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-01-0004

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EG: Tell us about life in Japan -- going to school and so on -- growing up in Japan.

TM: Well, the school was not too far from where we lived. It was not heated. We had to remove our shoes to get into the classroom or to get into the building. We had to leave our shoes at the entry where they had boxes. They used to call it getabako, boxes for the geta. So we left our footgear there and then walked barefoot. And except the first two -- first and second graders were exempt -- but the third graders and up, we had to clean our own rooms. And then the upperclassmen used to come around and look around and see if we did all right. And they used to write their opinion as to how well we did on the blackboard. And if we didn't do it right, that team had to do it over again. And, it was a, I believe, very stern way. The way I... after I came back to this country, Seattle -- later on -- I noticed quite a difference between the way school was conducted and class was conducted and the life in American school as compared with the life in Japan.

EG: You say stern, what, who were the teachers and what were they like? Men or women?

TM: I would say they had quite an authority. And I haven't seen this -- but teachers were able to spank the children. And although I heard about American schoolchildren being told to stand in a corner, but they had that, and they could order more. And they certainly had more respect (for) the parents. They had more authority. [Laughs]

EG: How was it with the other children? How did the other students relate to each other and what did the students do on their own when the teachers weren't watching?

TM: Well, there was a so-called class leader -- there was one in each class -- and he would report. So we had to behave. [Laughs]

EG: There was someone watching all the time.

TM: Yeah, yeah. If we misbehaved, it was outside.

EG: Outside.

TM: Outside of school.

EG: Uh-huh. Like what would be an illustration of this?

TM: Well, later on -- I'm not talking about our elementary school -- but later on, let's say in high school -- we weren't allowed to go into a store to buy cookies or bread or anything like that. We weren't allowed. And, but we did. And if we get caught, of course, it was kind of bad. But we used to, you know. But that was outside after we left the school compound, we used to go into a store to buy things which was prohibited. We couldn't even buy ice cream.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.