What made you speak out more?

YM: Because there was no one to speak for me. Kako wouldn't speak for me, and my friends, they wouldn't speak. So I thought, well, heck. I'm not going to lose. Since I am here, I won't be losing much of anything, and they wouldn't put me in jail for just saying, "What are you doing up there?"

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 26>

<Begin Segment 27>

SY: I understand when you were in camp you became very ill.

YM: Yeah.

SY: What was that? What happened?

YM: I don't know what happened, but I became very ill, and I went down to ninety pounds, but to this day the doctors didn't know what was wrong with me.

SY: What were the medical facilities like?

YM: Oh, terrible, terrible. But on the other hand, there were a few people that I knew died at the hospital because they did something that wasn't right. But on the other hand, there were a few that lived because the doctor did right so I cannot accuse the doctors, but I'm sure most of them weren't really doctors. We used to have a name for them. Maybe I shouldn't say them, we called them butchers. And most of them, my friends, never liked to go to the hospital. If possible we stayed in bed and tried to take care of ourselves because we saw so many, not that many, but enough tragedies to make us realize that the doctors didn't know anything. Well, that's how I felt.

SY: What kind of tragedies did you see?

YM: There was Mrs. Suyama. She had a baby and they were so happy, and next thing I knew she had died. They had pulled out her -- I don't know for sure, but she had gone to the dentist and he should have never touched her teeth, but he did. Pulled it out and she died in -- oh, my. The baby never knew her mother. The father was really lost.

SY: So she had a baby and then she went to the dentist.

YM: Uh-huh. She shouldn't have gone to the dentist, but she did because her tooth was -- yeah, she had a toothache and she went to the dentist, but I don't know what they did because I wasn't there, but they told me that they pulled her tooth out and she died. But maybe it was something else, but anyway they said, "Don't go to the doctor. Don't go to the doctor. Take care of yourself." Well, they will help us or something.

SY: Or don't go to the dentist. [Laughs]

YM: Yeah. Don't go to the dentist, but they said, "Don't go to the doctor."

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 27>

<Begin Segment 28>

SY: What other things do you remember happening?

YM: Well, it's a Japanese community where gossips are rampant, and sometimes it was kind of interesting because it was really gossip. Somebody is having an affair with somebody, but we didn't know who the somebody was because they never mentioned names, but we were curious to know who the somebody was.

SY: In a place like Minidoka, how could someone have an affair without everyone knowing?

YM: That's it, [Laughs] everybody knew. Well, in a couple of days or couple of weeks maybe.

SY: So the husband or wife would...

YM: I hate to say that. Yeah, the husband or the wives were having affair with another woman, but how it got -- you know, nobody sees having an affair with another woman or another man, but they tell you, but we were stupid enough to listen. So I can't say so-and-so had a affair with such-and-such person, but some of the nicest people were having affair, but I don't believe it.

SY: Well, you don't know, right?

YM: That's it, I don't know. And I say, "Oh, no, no, no. You have the names wrong." And they used to laugh at me and said, "No use telling Yuki anything." But it was kind of nice. We didn't get newspaper and so it was interesting conversation.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 28>

<Begin Segment 29>

YM: And another interesting thing -- this was in Minidoka, the Issei ladies always had a chamber pot. And in the morning they took the chamber pot, and they greeted everybody in the good morning, and then they would clean it out in the bathroom or something in the -- yeah, bathroom. But there was a lady that used to make otsukemono in the chamber pot. And when I was sick, this lady was kind enough to make some otsukemono for me and bring it over, [Laughs] and my friends wouldn't let me eat it because they said, "How can you? How do you know she didn't make a boo -- you know, make a mistake?" So I never ate her otsukemono, but I always had to tell her how nice it was and thank you very much. I never knew who the lady was, but she was always bringing otsukemono over, but my friends said, "No don't touch it. Don't touch it."

SY: That's funny.

YM: It is funny. Then we had rattlesnake medicine, but I really don't know how they made it. But they put live rattlesnake in some kind of a jar and kept it, and then they would say drink this for medicinal. You will get well, but I never did. I couldn't. I didn't think. We had a lot of fun. Well, yeah, listening to gossips and maybe that's not right, but it was enjoyable while it lasted.

SY: You mentioned this one woman that made otsukemono, did people make other kind of Japanese foods in camp; and if they did, what ones were there?

YM: I had a friend that used to make osushi every so often. She didn't make it very much and she used to come way up. She lived in block 2 or 3 and used to come up to blocks... I think I lived in Block 42, and she used to bring it up to me and that was good. But that was... I don't know what she put in it, but it was good, because we never got to eat osushi that much.

SY: How did she get the nori?

