Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Dorothy Ikkanda Interview
Narrator: Dorothy Ikkanda
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: July 18, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-idorothy-01-0001

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RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. This afternoon we're talking with Dorothy Ikkanda. And Dorothy and Tom live at 2041 Corinth Avenue in Los Angeles, California. The date of our interview is July 18, 2008. Interviewer is Richard Potashin, videographer is Kirk Peterson, and our interview will be archived in the Manzanar Site library. We'll be talking to Dorothy about her growing up in the Los Angeles, west Los Angeles area, and also her time spent at Manzanar War Relocation Center and then her eventual relocation with her husband to Reno, Nevada, during the war time. Dorothy, thank you for allowing us into your house and sharing your stories with us today. Let's first talk about yourself. Give us your date of birth and where you were born.

DI: I was born in Los Angeles, California, and I grew up in Santa Monica, California.

RP: What was your date of birth?

DI: February the 10th, 1921.

RP: And can you give us your full name at birth?

DI: Gee, you know, I've always gone by Dorothy, but I don't know if that's, was actually legally registered.

RP: Did you have a Japanese name?

DI: Yes, Yasoe, Y-A-S-O-E.

RP: Do you know what that means?

DI: I have no idea. [Laughs]

RP: Okay. And your maiden name?

DI: Yamagishi.

RP: And spell that.

DI: Y-A-M-A-G-I-S-H-I.

RP: Okay. Before we start talking about Santa Monica and growing up here, I'd like you to take us back to your family roots in Japan. And first of all, whatever you can share with us about your father's family in Japan, where they came from.

DI: Well, my father and mother were both from Nagano-ken prefecture.

RP: What part of Japan is that?

DI: My husband would know more than I would. [Laughs]

RP: Okay, Nagano.

DI: Nagano, uh-huh. That's where they had the Olympics one year.

RP: That's right.

DI: The winter Olympics, I think, right?

RP: It was the winter Olympics. So it must be up in a high mountain somewhere where they get a lot of snow.

DI: Uh-huh, cold country.

RP: Right. Do you know much about your father's family, were they farmers or landowners?

DI: Gee, you know...

RP: Farmers? I heard...

DI: Farmers. They probably had silkworms, too, maybe. Did they? I'm really not sure. Could have been farmers, yeah.

RP: What was your father's name?

DI: His Japanese name was Yoshishige, Y-O-S-H-I-S-H-I-G-E, Yoshishige.

RP: And do you remember how many siblings he had, brothers and sisters?

DI: You know, I think he was an only son and had about three sisters or four sisters, right? I remember visiting them. We went to Japan and visited the family home many, many years ago.

RP: Oh, you went back to the...

DI: Just during the summer on a trip.

RP: And what, what do you think brought your father to come to the United States? Was it...

DI: Well, the story that I, when I think back, I think he had a stepmother, and that created problems, and he decided to leave home. And maybe he heard about America and decided he wanted to come. [Laughs] Maybe he had that, he was restless at home and wanted to see the world. And so I think he came through Seattle, right? Yeah, I think so.

RP: So he had a little bit of adventureness in him.

DI: Yeah, uh-huh.

RP: He came to Seattle? And were there other members of his family that eventually came to the United States?

DI: No, he was the only one.

RP: He was the only one? Now, did he ever go back to Japan to visit his family?

DI: Oh, yeah, many, many times. And he did import/export, so he would go quite often.

RP: And eventually settled in this area here?

DI: Well, we grew up, I remember starting kindergarten in Los Angeles, somewhere off a temple. I don't remember too much, but I remember starting kindergarten there. And then from there we moved to Santa Monica.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.