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Deciding to come to America

In Tokyo, a lot of American soldiers going around there then. And I look at them, "those guys beat us...those guys." Those kind of feeling I had. I never learned English, 'cause I had a lot of chance to learn going to school if those kind of thing opening up all over, so I have a chance to learn, but I had ..ah, I don't wanna do that.

Then never thinking in my mind to go to America. Wish more like... the other way around, I kind of hate America because they beat us, then, but as times go on, then I met Mitsui, we marriage, after the Mitsui kept saying how America is better life than Japan, see.

That same time, the Korean War almost ended. Then soon the Korean War situation comes, my printing business, all economy same way, slowed down. Even my printing business wasn't doing too good. So my income is more less now. So I kinda thinking making some...thinking mind, start to twisting my mind a little bit. Hey, may be not too bad. Michi says so, and she really wanna go back there, so. May be I better think of it. Then I start talking, thinking a lot of, I think quite a bit, you know -s hould we do or not. Then finally I find, "O.K. if I stay this way, I'm not doing too good, either." say so. Might as well, let's change the life to see how American life gonna be. If I'm not gonna make it, I can come back to Japan. So, let's go try.

That's why I decide to come up. Kind of gambling decision, you know, 'cause I don't have nothning...any particular idea what to do in America. It's just try to go see it. If it's gonna suit me, I'm gonna try. But if not, I'm gonna come back.

generations immigrants immigration Issei Japan migration postwar Shin-Issei United States war World War II

Date: February 2, 2012

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Chris Komai, John Esaki

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

Interviewee Bio

Harunori Oda was born and raised in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, but moved to the U.S. after meeting and marrying a Nisei woman who was visiting Japan in the post WWII period. Though he hated the U.S., his wife, Mitsy, convinced him that he would have greater opportunities for success in the U.S., so he decided to take the chance. Though his English skills were limited, he worked his way up through the nursery business—an enterprise he determined would offer the most opportunity for a person with his abilities. Eventually, he started his own nursery, expanded, and later achieved great success as a developer of real estate in Orange County. He passed away on December 14, 2016, at age 91. (December 2016)


First work in America (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman


Company in Tokyo burned down (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman


Family interrelations between mother and father

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



Hawaii born Nikkei living in Japan. English Teacher at YMCA.


Going back to Hawaii

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.


Picture brides and karifufu

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.


Idealism before war, being red, white and blue

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

Okasaki,Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi

Grandmother's influence on decision to go to Japan

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

Okasaki,Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi

Wife's family in Japan

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


Impression of Japan upon arrival

(b.1935) American born Japanese. Retired businessman.

Matsumoto,Roy H.

Kibei schoolchildren in Hiroshima, Japan

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.


The reason he came to the United States (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California


Devastation in Tokyo after World War II

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


Grandfather's arrival in the U.S., experiencing discrimination

(b. 1939) Japanese American painter, printmaker & professor

Kanemoto,Marion Tsutakawa

Mother's immigration to U.S. as a treaty merchant

(b. 1927) Japanese American Nisei. Family voluntarily returned to Japan during WWII.