Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Yoshimi Matsuura Interview
Narrator: Yoshimi Matsuura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
Date: June 17, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-myoshimi-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So describe from your departure point, I guess, where your wife was born, to Gila River. How did you go from there to Gila River?

YM: To Gila? By train.

TI: And any memories about that train ride?

YM: No. Really, they had... we couldn't see out, they had the curtains down to "protect us," I suppose. [Laughs] That's what they claimed.

TI: And you were traveling with, just your wife or with the family?

YM: No, the whole family. The whole family went. We went together, her family and our family all went together.

TI: And when you say "whole family," I have in my notes that your father...

YM: My father was interned. He was interned earlier. And my brother, one brother was in Missouri, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

TI: So let's go back to your father. I'm curious, at what point was he picked up by the FBI?

YM: He was picked up, I believe it was April of '42. And the two FBI agents came over and just told him, "You're coming with us." No reason given or anything. Matter of fact, I had a brother, I believe my brother was down with the flu or something at the time, my young brother, Taro. And my dad, my mother went into the bedroom to get his, help get his clothes, they shoved her right out of the room, they didn't want her to be in the same room. And they just took him. And at the same time, we noticed that Mr.... one man from Selma was also in the car already picked up at the time, by the FBIs. No reason given, they just come in and took him. And they took him over to Fresno County jail. And then a day later, they brought him back to get some more belongings, and that was the last we saw of him.

TI: And the FBI were picking up people that oftentimes were considered leaders in the community with ties to Japan. Do you know why...

YM: My dad was not tied in any way. He was never an officer of any organization. He was not the type to get up and make speeches. He was a worker. And the only tie that we could figure out was we, the two boys, three boys, took kendo lessons when that was more or less a fad there. And my dad used to go over and watch, and he enjoyed watching kids get together. He used to come over to the Japanese school when the boys were playing, always dropped by, come by with a treat or something for the kids. But he was never an organizer of any kind.

TI: Do you recall if he subscribed to certain magazines or something like that? Japanese magazines, publications?

YM: No. The only thing was the Nichibei language, Japanese-language newspaper, that was it.

TI: That's curious. What you might want to do is get your father's file from the records at the National Archives, his FBI file. And in there, to see why.

YM: Would they have that there?

TI: They might. They'll have notes and things in there, and that might be one way of trying to figure out why he was selected. Because I'm curious now, too, why they would pick him up. So going back to your story, so your dad is picked up by the FBI, do you know where they took him after that?

YM: Well, Fresno County, and then we heard that he was in Missoula, Montana and then back to Sharp Park, San Francisco, and that's where he spent most of his time, Sharp Park, San Francisco. This person that was with him, or picked up at the same time, his name was Misaki, Misaki from (Selma). And then also, there were some friends of his at Sharp Park at the same time.

TI: And I'm sorry, that was located where?

YM: Sharp Park, San Francisco. I think it was in San Francisco, Sharp Park.

TI: So during the war he was there? I'll have to check that.

YM: It was at Sharp Park, anyway.

TI: Okay, I'll check that. Okay, so going back to Gila River, so you're there with your wife, and then you have your mother and most of your siblings, and then your wife's family. How large was your wife's family?

YM: How long were they...

TI: I'm sorry, how large, who was part of your wife's family.

YM: Oh, my wife was the oldest, Kazuko was the oldest. And then Fumi, Fumie, she was two years younger. And Opal, who went to Fresno Assembly Center, she was two years younger than Fumi. They were all two years apart. And then three boys, Hiro was next, they were all two years apart, it was easy to... and George. And the last one was Ben who was the same age as my youngest sister Jane. He was a come-along, and he was the youngest. He was, I believe he was six years old when they went to camp.

TI: So there were a lot of similarities to your family, that they had six children and you were the oldest and Kazuko was the oldest.

YM: Yeah. And Art was the oldest in ours. I was the number three.

TI: Oh, you were number three, that's right. And what was their family name? Your wife's family?

YM: Fujimoto.

TI: Fujimoto, okay, good.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.