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

<Begin Segment 1>

MA: Okay, so today is August 1, 2008, and I'm here with Chiyoko Yano. I'm Megan Asaka, the interviewer, and the cameraperson is Dana Hoshide. And we're at Mrs. Yano's house in Berkeley, California. So thank you so much for doing this interview with us. I really appreciate it.

CY: Well, thank you very much.

MA: So I wanted to start by asking when you were born.

CY: February 27, 1918.

MA: And where were you born?

CY: I was born in Oakland, California.

MA: And what was the name given to you at birth?

CY: Chiyoko Yoshii.

MA: And a little bit about your, your parents. What was your father's name?

CY: Kiyozumi.

MA: Kiyozumi?

CY: Yes, Yoshi. Kiyozumi Yoshii.

MA: And where was he from in Japan?

CY: His family is originally from Kochi, Japan, but his honseki, the home address, is known as Tokyo, Japan.

MA: And when did he, his family go from Kochi to Tokyo? What was that story?

CY: During the (Meiji era in Japan), he followed his, the lord from Kochi castle to the, the contingent went to Edo. And his Japanese address in Tokyo is same as was what was given to him at that time.

MA: And what were his motivations for coming to the United States?

CY: Well, originally, his, they were very... what do you call, outward. They felt that Japan should know the outside world, and so he decided to come to Brazil to buy Holstein cows to set up a dairy in Japan in Tokyo. So he set it up, right now, which is really the middle metropolis of Japan, but at that time it was just no-man's-land, and so that's where he started a farm. But then the Japanese people are lactate intolerant, and they don't drink milk as such. Only when you're, the few days before you're dying is the only time they could afford to drink milk, and so his business went bankrupt.

MA: So his business went bankrupt, and then was he looking to make money then in the United States?

CY: Yes. He was, he never expected to stay here. He came to make his fortune and return to Japan.

MA: And you were telling me that he was stuck in San Francisco during the great earthquake.

CY: Yes, (1906).

MA: And he had an interesting memory of that time. Didn't he have a particular job?

CY: Yes, well, his, he had carried dynamite, a box of dynamite, one box once a day, for one dollar a day.

MA: And was that to clear the rubble?

CY: Clear the rubble, uh-huh. They had to tear down the half-damaged buildings and things. So using dynamite, I guess, was the quickest way.

MA: But dangerous, I guess.

CY: Yes. And so he didn't know he was carrying dynamite, but if he carried one box from one place to another place, well, then that was, earned him one dollar a day.

MA: And how did he meet your mother?

CY: He, it was, in Japan in those days, there was no such thing as meeting. [Laughs] It was an arranged marriage by relatives. And it was arranged by a Mr. Shigenori Yoshii, his cousin.

MA: And was your mother also from Kochi-ken?

CY: No, my mother was from Saitama-ken. But now it's all the greater part of Tokyo.

MA: And what was your mother's name?

CY: Her name is Tsuya, T-S-U-Y-A, Yanai, Y-A-N-A-I.

MA: And what type of work did her family do in Japan?

CY: They were sake producers, and they made sake.

MA: And do you know how old she was when she married your father and then came over to the U.S.?

CY: Oh, she must have been about twenty-six.

MA: And so your, your parents married and then came over?

CY: Yes, they were married in Tokyo, Japan.

MA: And then settled in, in Oakland where you were born?

CY: Yes.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MA: So you were telling me that you were born in Oakland but actually spent some time in Japan when you were very young?

CY: Yes, about when I was from eighteen months to six, I think.

MA: And why did your parents take you back to Japan?

CY: Well, the purpose of it was if, so that both of them could earn money. But two years later, my brother was born, and another brother was born, and they decided, well, there's no way that my parents are going to go back to Japan with two more children, so they decided to call me back right away because the immigration law came into the picture, that (1924).

MA: And how did that, what, did the immigration law affect you?

CY: It had something to do with, if you're, if you're in Japan and you want to come back to the United States, you had to be back by a certain date. And so I think, I'm not quite sure, I think it was June 30th or something like that. So I came back on the last boat that would make it in time for the regulation. And so I came back on the Taiyo-maru.

MA: And so when you, when your parents took you to Japan, they left you and then went back to Oakland? So you were...

CY: Yes, they left me... originally I was to stay with my mother's mother, but my father's mother said, "No, she's my son's daughter, and I would have the responsibility of raising her." So she insisted that my mother leave her with her. And so she was already a widow then, so, and she had, she was taking care of three other nephew and nieces, and so you could imagine, I was the fourth child, but I was the youngest of the four. But I was her granddaughter, the others were one nephew and two nieces. Their mother and father were in Korea, and her father, their father was in Korea and passed away and when the mother received the telegram that he passed away in Korea, she had a heart attack and died right there. And so the children became a widow -- I mean, orphans, and so the aunt took over. And that was most unusual because in those days, the Japanese woman had no way of earning money. And so, but I guess she must have had funds enough to raise those three children, and by the time I left Japan, they were all three of them working. And soon after that, they were, by arranged marriage, they married very, very well.

MA: So they were much older than you.

CY: Yes.

MA: So you had some early memories of Japan that you were telling me, especially of the, the earthquake?

CY: I was a very spoiled child because I was the youngest. [Laughs] And the only grandchild that was living with my grandmother.

MA: And do you remember the, the big earthquake in Tokyo?

CY: Yes, I was, in 1923, I was right in Tokyo, and I survived all of that.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 4>

MA: So what about high school? Which high school did you attend?

CY: I went to Berkeley High School.

MA: So at that time were, was your family still living in Oakland?

CY: No, we had moved to Berkeley by then.

MA: And in terms of the Japanese communities, how did Berkeley's differ from Oakland's? Was it much larger?

CY: No, I think Oakland had more Japanese, I'm not quite sure. But we used to have a Nihonjinkai, I remember we had... and then because we had to go to his office to take care of my brother's shoushurei, that conscription notice that he got from Japan because he was a dual citizen. So my parents became very excited, they forgot all about that until the conscription notice came, to serve in the army. And so we had to ask the Japanese consulate to help us, but then you usually didn't have to go directly, you went through the Nihonjinkai person who was, had the authority to do that.

MA: So how was your, was your brother born in Japan?

CY: Born in, no, he was born in Oakland. He was born in 1920, but my, I was a dual citizen, my mother and my father put my brother as a dual citizen, too. But then by the time the second son, third son was born, they didn't bother.

MA: So it was just the two of you oldest.

CY: Just the two of us.

MA: So going back a little bit to high school, what were your goals for the future? 'Cause you eventually went on to college. I'm just thinking, what were your, in high school, your, sort of, career goals, or what did you think you wanted to do after?

CY: I didn't have any particular goals. [Laughs]

MA: And so you went on to Berkeley. And how did your parents feel about you going on to college and pursuing higher education?

CY: They, they didn't express themselves as they didn't want me to go or anything like that.

MA: So they were, they were okay.

CY: Yes, they were okay.

MA: And then what year did you graduate from high school?

CY: 1936.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

MA: And did you start at Berkeley in the fall?

CY: Yes, the fall of '36.

MA: What sort of classes did you take at Berkeley?

CY: I, I took a liberal arts course, I remember I took zoology, and we had to take English 1-A and 1-B, and then I took history. I took a science course, I took an English course, a science course... oh, and I took a Japanese course. There was a Japanese -- no, American woman who started teaching at U.C. Berkeley just around that time. She was from Japan, I think she was a daughter of a missionary, and so we had a whole group of Japanese students.

MA: So there were, there was a group of Niseis that were at Berkeley?

CY: At Berkeley, uh-huh.

MA: How many other women -- I'm just curious -- were at Berkeley at that time?

CY: Well, there must have been about thirty of us, if I remember correctly. Do you know, did you have a chance to interview Tomoye Takahashi? You know of her name, you've heard of her?

MA: Tell me about her a little bit. Was she at Berkeley with you?

