Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/449/

Interviews

Sumida,Alice

(1914-2018) Founder of the largest gladiolus bulb farm in the United States.

Education in a Buddhist temple and a country school

When I was 6 years old, my parents placed me in a Buddhist temple in Guadalupe, California, in a dormitory there so I could study the Japanese language, learn how to read and write and customs and the culture of Japan. After 6 years of shugyo -- shugyo is meditation, I guess you’d call it – we finally…all the children, 6 years old, you know, had to part with their parents. Very hard for them. They were crying every day, they wanted to go home. And finally after 6 years, they decided…parents decided to close the dormitory and all the children were able to go home.

So when I got back to my home, I was 12 years old and started to go to the country school not far from…we had to walk about a mile to go to this school and so mother would fix us a sandwich, you know. We’d eat the sandwich on the way and run, run, run to get there on time. The teacher there taught from the first grade through the eighth grade. He had just hailed in from New York City. He was a big tall man, you know, and every holiday he says…it was a potluck. All the parents would bring food like Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas. And after we ate, he says, “Everybody dance, even the 6-year-old.” That’s how I got started dancing. I enjoyed it so much. And his wife played the piano.


Buddhism education religions religious architecture religious institutions temples

Date: December 6, 2005

Location: Oregon, US

Interviewer: Akemi Kikumura Yano

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

Interviewee Bio

Alice Sumida (b.1914) Alice’s parents immigrated to California from Kumamoto, Japan, and were farming in the Central Coast area when she was born. When she was six years old, Alice’s parents placed her in a dormitory at a Buddhist Temple in nearby Guadalupe, where, until the age of twelve, she learned Japanese reading, writing, customs and culture. She then attended a country school where she first developed a love of dance when the teacher encouraged everyone to dance at Thanksgiving, Halloween and Christmas celebrations. Later, while in San Francisco taking voice lessons, she met her future husband, Mark, a Portland resident ten years her senior. At his insistence, they were engaged after three days and married in two weeks. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the United States entry into World War II, Alice and Mark were ordered to an “Assembly Center” in Portland that was built over the foul-smelling stockyards. After two weeks, they were recruited to the sugar beet fields of Eastern Oregon—where Alice was the only woman doing the “backbreaking work” of harvesting. When the war ended, they took up farming a barren piece of land that, after much hard work and sacrifice, they eventually transformed into the country’s largest gladiola bulb farm. Following Mark’s passing in 1981, Alice revived her earlier love of dance, and, in her 90s, she continued to compete in ballroom dance events around the world. She passed away on August 16, 2018 at age 104. (October 2018)

Ariyoshi,George
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Ariyoshi,George

Teacher who helped with lisp

(b.1926) Democratic politician and three-term Governor of Hawai'i

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Hirabayashi,James
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Hirabayashi,James

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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Hirabayashi,James
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Hirabayashi,James

Politics in ethnic studies

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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Hirabayashi,James
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Hirabayashi,James

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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Hirabayashi,James
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Hirabayashi,James

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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Hirabayashi,James
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Hirabayashi,James

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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Kawakami,Barbara
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Kawakami,Barbara

Kids working hard

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Kawakami,Barbara
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Kawakami,Barbara

First day of school

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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

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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Yonamine,Wally Kaname
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Yonamine,Wally Kaname

Training for football by carrying 100-lb bags of grass over mountains

(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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Kosaki,Richard
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Kosaki,Richard

Teaching at the military language school during World War II

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

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Kosaki,Richard
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Kosaki,Richard

Lesson learned from community college faculty

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

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Kosaki,Richard
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Kosaki,Richard

Rewards of teaching

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

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Ito,Mitsuo
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Ito,Mitsuo

Japanese school

(b.1924) Japanese Canadian Nisei. Interpreter for British Army in Japan after WWII. Active in Japanese Canadian community

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Kadoguchi,Shizuko
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Kadoguchi,Shizuko

Strict school policy of separating boys and girls in Japan

(b.1920) Japanese Canadian Nisei. Established the Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Toronto

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