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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)

Takeo Uesugi
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Takeo Uesugi

Studying in Japan before working in the US

(1940-2016) Issei Landscape Architect

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PJ Hirabayashi
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PJ Hirabayashi

Feeling empowered by taiko

Co-founder and creative director of San Jose Taiko

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PJ Hirabayashi
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PJ Hirabayashi

Sense of lineage between Sansei and Issei through Taiko

Co-founder and creative director of San Jose Taiko

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Ann K. Nakamura
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Ann K. Nakamura

Image of Americans

Sansei from Hawaii living in Japan. Teacher and businesswoman.

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Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki
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Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki

Japanese influence growing up

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

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PJ Hirabayashi
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PJ Hirabayashi

Diverse membership in San Jose Taiko

Co-founder and creative director of San Jose Taiko

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Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki
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Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki

Looking at your country from the outside

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

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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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Yukio Takeshita
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Yukio Takeshita

Lack of notion of citizenship in Japan

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

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Jane Aiko Yamano
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Jane Aiko Yamano

Lack of language skills

(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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Jane Aiko Yamano
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Jane Aiko Yamano

Preserving traditional Japanese culture

(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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Jane Aiko Yamano
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Jane Aiko Yamano

Having patience in Japan, being both

(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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Byron Glaser
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Byron Glaser

Supporting art because it's essential

Illustrator and designer

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Wayne Shigeto Yokoyama
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Wayne Shigeto Yokoyama

Being on the outside

(b.1948) Nikkei from Southern California living in Japan.

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Wally Kaname Yonamine
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Wally Kaname Yonamine

His parents' experience with Japanese resistance toward intermarriage with Okinawans

(b.1925) Nisei of Okinawan descent. Had a 38-year career in Japan as a baseball player, coach, scout, and manager.

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