CY: No, she was a San Francisco girl. She was very active in, she came from a very wealthy Japanese family, and she was at U.C. Berkeley. And for some reason, she took me under her wings, and we went to a chancellor's tea together and things like that, I know she was at International House because when I started working there, I saw her name.

MA: So she was kind of a mentor and important person.

CY: Yes, she was kind of a mentor. She was, I would say she was about three years older than I am.

MA: And you were telling me that you didn't finish at Berkeley.

CY: No, I didn't.

MA: And can you talk about what happened or why you were unable to finish...

CY: Oh, I, my father, as I said before, wasn't very well, so he wasn't able to work anymore. And I had other brothers and younger sisters, and so I went to work. A friend of ours, Mr. and Mrs., Mr. Nozaka was the manager of the North American Mercantile Company in San Francisco, and so they offered me a job. It was all through my mother, that she came to my mother and said, "My husband's company could use you," so, so that's why I went to work.

MA: So you, so your father became sick and couldn't work, so you had to help support the family.

CY: Yes, uh-huh.

MA: And I'm sorry, what work did you do at the North American Mercantile?

CY: I was a bookkeeper. I was, we had a Japanese man, Mr. Miho, who was the actual financial officer, I guess, of the company, and this North American Mercantile Company was set up with the, from Mr. Domoto. Have you heard of the Domoto family?

MA: No, can you say a little bit about them?

CY: He's a very famous Japanese businessman around this area. Not very many Japanese immigrants had a chance to set up an export-import company, and it was doing very well until the war. They imported Japanese merchandise and crabmeat was their, NAMCO crab. NAMCO stands for North American Mercantile Company, and they used to call it NAMCO. And we used to get thousands of cases of crab that's unlabeled, from Japan, and then they would label it for Safeway brand or NAMCO brand, depending on what the buyer wanted.

MA: And was this company located in San Francisco?

CY: In San Francisco.

MA: In the Japantown?

CY: No, right there in the financial district where there were several, there was Pacific Trading Company was a Japanese company, and then the North American Mercantile Company, the Mutual Trading Company. The Mutual Trading Company was with the Togasaki family. Now, the Togasaki family is another famous Japanese family, you've heard of her, Dr. Togasaki. And then there was, I had a friend who worked for the Yokohama Specie Bank, so we used to meet on the train to come to work to San Francisco and we walked part of the way, and she'd go to Yokohama Specie Bank and I would work to, go to North American Mercantile. I'm still very good friends with her, too.

MA: And what was her name?

CY: Her name was, at that time, Alice Hirao, but then she lost her husband at a very young age, he died of a heart attack and so she remarried a man named Mr. Arita, A-R-I-T-A. She lives in Oakland.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MA: So let's talk about December 7, 1941, the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. And can you talk about what you remember about that day and how you heard about the news of Pearl Harbor?

CY: If I remember correctly, I heard, I was at home and we heard it over the radio.

MA: And how did you feel when you heard about this?

CY: Oh, we felt terrible. My father and my mother, too, I'm sure they did. We were kind of devastated.

MA: And was your father targeted by the FBI or was there any worry that he would be...

CY: There was a worry of being targeted, or there was rumors, all kind of rumors. And so we had a Japanese book, great big book like this. My mother and my father treasured that book because it had the history of the Yoshii family. It was written up by somebody, I don't know, but they were afraid that if they held a book like that in their house, they would be suspected of espionage. So they tore the book and built a fire in the backyard and secretly burned all the books. I know that happened. And so I know about that book, that they treasured it. It was like a family heirloom, but they decided among themselves that that's the best way to make sure that we don't have to go to prison. And so my father and my mother tore it up into small pieces so that it wouldn't make a big fire. It made, they made a little fire and they took hours trying to burn each thing up. And then, so after the war, my relative is in the bookstore, so I said, "Do you think there's some way I could get a copy of that book that my father and my mother had?" I said, "I don't even know the name of it, but it's supposed to have the history of Japan. And evidently it has something about the Yoshii family in it, so I'd like to keep it, too, even if I can't read it in Japanese, I want the book." So they said, "Any book like that was all burned to the ground by the incendiary bombs that the United States dropped." So they said, "We don't have any kind of books like that or any records of anything like that." So that was the end of the story.

MA: So you mentioned there was a lot of rumors sort of flying around the community.

CY: Huh?

MA: You mentioned there were a lot of rumors...

CY: Yes.

MA: ...flying around the community after Pearl Harbor. What were some other things that people were saying about what happened?

CY: Well, first, one of the rumors was that the FBI was one block away from our house. [Laughs] And they came to arrest men that were one block away, so the next block is our block. And that's why book burning was decided upon. And then I don't remember the other rumors, but I remember that rumor. And then in camp, there was rumors -- I don't know how they got... but there was a friend of my father's, father who used to come and visit him frequently, and he, it was always about Japan winning this war and that part and this part. [Laughs] And I don't know how they got that information because we don't have any radio or newspaper or anything, and they don't, can't read the English well. We didn't have any English newspapers. So I don't know how, there were all those rumors about Japan winning the war circulated in camp, and to my father's ears.

MA: I think a lot of Isseis maybe thought that about Japan.

CY: But my father was never too much pro-Japanese. And I think it saved us because my father and my mother's philosophy was like that.

MA: Was more, how was their philosophy?

CY: Well, some parents were very agitated and they were very determined that they were going to be on the Japanese side, and that America was not good at all. But my father never said things like that, he was more like a pacifist. He, they thought, well, that word gaman and shikata ga nai, you can't help it if the country went to war, you can't help it. And if you're at war, you would expect to be treated a certain way. And so if they treat you a certain way, it doesn't mean that they're bad or good. I mean, it's, that's the development, the results of war, and so you have to take it. That was his philosophy; he didn't say, "Oh, you should fight against it, they have no right to do this or that." He wasn't that type of a person.

MA: That's interesting.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MA: So in February of 1942, you know, the Executive Order 9066 was issued, and they started posting notices that the Japanese Americans were going to be removed to the camps. And what was your reaction about this and about leaving your home and going away?

CY: Well, for some, we were fortunate, we had very nice neighbors. There was a black family living next door, and a black family living diagonally across the street from us, and then there was an Irish family, but they were all very sympathetic toward the fact that we had to do what we had to do. And so they tried to help us, you know, get ready to move. And my, the house that we lived in, we were renting it from an Italian family, and they felt sorry for us, too. They didn't have to move, but we had to move. And so they said that if, if my father wanted to, he could buy the house. It was a very nominal fee, you couldn't buy a house like that anymore, you can't even buy a car at that price. But, so my father agreed to buy it and leave everything there. We didn't have to store anything, we just left the house, it was like going away temporarily. And then my neighbor next door was a black man, and he said, well, he could keep an eye on it. But, and then... I don't know how we found him, but we found a boxer. At that time he was kind of a well-known, young boxer, he was a very young boxer, but he, his name was in the newspapers winning this and that, and he wanted to rent the place. So they rented it to him, I don't know how he came into the picture, it might have been my next-door neighbor who told him. And then I understand that during the war there was about thirty people living in my house. And because they all went to work for the shipyards, and so they would live eight hours one, or ten hours one time, and then another ten hours would be occupied by somebody else. And altogether about thirty people lived. And then we had, they had the run of our house, and we told them they could use all the furniture and things, but certain things, my mother and my father put into a box and we had a little room about the fourth of this size inside the house where, off the bathroom, that used to be like a storage room. And so we stored some of the things that we didn't want them to use in there, but we noticed when we came back that that room was disturbed. We don't know who disturbed it, but it was disturbed. But that was the only... and so we came back and we had, the furniture and everything was all, not in good condition and things, but still, that was more or less expected because we were gone for three and a half, four years.

MA: That's great, though, that this Italian family sold the house to you.

CY: So we came back to our house. And then we had no trouble asking them to move out. You know, some families, they became squatters, so we had the house all ready to move in when we came back August 15th.

MA: So it sounds like you had some very supportive people in the neighborhood watching over you.

