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Japanese Americans on Chicago’s South Side - Oakland/Kenwood 1940s-1950s - Part 3

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Advertisement for the Matsunaga Apartments (no relation to the author), where Ruby Izui lived with her family in the early 1940s. From a 1948 Chicago Japanese American Community directory.
Courtesy of the Japanese American Legacy Center Archives

When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a building on the 4300 block of North Kenmore owned by Harry and Martha Tanaka. By the time I was pregnant with our first child, we had moved to a drafty second-floor apartment in the Matsunaga building on South Oakenwald. That winter was so cold that all my houseplants froze. On exceptionally cold days, I would linger at the nearby Walgreens, where elderly ladies from our building also took refuge.

We moved to Fred Yamaguchi’s building at 43rd and Ellis when my brother-in-law was called up to serve in the Korean War, and he and his family left for Fort Lewis, Washington. My husband’s parents lived there too. My only friend in the neighborhood was Yuki Ishibashi Mitsueda, who lived a block over on Berkeley. Yuki and I used to walk around the block, pushing our baby buggies.

After a while, we managed to save some money, and Seno Realty found us an affordable house on 65th and Morgan. It was in a transitional area where black people were moving in, and white people were moving out. We created an apartment for my in-laws on the second floor of that small house, but we all had to share the one bathroom on the first floor. It’s strange, but that’s the way we were back then.

—Ruby Izui, former resident

Bob’s Café
834 E. 47th St.
Bob Ishii, Prop.
Courtesy of the Japanese American Legacy Center Archives

We lived at two addresses: 1237 E. 46th Street and then we moved down the block to 1249 E. 46th Street. I can’t remember why we moved to the second place. I think we lived in the area until I was halfway through the 8th grade (Grade 8B) so we moved away when I was about 12 or 13 years old which would make it around 1955 or 1956.

I went to William Shakespeare Elementary School for a few years (a silly ditty I recall: “Shakespeare, kick in the rear, Happy New Year”). I remember Richard Tani and some others whose names I can’t remember being in my class.

After camp, our family—Dad (Kay), Mom (Lillie), sister Susan, and I—moved to Chicago. We lived at 1368 E. 62nd Street (a really big apartment building complex that doesn’t exist anymore). My grandmother and two uncles also lived in an apartment at this address. We moved to the 46th Street address, I think, when I was in the 5th grade. Pre-war, Mom and Dad lived in Los Angeles. They hurried to get married in April of 1942 so they wouldn’t get sent to separate camps.

They were sent to Camp Amache in Granada, Colorado, where I was born in February 1943 and Susan was born in June 1944.

I don’t recall any problems with resettling since I was just a toddler when we moved to Chicago after the war was over. I do remember that my parents sent us to church (even though they didn’t attend) and my sister and I were picked up in a car every Sunday by a nice hakujin couple so we could attend Sunday School at The Church of the Nazarene. That’s where I learned all the Bible stories and various Bible verses. I’m still in contact with a hakujin friend I made at Walter Scott Elementary School (which is where I also first met Donna Ogura), so I don’t recall any childhood problems with making friends in Chicago.

Our family’s best friends were Henry and Hatsumi Tani (children: Richard, Joyce [my childhood friend], and Jim [we still get together in Las Vegas each year]), and Tom and Sachi Miyata (now retired owners, with brother Mas Miyata, of Piccadilly Garage on 79th Street). I think the Tanis lived just north of where we lived on 46th Street; the Tani kids went to Oakenwald Elementary School and later Hyde Park High School.

The parents of one of my friends (Gladys Kawasaki) owned a small gift shop in the neighborhood, but I can’t recall the name of it. Henry Tani and my father were both carpenters who used their carpentry skills at Chicago Buddhist Church (today’s Buddhist Temple of Chicago). Dad worked at Czerwiec Lumber Company (their motto was, “Just say sir-wick”). I still have one of their wooden yard sticks. I think that’s where Dad met Henry who later worked at Lee Lumber Company. My mom was a housewife during this period.

I remember attending Japanese language school under Reverend Mukushina, and Kenwood-Ellis Community Church when we lived in the area. I also joined the Girl Scout troop from this church. I believe the minister’s name was Reverend Nishimoto. We attended the Resettlers’ Picnic every year (a very nice memory) and we always sat with the Tani and Miyata families. My brothers joined the Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops from Chicago Buddhist Church.

