My Journey to Discover the Legacy of my Grandma, Yuri Kochiyama


This album is a collection of personal pictures as well as pictures gathered from the internet and the Japanese American National Museum archives that I have compiled to illustrate my continuous journey to discover the legacy of my grandma, Yuri Kochiyama. 

Currently, at the age of 20, I know that I still have a lot to learn, but I eagerly look forward to every second of it! I would like this album to be a sort of tribute and thanks to my grandma for being such an amazing role model for me and all of the grandkids. 

Maybe for those of you who do not know her personally, this album will give you insight into the kind of person she is beyond her career and accomplishments.

***Editor's note*** Maya also wrote an article about her grandma. Click here to read her article >>

Slides in this album 

A Powerful Voice

I’ve been so fortunate to have a role model such as my grandma to look up to and inspire me.  Although I don’t think I can ever live up to the magnitude of her activism career and all her achievements, her values and what she symbolizes are what I aim …

Yuri Kochiyama Speaking at JANM
Contributed by: mkochiyama

What a Cute Baby :)

As you may have guessed, this is a picture of me with Grandma.

Growing up, people would tell me, “Your grandma is an amazing lady,” but I never really knew why or what she did that made her so famous. She’s way too humble to talk about herself and her …

Baby Maya with Grandma Yuri
Contributed by: mkochiyama

Yuri with Twin Brother, Pete 1942

Born and raised in San Pedro, CA, Yuri really was that "all-American" girl who taught Sunday school at her local church, who volunteered her time to Girl Scouts and teaching children arts and crafts, photography, first aid, and tennis, and was a her high school’s sports journalist.

All this changed upon …

Yuri with Twin Brother, Pete 1942
Contributed by: mkochiyama

Grandma with the Kids in Camp Jerome, Arkansas

After her family was sent from their home in San Pedro to the Santa Anita Assembly Center and then to Camp Jerome in Arkansas, Yuri took jobs as a nurse's aid and Sunday School teacher.  

My dad told me that Yuri would write multiple letters to her love, Grandpa …

Grandma with the Kids in Camp Jerome, Arkansas
Contributed by: mkochiyama

"My Bill" <3

She met strapping, handsome, young Bill Kochiyama when he visited Camp Jerome.  Grandpa Bill fought in the 442nd Regimental Combat team, the most highly decorated unit in United States history.   Her long distance, passionate romance is what I like to call her silver lining during World War II.  He …

Yuri and Husband, Bill Kochiyama
Contributed by: mkochiyama

And so it Began...

After marrying and settling down in New York, Yuri and Bill went on to have a total of six children, Billy, Audee, Aichi, Eddie, Jimmy, and Tommy.

This is a picture of Grandma Yuri, holding her first son, Billy.  

Yuri with oldest son, Billy
Contributed by: mkochiyama

Malcolm X

Malcolm X was the most influential political figure in Yuri's life.  I think this quote from one of Yuri's speeches demonstrates her respect and admiration for Malcolm X and how she drew her own ideals from what she had learned from him as well.  “Malcolm used to always reiterate study …

Malcolm X Assassination in Life Magazine
Contributed by: mkochiyama

The Movement

Yuri is probably most well known for her work during The Civil Rights Movement of the 60's.  I think what makes her stand out among other prominent activists of this era was that she not only advocated for Japanese Americans, but also for African Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans, and …

Muhammad Ahmad and Yuri Kochiyama, the Movement
Contributed by: mkochiyama

My First Visit to New York!

The first time I went to visit New York was for my Uncle Eddie's wedding when I was 5 years old.  Honestly, all I remember from that trip is playing with my cousins in New Jersey and jumping on the huge, floor piano at FAO Schwartz.  That's why I really …

In Front of 545 West 126th St Apartment
Contributed by: mkochiyama

Where All the Magic Happened

This is the kitchen table where you can see various flyers probably promoting protests or conferences, pens, letters addressed to friends and political prisoners across the nation, envelopes and newspaper clippings.  My dad said that during dinner when he was a kid, they actually had to eat around and on …

Kochiyama Family's Kitchen Table
Contributed by: mkochiyama

Still Going Strong

This is a photo of Yuri, age 81, speaking at the Resist the Silence program at the San Francisco's Womens Building on September 14, 2002.

Yuri Kochiyama speaking at Resist the Silence program
Contributed by: mkochiyama

"Passing it On"

I remember that day when almost all of the family met up at the East Wind bookstore near UCLA.  It's very rare to have the whole Kochiyama clan from New York, Oakland, and LA come together at one time, but we had to be there for release of Grandma's book, …

Passing it On-A Memoir by Yuri Kochiyama Book Release
Contributed by: mkochiyama

Hey, Isn't That Grandma on That Guy's Shirt?!

Walking through Little Tokyo a couple of years back, I came across this guy that was wearing a shirt with my grandma's face on it!  It was shocking, but awesome!  I knew I couldn't let this moment go by undocumented, so I walked right up to him and said, "that's …

Guy with Yuri Kochiyama Shirt
Contributed by: mkochiyama

Day of Remembrance 2010

I think this is the first time that I really soaked in and listened to my grandma speak live.  This was for the Day of Remembrance Ceremony in San Francisco's Japantown in 2010.  I was a 18 years old and had just finished taking my first Asian American Studies class. …

Yuri Kochiyama speaking at DOR 2010
Contributed by: mkochiyama

Interning at the Japanese American National Museum

Interning at the Japanese American National Museum has been an amazing experience.  I won’t go into too much detail right now because I will be writing another article about it shortly, but this is a picture of me kneeling next to my grandma’s picture in the Common Ground exhibit at …

Maya Kochiyama at JANM 1
Contributed by: mkochiyama

In Collections...

I was so excited when I found out that upon starting my internship here at the Japanese American National Museum, I would have access to my grandma’s collections!  In this picture, you can see the two volumes of Xeroxed copies of her diary when she was in camp to the …

Yuri Kochiyama JANM Collections
Contributed by: mkochiyama

Her Diary

I was delightedly surprised to discover that my grandma had kept a diary while interned at the Santa Anita Assembly Center from April 3, 1942 to Camp Jerome in November 26, 1942.  In the Japanese American National Museum’s collection, there were two volumes, which closed with an unfinished entry on …

Yuri Kochiyama's Diary in Camp
Contributed by: mkochiyama

"When I grow up, I want to be just like Yuri Kochiyama..."

The Blue Scholars, a hip hop/rap duo from Seattle, wrote a song about Yuri.  Check it out!

Here are the lyrics to this song:

Oh, yeah!

I got that third war militance, still think it’s relevant, 
Even if them kids got the shirts and stopped wearin 'em.
Humbled …

"Yuri Kochiyama" by the Blue Scholars
Contributed by: mkochiyama

A Proud Granddaughter

What I admire the most about my grandma is her tremendous heart, which overflows with compassion, tolerance, and love for all people in need.  It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your story may be.  My grandma sees the good in everyone and goes above and beyond to lend …

Yuri Kochiyama Speaking at Anti-War Demonstration
Contributed by: mkochiyama

Album Type

family history

mkochiyama — Last modified Jun 28 2021 1:49 a.m.

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