CY: That was all because the neighbors were watching. And I remember when we went to Tanforan, my neighbor, Mr. and Mrs. Howard came to visit us in camp, and they bought us a few fruits and things. And so we had very nice neighbors.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MA: So can you talk about your memories of Tanforan and your first day there, maybe?

CY: Oh, yes. I've kind of forgotten, it didn't seem to leave any lasting bad memories. But then when you really think about it, it was the first time that I slept on a mattress filled with hay. And then on top of that, we had to sleep in a horse stall. And I was thinking to myself, "My goodness, if they told me to evacuate now from this house and go to a horse racing place and sleep in there on whatever bed that you had" -- well, we didn't know, but then we had to fill our own bag of, bags of, for the mattress. And my mother had kind of a division of labor in her mind that something like that was not a woman's job. And so my two brothers had to fill all of our bedding. But, so, I mean, that was my, our family's feeling, so there was all this division of labor, what a girl was, a woman was expected to do, and what the menfolks' responsibilities were to the family. And so my brothers took it as part of their, you know, upbringing. And we didn't think anything... it's a natural thing, that's how we were brought up.

MA: And your mother really sort of emphasized that? Your mother emphasized that?

CY: Oh, yes, uh-huh. I mean, she was very, very Japanesey. She had no intention of becoming an "Americanized" person because she was gonna go to Japan, I mean, she was gonna return to Japan and rear her family in Japan.

MA: So she maintained a lot of the traditional Japanese...

CY: Oh, she maintained every part of it. She had no intention of learning what the American culture was going to provide for her children until my sister started to go to college. She wasn't about to listen to all these Japanese, you know, things. And so my brother used to say, "Boy, I wonder what Mama would have said about, I would have been scolded if I acted like my sister." [Laughs] She's ten years younger, so I was twenty by the time she was ten, and then when I was, she was ready to go to college, I was a married woman. So it didn't bother me.

MA: So how long, then, were you in Tanforan? When did you arrive and when did you end up leaving?

CY: Arrived in May, I think.

MA: May of '42?

CY: May of '42, and we left in September. Because my brother was an electrician, so he, they asked him to leave ahead of our family and he went as the work crew first, about a month or so before we, the whole camp arrived. And so we were one of the first trains to leave for Tanforan because my brother was already there.

MA: So you left Tanforan in September but your brother was already there helping in Topaz, helping to build?

CY: He was the electrician, so he put in all the lights and things. Not all by himself, but with other electricians.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MA: And then can you describe arriving in, in Delta and then in Topaz?

CY: Yes. If I remember correctly, we arrived during the daytime. And we were all put into a truck, and we sat on the truck and we, must have been a sixteen-mile drive, and it was bumpy and hot and dusty.

MA: And were you escorted by armed military...

CY: Oh, yes. It was a military truck. You, you've seen it where they have rows of seats and you all... that's how we traveled. And I remember that long ride, we had some shade-like things drawn, so we couldn't see the outside while we were traveling. And then every once in a while the train stopped in the middle of no-man's-land, and the military guards got off first and they stood there, and we were only supposed to get off the train and stand within so many feet, and you couldn't wander off. Then you stretch your legs and then we had to go back in again.

MA: And so you arrived to Topaz, and what were you thinking when you got there? What was going through your mind when you finally arrived to Topaz and you saw where you were gonna be?

CY: Yeah, we knew that we were going to be there for indefinite period of time, we had no idea. Just like when we left for Tanforan and we had no idea. Although we knew in the, from the very beginning that it was supposed to be temporary quarters. But within the three months that we were there, in the infield, the infield of the racetrack...

MA: In Tanforan?

CY: In Tanforan, they built temporary houses for -- not houses, but temporary buildings to move us from the horse stalls into there.

MA: So in Topaz, can you describe your living conditions, the barracks?

CY: Yes, we had, there were six in our family and we were all in one big room, 20 x 20 or something like that, that was the biggest room they had. It was, one barrack was A, B, C, D, E, F. We were in E because A and F were the rooms that held small families like a mother and father and one child. And then B and E were the big rooms that held six or more. And then C and D, right in the center, they were rooms that held about four, mother, father and two children. And so that's how we were assigned room E, it was, we were in Block 5, building 3, room E.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MA: And what type of work did you end up doing in Topaz? You had an interesting job.

CY: Yes, I had a very interesting job. Well, they recruited me, they, I don't know how they, I got recruited, but the project director called me and asked me to, he needed some kind of record for me, so for me to set up the office. And they called it the Central Statistics.

MA: And what did they do in that office?

CY: Well, we knew everybody who came in, and so he didn't tell me how to do it, he just said, "There's no way of knowing who came in Friday, who came in Monday and where they went." So we had to have a record right away. So we got a list of the people that they brought in on a certain day, and then from there, we didn't have anything like a computer, it was all by hand. And so we had several people helping me, and we made the last name, first name, date of birth and age, and where, what barracks they were assigned to. So we had to do that very quickly because then we put them into alphabetical order so that we could find them, but that's what kind of job we did.

MA: So it was like, kind of a census of all the people in camp?

CY: Census, uh-huh.

MA: And what did they do with, what did the WRA do with this information? Just kind of kept it for --

CY: Oh, they had offices in Washington, D.C., they called it the Statistics Department, and it was run by Mrs. Fern French, she was a U.S. Berkeley statistician, a college professor, I guess, and they recruited her ideas immediately. And then they had another, two other assistants, one was Evelyn Rose, I remember I worked under her. And then they asked me to go to Washington, D.C., and I went to Washington, D.C., for three months.

MA: And this was during the war?

CY: During, while I was in camp. And so that's why I came back, because I was already, after I was married, and I was pregnant. And so I went back to Washington, D.C., and I came back to join my mother and my father, because my husband was already recruited for OSS.

MA: Okay, so you went to D.C., this was after...

CY: After I got married.

MA: had married and everything, okay. So before that, though, you were working --

CY: At Central Statistics all that time.

MA: Right. And you were working pretty closely with the director Ernst?

CY: Uh-huh, Ernst, Charles (...). So when I went to Seattle to come to, go to Japan to join my husband, he was in Seattle with the Social Security Administration. So many of those workers there were hired through the social, they were former employees, these temporarily were loaned to the War Relocation Authority, it was all civil service jobs. So they took workers from one office to another to set it up because they didn't have time to train them. They had to know what, use their good judgment as to how, they had a set of rules of what they wanted, but then they had to set up their ideas. Mr. Ernst was one of the very good project directors.

MA: So you had a, a pretty good relationship with...

CY: Oh yes, I had a very good relationship with him.

MA: And who, how many people worked in your office, how many internees, I guess?

CY: There must have been about ten of us.

MA: And all had sort of been recruited like you?

CY: Then they had an employment office, and we would request workers for this office and that office. And I remember... and the person who was the recruiting office was an interesting man. He was the brother of the director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and so he told me that any time I was in Salt Lake City, let him know. So I did, I heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir several times after the war, but I heard them last time I was there. But one time I went and they were on a tour, and so they didn't have it.

MA: So when you were, then working -- you were one of the first people, then, to start working in this office.

CY: Uh-huh.

MA: So as people sort of arrived and got settled and you finished your census of people arriving, what type of work did you do? Kind of tracking what they were doing...

CY: Yeah, we had to constantly, people would be dying or going, being born, so it was a constant work.

MA: And how would you get the information, like, of weddings or deaths or births?

CY: Oh. For births and deaths it was easy because it came from the hospital, camp hospital. But, but births, weddings, too, you had to get a permit to leave, to get a permit, marriage license to the county seat of that place, people who went to, and you had to have a reason to leave. And so you knew right away that they were getting married.

MA: So you would, okay, so you would get, like, reports every once in a while from the camp hospital and then compile all that information, and then send it on to Washington, D.C. where they had a central office?

CY: Uh-huh.

MA: That's really, that's interesting.

CY: And it was a big operation because we had to do everything by hand. And then in that book, there's a, they called it the "Tree of Topaz," do you know about that? I made a tree, the top was small and the bottom, and then the, right around when they're seventeen to twenty-five was big, and then the little ones are born down here. So then you cut that tree in half vertically, and then it became like a key because the key is like this. And so they, Mr. Ernst used to give that to visitors that came to see Topaz, it's the "Key to Topaz." And it's in that book that was written by the, Sandra something, the professor from, history professor from UC Utah.

