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https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/427/

Growing up outside of Portland’s Japanese community

One thing is maybe that’s a plus or maybe that’s a minus, but he (My father) didn’t associate himself with the Japanese community at all. None at all. And we moved…most people lived close together, you know, in the Japanese…that was in Japantown and so on. But we lived way out northeast – 58th and Burnside is where he bought a house. And of course I went to school. I was the first Asian to go to that grammar school called Mount Tabor Grammar School – first Asian. So I didn’t know…that is a very big plus because you don’t see any other Asians so you don’t think of yourself being Asian, you see. So I just thought I was White like all the other people. I mean all my friends treated me on a very equal basis, not to have…there was no such thing as prejudice or anything.

The other point is I didn’t speak English at all until I got into first grade and my father didn’t know when to take…start school, so school had already started, then he brought me to school and asked the principal, is this…“Oh, he should’ve been here 3 months ago.” Or something like that, you know. So I learned my English in first grade.


education identity

Date: December 8, 2005

Location: Oregon, US

Interviewer: Akemi Kikumura Yano

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

Interviewee Bio

Sam Naito (b. 1921) is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Naito Corporation in Portland, Oregon. In 1975 he established Made In Oregon, a store based at the Portland International Airport dedicated to merchandising "products made, caught or grown in Oregon." Made In Oregon has since grown to 10 store locations in Portland, Salem, Eugene and Newport. Sam's father came to the United States (by way of England) around 1917 from a small town near Kobe, Japan. The family opened an importing business in Portland in 1921, but with the outbreak of World War II, the family faced discriminatory city ordinances and other forms of racial prejudice. In 1942, the president of the University of Oregon denied Sam's request to finish his spring term, stating that it would be "unpatriotic" to allow him to do so. The family decided to move to Salt Lake City, Utah, to join other family relatives. Sam worked and attended University of Utah where he met his future wife. He eventually graduated from Columbia University in New York in 1945 and, after the war, started a wholesale ceramics business that became Norcrest China Co., an importer of fine china and dinnerware both from England and "Occupied Japan." (December 8, 2005)

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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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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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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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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Mike Shinoda
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Mike Shinoda

Connecting to Japan

(b. 1977) Musician, Producer, Artist

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Kids working hard

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

First day of school

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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