Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/465/

Disadvantages of looking Japanese

All the verbal etiquette, the mannerisms in Japan, which is a lot compared to different countries—I had no idea what they were. I didn’t know I shouldn’t drink before the elders. You know, we sit down with some company president, and we get our drinks. He doesn’t get his drink yet, and I’m sipping mine. I didn’t know I couldn’t do that. Before you eat, “itadaki-masu.” After you eat, “Gochisou-sama.” I didn’t know those words.

The problem with that was me looking Japanese. I was expected to know all that. If I had blue eyes, blond hair, and I didn’t do that, “This foreigner, this gaijin doesn’t know the mannerisms here.” Because I looked so Japanese, I was portrayed as a rude Japanese, in a way, for the people who didn’t know who I was.

You see me at a restaurant with a president that really doesn’t know me that much. I’m sitting with the president of the English school, just coming with him. So I’m not really introduced like that. And I’m there just sitting down drinking my juice, and he doesn’t even have his. It’s not a good impression. So I had lot of problems with that—everyone thinking that I knew the language, everyone thinking that I should speak.

I got stopped once on the rode with police, and he asked me for my license in Japanese, which I didn’t understand that time because I just came [here]. I looked and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I’m giving him the registration, which usually people ask first the registration. And he’s asking for my license. And you know, I told him in my broken Japanese that “I don’t understand what you’re saying. I’m not Japanese.” And he got pissed at me, and it got really bad that situation. You know, he actually had to apologize later because I was a foreigner. I really didn’t understand what he was saying.

So there’s a lot of prejudice in Japan to foreigners. And lo and behold, I was considered a foreigner when I got here.


etiquette Finding Home (film) identity prejudices

Date: October 14, 2003

Location: Saitama, Japan

Interviewer: Art Nomura

Contributed by: Art Nomura, Finding Home.

Interviewee Bio

Enson Inoue was born and raised in Hawai`i and attended college there for 3 years studying psychology. At age 23, he went to Japan to play racquetball in a two-week tournament without any intention of living there. He won the tournament and then stayed for 3 months to give racquetball seminars. Thereafter, he continued to live in Japan, intending to return to Hawai`i in a year. Enson, however, decided to stay for still another year, teaching English and running his brother’s racquetball company in Japan. He then became a boxer and gave up racquetball. At the time of the interview in Fall 2003, Enson had lived in Japan for thirteen and a half years and had not been back to Hawai`i for six years. Now he is a professional fighter with the ring name “Yamato Damashii (Japanese Spirit or Samurai Spirit).” As for his identity, he feels that although he is an American, his home is Japan. (October 14, 2003)

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

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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Masakatsu Jaime Ashimine Oshiro
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Masakatsu Jaime Ashimine Oshiro

A Possible Path towards Happiness… (Spanish)

(1958-2014) Former Bolivian Ambassador to Japan

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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

What is Nikkei? (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

Learning from Nikkei (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Nickname

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

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Context affects meaning

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

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

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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Steve Kaji
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Steve Kaji

FOB's

Hawaii born Nikkei living in Japan. English Teacher at YMCA.

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Venancio Shinki
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Venancio Shinki

Prejudice in Japanese school (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

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Mike Shinoda
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Mike Shinoda

Connecting to Japan

(b. 1977) Musician, Producer, Artist

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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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