6 Japanese habits I had to break when I returned home to the US

1. Bowing to strangers

In Japan I had to bow everywhere from stores to buses, and even friends’ homes. It’s a part of the culture. At home I found myself bowing to the cashier at CVS. That was when I realized I may need an intervention.

2. Apologizing for everything

Along with bowing, apologizing often is another cultural norm. I apologized when I bumped into people, when they bumped into me, when a server served me very hot matcha tea. I felt apologetic all the time, and it continues even today. Once, while waiting for a train in Osaka, a train had an unusual delay and I apologized to the crowd waiting for the next train.

3. Playing music at a public toilet

The best invention ever has to be the modern Japanese toilet. In the winter, there’s nothing better than plopping your butt on a warm seat. Then there’s the selection of musical tunes that you can play that conceals every type of noise that you could make while peeing or pooping. I missed that when I returned home – I would often reach back to turn on the imaginary tunes.

4. Answering in Japanese

When I arrived in Japan, I could say “konichiwa,” “arigato” and “sumimasen.” These three words practically got me through any situation I found myself in. So when I began to string sentences together, I was surprised at how easily they flowed out of my mouth. I was beginning to understand the side conversations I heard on the bus and to understand more than the Japanese-English t-shirts in the department stores. When I returned home, I noticed I was answering questions in Japanese to the amusement of the clerks and cashiers I interacted with.

5. Queuing in public places

Ok, so we do queue in the U.S. When we’re at the supermarket, at the bank, and most other public places, but it’s more of an unspoken rule that can be broken. In Japan I learned to queue for trains and buses. The first time I queued for a JR train to Osaka, It was an odd experience, but I came to like the order it represented. Now, watching people waiting for a Metro train in DC can fee; like the Hunger Games.

6. Hiding my germs behind a mask

The winter I spent in Japan I had a debilitating cold. I would come to class coughing all over my co-workers and students. Luckily, I wore a mask to keep most of my germs at bay, otherwise I probably would’ve been fired for spreading germs, or least sent home early.

The Hidden Force Behind Addiction

After Robins presented the study that delivered a heavy blow to widely held beliefs that heroin addiction was unbreakable, a puzzling question still remained: why did so many Heroin-addicted Vietnam war veterans break their addiction, almost overnight?

To solve this head-scratching puzzle, Robins interviewed the war veterans and asked them to explain why they had stopped the use of heroin after returning back to the U.S. from Vietnam. 8 Robins L. N. The Vietnam drug user returns: final report,September 1973.

During the interviews, the Vietnam war veterans highlighted that heroin was much easier to obtain and use in Vietnam than back home in the U.S.

In Vietnam, soldiers could easily purchase heroin for an extremely low price of 6 dollars for a high purity bag (90 percent). Conversely, in the U.S., the price of heroin was much higher at 20 dollars for a street bag of 10 percent purity. 9 Johnson B. D., Golub A. Generational trends in heroin use and injection in New York City. In: Musto D., editor. One Hundred Years of Heroin. Westport, CT: Auburn House,2002, pp. 91–130.

In addition, in Vietnam, Heroin could be easily smoked and did not need to be injected, unlike heroin use in the United States. This eliminated a major barrier to initiating the use of heroin.

All of this combined with a social network of heroin-addicted fellow soldiers, extremely poor living conditions and high levels of stress from warfare, created the perfect environment for heroin addiction.

But when the soldiers returned to the U.S. from Vietnam, they were exposed to a completely different environment.

They no longer woke up to rattles of gunfire in Vietnam jungles and loud noises of helicopter blades in the middle of the night. Neither did they live with heroin-addicted servicemen or the high stress of warfare.

Back home, the soldiers lived in much better living conditions, and like most American citizens at the time, they’d go to work during the day and spend their evenings with their families.

The war veterans also noted that the fear of arrest and imprisonment, and strong disapproval from friends and family were strong deterrents from the use of Heroin in the U.S.

In short, the environment in Vietnam made it much easier to get addicted to Heroin and much harder to break the addiction, than in the U.S. And vice versa.

The answer to puzzling question was simple: the main reason why the majority of Vietnam war veterans broke their Heroin addiction was not because of willpower or a change in attitude—it was because of a radical change in their environment.

