Densho Digital Repository
Friends of Manzanar Collection
Title: Grace Hata Interview
Narrator: Grace Hata
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: West Los Angeles, California
Date: March 16, 2012
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1003-10-23

<Begin Segment 23>

AK: I was gonna ask it later. I mean, I guess it's, I find your whole -- and you should look at her when you respond, even though I'm asking the question -- but I just find this, your family so interesting because part of you went back to Japan, and then you had this experience going back to Japan, and A, I was wondering what language you spoke with, spoke to your siblings with?

GH: English.

AK: Because Thomas was, grew up here for part of the time and then went back to Japan and then... so I was just curious that, in Japan, did you still, you did still speak to each other in English then?

GH: Yeah, mostly English, but with, unconsciously with my brother Thomas, a lot of the Japanese just comes in without even thinking. But mostly English.

AK: And then my other question was, I just wondered, do you feel like some of you identify more with being American or Japanese than others of you? I mean, you clearly were, always felt you were an American, there's no question in your mind. But your brothers were, your two brothers who were educated in Japan, did they feel more comfortable or feel more Japanese than American?

GH: I kind of think so, because they would want me to be humiliated all the time [bows]. And I thought, well... [laughs].

MN: But that's how they viewed women.

GH: Yeah, they, yeah. That's what I would say. And like Ray too, I was telling his wife, I said, "Neechan," I said, "This is a free country." I said, "You have as much rights as my brother, you know?" I said, "You have to speak up because you can't let him run all over you." (She says), "Well, he makes the money." I said, "I don't care. You own half of it, and you have half a right to his money. So don't let him run all over you." So she used to say that she felt like I was more her sister than sister-in-law. We were very close, Ray's wife. I liked her. I liked her very much. 'Cause she was probably the kind of person my mother would've wanted me to grow up to be, which I didn't turn out to be. [Laughs]

MN: Well, did Thomas and Ray, did they marry Japanese nationals?

GH: Yeah. So that kind of explains, you know.

AK: No, that makes a lot of sense. Well, and I, my other question too is, like you said Thomas responded "no-no," but then I wondered, 'cause in my own family, my mother said that she thought that somebody changed her answer, but I wondered if he indeed answered "no-no," and also that he felt Japanese, if he... I mean, I don't know if you ever talked about --

GH: No, I don't know. I can't answer that exactly how you are, in your line of thinking. I can't answer for him, but all I know is we landed up there so that our family could be together. That, I know. But I know they were more Japanese than American because they went to school there. They were there eighteen years. And I think Ray is more Japanese-y than Thomas. Thomas, he would open the door for you and he had this, he was more gentle. [Laughs] But he was also, he grew up to be a kind of person who doesn't like to make waves. And he, "Kaoirumite," he'll answer you, you know? That's why it was so hard for me at the end of his life. Whether he was saying to please me because I'm making an effort, that he would answer me in that way. I said, "Niichan, are you comfortable? Do you really want to do this?" Because I got sort of criticized, like, "Grace, don't you know what the power of attorney of health is?" I'm in the business. I'm a nurse. Of course I know. But I don't take it upon myself to put that on somebody. I'm asking my brother, "Do you want to do this?" And then he'll answer me, "If I don't do it, then I'll die, won't I?" Dialysis. And yet he tells his friend, "Oh, how terrible this is." And so she, this woman that he talked to calls me to say, "Don't you know about, like, letting him go?"

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.