Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Ed Yoshikawa Interview
Narrator: Ed Yoshikawa
Interviewer: Steve Ozone
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-yed-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

EY: You know, remember when I said that, "Eddie-san you and your wife have to come to Japan"? Well, after seven years later, the business was so successful...

SO: What year was that?

EY: Oh, about 1972, 1972, that was our first trip to Japan, and they, I don't know, this might sound unpatriotic, but when we got to Japan we stopped, landed in Tokyo, and the minute I touched the ground, strange as it might seem, I felt like I was back home. Sounds ridiculous. And so that was the first time, and then after, in 1994 they had us, Pearl and I as a guest. And then two years later, Munsingwear Japan called me up and said, "Eddie-san we've lost complete communication with Munsingwear USA, so can you help us out?" So I said, "Yeah, be glad to." And so make it official, so they said, "Yes, we'll pay you an annual salary, a nominal fee, and we'll call you a Munsingwear Japan liaison person. So that went on for nine more years. After nine years, the reason why it came to termination after nine years was because Munsingwear USA was purchased by a company called Supreme International in Miami, Florida. And so I couldn't very well be a liaison person up here in Minnesota, so when that took place they invited both Pearl and I again to Japan.

And this time we were the guest at a... see, once a year, Munsingwear Japan puts on a PGA golf tournament, sponsors a PGA golf tournament, this was taking place right out of Tokyo and we were housed in a special hotel and then they said, "Eddie-san, Tsutani-san the president of Descente, will come a pick you up, take you to the golf course." So, oh, okay, so we were out there waiting and Tsutani-san, president of the Descente company, not a huge fancy car, not necessarily a limousine, but in Japan, the VIP sits in the back. And so he was sitting in the back and when he arrived he sat in the front and he put us in the back seat and went to the golf course. And we were ushered into a special section where they were teeing off, the pros were teeing off. And with all the other VIPs, oh my goodness. And after that we were able to, they said, "You're on your own, go wherever and watch whatever you want to watch, and at lunchtime, come back here to the clubhouse, we're going to have lunch." And at lunchtime they presented us, oh I don't have my watch -- oh, yes, this watch was presented to both Pearl and I by, I think it's... I've got to put my glasses on. No, I guess not.

SO: It was engraved?

EY: Well, it was from the, this was a solar watch given to us given to us by NHK, national broadcasting Japan, anyway. Mine is still working. That was 1997. Over twelve years, still runs. So after that, well I've had a fantastic time, that's all I can say.

SO: Can you describe it as, when you were talking to the Japanese, you didn't describe it as speaking English, too, but you spoke some Japanese to them too, right?

EY: Yes. In Japan, it's amazing how much difference there is between a male and a female. Pearl does not like to go to Japan because she has to be on her best behavior and she has to watch her language, use of nice words among the ladies. For men, males, we can blurt out anything we want and get by with it. I remember one time we were walking through the streets of Osaka with the vice president of the company, we were walking through. And the next day they asked me, "What did you guys do?" "Oh, tada, koron koron." Koron koron is the word I used for walking down the streets. And they laughed and laughed. "Koron koron? No, koron koron means rock falling down, you know, rolling down. No, urouro, just casually walking, urouro." They get a big laugh from the terms I use. [Laughs]

SO: Because you learned from...

EY: My parents.

SO: Your parents.

EY: So quite often I tell these people, "Boku no Nihongo wa, katsudo shashin jidai no Nihongo desu kara gaman shite kudasai. In other words I say, "My Japanese is the Japanese of the silent movie days, so please be patient with me." [Laughs] But like they said, "Eddie-san, your Japanese on Sunday is maa -- by Saturday it gets pretty good."

<End Segment 16> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.