This conclusion meshes well with studies that show that approximately 45 percent of what we do on a daily basis takes place within the same environment. 10 Neal, David & Wood, Wendy & M. Quinn, Jeffrey. (2006). Habits—A Repeat Performance.

For example, the mere sight of the entrance to an office building or a regular smoking area, is a powerful environmental cue to a smoker to go to this location and repeat the habit of smoking.

Over time these environmental cues become so ingrained in our psyche that we repeat the bad behaviors on autopilot, even when we don’t want to i.e. eating ice cream in front of the TV, reading emails as soon as we wake up in the morning and browsing on social media during working hours.

This is why the hidden force behind addiction is environment, and the best way to break bad habits and change our lives for the better, is to radically change our environment.

Citizens Speak Out: The Newspaper Debate

Pro-Japanese groups, after Wallgren’s anti-Japanese statement, wrote a letter to the newspaper telling the governor to revoke his statement and stand behind the decisions of the military.28 This statement from the Governor also erupted onto theUniversity of Washington Campus . On January 24, 1945 a day after the statement, University of Washington Daily writer, Julie Legg, published an editorial condemning the Governor’s statement. In her editorial, Julie pointed that Washington State ’s leadership on this issue could set the mood for other states on the West Coast. “Here would be a great chance for the state of Washington to stand for the democratic ideals upon which our nation is supposedly based. Here would be a chance for our state to take the lead and see that these loyal Americans are given just treatment.” She criticized the Governor for making such a hasty statement, for second-guessing the FBI and saying that “citizens of this state who favor the return of our Japanese fellow citizens do not know of or cannot comprehend the works of sabotage and espionage that these people commit.” “Mr. Wallgren,” she concluded, “can’t we be fair and allow them to return to their homes?” The next day there were several letters to the editor printed in the Daily commending the newspaper for having the courage to print this article. From those letters it seems clear that many people on the University of Washington campus supported the return of the Japanese and Japanese-Americans.29

As the controversy raged several newspapers encouraged readers to voice their opinions about whether Japanese should be allowed to return. On December 18th, 1944 the _Seattle Star_—which gave the anti-resettlement forces some of their most positive press—interviewed people at random in the downtown area. One man said that if the army approved of Japanese-American return to the West Coast, then there should be no debate on the issue: “After all, the Japanese-Americans as they are termed, are in actuality American-Japanese, and as such are citizens under our constitution. It is not a question of sentiment, but of constitutionality.” Betty Lou Huffy did not respond in the same way, “I do not think the Japanese-Americans should be allowed back here, ever. There are so many reasons they should not it would take me an hour to list them.” Richard Messmer thought that the Japanese should be allowed to return to the West Coast: “After all, many of them have proved their loyalty by serving in our army. However I am against the return of those born in Japan.” Mrs. Bertha Saltee, however, said: “Never bring the Japs back. Both my son and son-in-law are in the service, fighting the Japs, and they would not want them back. You can’t trust a Jap, he’ll stab you in the back every time.”30

Letters to the editor also provide a window into citizens’ various views on the resettlement issue. J. Logan of Bremertonwrote to the Seattle Post Intelligencer on December 30, 1944 expressing that he felt safer without the Japanese on the west coast because saboteurs could be more easily spotted since there were suppose to be no Japanese on the coast.31 Bill Hubbs from Seattlefelt that he didn’t see how Japanese in America could remain loyal toAmerica while their family was living in Japan , the enemy. He really did not mind the Japanese return but was not really for it either.32 G.J. Helland from Snohomish also felt it was better the Japanese stay away from the west coast. He argued that the west coast shouldn’t have to “hinder our manpower shortage by having to be on the alert for underground work by some disloyal Japanese.” He was a supporter of the Governor, wishing to keep the camps open, because if the Japanese are let back into the west coast the will prolong the war.33 Thos G. Sutherland, M.D. from Auburn saw the Japanese and Japanese-Americans return to the west coast as not being beneficial. He stated that it would increase the housing shortage, endanger the war industry and allow for espionage and sabotage. He wanted to remove the War Relocation Authority and let the army take over until the end of the war.34

