Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Miyamoto Interview II
Narrator: Frank Miyamoto
Interviewer: Stephen Fugita
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 18, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-mfrank-02-0004

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SF: In terms of the, sort of pushing the norm sort of thing, I can sort of remember an expression that I've heard is called yogode. Like yogode?

FM: Yogore?

SF: Yeah, sorry.

FM: Yogore?

SF: When, obviously sometimes Niseis didn't fit the Issei's conception of the perfect son or daughter. What was the -- what was limits pushing, like you know, the way kids dressed, the Nisei kids dressed in those days that was a bone of contention between say the Isseis and the Niseis? Did, did most Niseis try to act out this sort of ideal son or daughter, or did they try to sort of push the limits in certain things in terms of activities or clothes and some things were too American or something of that sort?

FM: Well this clearly varied by individual, so you get in a sense the normal distribution of those who are very conventional and those who are disposed to be out of line. And the ones who tended to get out of line yeah, would wear their dresses too short by Issei standards, or they would pick up on the style of the, there was something known as the Clara Bow fashions. Do you know the name Clara Bow?

SF: I've heard of it.

FM: She's a famous movie actress of the mid 1920s who, she was a model of the flapper, so-called flapper girl. And girls often picked up on this kind of thing and they would you know, try out dresses of that type, or fashions of that, or activities of the type she seemed to be engaged in. And occasionally we would have scandals in the community of a girl becoming pregnant and what not. So there were things out of, that were somewhat out of line that were happening. And the main thing that held these things in line I think was the, where, was in the first place the family. Mother and father would bring considerable pressure on the children to keep them in line and the mother and father, or the family would use the community as the pressure, means of pressure. They would say what would happen if people got wind of the fact that you're... and you know, the image of what people would think if you would, if they knew you were engaged in this kind of thing or that, would be a means of controlling.

SF: So...

FM: The other thing however, I think, is that the parental... the parents themselves served also as models of behavior. And on the whole, I must say that the Japanese community here was a fairly puritanical community, even at the Issei level. There were occasional scandals of course, but on the whole, the Issei were quite discreet if they were engaged in illegal activity or contra-mores activity, but otherwise, the appearance was that this was a very strict, disciplined community. And in a sense, this is a modeling kind of thing that was happening I think for the Nisei.

SF: So it was really pretty rare, or it didn't break out into the open where an Issei father would be philandering or, or something like that?

FM: Yes, it was not an, not common. Or if they were, there would be all kinds of stories running around in the community about this family who's father was doing this kind of thing or that. And it would be a point of control, as a matter of fact, used by parents to prevent their kids from getting involved.

SF: You, you mentioned the thing about the parents using the community as sort of a control mechanism. So, like it's... were you ever directly told something like you'll bring shame on the family if you do that?

FM: Oh yes, absolutely. Told more likely, what would people think if you, you know, they thought you were engaged in this behavior or that? That was the typical way of, of scolding us.

SF: Would, would the community act as a social control mechanism in other ways? What I'm kind of thinking about was, I heard one Sansei describe how in the old days, when they used to go to festivals, like if a child wasn't, wasn't even their child, but they had some part of their uniform or the dance outfit sort of messed up, other people felt sort of free to straighten the kid's uniform up or the, or this costume up so that...

FM: I, I imagine that would be true. Yes. People had a sense of what was proper or right and that if things were not right, it ought to be fixed. And it didn't have to be necessarily your own kids. You help them take care of the matter. I think there was that kind of feeling in the community. Yes.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.