Keiko

 

(“Keiko, the college would like to put a copy of this interview into the archives.”)

 

“That don’t bother me.”

 

“I born in Japan, and have 1 brother, 1 sister. I am the middle, brother is 3 years older, 3 1/2. My father died just before the war was declared.”

(“That must have changed your life.”)

 

“Not really, because my mother was a very strong woman. Very smart. When she was young she was a nurse. When she was married she was a midwife. And some days she could read what was coming. ‘Now you are going to do the barber because hair’s always a growing, doesn’t matter what’.”

 

(“She wanted you to have a trade.,,)

“Yes, a trade. When I was 15, I wanted to go to school. She said, ‘No, you gonna do this’.”

 

(“Was there a lot of friction between the Americans and the Japanese?”)

 

“Yeah, we did, because we had the old system. Especially for me, because we had the old system of school education. But then MacArthur come, and changed it to the system of the United States. And so I have to lose one year. Two years some had to lose. When I finished eighth grade I had to go to junior high all over again.”

 

“I spoke Japanese, because during World War II we could not speak any English.”

“When I grown up over there, when I was six years old, the war started, World War Two, because the first grade started WWII. The eighth grade, just before 8th grade finished, stopped, before they integrated the grades. My mother was very smart. Before we got into the bomb, we moved to the country. My generation is so different than the old. Everything my parents said, we had to do. But now generation, no. Not talking over here, not talking over there, all over. You’re different from then children. My mother disciplined me. She could just look at you!”

 

“The Japanese people are better educated than the Americans because when they go to class they have to sit down and study, and do what the elders tell them. When I want to go to school, my mother tried to threaten me. If I did something bad, I gonno tell your teacher tomorrow, and I would behave. The teacher was the most scary thing. The Japanese children would not do something because it would hurt their parents, even more than American children.,,

 

(“What does your brother do?”)

 

“Welder. Everything he did was influenced by my mother. He had to have a trade. In Japan, welder, carpenter, mason, they were popular.”

 

“We was living in country. Northern Japan. I first went to school in this country when I was six, but in Japan when you are born it counting one already.”

 

(“What about religion in Japan?”)

 

“We have a, I guess the biggest one is Buddha, Shinto.”

 

(“Altars in the home?”)

 

“but I’m a little different because my mother was a Christian, even during war time. We have to hide it, and this is my young age memories. And I was wondering, so, in 1995 I visited Japan, and where I was a child, in northern Japan, and the church was still there. When I was little, no church, but now they do. Several ministers, died, but the wife knew. (They were) Protestants, and I ask of her, ‘Is it my dreaming or was it real?’ And the lady bring a book, diary, and then she said, ‘No you’re not dreaming, we had it here’. And she showed me that, and it was real. I was kind of like, WOW! I was baptized before I came to this country. Where church is now was built after the war. We didn’t have a church, because you know if you do the Christian thing you go to jail. They thought of the religion as being American. They were against the Europeans too, the Germans.”

 

(“Do the Japanese have altars in their homes to honor their ancestors?”).

 

“Yeah, we had one.”

 

“American products are not as good as Japanese because Americans are greedy. Japanese knew cars were being made to come here, work hard to make good. Desire for quality control began here, but wasn’t working. Then they took the idea to Japan. “That’s the way I understand it”.

 

“The Japanese are still that way. Right now I have a reputation. I am a very hard person to work for, because anybody works here, going out they carry with my name. So I’m a great fussy with how it look good, right? If they gonna comea geta haircut, then they will know they get the world’s greatest haircut. But not many people do that here. And I push them, and they say I’m a very harda person to please. You see I like finishing the work. It’sa very important because anything that you see, finishing the work…

 

(“Earle is the same way too, very very particular.,,)

 

 

“Yes, I know that. Because I teach it that way. That’s why one of the girls was here for years, I just let her go. She just don’t get it, and probably she don’t have self‑ respect. A lot of American people …   In order for people to have respect for you, you gotta have respect for yourself. I don’t think she respects herself. Maybe no self‑esteem. The Japanese have more self respect the more up high you get, more self respect. A lot of people say I’m very hard … Other barber shops and hair dressers come and go, but I’m still here.”

 

(“What about homosexuals?”)

 

“You know something, in Japan I never knew them. I don’t know if they’re hiding or what else. The ones I know here, they’re good people, it’s their choice. Some of them are my customers. People are different from you and me.,,

 

“We always had baseball. But we couldn’t use ‘strike one’. Couldn’t use the English. In traffic you couldn’t say ‘go’ because that was speaking English.”