As these letters attested, debates over race and citizenship had a sharper focus at a time of war rationing and economic scarcity. On January 10th, 1945 the Seattle Star published an article which explained what some people were beginning to face with the return of the Japanese and Japanese-Americans. The article was about eight war families who had been living in a house owned by a Japanese-American. Upon his return from the camps, he wanted his house back for himself and his family. The occupants protested that it was not easy to find housing at the time, while the Japanese-American owner countered that it would be even harder for him and his family to find a place to stay than it would for a white family. The white tenants thought that he was being unfair to the war effort because their hard work was much needed for the war.35

Many people in the community also voiced their pro-Japanese opinions on the issue of the return, and described the anti-Japanese groups as un-American and not helpful in the war effort. Mrs. Lynn Brannan from Auburn wrote to the Seattle Post Intelligencer on December 30, 1944 “the ‘Remember Pearl Harbor League’ is a stab in the back to our men on the battle fronts, because it is un-American. I say it is un-American because it proposes to judge a group of Americans as being disloyal without a fair hearing and on the grounds of the religious beliefs of their kin in another country.” She then went on to say that the anti-Japanese groups are using this opportunity to be racist and take advantage of its economic opportunities, which seemed to be very true in some anti-Japanese organizations.36

On December 18th, 1944 many people are featured in theSeattle Star having positive reactions to the decision to allow the Japanese and Japanese-Americans back. “Arthur G. Barnett, Seattleattorney and head of the Seattle Council of Churches social welfare committee, today expressed great pleasure at the news that the Japanese-Americans are to return.” Floyd Schmoe, a long time peace activist and university professor, is another Seattleite who expressed his support for Japanese and Japanese-Americans: “Anyone now opposing the return of the Japanese-Americans to the West Coast is in effect now opposing our war department. Most of the opposition to return of the Japanese-Americans arises out of the hope of economic advantages or out of race prejudice and is usually cloaked as pseudo-patriotism.” Schmoe was also quite pleased with the decision because his daughter was married to a Japanese-American, he hoped they would now move back to Seattle . Dr. Lee Paul Sieg, President of the University of Washington , made a statement that day that “Returning Japanese who wish to study at theUniversity of Washington will be encouraged to do so.” He also stated that the University would not be able to control the actions of all people but “those desiring to study at the university will be accepted as students in accordance with the regulations governing the admission of any student.” 37 Harold V. Jensen, president of the Seattle Council of Churches was thrilled the day the WRA made the announcement of the return of the Japanese and Japanese-Americans. He said “the council at a meeting this afternoon will discuss specific plans to help the returning Japanese with any problems they may face such as housing and employment. Now that the military emergency which caused the evacuation has passed, revocation of the order is a much needed vindication of democracy.”38

Many others showed sympathy towards the Japanese. Four women from Seattle wrote in to the Seattle Post Intelligencer on January 26, 1945 expressing that American-citizens of Japanese ancestry have had to suffer more than any other group in the country. “They have not only been deprived of their civil and constitutional rights but have also been socially and economically ostracized and are all too often regarded by their fellow Americans with unwarranted suspicions and hatred.”39

A December 14th, 1944 editorial in the Seattle Star, titled “It’s Time to do Some Thinking On Nips’ Return” seemed to begrudgingly acknowledge the citizenship rights of Japanese-Americans, but still framed their return as a problem. The editorial stated that “Legally, there is nothing now which prevents their return-in fact, as far as the legality of the matter was concerned, it was impossible for the army to have evacuated them in the first place. They are American citizens and as such are entitled to ‘park’ any place in the country.” In the editorial, the writer also says that the WRA had interviewed many of the Japanese and Japanese-Americans that settled inSeattle recently, by permit, and that supposedly none of them wanted to stay because of the public reaction they were getting. Much of the public reaction is the propaganda being issued by the anti-Japanese leagues such as the Remember the Pearl Harbor League. In the end he stated, “The question of what to do with the Japanese seems to be facing us. And somebody had better do some serious thinking about it.”40

The three local newspapers Seattle Times, the _Seattle Star_and the Seattle Post Intelligencer all covered the issue in different ways. The Seattle Times covered resettlement as a positive event, but perhaps to prevent the incitement of racial tension, did not publish as much about the issue as the city’s other two daily papers. The Seattle Star was the first to start the anti-Japanese agitation, and it gave the issue a lot of coverage, looking to the community for comments on the issue and providing a great deal of information on anti-Japanese organizations. 41 _The Seattle Post Intelligencer_provided the area with the most coverage on the issue. It gave the community many different views on the matter with letters to the editor, coverage of government officials and both anti- and pro-Japanese organizations.

