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Parents were willing to send her to medical school

When I was ready to go to medical school, people would say,” why send a girl to medical school, you know, you’ll only get married and…and you’re just wasting your time.” Well, one thing about the medical profession, you can do that regardless, you know. You don’t have to depend on other people. Whereas most…at the time, most oriental girls that graduated from UCLA and…they could never get a job here before the war. Nor could the men, if they went to CAL Tech, they could never get a job here. They would have to do farming or work as a secretary or bookkeeper in a Japanese firm. So I could understand why most people felt that it would be a waste of time to send me to school. But my father said, well, and my mother also said, ”well that’s what she wants, so…” Even though it was a hardship for them cause it was during depression days. They were willing to send me to medical school.


education medical schools

Date: March 31, 2005

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Gwenn M. Jensen

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Dr. Sakaye Shigekawa was born January 6, 1913 in South Pasadena, California. When she was a child, her father was hospitalized from double pneumonia and while visiting him, she got acquainted with the doctors and nurses and decided then to become a doctor. After studying premed at USC, she was accepted to Stritch Loyola Medical School and was only 1 of 4 women in her class. She persevered through medical school despite sex discrimination from instructors and fellow students and began practicing medicine in the Los Angeles area.

She was one of the first to be incarcerated at the Santa Anita Race Track on March 1, 1942. She was invited to join Dr. Norman Kobayashi and Dr. Fred Fujikawa treating patients while there which helped her overcome the bitterness and depression she was in. At first she was only allowed to treat skin conditions, but after a while she asked to be able to do other things and began to do obstetrics and other parts of medicine.

After the war she continued to practice medicine and eventually opened up her own practice, which she continues. In her thirty-nine years of obstetrics practice, she calculates that she delivered over twenty thousand babies and never lost a mother. She passed away on October 18, 2013 at age 100.  (April 2020)

George Ariyoshi
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George Ariyoshi

Teacher who helped with lisp

(b.1926) Democratic politician and three-term Governor of Hawai'i

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Little interaction with parents

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Politics in ethnic studies

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Center for Japanese American Studies in community

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Involvement with ethnic studies

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Testing assumptions of Japanese scholars

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Kids working hard

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

First day of school

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki
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Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki

Grandmother's influence on decision to go to Japan

(b.1942) Japanese American ceramist, who has lived in Japan for over 30 years.

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Wally Kaname Yonamine
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Wally Kaname Yonamine

Training for football by carrying 100-lb bags of grass over mountains

(b.1925) Nisei of Okinawan descent. Had a 38-year career in Japan as a baseball player, coach, scout, and manager.

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Richard Kosaki
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Richard Kosaki

Teaching at the military language school during World War II

(b. 1924) Political scientist, educator, and administrator from Hawai`i

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Richard Kosaki
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Richard Kosaki

Lesson learned from community college faculty

(b. 1924) Political scientist, educator, and administrator from Hawai`i

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Richard Kosaki
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Richard Kosaki

Rewards of teaching

(b. 1924) Political scientist, educator, and administrator from Hawai`i

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Mitsuo Ito
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Mitsuo Ito

Japanese school

(b.1924) Japanese Canadian Nisei. Interpreter for British Army in Japan after WWII. Active in Japanese Canadian community

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Shizuko Kadoguchi
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Shizuko Kadoguchi

Strict school policy of separating boys and girls in Japan

(b.1920) Japanese Canadian Nisei. Established the Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Toronto

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