MA: University of Utah?

CY: Uh-huh.

MA: Wow, that's... so you mentioned Director Ernst would give that to visitors who would come? Like people from the WRA central office?

CY: People who visited... well, there weren't that many visitors, but he cut that in half and he used to call that the "Key of Topaz."

MA: So then your office was really in charge of all the information about the internees in Topaz.

CY: Uh-huh. We had, we knew everything about a person. It was a very confidential job. I couldn't, we didn't go out talking about who was this and who was that, otherwise we'd get into trouble. [Laughs]

MA: But an important job.

CY: Very important job.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

MA: So can you talk about meeting your husband and a little bit about him, his background? 'Cause he has an interesting story.

CY: Well, my husband, I knew right away what kind of education he had and his background, because I'm the one who gets the report from one place, when he transferred from Kooskia, Idaho. You heard of Kooskia, Idaho?

MA: Yes, it was an internment camp, but they had people work, right, on the railroads?

CY: They, they built the railroad, and there, he was a truck driver. He drove a truck backwards, he says, because there was no streets, no way to turn the truck if you went forward, then to come back out of there, you had to drive it backwards.

MA: And your husband was in Kooskia, well, he was a Japanese national, is that right? He was born in Japan?

CY: Uh-huh.

MA: But educated in the United States, right?

CY: Yes, and Japan.

MA: And Japan. And was he then picked up right after Pearl Harbor?

CY: Yes, right after Pearl Harbor.

MA: And where was he sent? 'Cause he was in, you said, in Texas.

CY: He was... Texas, uh-huh. He was working for the Japanese government ever since he graduated from USC, because they needed someone who spoke Japanese and wrote Japanese as well as English. So, so that's where...

MA: And he was sent to Kooskia from Texas?

CY: I think he went to several Justice Department camps. I think he was... I know when the FBI picked him up, he was sent to San Antonio, Texas, or someplace.

MA: Like a prison?

CY: Prison. And then they transferred him to... because in those days, in Texas, they didn't have that many Japanese to evacuate. And then so, then he, he was sent from there to a prison, but then when he was there as a prisoner, but later on he was transferred to a Justice Department holding place, and would have been someplace like Missouri, Montana. I know he was in Missouri, Montana.

MA: Oh, Missoula, Montana.

CY: Missoula, uh-huh. And there's another one, was it in Idaho?

MA: I'm not sure. I know Kooskia was in Idaho.

CY: Kooskia was in Idaho. But he, he was in several. He wasn't in just one. I don't know why they transferred the inmates here and there from time to time.

MA: But the last, sort of, Department of Justice camp he was in was at Kooskia, right?

CY: Kooskia, uh-huh, that was the last place. And every place he went, he was always recruited as the translator to the judge or whoever. And he asked for release, but every time it was denied because they thought that he knew too much, but they couldn't pinpoint what he did wrong. And so finally they said, "Well, he must be okay, he probably won't be a, do anything against the United States, so we'll let him go, release him to his family in Topaz." Because he didn't have, his parents were living in Japan, so they would either have to send him back to Japan or keep him in the United States.

MA: And did he have any relatives in Topaz?

CY: Yes, see, his brother was farming in Yuba City, and so he, they were evacuated to Tule Lake. And so from Tule Lake they came, segregation camp, and so he was sent to Topaz when they decided, when his family didn't want to go. So he came to Topaz.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MA: And when did your husband come to Topaz? Do you know what, around what year that was?

CY: It was 1944, I think, 1944, someplace in March.

MA: And so you were saying that you had already...

CY: I knew he was coming.

MA: had seen his file. So you knew his name and kind of, a little bit about him.

CY: And then when he came, he, they asked him to write the Topaz Times, the Japanese, the Japanese section of the Topaz Times, so he worked right on the next, next building, next room from me. But we had a cubbyhole, like, and the walls weren't all the way to the ceiling, it was, you know, just so that you couldn't see across. And so Mr. Ernst would call me by my name, Miss Yoshii, Miss Yoshii, and oh, he called me several times a day. And then he wondered who this "Miss Yoshii" was, and every time I got called, name was called, I would come out of my office and go to Mr. Ernst's office. And then the supervisors all had a meeting one time, and next to me sat Mr. Sugiyama, he's the Reverend Sugiyama from the (Nichiren) church in Sacramento. Do you -- well, he passed away already. His son was one of the doctors at Topaz, Dr. Sugiyama, Henry Sugiyama, he lives in Sacramento now. And such a small world, his niece lives right across the street from my daughter in Sacramento, no, in Davis. And they asked me if I knew somebody who, so and so from Berkeley, because her mother went to school at Armstrong before the war, so she knew some Japanese families here, so she would ask me if I knew (...)... well, he's a dentist. So I said, "Yes, I knew she lives right next door to my tea teacher, Mrs. Morishige," etcetera, etcetera. And so I said, "Well, you know, I don't know anybody in Sacramento or Davis except my own daughter," and they said, "Oh, I'll bring, when my mother comes to visit me, I'll bring her over." So we had her over for lunch, and I met her mother and I told her, "Well, I don't know anybody." She was asking me if I know this person and that person, and because she knows several families in Berkeley because she went to Armstrong Business College here. And so, so I said, "I just don't know anybody in Sacramento except for the doctor that delivered my first child Joyce. His name was Dr. Sugiyama." And she says, "Oh, that's my brother-in-law." [Laughs] So such a small world.

MA: Small world, yeah.

CY: And it's her daughter that lives across the daughter from my daughter, Doris.

MA: So then the Reverend Sugiyama, did he have a hand in introducing you and your husband then?

CY: Yes, well, he, I was sitting next to him in this meeting, and he tells me, "You know, when you go home today, could you tell your father I'd like to come see him?" And so I said, "Yes, I could tell him that." And then he said, "I'll come see him after dinner." And so I came home and I told my father that a person named Mr., the Reverend Sugiyama is coming to see you. He's from Sacramento, and he wants to see you." And so my father said, "Okay." And so we were expecting him, and along with him he brings this man that was working in the next (room). And, well, you knew right away what the object of that was. [Laughs] And he, and then so the next time, he said, "Oh, I'll introduce you to his brother," who lived in Topaz, and his brother and his wife came with a family album. And that's where he saw Mr., another friend of his in the picture and he says, "Well, how come this family is in your family album?' He says, "Oh, that's my sister-in-law." [Laughs] And so, and then they were all from Kochi.

MA: So your father recognized someone in, in this album of your husband's family.

CY: Yes, uh-huh. And so he says, "Well, how come he's in your family album?" So he says, "Well, that's my sister-in-law." That's why the family was in that family album.

MA: And from the same ken, from Kochi-ken.

CY: Yeah, same, Kochi.

MA: And what is your husband's name?

CY: Isao. His name at that time was Isao Yano. I-S-A-O Yano.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MA: And so you met and decided to get married?

CY: Well, I had nothing to say about it. My parents negotiated all that with them. They even set the date. Not right away, but they set the date as August the 26th.

MA: And that was 1944?

CY: '44.

MA: And how did you feel about this marriage?

CY: Well, I didn't think anything more about it because that was, I was trained all that, all these many years under my mother, and it was... and then the, my mother and my father, they were twenty years apart, and my husband and I were thirteen years apart. And my parents, they were married... well, the reason for that, my mother's explanation was in Japan, you don't marry until you're... what do you call it? Settled for life. You have to have a good job and be able to provide for your wife, not work together to make a living, like children were getting married when they were twenty-one, and they were husband and wife, both twenty-one and twenty-two. But in my mother's days, that wasn't the policy. You didn't, a person would never bring a, introduce a young man to another family to ask for her hand unless he was established with a good job and earning money to be able to support her.

MA: So that's why the men were usually much older.

CY: Much older. By the time you graduate college in Japan and get settled, it'd be ten years.

