Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Masako Yoshida Interview
Narrator: Masako Yoshida
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Monterey Park, California
Date: August 14, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-ymasako-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

KL: What was your mother's personality like?

MY: Oh, my mother, well, they were twenty years apart, you know. So there wasn't that much between them I don't think, but she was more on the talkative side being a teacher, she taught school here at Tule, Japanese school, which was all had to go to after our English speaking, our regular school, we all had to attend Japanese school after.

KL: How did you like Japanese school?

MY: I did not like it, I did not like my mother being my teacher either, because she took out her frustration... you know, we all had to go to Japanese school whether we wanted to or not. I wanted to stay for JAA after high school where you could play games and everything, be part of... because I was very athletic. But I had to go to Japanese school so we went. We just went what our parents told us to do, more or less.

KL: What was the name of the school where she taught?

MY: The last one just before the war was at the Methodist church, the Japanese American... I guess it was the Japanese Methodist Church in West Los Angeles, I think it was on Normandie, near Normandie.

KL: There's one on Purdue Street.

MY: Oh, there's lots and of... and the Methodist church is now downtown on Third. See, our church is on Third and San Pedro, their church was on Alameda, I think, on Third Street.

KL: But she taught even in Seattle, she taught Japanese school?

MY: Yes, it was called the Ishii, I-S-H-I-I, I'm sure it's no longer there, Ishii.

KL: What were the subjects in Japanese language school?

MY: Read and write, that was it, read and write Japanese manners, Japanese manners.

KL: Do you remember anything about what manners were important or what ethics were important?

MY: Well, we had to be very polite. And now that people in Japan are not like that, but I think if you went there about fifty years ago, they were very, very polite. And, well, I don't know what you mean by what was it like.

KL: Were there particular stories that you read or did you study history?

MY: No, they had textbooks, and we had to read the textbooks just like American schools. We had to read and write stories also, like English stories, just like American school but not as long, it's just mainly reading and writing.

KL: Did you study Japanese history or were there subjects, did you study anything about the emperor or the political system?

MY: No, it was more reading and writing textbooks. It was to teach us how to read and write and speak correct Japanese. So I could still speak Japanese.

KL: Even now?

MY: Oh, yes, because now I volunteer at the senior lunch nutrition services downtown in Little Tokyo, and so it's necessary for me to speak Japanese because they are more like Japanese people now who speak Japanese, but they came after the war. Many of them are war wives, they have English names, so I speak to them in Japanese and they're real happy about that. So I do use my Japanese. The more I use it, you know, it's good for your mind. So that's why I go to volunteer there every Monday.

KL: Why do you think -- you said it was important to your mother especially maybe that you attended Japanese school. Why was it important to your parents?

MY: To know how to read and write it.

KL: Did your mother learn English at all?

MY: Yeah, she got her citizenship, but at home we had to speak Japanese to her, but we spoke English to my father. And when evacuation came and when we went out of camp, I used to write my letters all in English, because it's much easier to write English. And my father was very fluent in English.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2014 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.