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Life in Davao, Philippines

Father went to Philippines, because it was only available country at that time to go either Brazil or Philippine – he chose Philippine. That was May 1, 1937, and then a year later, I was born in Davao, Philippines. It’s a Mindanao Island.

During that time, there were almost like 20,000 Japanese in that community, and they had very extensive cultural activities that is going on, and place, Davao was prosperous with the production of hemp, like ship’s ropes and the potato sacks were made from hemp. And father, after a while, was apprenticing the – making water tanks and roofs in them – other products – out of sheet metal; it’s a galvanized sheet metal. And when he returned, visiting Japan, he became an owner of a shop in – it started to prosper.


communities migration Philippines

Date: July 12, 2017

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Mitsue Watanabe, Yoko Nishimura, Leighton Okada

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

Interviewee Bio

Sawako Ashizawa Uchimura was born in Davao, Mindanao, Philippines on March 25, 1938 as the first daughter of Katsujiro and Ura “Mie” Ashizawa. She was 7 years old in 1945 when her family had to leave the Philippines after Japan’s defeat in World War II. Her family lived in Shizuoka for the next 10 years. ​Later the family received r​​esidency status in the United States ​and arrived in Los Angeles ​in March 1956. Sawako went to Alhambra High School and later studied at Pasadena City College. She eventually found a generous mentor who helped support her through her education at San Jose State University and became a​​n occupational therapist. Currently she is volunteering at the Sakura Garden (Formerly Keiro Retirement Home). (March 2018)

George Ariyoshi
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George Ariyoshi

Ethnic diversity

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

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Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

First work in America (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

Company in Tokyo burned down (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Family interrelations between mother and father

(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

Christian gatherings in homes

(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

Not bringing shame to family

(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

Role of the Japanese American National Museum

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

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Steve Kaji
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Steve Kaji

FOB's

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

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Going back to Hawaii

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Picture brides and karifufu

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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Yukio Takeshita
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Yukio Takeshita

Impression of Japan upon arrival

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

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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Kibei schoolchildren in Hiroshima, Japan

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

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Peggie Nishimura Bain
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Peggie Nishimura Bain

Learning American cooking

(b.1909) Nisei from Washington. Incarcerated at Tule Lake and Minidoka during WWII. Resettled in Chicago after WWII

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

The reason he came to the United States (Japanese)

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

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