Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Takashi Matsui Interview I
Narrator: Takashi Matsui
Interviewer: Elmer Good
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 29, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-mtakashi-01-0010

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EG: Now, you said earlier that when you got to school in America, it struck you as being so very different from school in Japan. Tell us about that.

TM: Well, in Japan -- I'm not talking about the grammar school because they didn't have all that -- but in high school they had upperclassmen beating the lowerclassmen for being different. And that's the, that's the characteristics of the Japanese or Japan. Maybe you've heard the expression, that "the nail that sticks out, they will pound on it." So any time anybody looks different, somebody either get jealous or curious, and they used to beat those fellows. In case of girls, if their skirt pleats were too close -- smaller pleats than regulation or standard -- they used to, the girls told me they used to get pinched. So they used to do that and I thought I never seen anything like that in this country and I thought the people over here, the children were very broad-minded, they didn't care. They tried to get along with everybody, and I thought that that was one feature I thought that Japan should improve. I thought that was bad things about Japan and it, I think it's still going on in Japan. They, some of the weak-minded students are committing suicide in Japan, both boys and girls. But over here, of course, you know, nobody, well, at least in Broadway High School, nobody was wearing a prescribed uniform. Everybody wore anything that he liked or she liked. But in Japan we wore a uniform with insignia showing what school we were with and then what class. Right here we had first grade, I had one, Roman numeral one and two and three and whatnot, right here, in the collar, high collar. And then we had to wear a cap, school cap, and that had an insignia. And so you could tell what school you are attending. And some of them had white stripes around them, ours didn't. But grammar school didn't designate the school, but the high school, high school then up, even university. They have a, they had a design right on the cap so you could tell what school you're going.

EG: Sounds very different from the one school to the other. It sounds very, very different.

TM: Well, more militaristic, I thought. And in fact, from, in high school, from third grade and up, we used to have military drills. We had old army rifles, and machine gun, and we had active duty major, army major, among the faculty in high school, and his job was to teach us military subjects, and we had maneuvers. [Laughs]

EG: Sounds like a military institution, a military society preparing for, well, whatever military is gonna, be assigned to do.

TM: And toward the end of the fifth year, we had to go to the nearest army camp where there were soldiers, army soldiers. And we lived with them for two weeks, ate their meals, and did everything with them, took bath, and maneuvers, and whatnot.

EG: And nothing like that was going on in America?

TM: No. Well, no.

EG: In your, in your school experience in America.

TM: Well, over here -- like at the University of Washington -- they have ROTC. And I'm not sure. I didn't take ROTC subjects here, but I'm not sure if they would go and join like say Fort Lewis and then take part in the maneuvers and whatnot. I don't know. Maybe they don't do that. But we did, at our tender age.

EG: It was universal, all students were involved in military preparation. And over here it's an option.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.