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Working in cane fields as teenager to supplement family income

Well, when I was 12, 14 years old, all the kids used to work in the cane field those days during the summer. You worked for about maybe two and a half months during the summer and try to make as much money as you can. And those days, you work a whole day and they pay you only 25 cents a day. But, we all had to work to help because my father was working in the cane field all day, 12, 14 hours a day, and he'll come home and make only about $70 or $80 a month. So when you have seven kids, you know, that's not enough. So, during the summer, my brother, myself, my sister, we all try to help out to try to make as much money we can. So, I used to work in the cane field, get up maybe 4 o'clock in the morning and go to cane field and cut grass. And I used to hate that job because, you know, the leaves would cut you and all that.


agriculture families

Date: December 16, 2003

Location: Hawai'i, US

Interviewer: Art Hansen, John Esaki

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

Interviewee Bio

Wally Kaname Yonamine was born on Maui in Hawaii in 1925. He first gained public acclaim as an athlete in 1944 after moving to Oahu and leading Farrington High School to its first Honolulu city football championship. After World War II, he was signed to a professional football contract as a running back for the San Francisco 49ers, the first player of Asian ancestry to attain this milestone. An injury prompted a switch from football to baseball.

While with the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco Seals, its manager urged him to consider a professional baseball career in Japan. After joining the Yomiuri Giants in 1951 as the first American to play in postwar Japan, he hit over .300. Considered the greatest leadoff batter in Japanese baseball history, he won three batting championships and, in 1957, was named the Central League’s Most Valuable Player.

Upon retiring as a player, he finished his thirty-eight-year career in Japan as a successful coach, scout, and manager. Credited with introducing to Japanese baseball such American practices as hard sliding, running out bunts and infield grounders, and diving for fly balls, Yonamine was initially the target of fan abuse. He later achieved great popularity, however, and in 1990 was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. (December 16, 2003)

George Ariyoshi
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George Ariyoshi

Spending time with children

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

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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi
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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi

Getting married

Former First Lady of Hawai'i

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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi
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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi

Possibility of being adopted by aunt

Former First Lady 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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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

Gordon's parents' experience in prison

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

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Haruo Kasahara
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Haruo Kasahara

Sings traditional plantation labor song (ho-le ho-le bushi) in Japanese and Hawaiian

(b.1900) Issei plantation worker in Hawai'i.

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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

Clothes of plantation workers

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Surviving after father's death

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Washing for Filipino bachelors

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Brother leaves for war, survival

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Doing chores

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

Wife's family in Japan

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

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Jane Aiko Yamano
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Jane Aiko Yamano

New Year's food

(b.1964) California-born business woman in Japan. A successor of her late grandmother, who started a beauty business in Japan.

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