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Working in cane fields as teenager, and how it helped in his athletic training (Japanese)

(Japanese) When I was in Maui, well, I was about 12 to 14 years old. I worked at a sugar plantation. I didn’t like the job very much. But at that time, we didn’t have very much money, and in whatever way possible, I had to help my father and mother. So I worked very hard. Because of it, when I played baseball and football, it really helped. Doing such hard work, when I played baseball and football, because they were very tough sports, I couldn’t forget about those early hardships. Even now, even though I am 78 years old, and it was almost 60 – 65 years ago, I will never forget.

Well, even when I played baseball in Japan, I also faced hardship, but I could get through it and do it. Well, my life changed a lot because of Japanese baseball.


baseball identity

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)

Peter Mizuki
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Peter Mizuki

Not wanting to stand out as a foreigner

Sansei Japanese American living in Japan and Kendo practioner

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Frank Yamasaki
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Frank Yamasaki

Have compassion for all of humanity

(b. 1923) Nisei from Washington. Resisted draft during WWII.

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Mónica Kogiso
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Mónica Kogiso

Identity crisis (Spanish)

(b. 1969) Former president of Centro Nikkei Argentino.

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Jero (Jerome Charles White Jr.)
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Jero (Jerome Charles White Jr.)

Never sang Enka outside the family

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Fujima Kansuma
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Fujima Kansuma

Both Japanese and American identities though Japanese dance

(1918-2023) Nisei Japanese kabuki dancer

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Jero (Jerome Charles White Jr.)
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Jero (Jerome Charles White Jr.)

Coming to Japan

(b. 1981) Enka Singer

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Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig
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Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig

Results of being more American than Japanese

(1924-2018) Researcher, Activist

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Jero (Jerome Charles White Jr.)
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Jero (Jerome Charles White Jr.)

Trying to convey the meaning of the songs

(b. 1981) Enka Singer

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Kenny Endo
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Kenny Endo

Internship on a Native American reservation in Arizona

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Vince Ota
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Vince Ota

Different tension between East Coast and Los Angeles

Japanese American Creative designer living in Japan

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Differences between American and Japanese taiko

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Francis Y. Sogi
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Francis Y. Sogi

Meeting Japanese Americans from the mainland in MIS

(1923-2011) Lawyer, MIS veteran, founder of Francis and Sarah Sogi Foundation

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Jero (Jerome Charles White Jr.)
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Jero (Jerome Charles White Jr.)

Nikkei Sansei

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Enson Inoue
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Enson Inoue

Sudden acceptance in Japanese society

(b. 1967) Hawai`i-born professional fighter in Japan

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Enson Inoue
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Enson Inoue

Ring name: "Yamato Damashi"

(b. 1967) Hawai`i-born professional fighter in Japan

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