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Being a tomboy

Well we lived a very happy, simple life. Weekdays, we went to school. Weekends we could go out on Sundays after Sunday School to play with our friends or we often went fishing with my dad and they used to have river fish called Gori. So we’d go up the river with my dad and we’d spend all afternoon fishing and that was an excellent fish for frying into crisp fish. So we used to enjoy that. I used to go down to Kole Kole, which is a picnic area, with my friends and we’d jump into the water and swim.

I still remember one day, Mr. Honda, who was a photographer in Hilo came to see my dad and he says, “Oh you know your daughter, Yuri-chan, is such a tomboy. Did you know that she was jumping from this rope into the Kole Kole River?” And my dad was so shocked he says, “What are you doing?” So when I went to Hilo High School, he stopped me from taking physical education. He said, “You take some other kind of course instead of phys ed because you’re too much of a tomboy.

But you know, my dad was the very one who got me started because he wanted the boys to learn kendo and in Hakalau he started this kendo jodo [sic] and so he asked me to go with my brothers to do kendo so I was one of the two girls in the state of Hawai‘i doing kendo.


aquatic sports combat fishing Hawaii kendo martial arts United States

Date: May 31, 2006

Location: Hawai‘i, US

Interviewer: Akemi Kikumura Yano

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

Interviewee Bio

Dr. Margaret Oda was born on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, in Wailea. A Nisei, her parents were Japanese immigrants from Hiroshima. Her father worked on a sugar cane farm where he eventually became the Wailea Milling Company’s vice president.

She received her Master’s degree in Mathematics at Michigan State University, and later her Doctorate of Education from the University of Hawai‘i at Manōa in 1977. She started her teaching career in 1951 rising to positions as vice principal and principal at several public elementary and high schools throughout Hawai‘i. Dr. Oda later served as Deputy Superintendent for the State of Hawai‘i Department of Education for three years and twice served as Honolulu District Superintendent in the 1980s. She remained in the administration realm of public education until her retirement in the late 1990s.

Dr. Oda is known for her philanthropic work in the field of education. She has served on community organization boards such as the Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation, Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy and Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. She is the past chair of the Museum's Hawai‘i Advisory Committee. Dr. Oda currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum. (April 6, 2007)

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