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Learning Japanese at school and at home with family

Earlier in the elementary and junior high school, we were kind of forced to go to Japanese school and things just to learn. In high school, I really didn’t do that anymore. But still, my parents would speak a lot of Japanese to us. So I would be able to kind of understand that. And also, I guess when I was in junior high school and elementary school, my grandparents, my father’s parents, were living with us for a while. They definitely did not speak any English at all. So in order to communicate with them, it had to be in some kind of Japanese, broken English form. All of that was part of, I guess, my language understanding or education as far as Japanese.

I never, unfortunately, really embraced trying to learn it more, which I really regret right now because of the things we’re doing now and also just my relationship with things that’s in Japan. Although, fortunately, when I do travel in Japan, things kind of come back after a while.


education families languages

Date: January 26, 2005

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Art Hansen, Sojin Kim

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

Interviewee Bio

Roy Hirabayashi, managing director and co-founder of San Jose Taiko, was born in Berkeley, California in 1951 to kibei parents. The middle of five children, he was raised in Oakland, California. After graduating from high school in 1969, he attended San Jose State University where he received degrees in psychology and philosophy.

He has worked for the San Jose State University Asian American Studies Program, Japanese American Citizens League, the Pacific Asian Coalition, and the Buddhist Churches of America. It was through his work with the YBA (Young Buddhists of America) that he became involved with taiko. Reverend Hiroshi Abiko of San Jose Buddhist Church asked Dean Miyakusu and him to start something for the youth after being inspired by Kinnara Taiko. They started the group and it has since evolved into one of the most influential taiko groups in the Americas. (January 26, 2005)

George Ariyoshi
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George Ariyoshi

Teacher who helped with lisp

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

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George Ariyoshi
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George Ariyoshi

Spending time with children

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

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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi
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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi

Getting married

Former First Lady of Hawai'i

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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi
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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi

Possibility of being adopted by aunt

Former First Lady of Hawai'i

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Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

First work in America (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

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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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

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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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

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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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

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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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Gordon's parents' experience in prison

(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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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Going back to Hawaii

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Clothes of plantation workers

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Surviving after father's death

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Washing for Filipino bachelors

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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