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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)

Kazuomi Takagi
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Kazuomi Takagi

Decided to leave Japan to Argentina (Spanish)

(1925-2014) La Plata Hochi, Journalist

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Kazuomi Takagi
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Kazuomi Takagi

Tango makes him to stay in Argentina (Spanish)

(1925-2014) La Plata Hochi, Journalist

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Kazuomi Takagi
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Kazuomi Takagi

Leaving to Argentina (Spanish)

(1925-2014) La Plata Hochi, Journalist

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Shunji Nishimura
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Shunji Nishimura

Going to Brazil to escape debt (Japanese)

(1911-2010) Founder of JACTO group

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Shunji Nishimura
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Shunji Nishimura

Early life in Brazil (Japanese)

(1911-2010) Founder of JACTO group

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Emi Kasamatsu
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Emi Kasamatsu

Treatment of Japanese Paraguayans during World War II (Spanish)

Nisei Paraguayan, Researcher

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Emi Kasamatsu
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Emi Kasamatsu

Inclusiveness of the first Japanese colony in Paraguay (Spanish)

Nisei Paraguayan, Researcher

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Emi Kasamatsu
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Emi Kasamatsu

Nikkei contributions to Paraguayan agriculture (Spanish)

Nisei Paraguayan, Researcher

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Yumi Matsubara
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Yumi Matsubara

Leaving for the States without telling my parents (Japanese)

Shin-Issei from Gifu. Recently received U.S. citizenship

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Henry Shimizu
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Henry Shimizu

Grandmother convinced his mother to return to Canada

(b. 1928) Doctor. Former Chair of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation.

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Henry Shimizu
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Henry Shimizu

Government urged Japanese Canadians to go to Japan

(b. 1928) Doctor. Former Chair of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation.

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Venancio Shinki
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Venancio Shinki

We go to America (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

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Peter Mizuki
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Peter Mizuki

Not wanting to stand out as a foreigner

Sansei Japanese American living in Japan and Kendo practioner

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Ryoichi Kodama
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Ryoichi Kodama

Moving to Brazil wanting to see the world (Japanese)

Kasato-maru immigrants

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Ryoichi Kodama
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Ryoichi Kodama

In the boat on the way to Brazil (Japanese)

Kasato-maru immigrants

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