Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Masao Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Masao Watanabe
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 19, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-wmasao-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Now I'm going to jump to, sort of the end of high school. You graduated, I believe in 1941? So June of 1941. At this point, what were your plans? What were you thinking in terms of what you would do with career, work?

MW: Well, at that time I think my only major goal was to go to the U. My older brother was attending and I was hoping somehow that my dad could afford to send me. And I think we all went through the applications and things like this and '41 is a bad year. That's when things like the bombs started coming so it kind of kiboshed the whole idea.

TI: Right. So at the point when you graduated, you were hoping to go to the university. Were you hoping to go in September, in the fall?

MW: Yeah.

TI: To start? And so did you start the university in the fall?

MW: No. I never got to that point, but I had taken exams. And I guess that was through high school, but I was preparing to go.

TI: And so because you didn't start school in September, what were you doing after you graduated from high school?

MW: I went back to the darn market. [Laughs] I worked, I worked at the market, and played hard.

TI: So you were like full-time worker, full-time player.

MW: Yeah. Gee, you know, my memory is kind of dim as to the full-time bit, but I know our activities were usually sports.

TI: Now, you mentioned that your older brother was going to the U at this time. Was there, how did you feel that he was able to go to the university?

MW: And I wasn't?

TI: And you weren't. And it was probably because it was resource-based, that they couldn't send both of you at the same time?

MW: You're pretty young, huh? [Laughs] There is this, there is this Japanese custom of what they call chonan, the eldest son, and they got everything. [Laughs] And I think that was just the way it was. So I don't think there was much, there was, there was no guessing as to who gets what, you know. And he went right to school, whereas the second son -- excuse the term -- takes the crap.

TI: So this was, so it was not unexpected by you that over time that you understand that your older brother would get certain advantages that you wouldn't get?

MW: There was no doubt in my mind. [Laughs]

TI: And so things like even working at the market, he would, he would go to school, and you would have to, more, work at the market?

MW: Yeah. In fact, the weekends were very busy at the market, so that market kind of interrupted my sports activities, 'cause we used to have to work, go to the market after school to get ready for the weekend. Whereas my brother did not. [Laughs] There was...

TI: Do you think it was even more so because your father was a first-born son or the eldest son that he, he followed this rule even more so?

MW: I don't think it was more so. It was just the way it was with the Japanese society.

TI: That's interesting.

MW: I see you're smiling. [Laughs]

TI: I'm the third son. [Laughs]

MW: I know. [Laughs]

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.