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History of Seattle Nikkei Immigrants from The North American Times

Chapter 10 (Part 3) History of The North American Times: Voices of a Female Employee and the 5000th Anniversary Issue

Previously, I introduced the contributors to the North American Times and its employees. This part shares articles by its female employee, the 5000th anniversary issue, and the increase of subscription fee.


This is an article by a female editor, Shikako Takatani, who worked as a corresponding writer in Montana.

Newspapers, Reporters, Readers, and Contributors” (From Mar. 29, 1918 issue)

Articles by Shikako Takakani (North American Times, March 29, 1918)

“I have something to ask you all, while encouraging efforts of the newspaper publisher. Even if the newspaper owner has a contributory spirit, the machine cannot run without oil. No matter how priestly a teacher is, he cannot stand in front of students without eating. I need to ask for your support of this newspaper to reward its contributions to our community.

“When I arrived in Seattle, I stayed at Tokiwa Ryokan (Tokiwa Inn). On a table upstairs in the building, I found about six or seven small papers. A few of them were published in Seattle. I don’t think it’s necessary to have so many small newspapers. If all the papers were combined into one, a good newspaper will be made, and it will be financially beneficial.

“There is a Japanese Association (Nihonjin-kai) in Seattle, and it hires paid secretaries who work to unify Japanese people here. Why don’t we use their system of collecting money to hire newspaper reporters in places wherever we see Japanese residents? These reporters can also work for the Japanese Association. People will pay higher subscription fees, combined as a fee for the Japanese Association.

“If we force people to subscribe to the newspaper, maybe with authority of the Japanese Council office, that subscription income would pay for a reporter at each location.”

Shikako Takatani moved from Japan in 1917, so it was just six months after her arrival when she wrote this article. She frankly expressed her opinions and unique suggestions, considering the financial aspects of newspaper operation. She asked for public assistance to support the paper which contributes to the Japanese community.

After reading all the above articles, I can tell that the long-term success of The North American Times was possible with all the efforts of diversely talented employees.


In 1918, sixteen years after its inception, The North American Times celebrated its 5000th-issue milestone. It was five years after management of the company was taken over by Sumikiyo Arima from Kiyoshi Kumamoto.

The 5000th Issue, published on Mar. 29, 1918

Commemorating the 5000th issue, 32 pages of articles cover the newspaper’s history and celebration of its milestone. All advertisements in the issue have a special tag, “Celebrating 5000th Issue.” It seems like the entire Japanese community celebrated the newspaper’s milestone.

The 5000th anniversary Issue of the North American Times (March 29, 1918)

Japanese Consul (Naokichi) Matsunaga posted his message to the paper, commenting:

“Congratulations on the 5000th issue of The North American Times. The sixteen years of the publication’s history were made possible by the efforts of the management and employees of this paper. I pay tribute to them. The North American Times has provided wisdom and comfort to Japanese people who live in the United States and has made a huge contribution to the development of the Japanese community here.”

There was also a congratulatory message from Masanao Hanihara, the Director General of Trade with Japan in San Francisco who would later became the Ambassador of Japan to the United States.

“The 5000th Celebration” (From the Mar. 30, 1918 issue)

“Three years ago, when the 4000th-issue celebration was held at Nippon Kan Theater, many attendees overflowed outside the venue. People who were not able to enter the theater were disappointed. To avoid the same situation from recurring, the 5000th celebration will be held at an outdoor location. We will announce the date, venue and other details, depending on the weather. We hope that all Japanese residents will come to the event.”

“Undokai to Celebrate Our 5000th Issue” (From the Apr. 29, 1918 issue)

Sports Day (undokai) to celebrate our 5000th issue (North American Times, Apr. 29, 1918)

“We are honored to announce that undokai (sports day), celebrating the 5000th issue, was held successfully yesterday on a rare sunny day. The venue was Liberty Baseball Field which was built last year by the city league. The field is familiar to the Japanese community as many of us purchased its stock. Three thousand people gathered for the event, and it may be a record for the field to host so many people....

“The Emcee was our editor (Tokunosuke) Miyazaki and the opening greeting was made by our president Arima. Mr. (Daihachi) Matsumi, Chairman of the Japan Association, made a speech and praised the employees of The North American Times saying, ‘The achievement of the 5000th issue is the result of the efforts and strength of its employees.’