MA: And so it was sort of expected for you, then, that you would...

CY: Oh, it was expected.

MA: ...that you would, your parents would sort of arrange your marriage?

CY: Uh-huh. Oh, my mother even had my dress all ready.

MA: A beautiful kimono.

CY: But she was very Japanesey all her life. And the reason for that is, she told my niece Janet that Grandma never learned how to speak English because she didn't think it was necessary. She never planned to stay in the United States this long. [Laughs] She was going to go back in a few years, so why bother?


MA: Okay, so we were talking about meeting your husband, and you said you married in August of 1944. So tell me about your wedding in Topaz. What was that like?

CY: It was, we bought our cookies and things from Salt Lake City, and I think I bought my wedding material, that wedding dress, too, the white wedding dress my mother kind of helped make it. And we had a lady, a very good friend of my mother's who was in the cleaning business before the war, so she came one day and ironed it all out just before my wedding, so it was a simple dress. It's in that, Dory wore it for her... so anyway, it was made in Topaz.

MA: And your mother had brought a kimono with her.

CY: With her, yes.

MA: For to you wear in your wedding.

CY: And so after the regular wedding, we, she dressed me afterwards and we took a picture.

MA: Of you in the kimono.

CY: In this kimono.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

MA: And so your husband then was recruited by the OSS?

CY: Uh-huh.

MA: Was that shortly after you were married?

CY: Yes, soon after I was married.

MA: And do you remember anything about how he was recruited or how he ended up in the OSS?

CY: Well, the recruiters, I think, came to camp to interview these men, and I don't know who was... one of them, I think, was my husband, and a friend of ours, Masuji Fuji, I think he was one of them. Because she, when the interviewer from University of Maine came, my husband said -- "Who were your friends in OSS?" And my husband said, "I didn't have any friends." I talked to my husband, thought, "Oh, my goodness, my husband is so abrupt." [Laughs] That's what I thought. And so he didn't want to say who his friends were. So I said, after they left, I said, "Dad, you know Masuji Fuji. We go to Reno together," etcetera, etcetera. And he didn't say anything. He didn't argue very, back, argue with me too much anyway. And so I had no, I couldn't continue because he didn't say anything more. [Laughs] That was it. He didn't have, he claimed, told the interviewer he didn't have any friends, he didn't know anybody.

MA: And that was because he had signed something saying he wouldn't divulge any information about his experiences. So, so they came to recruit him in camp, and then he left eventually.

CY: He left very soon after our -- excuse me -- our marriage to, he went to Washington, D.C. And I didn't know exactly where he was, but I understand they were all gathered in Collinswood, Virginia, and that was their base.

MA: And so he moved to D.C., and you said that you actually moved.

CY: Yes, I went to work for the WRA.

MA: Did you know he was in D.C. at that time? Did you... I mean, you were, so you were together.

CY: Yes. I didn't go with him, but we went separately.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

MA: And what was it like working at the WRA headquarters there?

CY: Oh, it was, I, it was no different than any other time that I worked. And after the war, I did work for the U.S. Treasury in San Francisco, but it was no different.

MA: And people there were mostly Caucasians?

CY: We had, I had two Japanese men, Tsuchiya, something Tsuchiya, I can't remember his first name, and another Japanese man that I had seen in camp. And they were all someone who knew Fern French, the head, so they, it was someone that she knew. They came from a different camp, I think.

MA: And why did they have you leave camp and come to D.C.? Was there a specific reason?

CY: Well, yes, so that I was in charge of the Topaz report, and those other people came from different camps, so they were in charge of another camp, and that's what they did. I can't exactly remember what I did, but it was very similar. And I remember we had to make statistical reports like how many males and how many females and things, and what their age brackets were. And so we had no way of sorting them, so we used to have a, punch a hole in a certain place and we used to slide a long rod through these holes, and then lift the cards up. And then we knew that those were the cards that had birthdates within certain... that's how we made our report. And then we alphabetized -- well, they were pretty much in alphabetical order, so we knew exactly who was in that category and this and that. So we devised all kinds of ways of figuring out statistical reports.

MA: So that time in D.C., you were sort of analyzing the data that you'd gathered in Topaz.

CY: In Topaz.

MA: What did the WRA do with this information? Was there, like, a final report that they had to make?

CY: Yes, there was a final report, and I have the final report. It's, they didn't publish that many, but they published enough to give to the persons connected with it, and that would have any interest, so they gave me a copy. They told me that it wasn't for, given to everybody, but they wanted me to have one. But that copy, it's at my daughter's home in Davis. My son-in-law is a librarian, and he worked for U.C. Davis for approximately thirty-eight years after he graduated from library science at U.C. Berkeley. He has a master's degree in library science, so he got a job right away, too, right after graduation. And he, that was his first and only job, and so he's a retiree from there. So... and he was very interested in the relocation, his family was in, was from Oregon, he's a Caucasian and he's from Oregon. He said that his community was very, very.. what do you call... prejudiced in Oregon. They didn't like different nationalities living in their community. But he didn't feel that way, he came, he was a more liberal type of person. But he told me about his mother's friends and things, they were very prejudiced. And the mother told me, his mother told me that, "Oh, Chiyoko, did you know that they only found one person that was a traitor to the United States in Oregon?" And so I told, I said, "That I could hardly believe," 'cause it's been reported that there has been no cases of sabotage or anything among the Japanese Americans. And so I said, "It's hard to believe," but she mentioned that to me several times. So I told my son-in-law that, "Your mother thinks that there was one sabotage," and he says, "Oh, my mother is always talking about that." And he says, "She doesn't know what she's talking about." [Laughs]

MA: So going back to D.C., where were you living during those three months you were there?

CY: Oh, I was living in a Jewish family named the Fitzchandlers. And Mr. and Mrs. Fitzchandlers were from the White Russia, and so they were, they had a revolution and they were chased out of country if you were White Russian. And so he, they came to the United States, and he was a musician and his goal, his goal in life was to be able to conduct at the Constitution Hall once in his lifetime, and he was able to accomplish that. So he was a orchestra conductor.

MA: So you were living with them while you were working at the WRA.

CY: Yeah, and I was, WRA found that space for me. And there was, she had another Japanese person, his name was Noda. I don't know what happened to him, but I understand he married Dr. Kiyasu's daughter, I'm not quite sure. And my daughter has a very good friend from the Noda family, but evidently they're not the same Noda family.

MA: So your husband at that time was in Virginia, you said?

CY: Yes.

MA: Did you see him?

CY: No, he came to see me at... well, and I stayed for a few days at the WRA home. They had a little place where they set up so that the people who came to relocate to different places had a place to stay right away, instead of going to a hotel.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MA: Okay. So then you were in D.C. for three months and then decided to return to Topaz?

CY: Well, Topaz, that was because Joyce was coming.

MA: And you wanted to be with family?

CY: Yes, uh-huh. Otherwise I'd be all by myself in Washington, D.C.

MA: What was the process like to get back into camp? Was it just easy because...

CY: Well, they knew, they knew me, and they knew I was coming back when they sent me out. And so they expected me back, so there was no, no paperwork problems at all. They just, they were expecting me back.

MA: And your husband, then, remained in, in Virginia? In Washington, D.C.

CY: Yes, in Washington.

MA: So you get back to Topaz, and you had Joyce in Topaz, is that right?

CY: Uh-huh.

MA: And what was the medical care like in Topaz, the hospital?

CY: Oh, it was very nice. We, we had better, I understand we had better medical care than the average citizens living outside in Delta because we had very good doctors. They were Japanese doctors, well-trained, whereas in Delta it was a small country town and they just had one country doctor.

MA: And were the nurses and the staff also internees?

CY: The nurses and staff, some of them were Caucasians, and the head nurses were all Caucasians, the RNs. And then like my sister was only fifteen, well, they all worked as a nurse's aide. And, but they were all Japanese people, so we, I think in general, we got very good care.

MA: And the facilities of the hospital, how modern were they? Were they up to, sort of, standards at the time?

