Struggles with English (Japanese)

Birthplace My image of America as a child (Japanese) Longing to be an imperial soldier as a youth (Japanese) Boarding house life and the Issei (Japanese) My father’s venture into the hotel business (Japanese) (Japanese) My children’s education Luckiest Issei The situation after the war (Japanese) “Junior Issei” (Japanese) Working in America Struggles with English (Japanese)

Transcripts available in the following languages:

(Japanese) I came back and was working as an apprentice at my aunt’s friend’s place Shopping Bag. But, I don’t understand English, right? I was working with 5 others, all Nisei. They were all college graduates, too, and, on top of that, veterans. They were of a relatively older generation of Nisei, so their Japanese was pretty good. They took care of me. Every time a white customer asked me something, I had to say, “Please wait,” go to the back, and ask one of them, and they’d tell me the answer. At first, I thought, “Well, this is interesting in its own way,” but after a month I had had enough of it and began to think it must be a bother for whomever else was involved, too.

That’s when my childhood friend came up to me and asked how much I was making there. He said, “What are you doing here? You gotta move over to the boarding house in Sawtelle. You’ll make a bunch more money as a gardener.” So, after a month and a half, I stopped working at Shopping Bag and moved out there.

Date: January 31, 2012
Location: California, US
Interviewer: John Esaki, Yoko Nishimura
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

kibei Los Angeles sawtelle

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