Densho Digital Archive
National Japanese American Historical Society Collection
Title: Takashi Matsui Interview
Narrator: Takashi Matsui
Interviewer: Marvin Uratsu
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 12, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-mtakashi-02-0003

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MU: Do you remember anything that was really interesting, that sticks in your memory about those fifteen years there?

TM: Yes, the education in Japan, as compared with the education in the United States, was quite different. It was more... well, the country was poorer, to begin with. But we had a lot more discipline. And the upper-classmen, especially in high school, used to be mean to the lower-classmen. They used to beat up the lower-classmen if any of us looked a little different like, oh, the way we behaved, way we were dressed, and whatnot. Of course, we all wore uniforms. But they used to pick on somebody who looked different. I guess that's typical of Japanese character, they pick on somebody different.

MU: Okay. Now you were from America. Did they pick on you?

TM: Oh, they didn't know. Because I grew up since what, age three or four...

MU: Oh, before school.

TM: Oh yeah, way before school time. So I was no different from the rest of them. But later on, in high school, I guess -- I didn't say it -- but everybody knew that after I finished high school I was to come back to the United States. They knew that.

MU: Did they treat you bad after that?

TM: No. For one thing, they used to beat some of my friends and my turn came to be beaten, and a fellow said, "You better not pick on him, because he belongs to the judo team." And so they checked with the judo people, and sure enough, I was a member of the judo team, and they decided not to beat me. [Laughs]

MU: So while we're on judo, how far did you get in judo?

TM: I had my black belt in, from Oita budo-kan.

MU: A black belt would be the top class?

TM: Yes. Shodan.

MU: And how old were you then?

TM: I believe I was seventeen -- no, I was sixteen when I got that, a year before graduation. And our school had a very good judo team about the time we were the committee there.

MU: Anything else that you remember while you were there, before you came back?

TM: Oh... while in school?

MU: Yes.

TM: Well, the, while we were in high school -- maybe you heard about it -- high school students had to undergo a type of military training. And that started, I think, from about the third, third grade, or third class. And oh, about three years -- we had five years in high school -- we had to carry rifles and do all the drills and maneuvers. And before graduation, I believe we spent something like two weeks with soldiers. And...

MU: Soldiers of the Japanese army?

TM: Yes. We went to their barracks. I remember we went to some place in Oita, and lived with them. And ate their meals and worked with them for about two weeks.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.