We moved to 7332 S. Dorchester Avenue when I was halfway through 8th grade so my final semester and a half of grade school was spent at James Madison Elementary School, just a half block away at 74th and Dorchester. It was the shortest walk I had to any of my schools!

By 1956, my three brothers (Roy, Steven, and Stanley) had been born so we needed a bigger place. We wound up in a 2-story, 3-bedroom house with a basement and a big backyard (but no garage). My sister and I shared a bedroom in a bunk bed made by my father (of course!) and Roy and Steven shared another bedroom (in a bunk bed) while Stanley slept in a single bed in my parents’ bedroom. He was only 3-years old at that time. We bought the house through Seno Realty Co. I think that Sam Seno was the owner of the realty company. His son, Glenn, was my classmate in high school. I graduated from Madison in January, 1957 and attended Emil G. Hirsch High School at 78th and Ingleside, from which I graduated in January 1961.

—Carolyn Nakamura, former resident

Ross and Grandfather in front of their house at the end of the Kenwood El.
Courtesy of Ross Harano

I was born in the Fresno Assembly Center in 1942, and a month later my family was relocated to Jerome, Arkansas. The Harano Clan lived in Berkeley, CA; however, my parents evacuated with my mother’s family who lived in Hanford. The Harano Clan evacuated to Topaz.

My father was able to get a job working in a greenhouse located in Alton, Illinois and we left Jerome when I was 11 months old.

We remained in Alton until I was two years old when we moved to Chicago and lived on the West Side in Humboldt Park. In 1945, my mother’s family pooled their money and purchased a home on 4201 S. Oakenwald across from the end of the Kenwood elevated line.

My parents, my grandparents, and my mother’s three sisters lived together on Oakenwald. After the war was over, my aunts’ husbands returned from the 442 and MIS. Altogether, we had five families living together. By 1949 all of my aunts’ families returned to California. My parents and grandparents remained until September 1961 when all of the homes on the 4200 block of Oakenwald were torn down to build CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) high rises. Our family moved to Uptown, where we currently reside.

I attended Oakenwald grammar school on Lake Park Avenue from September 1948 until my graduation in 1956. There were still many JA’s attending Oakenwald in 1948, however, by the time I graduated in 1956 there were only two or three JA’s in the entire school.

I remember walking to the Chicago Resettler Committee’s summer picnic in the park at 43rd Street and the Lake.

In 1956, I attended Hyde Park High School at a time when there was still a sizeable JA student body. By the time I graduated in 1960, however, the numbers has substantially decreased.

Our family attended the Ellis Community Church located on the 4500 block of S. Ellis. The minister was George Nishimoto and the denomination was Evangelical and Reformed. Ellis Community Church merged with the Kenwood Church located at 46th and Greenwood. The Kenwood Ellis Church served both JA and African American communities. The Evangelical and Reform Church and the Congregational Church merged in 1957 to form the United Church of Christ.

—Ross Harano, former resident




  1. Tea Pot Inn (Setsuko & Hana Tsuji), 905 E. 43rd St.
  2. Atlantic Inn (Frank Matsumoto), 807 E. Pershing
  3. Rose Inn (Sumi Sakiyama), 837 E. 43rd St.
  4. Bob’s Cafe (Bob Ishii), 834 E. 47th St.
  5. Submarine Tap Tavern (Shigenobu “Shrink” Fujino), 817 E. 43rd St.
  6. Southside Market (T. Shiomoto), 1215 E. 47th St.
  7. Mori Tofu Company (A. Mori), 4325 S. Ellis
  8. Fujimoto Grocery. 913 E. 43rd St.
  9. Far East Cafe (Hiro Uchiyama, E.L. Oshima), 1025 E. 43rd St. (1949)
  10. Maruhachi Cafe, 1025 E. 43rd St. (1951)
  11. Little Tokyo Chop Suey (Koichi & Frank Matsumoto), 1025 E. 43rd St. (1952)
  12. O.K. Grocery (Yone Okamoto, Roy Yamaji), 1037 E. 43rd St.
  13. Fujiya & Co. Mochigashi (Tokutaro Goto), 1121 E. 43rd St.
  14. Iwakuni Chop Suey (Koichi Matsumoto), 4060 S. Ellis



  1. Church of Christ Presbyterian (Rev. Kohei Takeda), 4611 S. Ellis
  2. Ellis Community Church (Rev. George Nishimoto), 4430 S. Ellis (1940s), moved to 4608 S. Greenwood (1950s)
  3. First Baptist Church of Chicago (Rev. Jitsuo Morikawa), 935 E. 50th St.
  4. Rengo Buddhist Church (Rev. Mokuriu Tsuda), 4457 S. Ellis
  5. St. Paul Episcopal (Rev. Mike Yasutake), 4945 S. Dorchester
  6. Seicho-no-Iye (G.T. Akagi), 808 E. 37th St.


