Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Yooichi Wakamiya Interview
Narrator: Yooichi Wakamiya
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 4, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-wyooichi-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history interview for the Manzanar National Historic Site. Today we're talking with Yooichi Wakamiya. Mr. Wakamiya will be discussing his experiences at the Santa Anita Assembly Center as well as the War Relocation Center during World War II. Our interview is taking place at the West Los Angeles United Methodist Church at 1913 Purdue Street in Los Angeles, California. The date of our interview is Thursday, February 4, 2010. Interviewer is Richard Potashin and our videographer is Richard -- sorry, Kirk Peterson. Our interview will be archived in the Park's site library. I will also mention that Mr. Wakamiya's wife is also in attendance, Eileen. And do I have permission to go ahead and record our interview?

YW: Yes, you can.

RP: Thank you very much for coming today and sharing the stories of one of the lost camps there, Rohwer.

YW: Lost camps? [Laughs]

RP: First of all I'd like to get a little family background and your personal background. Tell us where you were born and what year.

YW: I was born (in the L.A. Japanese Hospital but lived in) in Hawthorne, California, 1933, July 10th.

RP: And what was your given name at birth, Yo?

YW: The one I have now.

RP: Can you share that --

YW: Yooichi Wakamiya. We were too poor to have an English name. [Laughs]

RP: Do you know anything about the meaning of your first or last name?

YW: The meaning of the last name?

RP: Or the first name.

YW: The last name, Wakamiya, W-A-K-A is, means "young," and the miya part means "prince." So I'm a "young prince." Yooichi is kind of an interesting combination. Yoo comes from the word taiheiyo, and my dad says that refers to the Pacific Ocean. When they write down the word for Pacific Ocean in Japanese they use yoo as part of the calligraphy. And the ichi part means number one. I'm the firstborn. So a lot of Japanese kids had the word ichi in their name; you can probably guess that they're firstborn. Now, my brother is Eiji, J-I, and if you look at the calligraphy on his name the J-I is a two, so he's second born.

RP: And did you have any other siblings besides your --

YW: No, just me and my brother.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.