Dancing in Japan as an American, in the US as Japanese

Dancing in Japan as an American, in the US as Japanese Neighbor took care of hotel business during the World War II Different learning style in Japan and the United States Both Japanese and American identities though Japanese dance Being a man through Kabuki Hardship to be a Kabuki dancer as a woman Do my best as a professional dancer

Transcripts available in the following languages:

I had to go to school early in the morning just like to school and I have to learn shamisen, tsuzumi, and dancing and acting and make-up. We have to learn everything there. Then I got the flower arrangement and…I got all the diplomas. I brought back all the diplomas with me. But…well when I was learning, if they don’t like me, they always tell me, “Go back to America.” And then when we were on the stage, and we were in a group, if somebody makes a mistake, they call, “Hey, Amerika-san, Amerika-san!” “You come forward!” “Maeni kinasai, Maeni kinasai.” And that’s not me. It’s somebody else. But every time when something goes wrong, it’s “Amerika-san.” So my name was “Amerika-san.” So when I was in Japan, I was American. Could you imagine that? And so the girl that always make a mistake, she goes like this, “Thank you. Thank you.” They all love me because I take their blame and I don’t say it was her. So I went along fine in Japan.

I*: Even though you say “fine in Japan,” that must be inside very hard.

Yes. It was very hard. But you have to know how to get along. And then when I got the title Fujima Kansuma, I became a oshisho-san. That means oshisho-san. So when I came back to America, I was oshisho-san, so I’m Japanese. So I’m a Japanese here in America, but in Japan, I was “Amerika-san”. So you call me Japanese American.

*"I" indicates an interviewer (Nancy Araki).

Date: November 30, 2004
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Nancy Araki and John Esaki
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

arts dance discrimination identity

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