Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/430/

Starting an import business after World War II

Right after the war ended and coming back and then I decided well, I guess we’ve got to do some kind of business, so I started this wholesale business selling California ceramics because in California, there were lots of little potters, pottery factories. And sold that pottery and brought it in from California and I did the business in the basement of our house. And I did all the packing, the invoicing, collection and found salesmen.

Then I started importing and I started importing English bone china cups and saucers. They were…people…a fad at that time of people wanting…collecting bone china cups and saucers and they were very scarce, by the way, because there was no importation during the war. The reason why I started is…is that one of my salesmen from Utah – Mr. Debonham – his name was Shirley Debonham. He told me that people were asking for English bone china cups and saucers. So I said, “That’s great.” So I went to the library, found the list of all the potteries in England, and wrote letters to them. I thought, “Well, maybe I might get one to sell to me.” Five said they would ship to me and so it started. And so I sold just…I couldn’t get enough… And I started selling all over the United States. And started there.

And then finally moved to a small warehouse place in downtown Portland and grew from there. So that was…and then we changed the name to “Norcrest China Company” and we were…started importing from Japan. And we imported the goods…early on was…we had to put down “Made in US Occupied Japan.”


business economics imports management

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)

Kazuo Funai
en
ja
es
pt
Kazuo Funai

Bad business deal (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

en
ja
es
pt
Kazuo Funai
en
ja
es
pt
Kazuo Funai

Company in Tokyo burned down (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

en
ja
es
pt
Bill Hashizume
en
ja
es
pt
Bill Hashizume

Father’s success in farm business

(b. 1922) Canadian Nisei who was unable to return to Canada from Japan until 1952

en
ja
es
pt
Bill Hashizume
en
ja
es
pt
Bill Hashizume

Liaison between the Americans and the Japanese

(b. 1922) Canadian Nisei who was unable to return to Canada from Japan until 1952

en
ja
es
pt
Bert A. Kobayashi
en
ja
es
pt
Bert A. Kobayashi

Getting involved in the family business at age 19

(b.1944) Founder of Kobayashi Group, LLC

en
ja
es
pt
Bert A. Kobayashi
en
ja
es
pt
Bert A. Kobayashi

A body, mind and spirit work ethic

(b.1944) Founder of Kobayashi Group, LLC

en
ja
es
pt
Shunji Nishimura
en
ja
es
pt
Shunji Nishimura

Learning skills by watching others work (Japanese)

(1911-2010) Founder of JACTO group

en
ja
es
pt
Shunji Nishimura
en
ja
es
pt
Shunji Nishimura

Repaying Brazil by educating the technicians (Japanese)

(1911-2010) Founder of JACTO group

en
ja
es
pt
BJ Kobayashi
en
ja
es
pt
BJ Kobayashi

No question about going into the family business

Hawaiian businessman, developer.

en
ja
es
pt
BJ Kobayashi
en
ja
es
pt
BJ Kobayashi

About Albert Chikanobu Kobayashi, Inc.

Hawaiian businessman, developer.

en
ja
es
pt
Miyoko Amano
en
ja
es
pt
Miyoko Amano

Yoshitaro Amano’s Business in Japan (Japanese)

(b. 1929) President of Amano Museum

en
ja
es
pt
Miyoko Amano
en
ja
es
pt
Miyoko Amano

Yoshitaro Amano’s Tuna Fishing Boat (Japanese)

(b. 1929) President of Amano Museum

en
ja
es
pt
Hiroshi Sakane
en
ja
es
pt
Hiroshi Sakane

How Yoshitaro Amano got to South America (Japanese)

(b. 1948) Executive Director of Amano Museum

en
ja
es
pt
Hiroshi Sakane
en
ja
es
pt
Hiroshi Sakane

Yoshitaro Amano continues his efforts in business in order to pursue his studies (Japanese)

(b. 1948) Executive Director of Amano Museum

en
ja
es
pt
Harunori Oda
en
ja
es
pt
Harunori Oda

Getting started in America

(1927-2016) Shin-Issei businessman

en
ja
es
pt

Discover Nikkei Updates

NIKKEI CHRONICLES #13
Nikkei Names 2: Grace, Graça, Graciela, Megumi?
What’s in a name? Share the story of your name with our community. Submissions now open!
NIMA VOICES
Episode 16
June 25 (US) | June 26 (Japan)
Featured Nima:
Stan Kirk
Guest Host:
Yoko Murakawa
PROJECT UPDATES
NEW SITE DESIGN
See exciting new changes to Discover Nikkei. Find out what’s new and what’s coming soon!