Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Maria Sato Interview
Narrator: Maria Sato
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: July 11, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-smaria-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

KL: Well, this is Kristen Luetkemeier, I'm a park ranger at Manzanar National Historic Site, and I'm here with Maria Sato. And it's July 11, 2012, and we are in the Portland Doubletree Hotel in Portland, Oregon. And also in the room is Steven Kammeyer, he's operating the video camera, Tamiko Takeuchi is here, and also Joey Sato, Maria's son. And before we begin, Maria, do I have your permission to ask you questions and to keep the recording at Manzanar and make it available to the public?

MS: Yes.

KL: Thank you.

MS: You're welcome.

KL: And I know you know some things about your parents and their family, so I want to start off by asking you to talk about your parents. We'll start with your dad, what was your dad's name?

MS: Manuel Sekutaro Mayoka.

KL: And where was he from?

MS: Hiroshima.

KL: What did his family do in Hiroshima?

MS: Like a carpenter, construction deal, and we have a few people over there working for my father.

KL: Oh, in Hiroshima?

MS: Yes.

KL: They did carpentry for them?

MS: No, that's in... excuse me, in Peru.

KL: Oh, okay.

MS: After they went to Peru.

KL: Did he learn carpentry in Hiroshima?

MS: I don't know, to be honest with you. Probably, because we were Catholic, and he used to work for Franciscan church, making things, fixing the church and all that.

KL: Just one church or several?

MS: The only one I remember is the only one, so I have no idea.

KL: Oh, you remember the church?

MS: Oh, yes, we went back in, I think it was after World War II, and there was a church still there, the name is St. Augustine, and it's old but it's still there. So that was nice to see, and that was a picture of my father over there, a sign over that.

KL: A picture in the church?

MS: That was in the school. We used to live next to the school, grade school, and they have Japanese, all the pictures of the Japanese men working and all of that, and I saw my father's picture. So that was nice.

KL: Did that neighborhood where St. Augustine is, does it have a name?

MS: The neighbors?

KL: What is the part of town called?

MS: Trujillo.

KL: Oh, so that was in Peru?

MS: Yes.

KL: And St. Augustine church was in Peru, too?

MS: Yes, right.

KL: Okay. Do you know when your father came to Peru?

MS: Oh, I don't remember.

KL: Was he a child?

MS: No, he was old when he immigrated, yeah. Sorry, I don't remember.

KL: No, that's fine. What about your mom, was she from Hiroshima also?

MS: Yes. She was the second wife. The first wife passed away, and so my father married to my mother. So I have a half sister.

KL: Where is she?

MS: She's in Hiroshima. She's pretty old now, she's still alive.

KL: How old is she, do you know?

MS: She must be over ninety. We went to visit, forgetful too, and she lost her husband, and she had two children.

KL: What is her name?

MS: Fumie, F-U-M-I-E. They were farmers, good workers.

KL: She and her family were farmers?

MS: Yes. I don't know what they do, they have two children. I don't think they're farming anymore. You know how this young generation, they don't follow the farmers, they go to the city, bigger city, so I really don't know. They're my nephews and nieces. The only one I know is my sister-in-law is still alive, the half sister.

KL: Fumie.

MS: Yes, Fumie.

KL: What was your mother's name?

MS: The last name was Ichioka. Oh my gosh, I can't remember. Can I see that?

KL: Yeah, yeah, you're welcome to look at it. Maria brought along...

MS: Sekino.

KL: That was your mother?

MS: Yes. S-E-K-I-N-O, Sekino. And the last name before she got married was Ichioka. And they got married to my father, Maeoka.

KL: Did her family farm?

MS: Yes, yes. Her brother was a farmer, and the whole family, they were farmers, too.

KL: What did they grow?

MS: Different kind of vegetables.

KL: Did they sell them at market, or did they grow mostly for their family?

MS: I think they grow most of it for the family. It wasn't great big farmers. And my mother was buried over there, because usually they have the family place. But I think they moved my parents' body to different places, because they needed it for their own place to bury their own family, because it's small grounds.

KL: But they were married in Japan, they were married in Hiroshima. Did they talk about how they met?

MS: No, not that I remember. The usual, what... oh, gosh. Sometimes the parents are supposed to find the kids, either the girl or the boy, marriage... can't remember.

KL: Someone who arranges it?

MS: Yes, arranged, right, right. I think that's what it was, but I'm not so sure, they don't speak too much. I think they were kind of embarrassed, I don't know. It's not like right now, you know, it's different, way different. I don't know which one is better, really, arrangement or the regular, find yourself.

KL: Yeah. Did they talk about their trip to Peru?

MS: Not really, not really. I guess they don't want to talk too much probably. That's the way, I have all my friends over there because when the World War II started, just pick up certain fathers, and my father used to help this little small Japanese school. And then when they start fighting each other, you don't know which one is a spy or which one is a nice person, so they picked up just certain fathers, I guess the suspicious ones. And they picked up certain fathers and they picked my father. I don't know how many fathers they picked up, and they left the family like us. They sent my father to three different concentration camp, and the last one was Crystal City, San Antonio, Texas. And after that they picked up the family, and we reunited in Crystal City. And we were there about a year and a half until the war finished.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.