  1. Hiroshi Inouye, M.D., 3901 S. Cottage Grove
  2. Frank Uyeno, M.D., 810 E. 47th St.
  3. Koki Kumamoto, D.D.S., 810 E. 47th St.
  4. Roy Morimoto, D.D.S., 4230 S. Ellis
  5. Isamu Tashiro, D.D.S., 4429 S. Ellis
  6. Norman Miyagi, O.D., 944 E. 43rd St.
  7. Catherine Itatani, O.D., 4335 S. Lake Park
  8. Motoo Itatani, O.D., 4335 S. Lake Park
  9. Randolph M. Sakada, O.D., 810 E. 47th St.


  1. Chicago Nisei Bowlers League (Frank Kasuyama, manager), 824 E. 47th St.
  2. 76 Sign Service - Silk Screen, Window, & Truck Lettering (J. H. Nozawa), 4466 S. Berkeley
  3. Okamoto Moving & Express (F. Okamoto) ,816 E. Bowen
  4. Hawaiian Radio (N. Nakagami), 4309 S. Berkeley
  5. Ace Refrigeration Service (Mas Harano), 4201 S. Oakenwald
  6. Nor’s Shoe Repair (Norio Tsusaki), 911 E. 47th St.
  7. Lakeside Dental Laboratory (Akira Kawai), 3901 S. Cottage Grove
  8. The Chicago Shimpo (Ryoichi Fujii), 1325 E. 47th St.
  9. Murakami & Sons (Mitsuru Hamaguchi, Nob Murakami, Henry Murakami), 4146 S. Lake Park
  10. Imamura Express Citywide - Moving, Delivering, Trucking (Ray Imamura), 4368 S. Oakenwald
  11. Nisei Realty Service (Shig Kariya, Jack Furumura, Carl Kita), 944 E. 43rd St.
  12. Nisei Beauty Shop (Toshi Itaya, Amy Kusumoto), 4355 S. Lake Park
  13. Rosy’s Beauty Shop (Rose & Bette Nojiri), 4126 S. Lake Park
  14. Alvin Watch Repair (Jack Kabumoto), 808 E. 43rd St.
  15. Robert’s Watch Repair (Bob Kushida, Roy Yamashita), 1048 E. 47th St.
  16. Select Diamonds (Jim Murata), 4217 S. Ellis
  17. Shigeji Takeda, CPA, 4419 S. Ellis
  18. Ise Studio Photography (K. Ise), 4709 S. Cottage Grove
  19. Portraits for Remembrance (Fred I. Yamaguchi), 4321 S. Ellis
  20. Tellone Beauty Shop (Kay Kumagai), 4648 S. Drexel
  21. James E. Kidwell, Florist (Yosh Hiraoka, rep., Sats Tanakatsubo, salesman), 826 E. 47th St. (1940s), moved to 827 E. 47th St. (1950s)
  22. Wakasa Photography Studio (K. Wakasa), 4311 S. Berkeley
  23. The New Fashion Cleaners (K. Koide), 942 E. 41st St.
  24. Doris’ Dressmaking Shop (Doris K. Ito), 4146 S. Ellis
  25. George Kita, Attorney at Law, 944 E. 43rd St.
  26. S. Takemoto, CPA, 4450 S. Oakenwald
  27. Newt Photography Service (Nakaji Bros.), 4211 S. Ellis
  28. Seno Realty Company (Tom & Sam Seno), 4514 S. Oakenwald (1940s), moved to 4322 S. Ellis (1950s)
  29. Don’s Radio Sales & Service (Don T. Arata, Ken Sakata), 944 E. 41st St.
  30. Richard’s Barbershop (Richard & George Yanagidate), 911 E. 43rd St.
  31. Sawa Painting Service, 4564 S. Oakenwald
  32. Kusu Custom Tailors (Mori & George S. Kusunoki), 4345 S. Lake Park
  33. Mitsueda Express Citywide, 4316 S. Greenwood
  34. Nisei Cab Association, 1137 E. 47th St.
  35. Carl’s Watch Repair (Carl Yasunaga), 4705 S. Cottage Grove
  36. City Watch Service (K.L. Inouye), 1118 E. 43rd St.
  37. Maytime Precision Watch Repairing (George Morisato, Hideo Motoike), 1314 E. 47th St.
  38. Nisei Vue Magazine, 4901 S. Lake Park
  39. Jerrold Cosmetics (J. Gerald Kakehashi), 4511 S. Cottage Grove
  40. Dane’s Cleaners (Dane Nakanishi, George & Evelyn Kebo), 4307 S. Drexel
  41. Nisei Woodworking, 4323 S. Lake Park
  42. Shibata Carpenters, 3652 S. Lake Park
  43. Tsuda Artificial Flowers, 4457 S. Ellis
  44. Taigen Kai
, 4454 S. Oakenwald
  45. Alice Mayeda Piano Studio, 4418 S. Oakenwald
  46. Hagio Photography, 4206 S. Berkeley
  47. Boydston Bros. Funeral Home (Nisei Clergy), 4227-31 S. Cottage Grove
  48. Ken Cleaners & Tailors (W.T. Miyake), 1319 E. 47th
  49. Lake Park Cleaners & Tailors (Iwao Shibata), 5017-1/2 S. Lake Park (1951), moved to 4971 S. Lake Park (1952)
  50. George Matsuura Advertising Art, 4347 S. Lake Park
  51. Woodlawn Nisei Barbershop (Hana Fujiwara), 1211 E. 47th St.
  52. Sho & Bob Barbers (Sho Nakata, Robert Taki), 4712 S. Lake Park
  53. Triangle Cleaner (Kozo Yazaki), 1231 E. 47th St.
  54. Ken Gift Shop (Corky Kawasaki), 1302 E. 47th St.
  55. Hayashiguchi Insurance (Yukio Hayashiguchi), 3816 S. Ellis
  56. Mitsuji Doi Real Estate, 4321 S. Berkeley
  57. George Yonehiro, Attorney at Law, 953 E. 47th St