(“What about sumo wrestling?”)

 

“When they win, they don’t make a dance of it. They have respect for the one they beat, and they’re quiet. Japanese have much more respect for other people, and they care for other people, because in one house they have eight or ten people living together, eat the samea food, … and it’s tight, sometimes it’s so tight …   many …… many arguments.”

 

“In American schools, one of the schools is karate, first they were there after school, the kids clean the school, anything that goes on in school, there has to be respect. And the little ones have to clean up the floors. The oldest ones teach the younger ones, just like it is here. The relationship between the older brother and the younger brother is respect. They would not call an older brother ‘Frank’. They have a word for it, but English does not. We use ‘older brother’, we never call them by name, that’s respect. You just need to do that.”

 

“I have a young Japanese girl, seventeen years old, staying with me right now. The Japanese do not have women’s prisons, Japanese women don’t drive ambulances, here women

are equal to the men, or want to be. Here you have a bunch of women policemen, in Japan, no. The normal profession for women in Japan is to get married and stay home. Cooking, house cleaning, taking care of kids. Women have a lot of work. They don’t really have big families, usually two, maybe three. Houses are crowded, a lot of people in one house. Mostly all family. The older people, because of the noise of the kids, usually don’t live there.”

 

(“How about values? Are values different here than there?”)

 

“What kind of values?”

 

(“Honesty, respect.”)

 

“My generation, when I wasa there, yes, definitely.”

 

(“Crime, shootings?”)

 

“Not that many, still not that many. women can still go out at night, no problem walking in the street. Here I wouldn’t do that. Lewiston I don’t do that.”

 

(“The kids growing up, they had more respect for their parents?”)

 

“Mmmhmm.”

 

(“They had respect for, like the emperor?”)

 

“Right.”

 

“The emperor is always up. I don’t know if respect, all different God that we never see. We never see him, once a year, that’s it. I go close to his castle, I been there but I never go very close. That’s the only time he come out. January first. New Year.”

 

(“If they were in the Buddhist religion, they had a lot of respect for the Christians?”)

 

“Right. My father, he believed with the sun, no Buddha, no Shinto, the sun. My father, I remember every morning with my father, we would go out with the sun and bow our heads.

My sister, no. Because it was after war, so very different. me and my sister, only difference is several years, I’m seven year older than she is. But even thinking, she’sa different than I am. Yes, she is a Christian. But some thing important for her, not important for me. Important to her is more friends, and something important for me is value. Somebody give something to me, it’s important, no matter how much it costs. My sister, no, but a for me, yes. I work hard, is important to me, my sister, no. My brother more like me.”

 

“Oh yea, definitely different in 1995 from when I was growing up.”

“I got my values from my mother, honesty, hard work. I don’t know the American people values. When I’m child, that many years ago, respect of others, respect of the parents, and my older brother, everything older than you, has got to be different, you have to be respect. And grandparents, friends who are older, even one year older, we call name different, asomething similar to Mr. If I see a teacher, ‘Good Morning sir’, a friend, ‘morning’, that is the difference. It’s changing, not just in this country, in Japan it’s changing. Look at President Clinton, he doesn’t even look like a president. I don’t likea that. You gotta look upa to somebody, he gotta looka like that. How he dress. How can I look upa.? The emperor wouldn’t do that. The Japanese prime minister doesn’t do that. Everyone wear a suit, anyway. The Japanese as a people are more polite.

Evena now. Americans are self‑centered. The Japanese never have been and never will be. They have more feelings for people. But I think American people, if they were asked to have more feeling, they would. They can do survive alone. They know how. The Japanese if they were asked they could, but they could not survive alone, because they are not independent thinkers. They follow.”

 

“In Japan they value the older people. In Tokyo, city bus, after 65, they can ride all day on the. bus. That’s very nice. On the train, there are signs that tell you to give up to the older people the seats. When I was in Japan they told me to sit down, it must have been my gray hair. That goes the same for men and women, doesn’t matter. That was in 1995 when I was there. There are differences in the way males and females are treated. Females stay home and take care of the house. But don’t let it fool you, women are in control. The men win the war. Women control the kids, women control the neighbors, women control the relatives, and the money. I’m different, I work for the money.”

 

(“What about after the war, American soldiers?”).

