Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Robert A. Nakamura Interview
Narrator: Robert A. Nakamura
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: November 30, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-nrobert-01-0018

RN: Well, this is kind of how I ended up getting involved in the Asian American movement. So you have to remember I'm, with my experiences right after the war, and not really, like a lot of people of color especially who aren't part of a community, like if I grew up in Gardena, maybe it would be a totally different story. But I felt very disenchanted... I felt very good at Eames because that was another world. But I knew once I left... I didn't know, but once I left and we started the studio, and my partner dealt with art directors a lot, did the business part, but there was still a lot of schmoozing he had to do and interact with a lot of people that didn't have the same values that I did. So I was beginning to dislike that, and I began to dislike living here.

SY: "Living here," you mean...

RN: In the U.S.

SY: Oh, the United States.

RN: And a lot of us say that, you don't feel, you're not quote, "white American" or are you totally Asian? And that sounds old now, but to me, it was new, you know. I didn't articulate it, but I'm just not comfortable here. I'm not relaxed, especially in the business I was in. So I decided, to hell with it, I'm going to move to Japan and become an expatriate, I'm going to live there. Had these great ideas of blending into the crowd and feeling more at home. So I made an arrangement with a fashion photographer in Tokyo and then went to visit. We had done this all on the phone and he had come here. And so I visited, went to Tokyo and visited his studio and all this. And then it's like a lot of other, I'm sure, JAs, you go over there and find out you're really gaijin, more so than here. So I came back.

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