Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Mits Koshiyama Interview
Narrator: Mits Koshiyama
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Jose, California
Date: October 2, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-kmits-02-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

CO: So, tell us about when you were born and what your growing up was like.

MK: I was born August 7, 1924, in the city of Mountain View, California. I was a second son, and our family consisted of my father, my mother, four boys and three girls. We lived in Mountain View for a while and then we moved to various parts of Santa Clara valley because the only thing we could do was farm, and that, we couldn't buy land so we were, had to lease land so we were what you call tenant farmers. And I don't know how many times we moved but it was usually in some Japanese community where there were a lot of farmers. And I went to school, started school in Santa Clara. Then later on I moved to, our family moved to Cupertino, California, where we farmed. I went to grammar school in Cupertino grammar school. And then I went to Fremont High School in Sunnyvale. I was a senior when the war broke out, and from there I was evacuated to Santa Anita Assembly Center and then to Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

EO: So what was it like growing up in this area before the war?

MK: Well, when I was growing up there were really tough economic times and I would say most, most of the Japanese Americans living -- Japanese Issei and the Japanese Americans living in the Santa Clara valley, were having a hard time making a living. And just prior to the war, when the children were already high school age and growing up, I think that the farmers and the families were in, in better position as far as living conditions and everything. And a lot of the kids, some of the kids were able to go to college and things like that. Things were starting, just starting to pick up, let's put it that way. And I think that the war really hurt the Japanese Americans in the Santa Clara valley because of that.

EO: Did you go to Japanese school?

MK: Yes, I did go to Japanese school. I went to Japanese school in Santa Clara, then at high school age I went to Japanese school in Mountain View. And some people might say that going to Japanese school makes you pro-Japan, but it's not true. We, as children, were really pro-American and we didn't want to go to Japanese school, but our parents insisted that we get a little bit of education. And my folks promised that if I went one or two years, that would be enough, so I, I was agreeable to that, and that's the reason I went. I, I found the Japanese language very difficult, and I won't say I hated it , but I had a great dislike for it. And I, all my life when I was growing up, I used to wonder why my parents used to eat rice all the time and not bread, and that they used chopsticks, you know. I felt myself that was kind of alien. But when I grew up later in life, I said that's the way they were brought up so they didn't know anything else. And it took me a little while to realize, you know, that I was being very small-minded about that. But I would say that the, the kids I went to school with in Japanese school would talk just like I did. They didn't want to go either, but they went for the same reasons and we were never... some people might say that we were, since we went to Japanese school that we're pro-Japan, but that's not true. We're 100 percent American, even more so than most Americans.

EO: None of your, you or your brothers and sisters were sent to Japan? There were no Kibei in your family?

MK: No. No one in our family ever went back to Japan. My folks were from Japan and we were having a hard time making a living. And they never thought of ever going back to Japan. And they realized the kids were growing up Americans and they accepted it.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.