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-01-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So you were talking about Japanese language school. So did all of you attend Japanese language school?

YM: Yes. We attended Japanese language school to eat lunch and play. [Laughs] No, we tried to learn the language, some, probably some of my brothers were probably more serious about it than I was. But we managed to stay in.

TI: And how frequently did you --

YM: And this is on Saturdays, Saturdays. We've often wondered why we had to do that when all of our friends had a day off on the weekends, our Caucasian friends. Here we had to go to another class, but that was part of our life.

TI: Well, so really, like, seven days a week, because you had five days of school, Saturday Japanese language school, and then Sunday you probably had to go to church.

YM: Sundays we went to Sunday school, yeah.

TI: So every day you had something. So going back to the Japanese language school, describe to me the size of the class.

YM: We had, we had one, just the one instructor initially. And she was from Fresno, selected by the parents. Mrs. Ohara was her name, and she was a very good instructor. And eventually they added a second person, because it was too much of a load for her. And the instructor that we added, they added, were generally college students from Japan who, it was additional income for them, so just on Saturdays. That was our setup there.

TI: And generally how large was the Japanese school?

YM: Oh, gosh, I don't know what the number of students were. I would guess probably around thirty-five, forty. That would just be a guess, I've never thought of it that way.

TI: Well, and this kind of leads into, I'm just trying to get a sense of the size of the Japanese community in Fowler.

YM: Well, because we had another school in Fowler which was much larger, and that was the Buddhist group. And they had a good size turnout over there, and there were, I believe they were more... I think they were more conscientious about the Japanese language and tradition than we were. We were straying away from all of that, I think, because of our association with our churches and stuff.

TI: Well, so that leads to the question, so did the Buddhist group, the Buddhist language school, did they allow Christians to go to that one?

YM: Well, we went to, when we started, when I first started Japanese school, we were studying along with the Buddhists, we were going to the same school. And they would have their Buddhist service there prior to our Japanese classes. And after they were through with their service, then we would have our school. So eventually, a group of our fathers got together and purchased the building and started their own school, which they thought would be more convenient. They would hire their own teachers and set their own schedule.

TI: And this second school, was it, the majority of people Christian?

YM: Yes, they were, majority was Christian and some were... either way is okay with them type. Many of our friends, the parents may have been Buddhist, but they came to our school.

TI: And so I'm curious about your parents. Were your parents Christian?

YM: My parents were not Christian when they came to the United States, no. My father happened to go to YMCA language school, English language school. So that's when he decided he'd turn Protestant, because of the help that he was getting. My mother came from a strong Buddhist family. She always felt that she was half Buddhist and half Christian, or Protestant. But her brother, she had a brother who was a priest. So you can see the background there, and it was a struggle for her.

TI: And within the community, was there ever any kind of tension or friction about Buddhists converting to Christianity?

YM: No, no. It was no problem there, that I know of. I don't think, I haven't heard of any.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.