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Title: Tosh Yasutake Interview
Narrator: Tosh Yasutake
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 14, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-ytosh-01-0038

<Begin Segment 38>

AI: I wanted to ask you, what it was like for you to be in Japan for about a month there. Here you were, really --

TY: Well, here again I was lucky that they really made all the arrangements. I didn't have to do anything. They made, bought the bus tickets for me and train tickets and shinkansen tickets and took me out to dinner, and when they, Dr. Egusa was my host all the time he took me on all these places and they paid for my meals, they made hotel reservations, so, in that respect I really didn't have any problem at all.

AI: Did anyone kind of have some expectation of you as being more Japanese, or American --

TY: Well, yeah. Well, that's true.

AI: Did they see you as an American?

TY: I think, in a way they were surprised that I spoke Japanese. But then when I spoke Japanese they always had this smile on their face. [Laughs] You know, I think they found it very amusing. But they were, I think they were, I think that they were kind of glad that I, at least I tried. And I did try awful hard and since most of the people that I dealt with spoke English fairly well, that I could speak, whenever I had trouble communicating, well, use English words and I was able to communicate that way some, maybe half-English and half-Japanese, or more English than Japanese most of the time, I think.

AI: Well, I was wondering if it was, if you had a strange feeling at all being in the middle of a Japanese country where every person, most people were Japanese --

TY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

AI: -- and the language, and the signs and...

TY: My first -- that was kinda strange, when I first went there it was strange to see all faces were Japanese. I just felt very strange the first couple days I was there. And then, and the thing is when I spoke what Japanese I knew, sometime they didn't understand what I was saying. [Laughs] Which I found kinda embarrassing. And then I've often asked them -- they always seem to know that I was from the States, even before I opened my mouth. And I remember asking couple of the people, including Dr. Egusa, I says, "How do these people know I'm from the States when not even talk to me?" He says, "Oh, it's the way you dress, the way you comb your hair, I mean, it just, everything about you is atypical. It's not..." so I found that kind of interesting. They can just spot me in a crowd right away, that I'm from -- it's the suit that I wore, the way I wore it, I guess, and to me it didn't much look much different, but I guess they were able to tell. And the way I walk. They said I walked differently, too, which I thought was very strange. But then I noticed later that a lot of the Nihonjin people are used to wearing geta and things, slippers. They drag their heels a lot, and apparently we don't. And I did notice that. I think people come from Japan when they, at the lab I've noticed it when they, even looking from the back I know that they're from, right away they're from Nihon because the way they walk. They just walk a little bit different, I think.

AI: That's interesting.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.