YM: That's it, I never knew. Maybe some friend of hers sent it because there were a lot of people still outside the camp, and so they might have sent it to her. And she might have, you know, but usually people brought you things when somebody came in from outside.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 29>

<Begin Segment 30>

SY: So were there any traditional Japanese celebrations that were celebrated in camp?

YM: I never heard of one. Of course, we celebrated New Year's.

SY: Oh, how did you do that?

YM: Well, there isn't much of a celebration. So let's see. The cook in our mess hall used to make osushi and would give us that and it was good. It wasn't the best, but it was good. And instead of giving us hard boiled eggs, they used to make tamagoyaki and give it to us and that was good. And once in a while we got fish. I wonder how they made that fish, but it was very good.

SY: There was a time you mentioned a cook who made some sashimi.

YM: Yeah. But we... in our block 42, the next block was 40. I think 40. 40, 42 and further down, I think, 4, 5 or I don't know, but we had cooks. We had real cooks that used to be cooking before the war, and so they came in and took over so I even remember the cook's name: Mr. Ogawa. But I don't know block 40 name, but they were supposed to be real good cooks. And so he really tried hard to make things easy for us. Otherwise, we had hard boiled eggs or fried eggs. Oh, God. And then cold toast or we had hot cakes and by the time we got it, it was so cold we couldn't eat it. So Mrs. Ogawa used to make Japanese food for us and that was more enjoyable. And I remember meeting one young man, Ronald, I think his name was, from Hawaii. And he got caught and he was sent to camp, but he says, "I want to you listen to what that man is saying." Instead of saying syrup, he would say pass me the "shut up." [Laughs] And he says, "Did you hear what he said?" I said, "He said shut up, didn't he?" He says, "Yeah, but what is shut up because he keeps pointing," it was syrup. [Laughs] We had little incidents like that and kind of funny. But this Ronald was a nice young man, but he went out to Chicago or someplace out that way because he couldn't stand the camp life. He says, "I thought I heard right, shut up," but it was syrup he wanted. But Issei dakara, you know.

SY: So when you were in camp, did you associate more with the Issei or the Nisei?

YM: We had no choice. We associate with people within the block, and they were a combination of Issei and Nisei. I mean, yeah, Issei and Nisei.

SY: I guess, who would be more of your friends?

YM: It's a mixture.

SY: Mixture. That's interesting.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 30>

<Begin Segment 31>

SY: While you were in camp, for a year Henry was in Montana. How did you two correspond?

YM: Well, we did write letters but the censorship was so bad, when you get a piece of paper with a lot of holes in it. It was no use, but we did try to correspond. But it was Dear Yuki or Henry or Dear Henry and Yuki or something like that so we didn't do much corresponding. [Laughs] And I think I asked him once after he came out of camp why because he used [Inaudible], but he says that was the government order. You weren't supposed to read any message. So if somebody died, maybe they thought that was bad so... a lot of things we didn't know.

SY: So even though you corresponded by letters, you never got any information?

YM: No. No. No information.

SY: Just basically letters with holes in them?

YM: Yeah, just basically letters with holes in them.

SY: So what was it like when Henry came back and rejoined the family?

YM: He didn't stay very long because, let's see. He came back about a year later, and he didn't like it. Oh, naturally, he didn't like it. He couldn't do what he wanted. He worked in a poultry farm for a while.

SY: In Missoula?

YM: In Minidoka. And then he went out because -- I don't know what you would call them now, but at that time there was a young man or -- or I don't know. I never met him. He was from Hawaii and he really liked Henry so he got a job for Henry in New York. But Henry thought he would go out and he went out, but instead of going to New York, he stopped in Spokane and that's where he ended. He never went to New York.

SY: Why was that?

YM: Because Henry had more fun playing golf every day, and he had more fun talking to his friends. Oh, and then he found a job in Spokane. I don't know where. He worked in a photography shop and then he called us. Now thinking about that because to this day I don't remember how we packed our things, but anyway I'm sure Henry wasn't there to pack our things so I must have asked somebody to help us pack it, and we sent it out to Spokane. And Kako went to school there for a little while and... that's about all I can remember.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 31>

<Begin Segment 32>

SY: So what did you do after you were in Spokane?

YM: Oh, I just lived in -- we lived in this little house that had a wood and coal range, no gas, no anything. We had to have that wood and coal range to get hot water to cook. It was horrible, but it was better than living in camp. And I learned to make a lot of things on the wood and coal range and burned a lot of things, too.

SY: Well, how did the community accept you in Spokane?

YM: Well, in Spokane they were really nice. The reverend that was -- there was a church nearby and the reverend used to come every week, once a week, and pray for us. That was kind of nice because it was a different religion, but he thought about us. And so when he heard we were going back to Seattle, he said, "Don't go. Don't go. Let your daughter finish school here because he says the feeling there isn't good," but we came back. And what he said was really true, the feeling wasn't very good.

