Growing up with Japanese language and values

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We spoke Japanese, only Japanese at home and as I said earlier, I learned English only when I started schooling. My dad went to night school to learn English so he spoke as well as he wrote in English but my mother never did and so she expected us to speak Japanese and I think because of the way we were brought up, we learned all…not only the language but the values, Japanese values from her.

For instance, respect your elders, “on” – obligation…for example, everyday, although we were playing before dinner time, when we knew when my dad was coming home, we were all expected to wash our face and clean ourselves and when dad comes home, we’d say, “okaerinasai” and greet him because she says, “You know, when you’re out working, you’re very exhausted. There are all kinds of issues an adult has to face. So when you come home, you have to show a smiling face to father so that he’ll feel happy to return home.” And I think that was an excellent thing that she taught us. Also, when somebody leaves the home always go out and say goodbye to them. She always did that with all of us.

So those little things that she taught us. I think that that helped me in developing my values for my lifetime.

Date: May 31, 2006
Location: Hawai‘i, US
Interviewer: Akemi Kikumura Yano
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

culture family identity values

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