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Grandmother's influence on decision to go to Japan

I think it’s my grandmother that made me come to Japan. As I said, my family couldn’t give me a ticket to travel, so I had to find some way to do that. At university, the foreign exchange program—the study abroad program—was one of the ways I thought I could do that. I’ve always thought I would go to Europe. In high school, I studied German. And as a child, America’s basically a European culture. Now we get a big influx of Latinos and Asians, but back then, it was still basically a European culture. Then, because of the War, too, it was difficult for the Japanese Americans to form their own identity. Being born in America, you think, well you want to be part of the melting pot of America, being an American. So, I thought, when I got the form for the exchange program, since I had studied German, I thought I would go to Heidelberg and put that down as my choice. But when it came to filling that one section, I put Japan for the first time. I said, I think it’s because of my strong grandmother—watching her and my parents as I’m growing up.


education Finding Home (film) foreign study identity migration

Date: November 28, 2003

Location: Saga, Japan

Interviewer: Art Nomura

Contributed by: Art Nomura, Finding Home.

Interviewee Bio

Robert Kiyoshi Okasaki, 61-year-old Yonsei (on his mother’s side) was born in French Camp, California, in 1942, just before his family was incarcerated during World War II at the Rowher concentration camp in Arkansas. After the war, Bob’s family lived in Stockton and later in Lodi, California, where his family had a vineyard.

Bob attended San Jose State College, eventually concentrating on pottery. Through the Study Abroad program, Bob became an apprentice to a potter, a Living National Treasure, in Japan where tableware is considered an art.

When Bob journeyed to Japan, he felt American, but now when comes home to the U.S., he does not feel American. He’s been married since 1975 to a Japanese woman and their first child was born in 1985. When he first arrived in Japan, recalls Bob, Japanese nationals treated him sometimes like “he was not all there” because of his lack of Japanese language. His relationship with his wife’s family has changed from an original relationship of caution to one of comfort, to the point where he now feels that her family is his family.(November 28, 2003)

Masakatsu Jaime Ashimine Oshiro
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Masakatsu Jaime Ashimine Oshiro

A Possible Path towards Happiness… (Spanish)

(1958-2014) Former Bolivian Ambassador to Japan

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Henry Shimizu
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Henry Shimizu

Grandmother convinced his mother to return to Canada

(b. 1928) Doctor. Former Chair of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation.

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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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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

Interest in Japanese migration studies (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

What is Nikkei? (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

Learning from Nikkei (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Nickname

(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

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

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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Venancio Shinki
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Venancio Shinki

We go to America (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

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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

Context affects meaning

(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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Steve Kaji
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Steve Kaji

FOB's

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

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Venancio Shinki
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Venancio Shinki

Prejudice in Japanese school (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

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