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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)

Wally Kaname Yonamine
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Wally Kaname Yonamine

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

(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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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Nickname

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.

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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Mixed emotions after declaration of war on Japan

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.

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Richard Kosaki
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Richard Kosaki

Growing up in Waikiki

(b. 1924) Political scientist, educator, and administrator from Hawai`i

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Roy Hirabayashi
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Roy Hirabayashi

The philosophy of playing Taiko

(b.1951) Co-founder and managing director of San Jose Taiko.

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

Learning Japanese traditions by observing his mother and grandmother

(b. 1981) Enka Singer

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Mónica Kogiso
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Mónica Kogiso

Nihongo gakko - Preserving Japanese culture (Spanish)

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

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Takeo Uesugi
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Takeo Uesugi

Developing international programs

(1940-2016) Issei Landscape Architect

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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

(b. 1981) Enka Singer

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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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Takeo Uesugi
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Takeo Uesugi

Describing the meaning of "Nikkei"

(1940-2016) Issei Landscape Architect

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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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