In the first months of 1945 as the Japanese and Japanese-Americans began to return, the controversy faded from the pages of the press. Many efforts had been taken and most citizens had decided to accept the Japanese and Japanese-Americans back into the community. The government had begun a publicity campaign on the heroism of Japanese-American Soldiers, which helped to ease a lot of the anti-Japanese fears.42 Anti-Japanese organizations failed to prevent the military from allowing resettlement, and failed to broadly influence public opinion. Their campaigns showed how widespread Anti-Japanese hostility in the Seattle area was, but at the same time how shallow it was. In the summer of 1945 anti-Japanese groups throughout the Puget Sound began to dwindle. The Sumner branch of the Remember Pearl Harbor League no longer was holding public demonstrations and their leader Nifty Garrett sold his SumnerStandard and retired to Missouri .43 Their failure testified to the power of civil rights organizations to advance racial tolerance even in a time of war.

© Copyright Jennifer Speidel 2005
HSTAA 498D Fall 2004


Berner, Richard C. Seattle Transformed, World War II to Cold War. Charles Press, 1999.

Daniels, Roger. Concentration Camps U.S.A. , Japanese-American and World War II.

Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1972

Droker, Howard Alan. The Seattle Civic Unity Committee and the Civil Rights Movement 1944-1964. Ph.D. diss., University ofWashington , 1974

Dye, Douglas Mark. The Soul of the City: the Work of the SeattleCouncil of Churches during World War Two. Ph.D. diss.,Washington State University , 1997.

Magden, Ronald E. Furusato Tacoma-Pierce County Japanese 1888-1988. Tacoma , Wash. : R-4 Printing, Inc., 1998

Hosokawa, Bill. JACL in Quest of Justice. New York : William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1982.

Takami, David. Executive Order 9066: Fifty Years Before and Fifty Years After. Wing Luke Asian Museum , 1992

1 Roger Daniels, Concentration Camps U.S.A. , (1972), 157

2 Howard Droker. The Seattle Civic Unity Committee and the Civil Rights Movement 1944-64 ( Ph.D. diss. University of Washington 1974) 48

3 Richard C. Berner, _Seattle Transformed: World War II to the Cold War (_1999), 126

4 Bill Hosokawa, JACL In Quest for Justice, , (1982), 24

5 Evidence of Disloyalty of American-Born Japanese, UW Pamphlet file 979.5

6 Magden, Ronald E., _Furusato: Tacoma-Pierce County Japanese 1888-1988 (_1998), 161-163

8 Stub Nelson, “Anti-Jap Move By Farmers Gains Force”, SeattlePost Intelligencer, 10/7/1944

9 Evidence of Disloyalty of American-Born Japanese, UW Pamphlet file 979.5

10 Remember Pearl Harbor League, Notes from meeting, 4/27/1945, UW Pamphlet file 979.5

11 “Ku-Kluxism on the West Coast,” Collier’s, , 7/14/1945, “Anti-Jap Fee-Seeking Groups Like Hitler, Says Dillon Myer,” Seattle Times, 4/23/1945