  1. Belmont Apartments (Senbei Nakawatase), 4220-22 S. Berkeley
  2. Chicago Nisei Hotel (Takaji Tsumagari), 3991 S. Ellis
  3. Corky’s Apartments (Tokuyoshi “Corky” Kawasaki), 4310 S. Berkeley
  4. Endo Apartments (Heigoro Endo), 4401 S. Berkeley
  5. Hayashi Apartments (George K. Hayashi), 4431 S. Ellis
  6. Ito’s Boarding House (Harry Ito), 3610 S. Ellis
  7. Iwakiri Apartments (June Iwakiri), 4337 S. Drexel
  8. Kitahata Apartments (Sally S. Kitahata), 1220 E. 46th St.
    Hidaka Apartments (Susumi Hidaka), 1220 E. 46th St.
  9. Kimura Apartments, 927 E. 42nd Pl.
  10. Lake Park Boarding House & Apartments (Y. Idaka), 4905 S. Lake Park
    Lake Park Apartments & Rooms (J.K. Nishioka), 4905 S. Lake Park
  11. Lake Side Mansion Hotel (K. Matsumoto), 3934 S. Lake Park
  12. Oakenwald Apartments (Tahei Matsunaga), 1225 E. 44th Pl.
  13. Kuki’s Apartments (Matsusaburo Kuki), 5026. S. Blackstone
  14. Kusumoto Apartments (A. Kusumoto), 4355 S. Lake Park
  15. Maruno Boarding House, 1016 E. 41st St.
  16. Matsumura Apartments, 4069 S. Oakland Crescent—not plotted—street no longer extant
  17. Murakami Apartments, 4146 S. Lake Park
  18. Murakami Apartments, 4206 S. Ellis
    Okuno Apartments (Katsumi Okuno), 4206 S. Ellis
  19. Oishi Apartments (T.M. Oishi), 4008 S. Drexel
  20. Onoda Apartments, 4310 S. Greenwood
    Yamaji Apartments, (Kazu Yamaji) 4310 S. Greenwood
  21. Sakiyama Rooming House, 4345 S. Drexel
  22. Shimbo Apartments, 4019 S. Lake Park
  23. Takano Apartments (Bunji Takano), 4206-14 S. Berkeley
  24. Tom Seno Apartments, 4508 S. Drexel
  25. Tsuda Apartments, 4457 S. Ellis
  26. Vista Apartments (Noriaki Kitaoka), 4454 S. Oakenwal
    Sawa Apartments (Gakuhajo Sawa), 4454-56 S. Oakenwald
  27. Yamada Rooming House, 3856 S. Cottage Grove
  28. Yamaji Boarding House (Roy Yamaji), 3985 S. Drexel
  29. Berkeley Apartments (U. Umekubo), 4219-21 S. Berkeley
  30. Date Apartments (Frank Date), 4076 S. Lake Park
  31. Iwakiri Apartments (June Iwakiri), 4307 S. Ellis
  32. Kataoka Apartments (Ichiro Kataoka), 3949 S. Lake Park
  33. Kito Apartments (Frank Kito), 4508 S. Ellis
    Hirota Apartments (Frank Hirota), 4508 S. Ellis
  34. Kudo Apartments (Shigeru Kudo), 4332 S. Ellis
  35. Kumashiro & Hama Apartments (Hideo Hama), 824 E. Bowen
