While the Japanese seem to have enjoyed the bounty of the U.S. economy, many have held on to their traditions. Students have purchased throw rugs for their rooms that they use as the tatami mats found in Japanese homes. Almost everyone has a rice cooker. A few of the Buddhists have created altars in their rooms.
In an effort to ultimately de-Americanize the Japanese, university officials are considering requiring Japanese students to spend their final semester at Teikyo University in Japan to ease their re-entry and to counteract a sentiment expressed by Mr. Itoh that could undermine the potential influence of these future leaders and the mission of the university.
"In Japan, there is a proverb, which says: 'The nail that sticks above the rest is to be hammered down,' " Mr. Itoh, or FTC "Honey-san," explained. "I am like the nail sticking out. When I was in Japan I was like everyone else. Now, I am different."
To the surprise of the college and the community, there has been little anti-Japanese sentiment expressed. Early on, there were "Jap, Go Home" graffiti in a few of the men's bathrooms on campus, and one day a man at the Dairy Queen pushed ahead of several Japanese students, telling them they didn't belong in Salem.
But, as 18-year-old Tish Dunkle, a high school senior, puts it: "The world is changing. We need unity instead of separation. This is a small town with small-town attitudes. But when the Japanese came, it opened our minds."
"For me, I can't imagine it without them here," Ms. Dunkle said. "Besides, can you think of any other small town in West Virginia where you can get sushi?"