Japanese veterinarian, a rarity at Fort Snelling National Cemetery

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The US Navy veteran owned a cafe north of Minneapolis and lived in the same Linden Hills bungalow for three decades, less than a mile from Lake Harriet. Upon his death at 87, he was buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery – an honorable farewell that took place a quarter of a century after Ed Yamazaki received another kind of recognition.

On December 8, 1941, Federal Reserve officials aided by the Minneapolis Police Department closed Ed’s Sandwich Shop under a Treasury Department directive to freeze businesses run by Japanese nationals. It was the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

“We’re sorry to see war come, but what can we do? Said Yamazaki, who was born in Japan in 1881 and served as a Journeyman Navy Steward from 1906 to 1908 after emigrating at the turn of the century. “My family and I have no connection in Japan.”

With the support of a North Side furrier and other nearby traders, Ed’s Sandwich Shop reopened four days later, subject to all income being deposited into a supervised account which allowed monthly withdrawals of $ 200 to compensate for the living expenses.

The episode was just one of many curveballs in Yamazaki’s unique life.

“I guess he might be the only Japanese-born person buried at Fort Snelling,” said Krista Hanson, a Maplewood WWII researcher. “He may be the only person born in Japan buried in a national military cemetery.”

Robert Roeser, a supervisor at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, said he knew no way to determine whether Yamazaki was the first – or the only – Japanese American veteran buried at the 280,000-strong Twin Cities cemetery. They all had stories, but few rivaled Yamazaki’s.

Born in Maruoka, Japan, Edward Yoshinosuke Yamazaki was 18 when he sailed from Yokohama to San Francisco aboard the America Maru, a high-speed ocean liner of the Oriental Steamship Co. fleet. He crossed the Pacific in February 1900 in the hope of receiving an American education and studying music. The ship’s manifesto mentioned him as a student at a business school, according to Hanson.

Less than two weeks before Yamazaki was 25, he survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake that killed more than 3,000 people and razed four-fifths of the city. He escaped with little more than the clothes he was wearing.

His next stop was Brooklyn, NY, where records show him running a YMCA and studying violin under the direction of renowned teacher Franz Kneisel at the music school that would become Juilliard. Unable to find work, Yamazaki found himself in the shipyards in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he worked for two years as a steward in the service of the officers. The Navy would remain the source of racial segregation until 1948 and he was still decades away from citizenship, so cooking and cleaning on ships was probably the best he could do.

In 1914, Yamazaki had landed in Minneapolis. He worked at the Mandarin Cafe before opening a Japanese tea house on Nicollet Avenue in 1919 and marrying a Norwegian immigrant daughter, Anna Hansen, who was almost 16 years younger. They welcomed a son, also named Edward, in 1920.

High rent and dilapidated equipment eventually forced him to sell the tea house, but by the 1940s he ran his modest sandwich shop on the North Side.

Meanwhile, sports pages listed his son Ed as one of the city’s top speed skaters in popular races at Powderhorn Park. Young Ed changed his last name to a more American-sounding Evans around 1940, “before enlisting in 1941,” military researcher Susanne Adler said.

An Army Staff Sergeant Evans was at Camp Claiborne in Louisiana when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He eventually reached the rank of Major in the Air Force and retired after 20 years in the military after serving in World War II and the Korean War. He buried a few sections south of his parents at Fort Snelling.

The Yamazaki sandwich shop, located at 922 W. Broadway in northern Minneapolis, not only suffered the Pearl Harbor closure, but also a kerosene fire spreading from a hangar behind the company in August 1942. Even after it ended. From the store’s 28 years of operation, Yamazaki was still filled with “youthful vitality” at age 80, according to a 1962 article that said he worked five hours a day at the famous Nanking Cafe in downtown Minneapolis and played a role. active at Lake Harriet Methodist Church.

After a life that included emigration from Japan, surviving the San Francisco earthquake, a job at the YMCA in Brooklyn, a stint in the Navy, and years of restaurant work in Minneapolis, Yamazaki became a U.S. citizen in 1954. Upon his death in 1968, his A Short Obituary published in the Minneapolis Star says he is survived by his wife, son in Houston and three grandchildren, as well as a sister in Japan.

“He is doing well as far as we are concerned here,” his business neighbors said of Yamazaki in the hours following Pearl Harbor, when authorities came to shut it down.

Curt Brown’s Tales of Minnesota History appear every Sunday. Readers can send him ideas and suggestions at [email protected] His latest book looks at Minnesota in 1918, when flu, war and fires converged: strib.mn/MN1918.

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