Tammy Ayer

Tammy Ayer lives in Yakima, Wash. and is features/reader engagement editor at the Yakima Herald-Republic. She has held various positions in her journalism career, including features editor, assistant city editor and night city editor, but has continued to write while working as an editor because her true love is telling people's stories.

Updated May 2017

community en

Family keepsakes tell the story of Japanese-American life in Yakima Valley

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yoshiko Hide Kishi gazed at the small buckskin moccasins in her cupped hands as she recalled her early childhood in rural Toppenish.

Her father and mother, Mantaro and Kiyo Hide, were farmers with five children, Yoshiko their youngest. Her father raised several crops and Kiyo helped him amid her household duties, which included making dresses for Yoshiko because money was tight.

The moccasins came from their landowner, George Adams, a citizen of the Yakama Nation in White Swan. They are soft, with little adornment — ideal for a toddler learning how to walk.

“I was 7, 8 …

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culture en

75 years after Japanese internment: Poetry tradition ripped away from Yakima Valley along with creators

Eight Japanese men gathered at the Tamagawa Tei restaurant on First Street in downtown Yakima to recite their poems and judge the others. On this fall day in 1912, members of the Yakima Ameikai — Yakima Croaking Society — met for the first time.

All seasonal farm workers, they wanted something more than just gambling, smoking and drinking sake during their time away from work in the fields. They wanted companionship and culture. They wanted to express their feelings in a way that each could understand and appreciate.

They chose senryu, an unrhymed Japanese verse consisting of three lines of …

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community en

Uprooted and interned

Kara Matsushita Kondo was born in Wapato, a town with a thriving Japanese population. There were Japanese-owned businesses and schools, a Buddhist church and a meeting hall. The Wapato Nippons baseball team won a pennant and a following beyond its local fan base.

But she knew that her life would change in the aftermath of Dec. 7, 1941.

“We were very uncertain what would happen to us, and we realized it would never be the same,” Kondo recalled in a brief recorded oral history that can be heard at the Yakima Valley Museum. It’s among several oral histories of immigrant …

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community en

Yakima’s Japan Town no longer there, but rich history remains

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Karen Lee has lived in Yakima since 1973. In that time, she never heard of Yakima’s Japan Town, a downtown block packed with a variety of businesses operated by Japanese-Americans.

“I figured there was a Japan Town in Wapato,” Lee said of the Lower Valley community where Japanese immigrants first moved to the Yakima Valley in the 1890s. They cleared sagebrush, dug canals, farmed and ran thriving businesses, schools and churches in Wapato and Toppenish.

Lee was among about two dozen people who attended an 11 a.m. walking tour of Yakima’s Japan Town and adjacent Chinatown. Ellen …

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war en

Valley families recall ancestors' difficult stand against treatment of Japanese neighbors

Esther Short Boyd was working as usual at the R.R. Short Hardware store in Wapato when a man walked in and identified himself as president of one of the local Granges, a national fraternal association for farmers.

“You went to the Tolan Hearing,” he said. That’s correct, she replied. “Then we can’t trade with you,” he added, reflecting the anti-Japanese sentiment running high in the wake of Pearl Harbor.

She told him that was his privilege.

“It was my privilege to make my own decisions and do what I considered right,” Boyd recalled years later of the brief exchange in …

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