Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/1681/

Her mother came to the U.S. with a group of picture brides

I remember her telling us a story about how she was on this ship – a whole group of picture brides, women who were coming – and she said, “I remember thinking that these people were coming to marry guys that they had never even met,” and of course my mother didn’t know her husband that well either, because she had just married, and he left in a matter of weeks. 

And so she said – but she felt kind of superior to them, because she would have already have been married, and knew her husband, so she said, “I remember that these women had these picture, you know, of their – their prospective husbands, and they were trying to match their faces” – they didn’t – and she thought that was quite extraordinary a process. They never – and they – and she used to tell us a story of how she came to this country.


brides marriages migration picture brides wives

Date: August 7, 2018

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Sharon Yamato

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Mitsuye Yamada was born in 1923 while her mother was visiting family in Japan. She grew up in Seattle, Washington until World War II when they were sent to Minidoka, Idaho. A Quaker volunteer helped her to leave camp by finding her a job in Cincinnati, Ohio. Yamada attended the University of Cincinnati and earned a BA from New York University and an MA from the University of Chicago.

She was able to become a naturalized U.S. citizen following passage of the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act and received her citizenship in 1955.

She was a constant writer from the time she was young, and her first book of poetry taken from her writings in Minidoka, Camp Notes and Other Poems, was published in 1976. She started teaching and published more books after a health scare when she was 39 years old.

She helped to start a human rights group in Irvine, California that eventually led to her becoming elected to the Amnesty International Board of Directors in the 1980s and has been active in many human rights causes, especially known for her activism for woman's rights. (August 2018)

Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

First work in America (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

Company in Tokyo burned down (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Family interrelations between mother and father

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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Steve Kaji
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Steve Kaji

FOB's

Hawaii born Nikkei living in Japan. English Teacher at YMCA.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Going back to Hawaii

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Picture brides and karifufu

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki
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Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki

Grandmother's influence on decision to go to Japan

(b.1942) Japanese American ceramist, who has lived in Japan for over 30 years.

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Yukio Takeshita
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Yukio Takeshita

Impression of Japan upon arrival

(b.1935) American born Japanese. Retired businessman.

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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Kibei schoolchildren in Hiroshima, Japan

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

The reason he came to the United States (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California

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Roger Shimomura
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Roger Shimomura

Grandfather's arrival in the U.S., experiencing discrimination

(b. 1939) Japanese American painter, printmaker & professor

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Marion Tsutakawa Kanemoto
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Marion Tsutakawa Kanemoto

Mother's immigration to U.S. as a treaty merchant

(b. 1927) Japanese American Nisei. Family voluntarily returned to Japan during WWII.

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Rose Kutsukake
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Rose Kutsukake

Why her parents came to Canada

(1918-2004) Interned in Slocan during World War II. Active member of the Japanese Canadian community.

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Fred Sasaki
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Fred Sasaki

Family background of Fredrick Yoshihide Sasaki

(b. 1918) Issei businessman in Canada

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Mitsuo Ito
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Mitsuo Ito

Chose to go back to Japan

(b.1924) Japanese Canadian Nisei. Interpreter for British Army in Japan after WWII. Active in Japanese Canadian community

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