 

“The first we hear very scary story, American soldiers like to eat Japanese kids. Right after the war some of the old people had a very hard time. Young American soldiers coming in, they didn’t respect the women. MacArthur did a lot of good things for Japan, but things were so bad, and American soldiers did something bad to Japanese people. But we tell the police station, but they cannot do anything, because we were under control from the American government. So we don’t have a place to complain. And so an example is, you remember not too long ago in Okinawa, when one of the soldiers raped? Oh, that was everyday in Japan. Well, where are we going to complain? No justice. But after a while it changed. Yes, there was some prostitution. That was good because it gave the soldiers some place to go, and so after a while they didn’t touch the regular girls.

 

“I have been 38 years in this country. My mother passed away 1970, father passed away in 1945 when the war was over. I came to this country in 1958, June 20, I never forget. I married a serviceman in Japan, Tashkawa, in the central part of Japan, right across from Tokyo. So I married my husband in the American Embassy in Tokyo. He worked with computers, he’s retired now.”

 

“My husband come from Milo, Maine, up north. At that time, in 1968, only three states accepted Oriental girl, one sa Maine, one sa Massachusetts, one sa California. We got to Cape Cod at the Air Force Base. It doesn’t matter that my husband was in the service. He was in the Air Force. Each month more states opened. So in 1959 we went to Colorado Springs, Colorado. We stayed there about 22 months. Then we come back to Milo. Then we went to North Dakota. Grand Falls. We always come to Maine, because that’s where hisa family. Anywhere we go transfer stationed, we come to visit his family. He stayed in the service. (She followed him around.) He have one brother anda two sisters. His last name is Ingerson. But I don’t use Mrs. Ingerson, I only use my first name, KEIKO.”

 

“I be 26 years old when I come here. I didn’t go to high school here. I went to summer night school, but oh, oh, I needed it to… what I did, is, I needed it to get … get license, barber license, and so I got a tutor for a year and a half.”

 

“I learned to do hair when I was 15, an apprentice, 3 years apprentice. When I come here I had to do a year and a half training. I think it is easier for people now. I was the first one, so I had to change everything, because nobody asked before. I did it first in Topsham, and at the Air

Force Station, and then I came to Roger’s (barber shop) 15 years, then own place. You see I comea here when I was 26 years old, and I just wanna work.”

 

(“When I went to you for my haircut, I went because you are Japanese.”)

 

 

“Not people like you all over. Men were ok, but it was the wives that say that. Lewiston is more open now because there are so many different people here. And so each year it get a little better.”

 

“I worked at the Tashahara Air Force Base in Japan. That’s where I met my husband. I didn’t wanna come here at first. I was not even dreaming. But it happened. At first when I came to Roger’s I had a very difficult time because I am Japanese woman. American ladies, wives, said, ‘Do not get your haircut from her, oh no’. First of my career I had it very difficult.,,

 

(“Do you think the males thought differently?”)

 

“No, because American ladies heard so many GIs tell how much they had a good time in Japan, because everything was cheaper there, and so the Americans have a good time.”

 

(“This course I’m taking has to do with culture, prejudices.,,)

 

“Oh! Very much so!. When I come here in 1969, people were speaking French. You go to the grocery store, most people talking French. They gavea me hard time.”

 

(“You have a nice business here now.”)

 

“Yeah, because I work for it. The people who give me hard time, I’m not gonna sit back and take it. I say someday you’re gonna ask me, please come do my hair. The more they give me a hard time, the more I learn. I think it doing me good, they give me a hard time. It made me work harder. My family didn’t break down.”

 

(“Your son, Earle, did he have a hard time growing up here, being Japanese?”)

 

“Well, I keep on saying because you are different, you have to do everything better than they are.”

 

(“He’s a great person!”)

 

“That’s my feeling!”

 

(“You brought him up American.”)

 

“He doesn’t speak any Japanese, because he live here, so he has to be like the people here. That’s the way I feel. Because when I got the Citizenship,”

 

(“You are American.”)

 

“Yes, The United States citizenship, they ask, ‘If we have a war, what side are you gonto be?’. And what I am going to say? ‘American’. Right. Because special family are here, three children are here, this is my home country.”

 

The towns I was in in Japan were Nagai, northern part of Japan, and Shibamata.

 

(“The Japanese country is a lot like America because of MacArthur then?”)

 

No, not really. This country is so different because they come from all over. Many American jails are almost like a hotel. Japanese jail is not. If you go to jail, you come out, there is no job, and it’s bad for the family. But here I think it’s too soft.”

 

(second interview)

 

“Divorce six years after marriage, 1963. Remarried twelve years after marriage, 1975, 76. First six years I did not work, was raising three children. I didn’t need a license when working on the service base.”

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