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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 T. Fujioka
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Robert T. Fujioka

Growing up Japanese in Hawaii

(b. 1952) Former banking executive, born in Hawaii

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Kishi Bashi
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Kishi Bashi

On being Japanese and American

(b. 1975) Musician, composer, and songwriter

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Kishi Bashi
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Kishi Bashi

His Shin-Issei parents

(b. 1975) Musician, composer, and songwriter

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Michelle Yamashiro
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Michelle Yamashiro

Parents identification as Peruvian Okinawan

Okinawan American whose parents are from Peru.

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Michelle Yamashiro
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Michelle Yamashiro

Okinawan cultural appreciation

Okinawan American whose parents are from Peru.

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Michelle Yamashiro
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Michelle Yamashiro

Prejudice against Okinawans from mainland folks

Okinawan American whose parents are from Peru.

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Michelle Yamashiro
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Michelle Yamashiro

American values she aligns with

Okinawan American whose parents are from Peru.

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Michelle Yamashiro
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Michelle Yamashiro

Working together in Okinawa using three languages

Okinawan American whose parents are from Peru.

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Fumiko Hachiya Wasserman
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Fumiko Hachiya Wasserman

Mother founded Japanese language school in neighbors’ backyard

Sansei judge for the Superior Court of Los Angeles County in California

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Mitsuye Yamada
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Mitsuye Yamada

Expressing herself through poetry

(b. 1923) Japanese American poet, activist

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Mitsuye Yamada
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Mitsuye Yamada

Her brother’s reasons as a No-No Boy

(b. 1923) Japanese American poet, activist

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Juan Alberto Matsumoto
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Juan Alberto Matsumoto

About Escobar (Spanish)

(b. 1962) Nisei Japanese Argentinian, currently residing in Japan

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Monica Teisher
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Monica Teisher

Her definition of Nikkei

(b.1974) Japanese Colombian who currently resides in the United States

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Sabrina Shizue McKenna
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Sabrina Shizue McKenna

Impact of Coming Out on Her Family

(b. 1957) Justice of the Supreme Court of Hawaii.

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