12 Douglas Mark Dye, The Soul of the City, The Work of the SeattleCouncil of Churches During WWII, (1997)

13 Droker. The Seattle Civic Unity Committee

16 Berner. Seattle Transformed, 124

17 Stub Nelson, “Anti-Jap Move By Farmers Gains Force”, SeattlePost Intelligencer, 10/7/1944

19 Berner, Seattle Transformed, 124

20 Berner, Seattle Transformed , 280

21 Droker, The Seattle Civic Unity Committee ,. 50

22 “Jap Evacuees’ Return After Jan. 1 Approved,” Seattle Times, 12/18/1944

23 Stuart Whitehouse, “Kent-Auburn District Calls Meet, Others Pleased at Return,” The Seattle Star, , 12/18/1944

24 “More Japanese Returning Here” The Seattle Star, , 9/20/1944

25 “Devin Promises Japs Protection,” The Seattle Star, , 12/18/1944

26 Berner, Seattle Transformed , 127

27 Fred Niendorff, “Wallgren Hits Return of Japs to Coast Now,”Seattle Post Intelligencer, , 1/23/1945

28 “Wallgren Hit On Jap Policy,” Seattle Post intelligencer, 1/24/1945

29 Julie Legg, “One Nation – Indivisible – With Liberty and Justice for All,” University of Washington Daily, 1/24/1945 and “Campus Reacts to Daily Editorial,” 1/25/1945

30 “What Do You Say,” The Seattle Star, , 12/18/1944

31 “The Voice of the People,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, 12/30/1944

32 “The Voice of the People,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, 12/25/1944

33 “The Voice of the People,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, 1/29/1945

34 “The Voice of the People”, Seattle Post Intelligencer, 1/26/1945

35 “8 War Families Face House Problem if Jap Ejects Them,” TheSeattle Star, 1/10/1945

36 “The Voice of the People,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, 12/30/1944

37 “Protest Planned On Nisei Release,” The Seattle Star, 12/18/1944

38 “Dr. Sieg Says Japs Welcome on Campus” and “Jensen Welcomes Return of Japs,” The Seattle Star, 12/18/1944

39 “The Voice of the People,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, , 1/26/1945

40 William C. Speidel Jr., “Japanese,” The Seattle Star, 12/14/1944

41 Reverend U.G. Murphy, The Anti-Japanese Agitation. UW pamphlet file 979.515 M95a

42 Droker, The Seattle Civic Unity Committee.

Until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, most American servicemen had never seen a plane like the “Zero,” so named not because of the prominent Rising Sun emblem painted on the side but for the manufacturer’s type designation: Mitsubishi 6M2 Type 0 Model 21. Those servicemen had heard of the Zero’s reputation, though. Fast and powerful, it was known as a nearly invincible fighter plane with a 12:1 kill ratio in dogfights with the Chinese as early as 1940. The Zero cemented its reputation in an April 1942 battle with well-trained English pilots over Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). In that sortie, 36 Zeroes took on 60 British aircraft—and shot down 27 of them, with the loss of just a single Zero. So formidable was the Zero that the official American strategy for pilots attacked by the Japanese fighter boiled down to this: run away.

It’s curious, then, that Japan allocated any of its mighty fighter planes to an attack on the Aleutian Islands in June 1942 instead of saving them all for the massive campaign it was poised to mount at Midway Island. In fact, no one knows exactly why Japan invaded the Aleutians. The inhospitable chain of 120 small islands sweeps westward some 1,000 miles from mainland Alaska into the Pacific Ocean. Uniformly barren and rocky, the islands offer no support for human settlement. Some historians believe the Aleutian attack was an attempt by Japan to lure American naval power away from Midway Island, which would make an Imperial victory there easier. Others think Japanese troops planned to island-hop through the Aleutians to Alaska Territory, and then invade the mainland United States through Canada.

Whatever the rationale, sending Zeroes to the Aleutians would prove to be a critical intelligence error for Japan. On June 4, with orders to bomb the Allied base Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island, young pilot Tadayoshi Koga, thought to have been 19 years old, strapped himself into his plane and prepared to carry out the mission of the Imperial Army. Little is known about Koga. In an undated service photo, he looks directly into the camera, almost smiling, his left hand tucked into the pocket of his uniform. Confident? Definitely. Perhaps even showing a bit of swagger. But then, what Japanese pilot wouldn’t swagger with the indomitable Zero at his command?

When Koga took off for Dutch Harbor that June morning, he probably expected to complete his mission and return to base as usual. Things didn’t work out that way. Emerging from the ubiquitous fog that envelopes the entire Aleutian Islands chain five or six days a week, Koga acquired his target and strafed the enemy base. During the engagement, his plane took ground fire that severed its main oil line. Now, piloting a fighter trailing a stream of oil, Koga realized that the moment the last drop of lubricant spilled out, his plane’s engine would seize and his Zero would plummet to earth.

