Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Homer Yasui Interview II
Narrator: Homer Yasui
Interviewer: Margaret Barton Ross
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: October 10, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-yhomer-02-0007

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MR: Regarding children, as I understand it, at the beginning of their life, they can kind of do anything they want, but then discipline and expectations grow as they grow. Can you talk about that?

HY: Well, the Japanese culture -- I'm going to go back seventy years or so -- Japanese culture, in those days, was that a boy usually could do no wrong, especially the firstborn. Man, they were spoiled rotten because that was the sign of the family, apple of daddy's eye, got to take after my name and take over my farm and my fortune and so on, so the boys were treated royally. And as I say, they are still treated rotten in Japan as far as from my prospective because they are allowed to get away with almost anything. They can be the most ornery, most abusive, most obnoxious brats you could ever imagine. And then for some reason as the years go by, I don't know how it works, but it's magical, these kids become pretty decent people. How in the heck does that work because nobody reprimands them, nobody says, "No, no, no, don't do that, bad, bad." They don't do that. [Inaudible], don't do things like that. That's what they'd say. They won't bash you. In Japan, they don't do that. But eventually, kids that were so bratty and so ornery and so mean and so cruel, most of them turn out to be fine people, and I guess it must be group pressure or something. But again in the United States, it was like that too because my older brothers were awful ornery, and then they turned out to be good brothers, you know. I liked them. So I don't know how they worked that magic, but it worked. And of course, we took our cues from our oldest siblings because I'm next to the tail end, but I have older brothers who were examples for me. And some of the examples weren't so good because one of them taught me how to smoke, and the other one taught me how to play poker. And my father, being a very devout man as a Christian, he thought that he was mortal sin; smoking, drinking, gambling, dancing. He thought that would equal up to fornication, I think. [Laughs]

MR: And were the girls treated the same way as very small children?

HY: Oh, no. Well, the girl, my sister -- and I'm thinking from personally -- because I think they were spoiled rotten. That's my personal view because, well especially my father, well, my mother was always a very gentle person. And she, she wasn't real boisterous at all. Like I told you much earlier on, she let things come to her, and then she'd handle it as things happened to her. My father was more proactive, so he had different ideas, and he'd rant and rave sometimes, not always, but sometimes. But he was always very proud of his girls because, well, there's three of them originally. One died at a very young age, and I think that really made him appreciate how dear life is because my sister Yuki died when she was around four, and beautiful child from the pictures. So he, and he only had two girls after that. He had six boys, five, yeah, six boys, so boys were cheap. [Laughs] So he valued his daughters, and it helped that my sisters were very bright too because he admired brains too. This is my father. My mother did too because she was a teacher. But my father, he wouldn't hesitate to let you know that he admired brains. He wouldn't brag about the kids, but he admired, so that helped. And the fact that one of my sisters was talented in singing and dancing also helped too because she performed for the Caucasian audience, see. She was the Hood River Japanese Shirley Temple. [Laughs] Yeah, she was. So she did perform for the Rotary Club and the school assemblies and so on. She was okay.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.