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https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/608/

Moving to and living in Japan

I didn’t come here with an intention to find my roots or anything like that. I think that goes back to the thing I was saying about Japanese Americans being taught not to be Japanese. Actually, when I was in Los Angeles, through the other Japanese Americans around me, my cousin and his friends, they were actually very anti-Japanese, anti-national-Japanese. Japanese nationals were not cool. They were the geeks with the cameras that always ran around Disneyland in groups. We would run away from them and scream and make fun of them. I think I’ve learned better now. Yeah.

When I came here it was because my uncle… I had been doing some translation—not translation, but editing of speeches for a professor over at UCLA, a visiting professor. He’s a member of (?) Escow, so I was editing his speeches and his papers to help him out—correcting some of the English and stuff. I had gotten to the point—I’m a designer. I do art direction and creative direction. And as you know Los Angeles can be a great place, and it can also be a very tiring place. I had been there for 7 years and kind of had it up to here with the industry.

I was 28 at the time, and I really wanted to travel. I had traveled when I was younger, you know after high school and stuff like that. But I wanted to, like, really travel—go spend some time any place. I didn’t look at Japan as my final destination at that time. I looked at it as a jumping off point—“Okay, here’s the opportunity for me to go and check out another country.” Japan, as I found out later, is fairly central in the world. You can get just about anywhere for about the same amount of money and the same amount of time. It was for those reasons more than anything else that I came.


Finding Home (film) immigration Japan migration

Date: September 12, 2003

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Interviewer: Art Nomura

Contributed by: Art Nomura, Finding Home.

Interviewee Bio

Vince Ota, (Sansei on his mother’s side, Yonsei on his father’s), was born in New Hampshire. From there, he and his family lived in several cities throughout the United States and also lived in London before finally settling in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Growing up in a small town in Maryland, Vince did not have much contact with other Asian Americans, except during the summers he spent in Los Angeles with relatives. He describes his upbringing as “pretty White American.” Vince eventually moved to southern California where he attended community college and the California Institute of the Arts. He worked as a creative designer and lived in Los Angeles for seven years until moving to Japan. Vince has lived in Japan since 1996 and plans to stay. At the time of the interview, he was working as a creative designer. (September 12, 2003)

Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

Coming to America (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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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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Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

Company in Tokyo burned down (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Family interrelations between mother and father

(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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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

Picture brides and karifufu

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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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

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

Band-Aid realization

(b.1942) Japanese American ceramist, who has lived in Japan for over 30 years.

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

Looking at your country from the outside

(b.1942) Japanese American ceramist, who has lived in Japan for over 30 years.

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

Wife's family in Japan

(b.1942) Japanese American ceramist, who has lived in Japan for over 30 years.

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Yukio Takeshita
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Yukio Takeshita

Lack of notion of citizenship in Japan

(b.1935) American born Japanese. Retired businessman.

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Yukio Takeshita
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Yukio Takeshita

Involvement in JACL

(b.1935) American born Japanese. Retired businessman.

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