Densho Digital Archive
Topaz Museum Collection
Title: Chiyoko Yano Interview
Narrator: Chiyoko Yano
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Berkeley, California
Date: August 1, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ychiyoko_2-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

MA: So going back to your family and your parents in Oakland, how many children were in your family? How many, I guess, siblings did you have?

CY: I had two girls and two boys, four, so I had four.

MA: Or how many siblings did you have? How many brothers and sisters did you grow up with?

CY: Oh, my, yes, I had three. There was four all together. Five, actually, it was five all together, and my brother, Hideo, passed away when he was six. So we had two boys and one sister, I had two brothers and one sister.

MA: So there was... okay, two girls and three boys, but then your brother passed away, so there was two. So what type of work did your father do in Oakland?

CY: My father was a gardener, but he, he wasn't a very healthy, strong person, so he couldn't actually do the gardening too much himself. So he was like a contractor, he was able to speak English and write English, so he went to get customers and he billed them, and then he paid his workers.

MA: And were most of his workers other Isseis?

CY: They were all Japanese, Isseis.

MA: And what neighborhood in Oakland did you grow up in?

CY: In Oakland it was Twenty-ninth Street.

MA: And was that, were there many Japanese living in your neighborhood?

CY: There was one Japanese family living in the house in front of my mother's and father's home. And then, yes, there was several, about three Japanese families, we were clustered together.

MA: And which, what grade school did you attend in Oakland?

CY: I attended, I can't remember the name of the elementary school. It might have been Grant Elementary, it was right next door to my house.

MA: And how many of your fellow students were Niseis?

CY: I was the only Japanese there in that, my class. That was in that elementary school. In elementary school I didn't have any Japanese students at all. And then in junior high school, I had several Japanese friends. They were actually in my class. You want their names?

MA: Oh, that's okay. So what religion did your family practice?

CY: Well, my mother was Buddhist and my father was Shinto, but my mother had a classmate from Japan who moved to Livingston and then moved back into Berkeley. So when she saw my mother's name in the college alumni book, she came to visit my mother. And she was going to a Japanese church in Berkeley called Heishinto, Heishinto, so she encouraged my mother to come to church. And so that's how we happened to go to this Christian church, and that's why we, we went to Christian church, and that was not because of family religion, it was because of a friend.

MA: And did you go to Sunday school?

CY: And I went to Sunday school all the way through my high school years because I had very nice friends in church. In fact, I still have a very dear friend that we all went to the same church.

MA: That's great. So what about Japanese language school? Did you attend...

CY: Yes, we attended Japanese language school, but it doesn't mean that I, it did any good. [Laughs] We went after school to Sawai Gakuen, Sawai, S-A-W-A-I. He was from, a graduate of a university in the East Coast, I think it was Dartmouth or something. He was a rather unusual person, and so he couldn't find a job, so he became a Japanese teacher and taught Japanese school after our American school was over. So we had had Nihon gakkou no picnic and things like that, but we, I don't know what we went to Japanese school for because it didn't register very much. [Laughs]

MA: Oh, that's funny.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.