  36. Mayeda Apartments (Sam Mayeda), 4721 S. Lake Park
  37. Murata Apartments (Yoshiyuki Murata), 4538 S. Lake Park
  38. Murakami Apartments (Henry T. Murakami), 4518 S. Oakenwald
  39. Nakayama Apartments (Herbert Nakayama), 4335 S. Ellis
  40. Nishi Apartments (Soichiro Nishi), 4424 S. Berkeley
  41. Nojiri Apartments, 4126 S. Lake Park
  42. Okamoto Apartments (Kichitaro Okamoto), 816 E. Bowen
  43. Takagi Apartments (John S. Takagi), 4138 S. Ellis
  44. Tanabe Apartments (John Tanabe), 4419 S. Ellis
  45. Uchimoto Apartments (Dan Uchimoto), 4357 S. Lake Park
  46. Wada Apartments (James S. Wada), 4454 S. Ellis
  47. Watanabe Apartments (Tom I. Watanabe), 4323 S. Lake Park
  48. Yamaguchi Apartments (Ken I. Yamaguchi), 4329 S. Lake Park
    Ishiwari Apartments (Roy Ishiwari), 4329 S. Lake Park
  49. Matsumoto Apartments (Frank T. Matsumoto), 4458 S. Oakenwald
  50. Matsunaga Apartments (Tahei Matsunaga), 4450-52 S. Oakenwald
  51. New Ellis Apartments (D. Kawaguchi), 4160 S. Ellis
  52. Iwakuni Hotel (Koichi Matsumoto), 4060 S. Ellis
  53. Tobey Apartments (Ushitaro & Kenji Umekubo), 4219-21 S. Ellis
  54. Umekubo Apartments (K. Umekubo), 4438 S. Greenwood
  55. Takatsuki Apartments (Harry Takatsuki), 4350 S. Berkeley
  56. Suyama Apartments (Takashi Suyama), 4500 S. Woodlawn
  57. Seno Apartments (Seno Realty Co.), 4514 S. Oakenwald
  58. Seno Apartments (Seno Realty Co.), 4458 S. Ellis
  59. Sakiyama Apartments (George Sakiyama), 4801-03 S. Lake Park
  60. Okauchi Apartments (Taneko Okauchi), 4311 S. Oakenwald
  61. Okauchi Apartments (Taneko Okauchi), 4461 S. Oakenwald
  62. Miyamoto Apartments (Kaye Miyamoto), 4723 S. Lake Park
  63. Kuruma Apartments (Toraichi Sam Kuruma), 4122 S. Lake Park
  64. Kurokawa Apartments (Kiyoshi Kurokawa), 4461 S. Ellis
  65. Itano Apartments (Roy Itano), 4450 S. Ellis
  66. Hashimoto Apartments (Tom T. Hashimoto), 4420 S. Greenwood
  67. Harada Apartments (Kameichi Harada), 4200-02 S. Berkeley
    Hasegawa Apartments, 4200-02 S. Berkeley
  68. Fujimoto Apartments (Harold Fujimoto), 935 E. 43rd St.
  69. Fujimoto Apartments (Harold Fujimoto), 4451 S. Ellis
  70. Hiromura apartments (T. Hiromura), 4723 S. Kenwood
  71. Chicago Apartments (Yasuye Tanaka), 4958 S. Blackstone


© 2015 Erik Matsunaga

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