CY: Well, at that time, I wasn't too familiar with the medical world at all. And it was my first experience, and so I really didn't know how much was good and how much was bad. But now that I went to the museum and saw what the hospital rooms, you know, the hospital bed and things were, they look very, very primitive compared to what we have at the modern hospitals now. But at that time, I couldn't tell the difference. I didn't know any better.

MA: And when was Joyce born?

CY: May 13, 1945.

MA: So right before the...

CY: She was premature, she only weighed four pounds. She was...

MA: How many months, how many weeks premature?

CY: She was six weeks premature. I wasn't expecting her until June.

MA: So she was born in May, and that was pretty close to the end of the war.

CY: Yes, three months before. The war ended August 15th, and she's born May 13th. She was born on Sunday, Mother's Day, May 13th.

MA: And so how did you feel when you heard the news about the end of the war and particularly the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

CY: Well, my father, just like I said, was a man of few words. And he didn't express themselves like other parents did that was very pro-Japanese. And so he didn't say anything against the United States or anything, that they dropped the bomb.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

MA: So the war ended and when did you actually leave Topaz?

CY: On August the 15th, the day that the war ended. We had decided several months before that we were going to earmark August 15th as the day that we leave. So it took us a few, we had to have at least a month to ask the tenants living in my house to leave, and they were all gone and out by August the 15th. And my next-door neighbor, Kelly, he came to pick us up at the train station and drove us home.

MA: So it was you and Joyce and your parents and your siblings, all returned back to...

CY: No, my brother Sumio was already serving in the army then. And so it was, and my brother Kazuo, the younger of my two brothers had come a week earlier to clean up the house. And so he, he was... I can't remember, he didn't come with Kelly because I don't think we all fit into his car if he came with our baggage and everything. We were so fortunate to have such a kind neighbor.

MA: So you returned directly, then, back to, to Berkeley.

CY: And then after we returned, my mother and my father had several friends who were... well, we would be, they were homeless, you know, they didn't have a place to go back to. So they, they could have gone to church, one of the churches, Japanese churches opened up their home, their rooms for sleeping quarters, etcetera, but some of them asked my parents so my parents allowed them to come and stay with us. So we had several people. My neighbor who used to live next to us in Topaz, he had lived in San Francisco before the war, but he was living at my house for quite some time. And then Mr. and Mrs. Ueda and her daughter lived at my mother's house for several years. And then I came back from Japan after four years, and my parents needed a space for three of us, four of us at that time, two girls and my husband and I. So we had to ask them to leave.


MA: So you were telling me about returning to Berkeley and your house, and your mother and father housed many of the families who, you know, came back and didn't have anywhere to live. So how many Japanese Americans eventually returned to Berkeley that you noticed? Was there a significant part of the community that never returned?

CY: Not everyone returned. I noticed that not everybody returned, but I would say the majority returned to Berkeley or Oakland, the nearby neighborhood.

MA: And when did your husband come back from what he was doing in the OSS overseas and all of that?

CY: He came back to camp in March of (1945). He was released, finally released in March of (1945).

MA: Oh, okay. So, but when he was in the OSS already?

CY: He was in the OSS. I didn't see him coming back. (I came back) in March of (1945), came back to (Berkeley). Oh, and then he, he did, he did. I remember I went to pick him up at the train station. He came back in a captain's uniform because they had to dress him like an American soldier even if he was a civilian employee. And he, so he didn't have any civilian clothes, so he had a, he was a captain's rank.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

MA: And when, I'm just curious, so you were in Berkeley...

CY: And he came back to Berkeley.

MA: Okay, he came back. And what year was that? Was that, like, '45, right after the war, or was it a couple years after?

CY: No, it was '45. Then he, we went to Washington, D.C. for a few months, and he got a job they sent him back to Japan.

MA: And that's when you went with him?

CY: No, I didn't go with him right away. I was living with my parents and Joyce, and I went to work for the United States Treasury.

MA: In San Francisco?

CY: San Francisco. And I worked there until I left for Japan. Because it took a little while to negotiate the transfer. It wasn't, we had to wait our turn. We had, in fact, we had to wait for our living quarters in Washington Heights. It wasn't quite completed.

MA: So Washington Heights was a compound in Tokyo?

CY: In Tokyo, It was right next to the Meiji Park. Do you know, you heard of Meiji Park? And right now, that area is the NHK facilities.

MA: And what was your husband doing in Japan? What type of work?

CY: He was a translator, interpreter, they called it ATIS. You've heard of ATIS? That's where he was working, in the NYK building under General MacArthur's headquarters.

MA: So then you moved to Japan with Joyce to meet him, and he was already there. And you moved into this place called Washington Heights...

CY: Well, it wasn't quite ready. So for two weeks or one month, they sent us to Fujiya Hotel in Hakone until our quarters were completed, and then we moved back to Washington Heights.

MA: And what was the city of Tokyo like? I mean, I'm sure it must have been destroyed, parts of it, from the war.

CY: Destroyed. And I thought, well, when I went from Yokohama to Tokyo, I thought, "My goodness, this is a funny country," with all these open fields with a lot of telephone poles. And I said, "What, what is the reason for all these telephone poles?" And I told my husband, I said, "Japan has a lot of telephone poles. What was the purpose of all this?" And then he says, he says, "You're so ignorant of the things that took place." He says, "This place was Kawasaki," that place where they had a lot of war... not exactly -- they made war materials that they used for war. So the American soldiers had to bomb that place, and so they, they burned the whole thing. And the chimneys of these factories, they don't burn because that's the purpose of the chimney. So that's why you see just chimneys standing all over, it looks like telephone poles, but that was okay. I mean, I didn't know the difference.

MA: And what about the people in Japan? How were they doing?

CY: They were very... I would say, acceptive of the, what do you call the...

MA: Occupation?

CY: They were very acceptive, and they didn't... well, they had nothing to, they had nothing to eat, they had no roof over their head, but they were very innovative. They picked up scraps of metal or something and they made a little roof over their head and they put a, made a little stand of, with box or something they could find, they put a basin so they could wash their... and then they were very neat in spite of all of that. And, and Japan is very hot in summer, and so we used to take a walk outside of Washington Heights, in the back side, and we used to see these beautiful large estates that were burned down. You could see the entryway that had post, and you could tell that that was somebody's home. And then they would use that as a part of the wall or something, and they would make a little space to sleep in. They were so ingenious that I used to kind of walk down there and look at them. Yeah, they were so ingenious and they were so neat. Everything, and they had one flower. If a weed or something, if it was a flower, they'd have one flower with an empty vase or something with water in it. And I said, I just marveled at the ingenuity of those people. And I thought to myself as I -- in my later days, I thought, "My goodness, I was so ignorant. They must have really not appreciated me looking at them like that." [Laughs] You know, walking down the street. But here I was so, about twenty-six, and so to me, I was just amazed at the ingenuity of those people.

But, and then when I went to Japan I used to see great big mounds in the middle of the street, and I asked my husband, "My, Tokyo is a funny place. What are the great big mounds in the middle of the street?" And my husband said, "Those are all ashes and debris," that they had to clean up so that the jeeps and people, bicycles could pass through, and so then to make a little freeway-like. But they had to build them up so they cleaned around that place. And that's what the ashes were. And then the little children were naked with great big stomachs like that, and they'd run up this dirt and run down. And here we'd try to protect Joyce so much, we're boiling her cups and things, and I said, "And they look so healthy, look at them. They have great big stomachs, they look so healthy." And my husband says, "No, they're not healthy children, they're starving children. That's why their stomachs are so big."

<End Segment 18> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

MA: So how were you treated as a Japanese American in Japan by both the Japanese people and then by the other military?

