Love of two Countries

Michio Kusama, 76

Immigrated from Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan

I really, practically knew nothing…

Ashlyn P.

Michio Kusama

December 16, 2019

Michio Kusama, a 76-year-old retired psychologist.  He has been in the United States for more than 50 years, and his accent still thick and muffled.  Leaning into the phone to hear his broken English, speaking so slowly, I needed to focus on every word one by one.  Fill in words like um, ah, filled the sentences more than his words did.

 As the conversation went on, his yearning for his homeland, friends, family and relatives was evident. Although thankful for the successful life that he created for himself in America, he still feels great passion for Japan and the nostalgic life he left behind.  He said, “at times I felt very homesick.” “I don’t know how they felt exactly, but I’m sure that they missed me… a lot, my parents first, my friends of course and of course my relatives and then my hometown, and all kinds of things, very nostalgic places and people I had to leave.”

A petite Japanese man with speckled grey hairs atop his shiny bald head, glasses framing his face and the San Francisco Giants baseball cap, shirts, towels, everything, he never goes anywhere without. Beginning this project, I thought about doing my housekeepers, but then it hit me that my grandfather is a first-generation immigrant. 

He said, “I was so embarrassed because I really practically knew nothing, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t understand, of course I couldn’t write,”