Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ryo Imamura Interview
Narrator: Ryo Imamura
Interviewers: Stephen Fugita (primary), Erin Kimura (secondary)
Location: Olympia, Washington
Date: August 3, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-iryo-01-0028

<Begin Segment 28>

SF: One of the things that we found in our survey was that Buddhists seem to have a less critical view. I'm not sure that's the, exactly the correct way to describe it. But they were less angry about their treatment in the internment situation, now that they're looking back over their whole life course. That's at least what the Protestants or Christians report. Is there something, I mean, why is that, does that happen?

RI: Well, you know I think my view is partly idealized in a way. I, if I just look at Buddhist teachings and influence in light of that kind of experience, the only way I could explain it that makes sense to me is that... I think Buddhists suffer just as much, if not more than the Christians, because of -- not only the camp experience, but the intense discrimination before and after because they hung on to their pagan beliefs. But there's a concept, a teaching in Buddhism called non-attachment. Is that bad things happen, and often they happen to me and my loved ones. But to be attached to it, get angry, want revenge or, or something to right it, many -- even many years later, is quite self-defeating, because in a way you're just causing your own suffering by attaching to it. And instead, look back to the present, live in the present and move on. You know, like even Nisei or Sansei, they lost a lot in the war, but if they only thought about that instead of the great strides that were made afterwards, then their lives would be that much less joyful. So, it's this whole thing about letting things go, just letting them go. It serves no purpose to ruminate on things that are past. And if anything -- if you want to move on you have to refrain when saying, oh, just like my mother, she says now, "Well it was really terrible and all that. But hey, we had a lot of fun there too." And then all these people and... and if I want, if I'm a Sansei and say, "Aw come on Mom, you're just, you know, denial, this is denial." From her perception, no it's not. Once they were there and accepted this is where they're gonna be for three years or something, then they did some wonderful things. They did, you know, newspapers, and beautiful gardens, and baseball, and things that they would not have had outside. And especially as, as priest and his wife -- just the size of the congregation, it was huge -- and so from their perspective, they were able to do a lot of the work that they wanted to do. So you know, it's all depends on how you look at it. So if you float, it's like the -- I talked about the position of no position. You certainly understand or have a view on what's going on, but you're always ready to move with that and not get stuck in the past. So maybe that's why -- that's what I hear from a lot of the older Nisei when these, they go, "Oh, they're discussing it again." And sometimes I say, "Well that's denial." But no. They really are tired of that because people have moved on and whatever happened, happened. And that's very tied to the Buddhist view. Maybe this is why you don't find that same reaction.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.