Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Pearl Yoshikawa Interview
Narrator: Pearl Yoshikawa
Interviewer: Carolyn Nayematsu
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ypearl-01-0012

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CN: What was life, when you first came to Minnesota, what was it like in terms... I mean, Fort Snelling, did quite a few people around you know about evacuation and the MIS?

PY: No. The majority of the adults we spoke with didn't know anything about the evacuation, and I don't know what their reactions were with all the MIS boys here because I wasn't here during that time that the school was open here. But outside of that... but we've found that most Minnesotans are very cordial and they didn't show any kind of prejudice outside of housing. Then you were limited to an area. And then we found out too before we settled in the southwest area the neighbors were contacted and, to get their approval.

CN: Oh, really, this was southwest Minneapolis?

PY: Uh-huh. And we read Edina was strictly no.

CN: No Asians allowed there?

PY: No, they didn't allow it. So you felt the prejudice there. And then feeling, I don't know whether I was more sensitive to that or not but I always felt that going out to the rural areas, I think you saw some people turn away. They didn't walk out on you but you could see on their faces.

CN: Because they weren't used to...

PY: No, Orientals out there, Asian people are here. I kind of felt that.

CN: What areas of the Twin Cities were the Japanese welcome? You said southwest Minneapolis was okay.

PY: It was okay, and Richfield and all there. All the areas seemed to be all right except for Edina. I don't know how it was; I know St. Louis Park was mostly Jewish people there so -- so there was a little racial tension here in town.

CN: So when you came to Minnesota, you were early pioneers to Minnesota, you were part of that group, what was it like I mean in terms of, did you associate mostly with other Japanese folks? Did you attend any churches?

PY: Well there was a Japanese center, which was an old large building that was donated through the Episcopal diocese and we gathered there for all our social activities, which was very nice for us to feel as a group, you know. But there was a Father Dai, Daisuke Kitagawa, who encouraged us to desegregate ourselves, you know, and fall into the community. So Ed was working at Strutwear at the time and we didn't have a church and he was looking for a Methodist church. And so then we asked about a church and this fellow introduced us to a Baptist church that he was going to. But from then on they were pleasant to us and welcomed us a lot into all the activities and everything so we started to develop our roots around those people mostly. And then every time, when there were some Japanese American gatherings or meetings, we would go to this center.

CN: There were quite a few families there by then weren't there?

PY: Yes, because of the MIS, that a lot of people settled here. But I suppose in about five or ten years about half of them left for the West Coast.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.