Gaijin Girl Really Gets Going

by Linda Okazaki

September is a great month to begin new things. It’s the beginning of the school year for most children. It’s the beginning of a new season, even though in Northern California it really is just starting to feel like summer, a very hot summer. Why not embark on a genealogical adventure unlike any I’ve ever attempted? I have dabbled in Japanese American genealogy, but now it’s time to get serious.

Recently a woman paid me a compliment on my research and it set the ball rolling. This was not your typical “wow, you’ve done so much but I don’t know the first thing about genealogy” kind of compliment. This came from a woman whose work I have admired for years. She is an accomplished author and speaker. She is an expert in her field. More importantly, she is a certified genealogist, and in my world, that is the benchmark for the best of the best. She actually thought I had a shot at becoming certified. After doing my homework it quickly became clear that I have quite a road still to travel. But I have put together a timeline. If I give myself five years of dedicated research, this just might be possible.

The second situation that really pushed me into taking this path seriously was when a friend and fellow genealogist (albeit a very experienced and well-respected genealogist) asked me to present a workshop in Japanese American genealogy. Seriously? Did she have that much faith in me or was she asking for more than I could deliver? Probably a little of both. However, always up for the challenge, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to hone my research skills and become knowledgable about Japanese American genealogy. After that, I’ll have to cross the Pacific and see what I can accomplish in the Land of the Rising Sun!

First I’ll have to pursue the Japanese American genealogy at my fingertips. This will include formal videotaped interviews with former internees, a road trip following the footsteps of the Okazaki family before, during and after World War II, and finally, a journey to the ancestral home in Tabara village, Japan, where the family members began and ended their odyssey. I can hardly wait to begin. Watch out world. Gaijin Girl is on a roll.