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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Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather’s Life in Seattle

Part 8 – Sending money home and a new house

In Part 7, I wrote about Yoemon Shinmasu’s venture into the hotel business. This time, I will write about Yoemon’s birthplace, Yamaguchi Prefecture, him sending money back home, and the construction of his new house in Kamai. An Immigrant from Yamaguchi Prefecture Yoemon’s home prefecture of Yamaguchi had one of the highest numbers of emigrants in Japan. According to the immigration statistics by prefecture in the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum’s archives, between 1885 and 1894 and between 1899 and 1972, there were 57,837 Japanese immigrants from Yamaguchi living…

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Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather’s Life in Seattle

Part 7 - Leap to the hotel business

In Part 6, I wrote about how Yoemon educated his eldest son, Atae, in Seattle. This part will focus on how Yoemon’s barbershop business led him to make a big leap forward in starting a hotel business. From barbershop business to hotel business After moving from Kamai, Yamaguchi Prefecture, to Seattle, Yoemon moved to Walla Walla and made his barbershop business a big success. For an even bigger leap, Yoemon was thinking about going back to Seattle and starting a hotel business as his next venture. Running a hotel was something that many Japanese people in Seattle dreamt of back then.…

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Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather’s Life in Seattle

Part 6 – Atae’s education

In Part 5, I wrote about the pinnacle of Yoemon’s barbershop business in Walla Walla. This time I will focus on Yoemon’s other challenge: Atae’s education. Education for Nisei Another big challenge for Yoemon, in addition to making his business a success, was giving an education to his eldest son, Atae. He gave his son the name “Atae,” taking one letter from his own name, Yoemon, with the meaning “give everything.” While leaving his two daughters in Japan, Yoemon called over Atae from Japan with a strong intention to have him educated in America. Th…

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Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather’s Life in Seattle

Part 5 – Barbershop business in its heyday

In Part 4, I shared how Yoemon’s Seattle-born children were left with Yoemon’s parents in Kamai and how Atae was brought back to Seattle where his parents were working. In this part, I will write about the pinnacle of Yoemon’s barbershop business. From Seattle to Walla Walla After calling over his eldest son Atae, from his hometown in May 1924, Yoemon lived in Seattle for a while and moved to the city of Walla Walla in the summer of the same year. Yoemon’s family lived in a small hotel room in Seattle. Yoemon decided to move because he wanted to have a spacious hous…

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Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather’s Life in Seattle

Part 4 – Sending children to Japan

Part 3 introduced Yoemon’s family in Seattle after his marriage and his barbershop business with his wife. In part 4, I will write about the life of Yoemon’s children in Kamai. They were brought back to Japan for the sake of his business and Atae’s return to America. Family’s return to Japan In September 1920, Yoemon returned to Japan with his family. The purpose of his visit was to leave his children with his parents in Kamai, as his children were becoming a nuisance to the barbershop business. Born in Seattle, his children knew nothing about Japan. Atae was 6; the …

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