Ikuo Shinmasu

Ikuo Shinmasu is from Kaminoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. In 1974, he started working at Teikoku Sanso Ltd (currently AIR LIQUIDE Japan GK) in Kobe and retired in 2015. Later, he studied history at Nihon University Distance Learning Division and researched his grandfather who migrated to Seattle. He shared a part of his thesis about his grandfather through the series, “Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather’s Life in Seattle,” in the North American Post and Discover Nikkei in both English and Japanese. He presently lives in the city of Zushi, Kanagawa, with his wife and eldest son. 

Updated August 2021

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History of Seattle Nikkei Immigrants from The North American Times

Chapter 2—Seattle Japanese Pioneers

The first chapter featured articles related to the early days of Seattle from around 1850. Here, the focus is Japanese immigrants who first went to Seattle around 1890.

The Pioneers of Japanese Businesses

Around 1890, Japanese people began landing in Seattle and starting various businesses. These individuals laid the foundations for later Japanese society in the area. The 1928 edition of the Hokubei Nenkan (North American Yearbook) introduces the pioneers of Japanese businesses in Seattle. Manjiro Morita and Masajiro Furuya are two who are profiled in The North American Times about their great achievements.


Manjiro Morita

In the November 2, …

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History of Seattle Nikkei Immigrants from The North American Times

Chapter 1—19th Century Seattle and Nikkei Immigrants

The North American Times is a Japanese newspaper that was published in Seattle from 1902 until shortly after the United States’ entry into World War II. A microfilm archive is kept at the University of Washington (UW) Library. Scott Edward Harrison was a librarian at the East Asian Library, UW. In 2004, he researched the newspaper and archived what is available of it. From June 2019 to May 2020, the author serialized “Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather’s Life in Seattle” in both English and Japanese on Discover Nikkei and the North American Post, the successor to the …

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Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather’s Life in Seattle

Final Part: Atae’s re-entry into the U.S. and the family’s life afterwards

In the previous part, I wrote about Aki’s challenge and her two daughters’ re-entry into the U.S. after Yoemon’s death. This is the final part of the series in which I share the eldest son Atae’s re-entry into the U.S. and the family’s life afterwards.

Atae’s re-entry into America

Due to his father Yoemon’s death, Atae returned to Japan with his mother, Aki, in February 1929. He lived in Kamai and went to Japanese school. For Atae, who was bilingual and had studied at elementary school in Japan when he was little, Japanese school life was not a problem. …

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Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather’s Life in Seattle

Part 11 – Aki’s challenge and re-entry of her two daughters into the U.S.

In the last part, I wrote about Yoemon’s death from an unexpected accident and the family’s sorrowful return from Seattle to Kamai. In this part, I will write about how Aki recovered from sorrow, headed to Seattle again, and had her daughters come to the U.S.

Re-opening of Aki’s barbershop business

After Yoemon’s death, Aki lived desolate days in sorrow. Gradually she started to think that continuing to live and farm in Kamai would not do any good for her. Two years after Yoemon’s death, she decided to go to Seattle and make some money again.

Ready for a …

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Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather’s Life in Seattle

Part 10 – Unfortunate death and sorrowful return home

In Part 9, I wrote about the Japanese Association that provided support for Yoemon and the days leading up to the opening of his hotel. In this part, I will write about how Yoemon came to his unfortunate end.

An unforeseen accident

It was Sunday morning, December 2, 1928. Yoemon left his home in New Central Hotel (map lower right) for a walk and to go and inspect his hotel in Occidental Street (map left). There were still a number of things to see in preparation for the hotel opening the next day. Around that time, Yoemon had been …

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