James Sakamoto
1924 - 2020
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James Sakamoto
Resident of San Jose
James T. Sakamoto, age 95, passed away on Saturday March 28 peacefully in his home in San Jose. He will be remembered always for his generous, gregarious and friendly nature. Jim was born April 18, 1924 in Mayfield, CA (now Palo Alto) to Yasutaro and Fusa Sakamoto and was the fifth of eight children. Jim grew up in Alviso, Ca. but after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 the family moved inland to Stockton, Ca in an attempt to avoid the mass incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent. Eventually the family was sent to the Stockton Assembly Center and then to a concentration camp in Rohwer, Arkansas. After he was released from the camp Jim spent time in Colorado and then served in the military and eventually returned to San Jose. Soon after relocating he met Kazuko Baba, fell in love, and married. In 1953 he established Sakamoto Barbershop in San Jose's Japantown. The barbershop quickly became a community hub where people gathered and were greeted by his big smile and loud "hellloooo" for over 50 years. Jim was an avid fisherman who, into his early eighties, would take groups of "seniors" from Yu Ai Kai on trips to "cement boat." His lifelong community involvement was also reflected in his membership in the Japantown Business Association, VFW Post 9970, and his early contributions to the Cypress Golf Club, and in a way, the notorious backroom poker games in his barbershop. Jim also held the distinction of bowling a perfect "300 Game" in the mid-50's when it was a rare and difficult achievement. He was also known to enjoy a pai gow table almost as much as he enjoyed his ponies. Throughout his life "Jimmy" was a friend to everyone who walked into his shop and was known for his generosity and charisma. The unofficial "Mayor of Japantown" always had a big smile and friendly greeting for everyone he met.
Jim was preceded in death by his Sister Clara (Honda), brothers Tom, George, Frank and younger brother Donald and is survived by sister Bertha (Okumura) and youngest sibling Paul Sakamoto PhD. He leaves behind his wife Kazuko and daughter Joanne (Barry) Yoshida, three grandchildren, Gary (Mika) Yoshida, Sherry (Jeff) Borg and Michelle (Ken) Lopez, and six great-grandchildren, Brendan, Camryn, Cadee, Kaylee, Kennadi and James.
Due to the extraordinary situation we are all facing, the memorial service is limited to family only. Thank you for your understanding.


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Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Apr. 18, 2020.
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