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-02-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

RT: But it's like I've always said -- now, while I went to Korea on that visit with the older group, then I learned a lotta my Japanese. Because now, we're walkin' around, they're talkin' about this and they're talkin' about that, and what I don't understand, I would ask them to explain it to me. And because I spoke good English, there was a trade-off. They taught me Japanese, and I taught them the English. This is, I think a lotta this was what actually formed my way of thinking, of seeing all this in all these different countries.

And now, so finally, it came to the point where my sister was saying, "Well, you don't, you can't get advanced fast enough, because there's actually nobody teaching you. What they're doin' is, they're givin' you a whole mess of words and tellin' you, 'Learn how to write these words.'" And there was no such thing as putting 'em into phrases and talkin' about it. Which I could, I understood then, too. And she said, "Well, I would like for you to stay with us. After all, you're the only brother I've ever seen. But, I think we better send you back to Japan. And if you go back to Japan, it's gonna be a different situation, because then we can get special tutors for you."

TI: And how did you feel about that? Did that seem to be okay, or...?

RT: Well, I didn't like it, but what else you gonna say? She was my older sister, and I'm living there. I gotta do according their bidings, see. So when I got back to Japan now, I was, they really drummed it into my mind that in Japan, you don't do as you please. You do as the upper people tell you to do. And it's amazing, because now, when I got back to Japan, there was another family there that was, all the brothers and sisters were from the United States. And they were back there, too, learnin' the language and everything. And I was quite surprised, because I haven't even started school over there, and one of the brothers from this family and I, we went out to go swimming. And we were comin' back, and then the uppergradesmen come by. And he didn't say anything. So they stopped him, and they start slappin' the hell outta him. So I, like a damn fool, I stepped in and I got slapped the hell out of, too. Then afterwards, it was explained to me. "They're your upperclassmen."

TI: So they have the right to slap you around?

RT: Yeah. "They, you do as they say. And if they tell you to do something wrong, then you come to us. But if it's strictly about how you handle yourself and everything, you listen to them." You have to have this Yamato damashi. And so like in Japan, I didn't cater to that. I don't understand anybody, because he's a uppergradesman, can tell me, "Shine my shoe," and if you say no, he can kick the hell outta ya. I don't believe in that. But I did go under that, I knuckled under.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.