Densho Visual History Interview
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Fusako Yamamoto Interview
Narrator: Fusako Yamamoto
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: October 19, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-yfusako-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. This afternoon we're talking with Fusa Yamamoto. And our interview's taking place at the Japanese United Methodist Church in Sacramento, California. It's located on 6929 Franklin Boulevard. The date of our interview is October 19, 2008. Our interviewer is Richard Potashin and our cameraman is Kirk Peterson. And we'll be discussing Fusa's experiences at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center as well as your relocation to Chicago and other areas of your life. Our interview today will be archived in the site library at the Manzanar National Historic Site. Fusa, do I have permission to go ahead and continue our interview?

FY: Yes.

RP: Thank you so much for coming down and sharing your stories today with us. I'd like to kind of get an overall picture of your family and some of their background starting with you.


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

FY: Yes, it was Fusako Miyasaki.

RP: Okay. Can you spell Miyasaki for us?

FY: Yes. M-I-Y-A-S-A-K-I.

RP: While we're in on the subject of names, can you also give us your father and mother's name?

FY: Yes. My father's name was Jiro, J-I-R-O, and my mother's name was Ai, A-I.

RP: It's so fascinating when you think about Japanese names and their meanings. Did your parents ever share the meaning of your name with you?

FY: Not really. But I know that my mother's name, Ai, means "love."

RP: Where did your parents come from in Japan, Fusa?

FY: Kumamoto.

RP: Did they both come from the same village?

FY: Yes, they did.

RP: And do you know what village that was?

FY: Osaka.

RP: Osaka?

FY: Osaka, yes.

RP: And have you returned to Japan to visit the village?

FY: Yes, I visited their families.

RP: And who's still left?

FY: Who is left? Let me see. My cousin.

RP: Tell us about your father in Japan, a little bit about his family background. Did he have brothers and sisters? What was the family doing for economic livelihood?

FY: My father came from a farm, and he had... let me see, one sister. And he came to U.S. when he was a teenager.

RP: So he would have been the oldest son and the only son.

FY: Yes.

RP: And normally the oldest son by tradition inherits the farm or the land.

FY: Yes. But he had a stepfather, and he just could not get along with him, so he decided to come to the U.S.

RP: And he came as a teenager?

FY: Yes.

RP: And do you know roughly the date of his arrival in the United States?

FY: No, I don't. It's very hazy. Let's see... it's hard for me to say. I think he, let me see now, I think he came about five years before I was born.

RP: About 1916?

FY: Yes, that's right. And then he went back to Japan to find his bride, my mother. So she came to USA, very unhappy when she came here, as you can imagine.

RP: Were there other members of your father's family that came to America over the years?

FY: No, they were the only ones. Both of my parents, they were the only ones from, who came to the U.S.

RP: And do you know if your father had plans to return to Japan after he made money here?

FY: Yes, uh-huh. He wanted to go back. He wanted to retire there, so he asked us, "Now I'm able to go back to Japan," and we said, "No, Papa, we are Americans, and we cannot go back."

RP: So the kids were firm with...

FY: Oh, I should say so.

RP: And speaking of kids, tell us how many brothers and sisters you had.

FY: Oh, I had, I had two sisters and one brother.

RP: Can you list them in order of the oldest to the youngest?

FY: Yes. Ayako Kumamoto. She was married to a dentist. And I have another sister, Setsuko.

RP: Setsuko. And how much older than you was Ayako?

FY: Let me see now. About three years older than me. And my younger sister is three years younger than me.

RP: And then your...

FY: My brother, he was a surprise baby, and he's, let me see now, he's about seven years younger than me.

RP: What's his name?

FY: Danny.

RP: Danny? Did he have a Japanese name, too?

FY: No... Takeshi, I think. Takeshi.

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