CY: Well, see, I had quite a few relatives in Tokyo, my aunts and uncles and cousins. And so they greeted me royally, they did. They, they had no, they knew that I had nothing to do with the war, so they weren't going to blame me for any of that. So they were very happy to see me. And we visited them quite often, and they came to visit us at Washington Heights, and I give them lunch. And then I'd give them a little something to take home, which I wasn't supposed to. And so, you know, because if you start feeding the Japanese people with the American food, there'd be an unbalance of food, you know. They send enough food to serve the American army and the dependents, they didn't send enough food to send... the food that they sent for the Japanese people were separate bunch. And then one day, the whole country was on the verge of starvation. And so overnight, General MacArthur released all of the cornmeal and flour from the commissaries to give to the Japanese people, and they were told how to mix it with hot water and make cornmeal. And so the Japanese people don't like cornmeal or corn. Did you know about that? Mrs. Ino was living in Japan at that time, and so Mr. Ino said, "Don't ever give my wife corn or cornmeal. She just can't stand eating it anymore."

MA: So can you talk about the American soldiers that you saw and what they were like and how they treated the Japanese people?

CY: They were very courteous. They were very well-dressed, too. I saw the comparison between the Russian soldiers, the English soldiers, especially Russian and English soldiers from Australia. They were not, their uniforms were nothing compared to the United States. And then the MPs, the Military Police, they had white gloves, and they would blow a whistle, they were very majestic almost.

MA: And you said earlier they treated the Japanese people very well?

CY: Very well. They meant business, too. When they say to stop, you stop, everybody stops.

MA: Did people think you were Japanese from Japan? Were you mistaken for a Japanese citizen?

CY: Yes. Well, just like a soldier mistook Joyce for a Japanese national, that's why he gave her a Coca-cola, thinking that, you know, she didn't have a taste of Coca-cola. So I was mistaken for a Japanese madam. And, but it was interesting, sometimes, I was in Kochi one time waiting for the traffic lights to change. There was two Japanese ladies waiting at the same corner. They looked at my clothes and I had a pink outfit on, and you know, with my gray hair, and so they knew I wasn't that young. And they said, I could hear them speaking, said, "You know, I would really like to try that pink-colored dress on, but I wouldn't dare." The Japanese women, when they're married, they don't wear pink anymore. So she says, "I wouldn't dare to wear anything like that anymore." But she says, "You know, actually, it looks nice on an older person." And I heard all of that, and I understood. And I almost looked back to let them know that, "I'm understanding what you're saying," but I thought, "Well, just let them talk." [Laughs] But that was, I remember. And so they knew I was Japanese, but they knew that I was from the United States.

MA: And can you describe the Washington Heights area where you lived and what that looked like?

CY: If I lived, stayed in Washington Heights, you would never know that I was in a foreign country. It was just like a, we had, you know, you see these American housing projects, there were apartments of... let's see. I think they were duplexes, we were two put together, and we had one entrance here and another entrance. But they were just separate units. The streets were just like American streets, and we had a commissary, a church and a school, and an officers' club, and we had a dispensary where we, if you were sick you could go in the clinic. We didn't have to go all the way into Tokyo General Hospital. But if you had to be hospitalized, they treated you at the Forty-ninth General Hospital in Tsukiji, Japan.

MA: And was Washington Heights where all of the military families lived?

CY: All the military.

MA: Everyone associated with the occupation kind of lived...

CY: At one time. They just had Washington Heights, and then after Washington -- Washington Heights was where the officers' families lived. And then Grant Heights, they set it up for not only officers but enlisted men, because they had sergeants and things, they had families over here.

MA: And you had your second daughter in Japan, is that right?

CY: I had her at the Forty-ninth General Hospital.

MA: And what's her name?

CY: Doris.

MA: Doris.

CY: Doris... she goes by the name Yano, but her husband's name is Lundquist.

MA: And when was she born?

CY: She was born in 1949, November 13th.

MA: And how long did you end up staying in Japan?

CY: I went there in 1947, and I came -- I was there for about three and a half years, almost four. I came back February of 1950.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

MA: And when you and your husband and your two daughters returned to the United States, where did you live? Did you go back to Berkeley?

CY: I went back to live at my family's, my mother's home at 1614 Tyler Street in Berkeley. That was our family home before the war, and we all came back to that house.

MA: And what was your mother doing in Berkeley?

CY: She was just a housewife.

MA: And your father at that time was, did he go back to gardening?

CY: No, he, he didn't. He was too sick, he had colon cancer. And so he had a bag, and so he wasn't... he was seventy-three when he passed away.

MA: And what year did he pass away?

CY: 1946. So he lived through the whole war and came home from evacuation. So he lived for about six, eight months after he came back, and passed away.

MA: And so back in Berkeley, what type of work did you, did you do when you got, when you returned?

CY: Oh, I went back to work for the U.S. Treasury.

MA: And what about your husband?

CY: My husband was, left for Japan soon after he came back once. He went back to Japan to work.

MA: To do more translation work?

CY: Uh-huh.

MA: And when did he come back for good?

CY: We all came back together in 1950.

MA: Oh, okay. And then, in 1950 and after that, when did you actually get the job at the International House at UC Berkeley?

CY: 1962. In, from 1962 to 1980, I was a University of California employee working at International House.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

MA: And before 1962, what were you, were you working at the Treasury?

CY: No, I was working for the U.S. Treasury... let me see. Before I went to Japan I went, I was working for the U.S. Treasury. Then after I came back from Japan I didn't work for a while. But then I worked for, then we bought a house in Oakland, at 872 Arlington Avenue. And from there, I worked some of the -- not, it was just a part-time job, but I went to work for Laura Scudder's, the potato chip company. And they were very nice to me. They needed a bookkeeper, their bookkeeping system was so far behind that I had to, I went after hours to work on their bookkeeping. And then, so I did that for a little while. And then I, my friend, this Alice Hirao, she was in the printing business and she needed help, so I used to help her part-time. So there wasn't a full-time job either way. I couldn't, I had children and my mother used to come and babysit for me. And so anyway, so I couldn't work all the time, but then I came back... when I was working for Laura Scudder's, too, and Laura Scudder's moved to Santa Ana, near Disneyland. Because the people at Oakland area, they went on strike, the union workers. And the union workers wanted to come back to work, but the management closed the Oakland factory and moved everything to their Los Angeles headquarters. So I went to Los Angeles headquarters for, for about three weeks to set up the bookkeeping, customers from the Oakland area.

And then after that I left Laura Scudder's completely, and so I applied for unemployment insurance. And I only got two unemployment insurance checks because I thought, "Oh, good, I could rest a little bit." And then International House job came into the picture and I had to go apply. If I said no, I didn't want to go apply, I wouldn't get my unemployment check. And so in, but it took them about three weeks to let me know whether I was going to be hired or not, and about three -- then the employment officer, her name I remember so well was Betty Lou Harmon, she said, "Well, if International House doesn't want you, I have another job lined up, so come see me if they don't... if they don't give you another answer in one more week." Well, see, that was because I went once, and the person that wanted, that was leaving, the manager was on vacation, and so I had to wait for her to come back. And then when she came back they called me, and I interviewed, her. And then she couldn't make up her mind, so I had to wait until the director of International House saw me, and he was, it was vacation time, so they were all taking vacations. So he, I had to wait for Mr. Warrick, the executive director, to come back from his vacation, and that's why I had to wait about a week after each interview. So it was about three weeks altogether. And then after the third time, they said, "Can you come back, can you come to work next week on Tuesday?" So I said, "Okay." And so I called Ms. Betty Lou Harmon at the University of California employment office, told them that I got my job. So she says, "That's fine." And so I went to work for, and I was working there for eighteen years before I retired.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

MA: So can you tell me a little bit about the International House and what it's...

CY: What I did there?

MA: Or just about the International House and what it is.

