Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview II
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2 & 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-02-0002

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RT: And as I grew up, and he, his thoughts came out to be, "Well, there's gonna be a day when your mother and I aren't going to be around, and somebody in this family has got to be able to read and write Japanese, otherwise you won't keep in contact with all your relatives." And that's where the fact came out that I was headed to Japan.

TI: Okay, because you had, your family was quite large. You had quite a few brothers and sisters...

RT: Yeah, I got...

TI: And you were the youngest.

RT: And I was the youngest.

TI: But he sort of saw you as the one to sort of study Japanese and learn all this.

RT: Yeah.

TI: Now why was it the youngest and not the oldest?

RT: Well, you see, because the oldest had to stay back and help on the farm. He's the one that has to do all the contacts and stuff like that, because he speaks good English. My dad spoke pretty good English, but it was still a little broken English sometime. So it was, just came out to be, well, "You're the one that's gonna go." And see, I went, when I went to Japan, I went, just when I got into, as a freshman in high school, instead of going to high school here, I went to Japan.

TI: Okay. So you were about, probably about thirteen years old or so?

RT: Yeah. I think I was about thirteen or fourteen, someplace around there.

TI: Thirteen. So you were sort of being raised as sort of a, in some ways, a typical American, but learning Japanese. And then about thirteen, you went to Japan...

RT: Yeah.

TI: To study Japanese.

RT: Yeah, 'cause my dad always, I think because of the way the Japanese that were here were being treated, one of the things he talked very strongly about was being Yamato damashi. "Now that doesn't mean you have to be true to Japan," the way he used to explain it to us. But he says, "To be Yamato damashi, you have to be true to your feelings (for your homeland)." And otherwise, I don't think I woulda wanted to go to Japan. But when he talked to me about being Yamato damashi and everything, I said, "Well, yeah, somebody in this family's got to continue this with relatives in Japan."

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.