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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)

Shizuko Kadoguchi
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Shizuko Kadoguchi

Marrying Bob against family’s wishes

(b.1920) Japanese Canadian Nisei. Established the Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Toronto

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Shizuko Kadoguchi
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Shizuko Kadoguchi

Choice to move east or go to Japan

(b.1920) Japanese Canadian Nisei. Established the Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Toronto

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Coming to America

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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Enson Inoue
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Enson Inoue

The reason for coming to Japan

(b. 1967) Hawai`i-born professional fighter in Japan

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Bill Hashizume
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Bill Hashizume

Reason to come back to Canada in 1954

(b. 1922) Canadian Nisei who was unable to return to Canada from Japan until 1952

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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

Impressions from interviews with Issei women (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

The differences between Japanese women who emigrated from Japan and those who did not (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

Interest in Japanese migration studies (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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Mónica Kogiso
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Mónica Kogiso

History of her family's immigration (Spanish)

(b. 1969) Former president of Centro Nikkei Argentino.

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Vince Ota
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Vince Ota

Moving to and living in Japan

Japanese American Creative designer living in Japan

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Vince Ota
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Vince Ota

The reason to stay in Japan after his third year

Japanese American Creative designer living in Japan

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Roberto Hirose
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Roberto Hirose

Growing up with some Japanese families (Spanish)

(b. 1950) Nisei Chilean, Businessman

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John Naka
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John Naka

Avoiding the Japanese military

(1914-2004) Nisei Bonsai master in the United States

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Paula Hoyos Hattori
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Paula Hoyos Hattori

The arrival of her grandpa (Spanish)

Sansei Argentinean

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Ryoko Hokama
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Ryoko Hokama

From Japan to Argentina (Japanese)

(b. 1917) Okinawan, Issei Argentinean

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