SY: What was the feeling like when you came back to Seattle?

YM: We were Japs, but fortunately -- you asked about the studio. We got the studio back and I don't want to talk about it, and the black people were really good to us. The Chinese wouldn't even serve us or feed us or anything before we went. After we came back, well, we were number one customer. They were really nice to us, the Chinese people.

SY: After you came back.

YM: Oh, yeah, because some Japanese really had money, and they treated us to Chinese food and that was delicious. [Laughs]

SY: Why do you think the Chinese weren't very friendly with you before the war?

YM: Oh, before the war they all wore "I'm Chinese." "I'm Chinese" button because they didn't want to be mistaken for Japanese. I didn't like that, but for self-preservation what can you do because some Japanese got beaten up. They don't talk about things like that. And there was one man, Japanese man, I think he died in jail because he had some kind of a sickness, and he asked for help, but they didn't give it to him. And I think he died, but I can't verify it so I can't say much about it. I think there was one Japanese man that died at the jail just before, I mean, right after the war started. Things like that. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. And so to me, maybe because I am more Japanese-y than the rest of them or because of my influence of my grandmother, sometime when I hear things on the radio, I think oh, bunch of lies again. Bunch of lies again. But I don't know. Maybe it's the truth. Well, when I hear how they treated the Indians, I think maybe Japanese were better because at least we got fed three times a day.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 32>

<Begin Segment 33>

YM: Oh, yeah. And then finally the bathroom was finished. This is in Hunt. No, this was in Puyallup, the bathroom got finished. And oh, the mad rush to go to have a shower and interesting part was, let's see. I think I was in area A. No, was it D? I forgot, but it was the biggest area of that so we had a shower, but the other places -- A, B, C, -- they all had to come to the shower in our camp, in our area, and take a shower and go home.

SY: So you said that there was this mad rush? What was it like? Was it like a line up, you mean, or...

YM: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. And the water ran out because everybody wanted to take a bath.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 33>

<Begin Segment 34>

SY: Let's go back to, not back, but up to the point of being back in Seattle after camp and you were resettling, and you said that the environment was hostile. What kind of experiences did you have that reflected the hostility of the community?

YM: Well, we were Japs anyway. Japs are Japs, always a Jap.

SY: So people always called you Jap?

YM: They wrote on your window a Jap, or they wrote in their house a Jap, but they -- not in front of your face because when Henry started the studio, he had to go to the wholesale house to pick up. They never called him a Jap.

SY: He picked up his...

YM: His wholesale thing, and one thing I am ever grateful for is Eastman Kodak, the new... what do you call them? He was so good to Henry, he was very kind, and he helped Henry in many ways. If he ran out of folders, he would get it for Henry and bring it. Even if it was Saturday, he would bring it to Henry and that was some kind of kindness you people don't do.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 34>

<Begin Segment 35>

SY: When you resettled, what stories do you recall of others who were struggling to resettle?

YM: I know there was a lady, but that, I don't know who the lady was or anything. There was a restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, run by a Japanese. Oh, this is before the war. Is that okay?

SY: Sure.

YM: Is that okay? I'm sorry.

SY: Sure, before the war. Uh-huh, that's fine.

YM: This is right after the war started. I think her -- I don't know who the lady was, but her husband lost his job, and they lived in this one hotel room. And I don't know how many children they had, but, anyway, she had to go look for food. And she always came to this one place where this man had that restaurant and he was telling Henry he couldn't stand this so he always used to cook rice, cook the Chinese food, or Japanese food or whatever, and put it on top of the garbage. And this lady would look around and take it home and feed the family. Maybe that was one meal a day for her. So there must have been other cases like that where the husband was... it was sad because the husband was too old to find another job, and he couldn't have found a job anyway after the war started, and he couldn't speak English. And some, I think, just got sick and died. Some were really sad.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 35>

<Begin Segment 36>

SY: There are many things you have experienced in life. When you think back on your entire life, what would you say are some things that you've really learned about life?

YM: What did I learn about life? It goes on and on and on. [Laughs] But I found out that one thing is, life can be beautiful. Even after all the problems we had, I still feel life can be beautiful. It's only me that makes it bad or good. If my attitude toward life is good, I think it's good. And I find that even with all our problems, maybe others might have had worse. And I'm very grateful because even if I lose my eyesight, I've had so much pleasure of living that I want everybody to have that same feeling because life is always beautiful. It's only what you make it and I find no use crying over spilt milk. Make the best of each day and go on living and it's pretty good. It's very good. It's very good.

Yukiko M. Interview - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved. - <End Segment 36>