Tomoko Hino

Episode 060

Josephene “Tomoko” Hino was born in Sasebo, Japan. Her mother is Japanese, and her father is Black, French, and Native American. She came to the United States in 1989 at the age of 12. Tomoko went to Ramona Elementary and Alhambra High School, located in the San Gabriel Valley. One of her teachers at Alhambra High School introduced her to consider being a “Makeup Artist” as a career.

First, Tomoko went to Santa Monica College because she wasn’t sure if her mother would approve of her studying makeup. Eventually, she decided she wanted to study makeup art at a school in Hollywood. After graduating, Tomoko went to Japan to be an assistant makeup artist and realized that she also needed to learn hair. She came back to the U.S. to attend cosmetology school. During that time, she had a job offer at a Japanese Nursing Home to work 8-5 and took night cosmetology classes. After graduating from cosmetology school, she did some makeup jobs for Japanese commercials and assistant jobs here and there while also working at a hair salon. Shortly after, she was offered to work again at a Japanese Senior Facility in Los Angeles.

Tomoko met her husband through working at the senior facility. Together, they had two kids. She stayed home with her children for about ten years, after which she returned to work at a Senior Japanese facility. Tomoko always wanted to get back into the profession, and with her supportive family and friends, she decided to open up her own head spa. She didn’t want to part from her relationships with the Japanese seniors, and she wanted to do her profession. Her son ended up telling her to “Do both!” So today, she is working both jobs and enjoying them.

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Tomoko Hino Quotes

  • “I was introduced to the black girls, and one of the girls said, ‘She’s not black enough.’” 
  • Tomoko was somewhat ostracised in her home in Japan
  • She lived in Japan with her father and mother until she was 12
  • Tomoko moved to America and was still treated differently
  • Tomoko found a path with people she had no cultural connection to
  • She found love working for elder care
  • She met her husband in senior care. 
  • She went back after years because of a love for it.
  • Scott and Russell chat with the local business owner of a hair shop. Aroma Head Spa, in the Santa Anita mall. She also works with the Japanese elderly in the area. Tomoko is an immigrant success story from the Sam Gabriel Valley on episode 60 of The SGV Master Key Podcast.

Tomoko  Hino

What is your connection to the San Gabriel Valley?

Tomoko was born in Japan and immigrated to America when she was 12. They followed her uncle to the SGV.

It’s hard to talk to Tomoko without at least mentioning her unique heritage. Her mother was Japanese, and her father was a black man from the United States.

Tomoko’s father was in the Navel, stationed in the Japanese city where Tomoko’s mother lived. She grew up outside of the Navy base.

She went to kindergarten and elementary school with the local population, but she enjoyed American holidays inside the base.

Did you want to come to America?

Tomoko had a hard time growing up in Japan because she was mixed race, but also she wanted to stay because she loved the country and culture.

She didn’t want to leave but was 12 and had to go with her parents.

Being mixed did affect Tomoko’s mental health. She struggled with identity well into her 40s.

Did you find it that your peers treated you poorly?

Even adults ridiculed Tomoko for being different. Everyone wants to be accepted, but when people ostracize someone together, they get that bonding; it’s just hard when you are that person they come against.

As Tomoko went to high school in America, she was told that she didn’t fit in because she wasn’t “black enough.”

She went to shift school in the early 90s with many Japanese clubs and tried to join a Japanese club. She was told she wasn’t enough. The person who accepted her was her best friend, who was Filipino.

What happened after high school?

Because English was Tomoko’s second language, a teacher led her towards

an interest in makeup as a career.

Tomoko was interested but didn’t want to upset her parents, so she spent a year at Santa Monica college.

However, she decided she didn’t enjoy it, so she wanted to follow that passion and go to makeup school.

She met many people from different areas in school and had a lot of fun.

Tomoko had the chance to work in commercials and as an assistant in Japan. However, she got pushback from the head makeup artist because she was friendly to the models.

She got into hair after working commercially in Japan.

Tomoko worked at a retirement home during the day and went to cosmetology school at night.

She met her husband while working with the senior community.

After a ten-year break, she was asked to come back as an activity director, and from that, she was asked to be the marketing manager for the senior home.

Strangely enough, the seniors accepted Tomoko, the more her age group.

Picture of Tomoko Hino

Tomoko Hino

Ducks Restaurant for their curry.

Mandarin Noodle House for their delicious dumplings.

Lee’s ToFu for their excellent Korean food.