“Our honored guests were Council Matsunaga and his wife, Mr. Tetsuo Takahashi of Toyo Trading Company, Mr. Imajiro Kudo and Mr. Tsuneyoshi Kikurtake of Specie Bank, Seijiro Furuya, and Mr. Tozawa who is captain of Katori-maru of Nippon Yusen (NYK Shipping).

“All attendees from children to adults enjoyed different kinds of sports. The baseball game especially brought much excitement among all attendees. Between different sports events, a Boy’s Volunteer Army of Seattle marched with Japanese and American flags. The day ended with a Tug-of-War event by employees.”

Seattle Boy’s Volunteer Army (North American Times, Apr. 29. 1918)


In the April 29, 1918 issue, there is a notice about an increase in the paper’s monthly subscription cost. It said that the fee would increase from 50 to 60 cents beginning the next month. An editor’s note on the cover page explains, “We increased the page count of every issue after the 5000th issue. The paper cost has risen sharply and the labor cost has risen by 45%.” Until then, the publisher had kept the subscription fee at 50 cents since the first issue of The North American Post.

Notification of raising the subscription fee (North American Times, Apr. 29, 2918)

The rapid inflation of that time would cause frequent increases in the paper’s subscription fee. It became 70 cents in December 1918 and 85 cents in December 1919. The publisher explained that “we have to use paper for printing that costs 7 cents per issue. It is crazily expensive.”

The monthly subscription fee of 85 cents was about 1.70 yen at that time. The value is about 1700 yen today (about $15). The 85-cent monthly subscription fee would remain fixed for the next two decades; the same fee is posted on the April 1, 1940 issue.


“10,000th Issue Commemorative Special Publication” (From the Jul. 30, 1934 issue)

10,000th Issue  commemorative article (North American Times, July 30, 1934)

“We will resume publishing Hokubei nenkan (North American Yearbook) after suspension of its annual publication since the 1928 edition. We will distribute the book to all subscribers for free.”

The July 2, 1934 issue is numbered as the 10,034th issue. So, The North American Times reached its 10,000 the issue in late May of that year.

My father, who was born in Seattle as a Nisei and returned to Seattle in 1936 after his stay in Japan, had the 1936 edition of the revived North American Yearbook. He kept the book in his safe which helped my research about my grandfather, Yoemon Shinmasu.

Next part, I will introduce articles of Sumiyoshi Arima as a chairman of Japanese Association and a journalist.


Kazuo Ito, Zoku hokubei hyakunen zakura (Sequel of 100-Year Cherry Blossoms in North America), Nichibou Shuppan, 1971.

Kazuo Ito, America shunju hachijyu nen (America Spring and Autumn 80-Year), PMC Publishing, 1982.

The North American Post, “100th Anniversary Special Issue,” North American Post Publishing, 2002.

Sumisato Arima, Shiatoru nikkan hojishi no 100-nen (100 Years of Daily Japanese Newspapers in Seattle), Tsukiji Shokan, 2005.


*The English version of this series is a collaboration between Discover Nikkei and The North American Post, Seattle’s bilingual community newspaper. This article was originally publishd on December 31, 2021 & February 12, 2022 in The North American Post and is modified for Discover Nikkei.


© 2022 Ikuo Shinmasu

newspaper North American Times Seattle

About this series

This series explores the history of pre-war Seattle Nikkei immigrants by researching old articles from the online archives of The North American Times, a joint project between the Hokubei Hochi [North American Post] Foundation and the University of Washington (UW) Suzzallo Library.

*The English version of this series is a collaboration between Discover Nikkei and The North American Post, Seattle’s bilingual community newspaper.

Read from Chapter 1 >>

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The North American Times

The newspaper was first printed in Seattle on September 1, 1902, by publisher Kiyoshi Kumamoto from Kagoshima, Kyushu. At its peak, it had correspondents in Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Spokane, Vancouver, and Tokyo, with a daily circulation of about 9,000 copies. Following the start of World War II, Sumio Arima, the publisher at the time, was arrested by the FBI. The paper was discontinued on March 14, 1942, when the incarceration of Japanese American families began. After the war, the North American Times was revived as The North American Post.