Kay Matsuoka

Nisei female. Born April 17, 1917, in Moneta, California. Grew up working on family's strawberry farm. Attended Japanese language school where she learned Japanese dancing and singing. Was popular and excelled in high school, but was prevented by the Parent Teacher Association from giving the commencement address because of her ethnicity. Attended dress design school, and opened a dressmaking shop at the age of twenty-one. Met her husband through a Japanese matchmaker and got married soon after the onset of WWII in anticipation of being incarcerated. Was incarcerated at the Gila River concentration camp where her husband contracted tuberculosis. Cared for ailing husband, who was isolated and confined to the camp hospital. Taught camp inmates dressmaking as well as Japanese dancing and singing. Converted to Christianity as a result of weekly visits by Christian missionaries to the camp. After the war ended and the camp was nearly empty, went into a prolonged and difficult labor, requiring that the staff reopen the hospital and she and her husband stay at Gila River after everyone else had left. Resettled in Fresno, California.


Kay Matsuoka Interview — ddr-densho-1000-48
December 29 & 30, 1999. Seattle, Washington.
04:02:08 — 51 segments.
Kay Matsuoka