Masato Tademoto was born on December 14, 1923 in Dinuba, California. He was the second child of Masajiro and Shizuko Tademoto. Mas’ parents did fairly well with a small hotel business and traveled to and from Japan often. As a teenager, Mas was sent to Japan for school and was occasionally harassed by fellow classmates because he was from America. But Mas was capable of defending himself and often boasted to his family of his Judo abilities. When WWII broke out and due to his dual citizenship, Mas was drafted in the Japanese Army, shortening his time in college. Mas fought in China where he was soon captured and taken prisoner. When the war ended, Mas returned to Hiroshima learning then that his father and younger brother passed away in the A-bomb. He began working as an interpreter in the Hiroshima Finance Ministry.
Haruko “Harky” Yamamoto was born on January 24, 1 927 in Chualar, California to Yoshino and Haruki Yamamoto. Harky grew up in Salinas, on a lettuce farm with 8 other siblings. When garlic picking was a way to make extra money, her mother would take the older sons and include a younger Harky since she was always a fast worker! Her passion for perfection was shown in her sewing, cooking, and pretty much any projects she started. Due to the war, her family was relocated to Poston, Arizona in 1942. Our Temple’s Maruyama family and her own family, go back to these camp days: Masy Maruyama was a pal of her brother’s and his sister was her best friend. Harky decided to attend Japanese school full time instead of finishing her senior year of high school since her father’s wish was for the family to return to Japan after the war to see their homeland.
While in Japan, a “go-between” was arranged for Mas and Harky. Harky often laughed when she recalls Mas being a “chicken” for bowing out of their first date claiming he was sick! In 1947, Mas and Harky married. In 1954, Mas returned to America finding work as an electrician in Chicago. Harky followed shortly after by ship from Japan to Hawaii to California with Kenji (5) and Tomio (1). While waiting for his family to arrive, Mas bought a car, learned to drive and drove from Chicago to California to greet them.
Mas was never a Temple regular until he received a call from George and Mary Maruyama. Mary kindly extended an invitation and George drove Mas and Harky to their first Asoka meeting. The Asoka Group brought a sense of belonging and an opportunity to form valued friendships. Mas served a term as president of the Asoka Group and the Hoyukai Group and also found enjoyment leading the chicken pit crew during many Natsumatsuri festivals. Harky served a term as secretary of the Asoka Group, enjoyed helping the Craft Group and kept pace with the hard working ladies in the kitchen during the many church festivities. They considered themselves “late-comers” to the Temple, in comparison to the families that started on the south side. The Temple meant a great deal to Mas and Harky and they were very proud to be members.