Densho Digital Archive
Topaz Museum Collection
Title: Grace F. Oshita Interview
Narrator: Grace F. Oshita
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Date: June 4, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ograce-01-0024

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MA: So, are there any other thoughts that you'd like to share about anything, or any memories that you would like to share or anything at all?

GO: Let's see... I know the afterthought of moving out here, and I went to visit a friend, or anyway, my relatives were still there. And so I could stay in their apartment, and the kids are growing up and having fun. But I felt so proud that I could come in as a U.S. citizen, you know, anymore, not just a camp resident. Because I'm sure it took some hardship on everybody to make these moves. Every time they move, they had a problem. And you don't know whether it would have been person-to-person neighbor, or you don't know whether it'd be some remote people that you don't care about, you don't care whether they do it or not. But very little bad happened. I live across the street from my very best friend, Caucasian best friend, is a Mormon, and we just don't talk about, "What's your religion?" and Mormons like to. "What's your religion?" They would, that would be the first thing they would ask. In fact, when we moved there, the Mormon church sends out missionaries all over the world. And so those who have been in Japan would like to speak to me in Japanese. [Laughs] I thought, "Well, I'm not that good." I do speak Japanese -- I mean, I'm pretty fluent because my grandmother used to take me to a Japanese movie every week. The Japanese school used to contract movie producers to show it in their auditorium, and that was only a few steps away, so that was my life. It's just a real different Nisei life. It was almost like being a three-quarter Japanese because of my cultural difference and Japanese things I learned, including tea ceremony and setting flowers. There I learned how to not get my feet all asleep. You know what to do? Just change your thumb, I mean, big toe, pile it one on top of the other, and then just change it once in a while, and it makes a world of difference if ever you have to sit on your feet. [Laughs] And to think that she was a wonderful English-speaking Nisei, I can't believe it. I don't even know whether... well, she had to have trained in Japan, 'cause she knows so much.

MA: Is this your mother?

GO: No, this tea ceremony teacher that I had. My dentist's wife. She was the perpetual Raphael Weill Elementary School PTA president, 'cause there was nobody who was qualified to be one. Not only among the Japanese, but people who lived around there. There were some blacks, some probably Filipinos, but practically old-time whites. So unless you were in the same class and such, you didn't become friends. But I was surprised when this Chinese girl and this Caucasian girl came to the Kimon Hall to bid me goodbye. That was really touching.

MA: So are there any messages that you want to give to, maybe, future generations or people who will watch this interview?

GO: One thing maybe young people may not like to hear it over and over, you know, Japanese are otonashii. How do you say... otonashii, very mellow. My English is bad. [Laughs] Sometimes I think, "I wish I could speak both in Japanese and English and go back and forth all the time." [Laughs] 'Cause I forget one word and I know it in English, or another one in Japanese. Perhaps speaking your mind is good at times, but there is a place, there is a time for it. And if you are innocent of something that they're accusing you for, they will soon learn, the government or whoever, will soon learn that they are wrong and that we were right. They need not have to, they didn't have to put us in camps. But of course, maybe we were safe that way. In the long run, there were very few bad experiences that came out of it. So maybe our patience is what won the battle. And people know more about us, too. Of course, there are so many yet who don't know what it was all about.

MA: Great. Well, thank you so much for this interview. It's wonderful. I learned a lot, so thank you very much.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Topaz Museum. All Rights Reserved.