Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Kazuko Miyoshi - Yasuko Miyoshi Iseri Interview
Narrators: Kazuko Miyoshi, Yasuko Miyoshi Iseri
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Manhattan Beach, California
Date: June 26, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-mkazuko_g-01-0020

<Begin Segment 20>

KL: This is tape three, we're continuing an interview with the Miyoshi sisters in 2013. And I wanted to ask you a couple questions about your mother that things you've said have reminded me of. She was born in Hawaii and then went to Japan for many years and had school and married. Did she ever share with you any thoughts about the Kibei community at Manzanar, or did she think there was one? Was she part of it, did she have any thoughts about that?

KM: No, she wasn't part of it, huh? She was a loner.

YI: She didn't consider herself a Kibei, I don't think. She just was born... at that time, a lot of Japanese did that, go over there to deliver their child and then take them back to Japan to be raised. And so I think she didn't think anything of it, and I don't recall her ever mentioning being a Kibei.

KM: Not a member of a club or anything. And their cousins, they didn't do that either. But the cousin, the one that used to play with her, he told his brothers and cousin to, "Let's go home." And my dad told him, "No, you shouldn't go back to Japan, there's nothing there now." War went through there, and they're missing a lot of things. But they wouldn't listen, and so they went back. And my mother, of course, stayed here with her children. But I don't think she entertained any, like I said, very political ideas or anything.

KL: You were talking about traditions from your mother especially that you kept up. And I wanted to ask about how Buddhism was a part of your life in Manzanar, or if it was.

KM: I remember going to Buddhist school with friends.

KL: In Manzanar?

KM: Yeah. And I went to catechism with my friends. I think they were the Tayenakas. And I went to Protestant Sunday school with other friends, just very open, even though my parents were practicing Buddhists. But I was free to come and go as I wanted to.

KL: What drew you to those other places? Was it...

KM: Because my friend went, classmate or whatever. I was curious to know what catechism was. The Methodists were there, so I checked them out.

YI: I think I just went to a Christian, whatever that was in camp, the Christian Sunday school.

KM: That was the Methodist.

YI: Was it Methodist?

KL: That West Los Angeles Methodist community seems to have been, a lot of those people seem to have organized congregations or been involved in religious life at Manzanar.

YI: I just know it was a Christian one, and that was all I remember.

KM: Well, after camp I went to the Baptist Church with the Waters family.

YI: Did you go to the Four Square church, too?

KM: Yeah, I went with Chiharu.

YI: Wherever she wanted. [Laughs]

KM: Voodoo worshipper? Yes, I am, I'll go with you. [Laughs]

KL: I'll sample, learn about it. What branch of Buddhism or what congregation were your parents part of?

KM: Well, my father was Zen.

YI: Mom was Hongwanjii.

KM: Hongwanjii? Not Koyasan?

YI: Oh, maybe. I can't remember.

KL: Were they accepting of each other's differences?

KM: Oh, Buddhism is a very tolerant religion.

YI: My father, he helped collect and build that church in Venice for the Buddhists, and he's Zen. But he donated to the Zen, too, that was his church.

KM: He was a cool dad, he was Zen.

YI: Yeah, he really, he was very active in the community. I don't want to keep saying nice things about him, but it's true. [Laughs] He was. Everybody liked him, he was very well-liked in the community. My mother said he should stay home more, because he was helping everybody. That's the kind of person he was.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2013 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.