CY: Oh, well, International House was a housing for all, people from all over the world. And originally, when I started working there, it was just for upperclassmen. They didn't take any freshmen college students because the freshmen college students were, had a dormitory set up for them, you know, freshmen dorm. And it had, they stayed there for usually one or two years. But International House was for graduate students and upperclassmen. And so we, and if they took all the applications from Japan or Germany, it would be an unbalance of one country. So, but there were some countries that didn't have all those applicants, some of them maybe one or two like people from Java or, you know, from the South Pacific Islands. They may have only one representative. I felt sorry for them because there was no other friends there except they had to make new friends. But students from Germany, Japan, France and England, they had, Japan had about thirty students, Germany had about thirty students. We were able to house 565 students then, but then they renovated the place one time, and now they hold about 680 students from all over the country. It was a very interesting place to work. And I was the office manager there, and I was what they call the "working horse" administrative assistant. And I did, our office was in charge of everything from payroll to residents' rooms, collecting accounts receivable, accounts payable, and the telephone operator. We used to, in those days, we used to have these old-fashioned telephone where you plug into the different rooms. And so our, I was in charge of the person, the telephone operator, and things like that. And so we ran a very busy office. And then, so I worked there for eighteen years and I retired at, when I was sixty-two. I took an early retirement because my husband had retired from the University at sixty-seven, that was the mandatory age.

MA: And you developed a, some close relationships with the students, right, the Japanese students in particular?

CY: Japanese students. I used to, there was no Japanese restaurants around when I first started to work, and International House, for some reason, we didn't serve any food during the Easter vacation and Thanksgiving, the holidays, Christmas. And those short holidays, we didn't, the dining room was completely closed. Because so many of the students were invited to join American homes for Thanksgiving dinner, because they wanted them to see what the United States Thanksgiving was like and what an American family was like. And so I invited those Japanese people who didn't have Japanese food all the time unless you went to this one Japanese restaurant called Fuji in Berkeley, on the corner of Dwight Way and, Dwight Way and Telegraph, I think. But anyway, now they have a, have an abundance of Japanese restaurants and fast food places. But 1962, they just had one. So I used to invite them to my home for... in fact, I had a ten-pound rice, ten-cup rice cooker, but that wasn't enough. [Laughs] And so I had to buy a fifty-cup rice cooker, and so I used to invite them, and it was, I know, a meager dinner, but it was a Japanese dinner. We used to serve fish and otsukemono and Japanese miso soup and vegetables cooked the Japanese way like shirai and things. Because I liked to do cooking. And my husband was very supportive of all of that, and he used to welcome the students, so they enjoyed coming here. And every New Year, we would make a facsimile of a Japanese New Year, and we let them eat all they want, and they said (...) they couldn't eat for three days after they ate my New Year's. [Laughs] And then we had a Japanese professor, Dr. Tokunaga, she would tell the students, "Oh, Mrs. Yano likes her guests to eat a lot, so eat all you want." [Laughs] They said they ate so much that they couldn't eat for, they couldn't eat for several days for lunch, breakfast, lunch or dinner. And so we enjoyed them and they enjoyed us, too.

MA: So what type of work did your husband do? You said he worked in the university?

CY: He worked in the university. Well, the university, Mrs. Harmon, the employment officer, asked me what my husband did and how many children I had and things like that as an interview. And so I told her and then she said, "Oh, tell your husband to come and see me, too." So my husband went to see her and he gave, there was an opening in the graduate division, so he worked under the dean of the graduate school. Dean Elberg was his name, and he was the... what do you call, records, he kept all of the records of the graduate students. And I was working at international house, and his office was in Sproul Hall, that was, do you know the Berkeley campus? That's the administrative. And then it was changed to, and then we had a lot of FSM period, you know, that Free Speech Movement and all the hippies that came in. And he had to go home because they would throw tear gas and things. So it was always in front of Sproul Hall. So he got to go home early in the afternoon, and one time, and Lawrence and Doris were still on campus then, and so he, Lawrence saw Sproul Hall in flames, you know, all white, it was tear gas. And so he's, he was in the, near International House and he saw these flames going up, so he thought, "Oh, Dad's in that building," so he started running towards that. And the campus police thought he was one of the rioters, and they threw something at him, you know, landed on his feet. And so he stopped and told the policemen, "Well, my father works in that building. That's why I want to make sure my father is okay." And he says, "Oh, don't worry, all those, that building has been evacuated about two hours ago, so your father isn't there," and so he didn't have to go. But anyway, the policeman thought that he was going to be one of the rioters, running towards Sproul Hall.

MA: Well, you were at, and your husband, were at Berkeley during the '60s and '70s.

CY: But I was at International House, that's way at the other, you know... and Sproul Hall is right in the middle of campus, and so you have to go about two blocks up that hill, and so it didn't affect us.

MA: So you were more removed from all of that.

CY: Yeah, we were, we never had bombs, firebombs or anything like that.

MA: So you, so we've talked about Joyce and Doris, but you had two sons, as well, is that right? What are their names?

CY: Lawrence Yano and Eugene is the youngest. Then Lawrence is the schoolteacher who works for Unified, San Lorenzo Unified School District. He teaches math and science.

MA: And what year was Lawrence born?

CY: 1950, November 14, 1950.

MA: And Eugene?

CY: Eugene was born June 8, 1955.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

MA: Well, is there any, any messages or anything else you'd like to share about, about your life?

CY: Well, no, nothing about my life, but I certainly, if I had to do this evacuation over again, I would never be able to do it. I would never be able to sleep in a horse stall or wait in that line to eat in the mess hall and things, but I don't know how we did it. We did it without any complaints, we took it as gaman and shikata ga nai, that attitude. And so, and so when I was at Topaz, I worked my head off, and I kept myself so busy that I, I didn't have... and then some of the younger people that was fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, they had no idea. And they had a nice time in camp, so when you ask my brother, they said, oh, they had the time of their life. They didn't have to, they didn't have to come home, they didn't have to eat with the family, they just went to the mess hall when the mess hall was open, they were fed, and, well, you couldn't go out of the camp, and so the parents knew that the children were safe. And, but there were some people who really suffered. [Interruption] And in those days, I think the Japanese Issei people were about the change of life, too. You know, they were in their late forties or, between forty and fifty, so it was hard on the woman to adjust to all these things. And they probably lost their life earnings, too, because they lost their, they had to leave their farms and things. So, but we lived in the city, and fortunately, our neighbors were very good. We had very good relations, so it wasn't as difficult. Some people really had to go through some ugly situations where they were called "Japs" and things like that, but we never had that situation. But we had a curfew, so we couldn't go out.

And I couldn't go out anyway, my mother wouldn't let me go out of her sight. In those days, you didn't have all the freedom, so I was a stay-at-home daughter. So it didn't matter to me. And even in camp, my mother wouldn't let me socialize with other people, I never did. But that was my mother's Japanese style; a Japanese girl has to be a very domesticated child, and I accepted that. But my sister, when she went to college, she started to smoke, and you know, she did all of that, and my mother was too tired to call her down and tell her to stop doing that. And so she played cards and everything, and I never had a chance to do all of that. But after I was married, I told my husband one time, I said, "Maybe if I smoked, I would feel relaxed." And so my husband was the kind of person that would let me try, so he says, "Well, if you think that way and if you think that's going to help you, just go ahead and try." And so I had the okay, but then I thought, well, at that time, my husband had to stop smoking, and I thought it was kind of funny for his wife to be smoking when the husband isn't smoking, so I thought, "Oh, I better not start," and so I didn't start. And it's a blessing. If he had said, "Oh, I wouldn't do that, it won't help you," well, then I would have gone against his, and forced myself to do something. I was a woman just like that. [Laughs] But anyway, since I was told, "Go ahead and do it," I didn't have to. And so I thought, "Well, that saved me," I never had to smoke. And my sister used to be able to enjoy drinking, you know, socialized with her friends and played poker. Not poker, bridge. But I was never allowed to do that at night.

MA: Well, as the eldest, too, you had -- as the eldest child, you had more responsibility.

CY: And my mother was too tired at that point to correct my sister. So even my brothers wondered, says, "Boy, if you did that, Chiyo-chan, you would have never heard the end of this." [Laughs] I remember that, but I certainly hope there's never another evacuation, something like this happening. But my father always gave the impression that, shikata ga nai, this is wartime, and wartime people do things that they really don't, may regret later on, but not right now.


MA: So is there anything else you'd like to share?

CY: No.

MA: Well, thank you so much for doing this interview.

CY: Oh, thank you.

MA: It was a wonderful story.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.