Asako Sakai Yamashita
Asako Sakai Yamashita

YAMASHITA, ASAKO SAKAI, 98, died July 30, 2015 in Santa Cruz. Born November 10, 1916 in San Francisco, she was the fifth child in a family of nine children. Her Japanese immigrant parents, Tei and Kitaichi Sakai, opened the Uoki Sakai Fish Market, operated by the family for 103 years in Japantown/Nihonmachi, San Francisco. Asako graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1941 with a degree in psychology. The following year, wartime Executive Order 9066 forced the incarceration of 110,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps, and Asako and her family were imprisoned in one of ten camps — Topaz, in Delta, Utah. Returning to San Francisco at the end of the war, she met and married the Reverend H. John Yamashita in 1948 and supported his work at the Oakland West Tenth Methodist Church. In 1952, she moved with her husband and baby daughter to Los Angeles, continuing to support John’s work at the Centenary Methodist Church and raising two daughters. In the 1960s, she returned to school and received her teaching certificate from the University of Southern California. She taught elementary school in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 19 years. After John’s retirement from the ministry, the couple traveled together through Japan, Europe, and South America. Asako also traveled with her sisters and close friends to over fifty countries across the world. And she took her grandchildren on many trips, from the Galapagos to Rome. In 2003, she moved from Gardena, California, to Santa Cruz to live with her daughter, Karen Tei Yamashita, professor of literature and creative writing at UCSC. Over the next 12 years, Asako tended her garden of orchids, continued to be an avid reader, and attended classes and lectures, enjoying the company of UCSC colleagues and students.

Asako was predeceased by her husband, Rev. H. John Yamashita; and is survived by daughters, Karen Tei Yamashita and Jane Tomi Boltz; their spouses, Ronaldo Lopes de Oliveira and Howard “Pat” Boltz; grandchildren, Jane Tei and Jon Oliveira, Mary Jane and Lucy Boltz; greatgrandchildren, Milton, Andrew and Andrea Oliveira, and Javon Oliveira Chavez; sister, Iku Hopes of Evanston, Illinois; brother, Dr. Hisaji Sakai of Walnut Creek, California; and many nieces, nephews and other relatives.

A committal service will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at Green Hills Memorial Park, 27501 S. Western Avenue, Rancho Palos Verdes, California. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 am on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at Lake Park United Methodist Church, 281 Santa Clara Avenue, Oakland.

Contributions in Asako’s honor may be made payable to JACL, with notation, “Rev. H. John & Asako Yamashita Memorial Scholarship Fund” addressed to National Japanese American Citizens League, 1765 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 94115.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *