The Enigma of Sasanji

by Linda Okazaki

L-R: Ichimaru and Sasanji Okazaki, San Francisco, circa 1912

L-R: Ichimaru and Sasanji Okazaki, circa 1912

Sasanji Okazaki has perplexed me for some time. Based on references from two passenger records and the 1930 census as well as family lore, he probably arrived in San Francisco from Japan in 1898. But I need proof! Of course, he could have arrived later. Given the birth of his youngest child on 20 June 1898, it’s unlikely that he left Japan much earlier than that. He could have come through Canada, Washington, Los Angeles or even Mexico. Unfortunately, the passenger records are incomplete. Those that do exist for San Francisco arrivals are difficult to read and first names are typically abbreviated to the first initial. Japan does have un-indexed passenger and immigration records, but it would cost a fortune to have someone pore through those documents and then have them translated. For the moment, I am waiting to hear back from the USCIS to see if he or one of his family members is indexed. I do have a Resident Permit number (R.p.) and an Alien Registration number (A.R.) which may aid in that search. What complicates things further is that Sasanji returned to Japan before WWII. It appears that he always intended to return to his homeland as his wife never left the farm and the property remains in the Okazaki family to this day. This means that there is no A-file for him and there are no WRA or INS internment camp records. There also are no land or voter records, as U.S. law prohibited Japanese immigrants from land ownership or citizenship. I have been able to follow some of his address changes by the immigration records of his three sons, but he hasn’t turned up in any directories that I’ve searched. Sasanji Okazaki was born 20 September 1875 to Yujiro Okazaki and Sumi (maiden name not known); he married Kiwa Kobayashi on 14 May 1892; he died 13 January 1941.