With mere minutes to get the plane down safely, Koga headed west for Akutan Island. Designated by the Japanese army as an emergency landing field, Akutan boasted a long, grassy strip that must have looked to Koga like a sure bet for a smooth landing. That turf concealed a trap, though: Boggy soil lurked just below what appeared to be a solid landing strip. The bog snared Koga’s landing wheels and flipped the Zero end over end. It came to rest upside-down.

All Japanese pilots had standing orders to destroy any disabled Zeroes lest they fall into enemy hands. Koga’s plane appeared so undamaged, however, that his wingmen couldn’t bring themselves to shoot it up, fearing they might kill their friend. They circled once or twice before returning to their aircraft carrier at the western end of the island chain. Koga hadn’t survived, however: His neck had broken when the plane flipped over. And he and his Zero lay in the mist on Akutan, just waiting to be discovered by the Allies.

On July 10, as the world’s attention focused on the pivotal Battle of Midway, a U.S. Navy pilot on routine patrol over the Aleutians spotted Koga’s wreckage through a break in the clouds. But Akutan Island would not give up its prize easily. After three recovery attempts, the Navy finally managed to capture the plane and send it to a base in San Diego, California, for restoration. At last, the Zero’s secrets would be revealed.

Salvaging what they could and fabricating the few new parts needed, Navy mechanics brought the plane back up to flying condition. On September 20, Lieutenant Commander Eddie Sanders became the first pilot to fly a Zero in American colors. The plane performed beautifully, and Sanders went on to fly 24 test flights in 25 days. In the process, he discovered the Zero possessed not one but two Achilles’ heels. First, it was nearly impossible to perform rolls at moderately high speeds. This meant that forcing the enemy into such a maneuver would confer a tactical advantage to Allied pilots. Second, a poorly designed carburetor caused the engine to sputter badly when the plane was placed into a dive at a high rate of speed. Thus, forcing the Zeroes to dive during a dogfight might make them easy targets for Allied gunners.

Now armed with the knowledge needed to best the Zero in combat, the Allies quickly formulated strategies to defeat the Japanese in the air and, just as importantly, demystified the plane’s aura of invincibility. As quoted in Jim Rearden’s book “Cracking the Zero Mystery,” Marine Captain Kenneth Walsh described how he used information from the Zero test flights to finish the war with 17 aerial victories over Zeroes: “With [a] Zero on my tail I did a split S, and with its nose down and full throttle my Corsair picked up speed fast. I wanted at least 240 knots, preferably 260. Then, as prescribed, I rolled hard right. As I did this and continued my dive, tracers from the Zero zinged past my plane’s belly. From information that came from Koga’s Zero, I knew the Zero rolled more slowly to the right than to the left. If I hadn’t known which way to turn or roll, I’d have probably rolled to my left. If I had done that, the Zero would likely have turned with me, locked on, and had me. I used that maneuver a number of times to get away from Zeros.”

Using these new air tactics over the ensuing months, the Allies won battle after battle in the Pacific, and the Zero—once the pride of the Japanese air force—was reduced to a kamikaze vehicle. Masatake Okumiya, a Japanese officer who led many Zero squadrons and authored the book “Zero,” described the significance of the Allies’ capture of Koga’s plane as “no less serious than the Japanese defeat at Midway” and said it “did much to hasten our final defeat.”

Quotes From "Gulliver's Travels"

  • M.A., English Literature, California State University - Sacramento
  • B.A., English, California State University - Sacramento

Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" is a fantastic adventure filled with unusual people and places. The book serves as a political satire that follows the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver as he recounts them to a jury of his peers upon his return home.

While originally thought to be a madman, Gulliver eventually convinces his peers of the four strange lands he visited, all the while mocking the aristocracy who were serving as his jurors—to their faces!

The following quotes highlight the absurd realism of Swift's work as well as the political commentary he makes with naming such places as Liliputia (the land of the little people) and through his observation of the strange yet highly intellectual Houyhnhnms. Here are a few quotes from "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift, broken out into the four parts of the book.

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