Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Nobu Suzuki Interview I
Narrator: Nobu Suzuki
Interviewer: Dee Goto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-snobu-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

DG: Now, going to the university, was it just automatic that you went?

NS: Well, I went to Japan the year before and found nothing there that I wanted to go to, so I came back here and enrolled at the university.

DG: So when you were in high school, had you...

NS: No. I didn't think about further education, no. But my mother thought that I should go to Japan and get some education there.

DG: So let's talk about that.

NS: I went to Japan and enrolled at Aoyama Gakuen, which is a girls school and is right in Tokyo. And I stayed with the minister and his wife right on the campus, on the other side of the campus. But at that time, I think I was the first exchange student, more or less, and so they didn't know exactly what to do with me so they enrolled me as a special student.

DG: Now, this is around 1920...

NS: '27.

DG: Because you graduated.

NS: '27 to '28. And so I went to school, but I had problems because they put me in the second or third grade high school, which was way above my capacity for Japanese language. And I had a tutor that helped me with my schoolwork, but I never could catch up. And in school, at that time, they had a manners class on how to act, but after a few times I quit because I couldn't sit on my feet. You know, in Japan everybody sits on their feet and they're graceful, but I've never sat on my feet. I didn't realize that my feet were round, [Laughs] and when you sit on the floor on your feet, it helps to have your feet muscles kind of flattened. But I couldn't do that because I had been sitting up all this time, and my feet just wouldn't cooperate. So I'd sit on one side and then I'd sit on the other and, of course, that disrupted the whole manners class. So after a few times I quit. [Laughs] And besides, it was, it was interesting, but nothing that I could use.

DG: But you were American.

NS: That's right. And so they took cognizance of that, and they excused me. But then, but the girls couldn't help but laugh every time I changed my foot. And that, of course, disrupted the teacher because the teacher was quite a strict disciplinarian and you didn't laugh out loud, you laughed or you smiled behind your hand. And with too many girls doing that it just wasn't right, I guess, because they never showed their teeth at that time. [Laughs] And so it was the time -- and also the college was just too advanced for me anyway, although the English was not -- English was just beginning to be taught in the colleges. And also, so -- and the English taught in the high schools were by Japanese teachers, so their accent was very poor. And, of course, I couldn't in my position as a student, I couldn't correct her. But I remember many times that she was mispronouncing a lot of English words, but I couldn't correct her so that was a disaster.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.