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Growing up in a Japanese American community

I was born in Southern California and my family moved to Santa Barbara when I was in junior high school. And my father was Jewish and my mother was from the Dutch Reform Church so when we were looking for a place to worship, we chose Bethany Congregational Church, which was an all-Japanese congregation and it really became our home and the congregation became very close family friends and we had sushi before it was trendy and we were the first hakujin family to become members. So it was a very influential place for me growing up and when I moved to Los Angeles to go to the Art Center College of Design the very first day of the very first class, I chose to sit next to Sandra Higashi because she felt like a sister to me.


childhood communities racially mixed people

Date: January 16, 2006

Location: California, US

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

Interviewee Bio

Byron Glaser was born and raised in Southern California with close ties to the Japanese American community. When Glaser and his family moved to Santa Barbara, they joined the Japanese American Congregational Church, becoming the first European Americans members. His father was also an active member of the Japanese American Citizens League.

Glaser attended and graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where he met fellow student Sandra Higashi. In 1986, they partnered to form Higashi Glaser Design, a graphic design firm in New York. While working on a project for F.A.O. Schwarz's flagship store on 5th Avenue, they thought of the idea to create a line of toys that were not age or gender specific. Zolo Toys has emerged as a groundbreaking and award-winning company in which Glaser and Higashi incorporate a Japanese sensibility to nature and balance. They have also illustrated children’s books for Abrams Publishing, Chronicle Books and Hyperion Books.

In 2006, Glaser and Higashi were awarded the Award of Excellence for their creative contributions to society by the Japanese American National Museum. (November 3, 2006)

George Ariyoshi
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George Ariyoshi

Ethnic diversity

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

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Christian gatherings in homes

(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

Not bringing shame to family

(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

Role of the Japanese American National Museum

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

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Chad Morton
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Chad Morton

Benefits of his multiracial background

(b.1977) Professional football player.

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Eric Morton
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Eric Morton

Addressing multiracial identity can be difficult

Starred at wide receiver for Dartmouth College, now a patent attorney. Brother of Johnnie and Chad Morton.

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Jane Aiko Yamano
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Jane Aiko Yamano

Lack of language skills

(b.1964) California-born business woman in Japan. A successor of her late grandmother, who started a beauty business in Japan.

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Jane Aiko Yamano
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Jane Aiko Yamano

Having patience in Japan, being both

(b.1964) California-born business woman in Japan. A successor of her late grandmother, who started a beauty business in Japan.

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Jane Aiko Yamano
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Jane Aiko Yamano

New Year's food

(b.1964) California-born business woman in Japan. A successor of her late grandmother, who started a beauty business in Japan.

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Jane Aiko Yamano
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Jane Aiko Yamano

Japanese are more accustomed to foreigners

(b.1964) California-born business woman in Japan. A successor of her late grandmother, who started a beauty business in Japan.

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Wayne Shigeto Yokoyama
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Wayne Shigeto Yokoyama

Working at the magazine

(b.1948) Nikkei from Southern California living in Japan.

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Wally Kaname Yonamine
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Wally Kaname Yonamine

His parents' experience with Japanese resistance toward intermarriage with Okinawans

(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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Peggie Nishimura Bain
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Peggie Nishimura Bain

Learning American cooking

(b.1909) Nisei from Washington. Incarcerated at Tule Lake and Minidoka during WWII. Resettled in Chicago after WWII

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Roger Shimomura
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Roger Shimomura

Japanese American community life

(b. 1939) Japanese American painter, printmaker & professor

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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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