Linda's Orchard

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Category: Japanese American

Genetic Genealogy

DNA is the hottest topic in genealogy. It seems that everyone I know is testing. I’ve got kits from several different companies ready to go when the relatives show up for the holidays. I even tested my dog! But do you wonder what the results actually tell you? Are the admixture (ethnicity) estimates accurate? What about the cousin predictions? What kinds of tools are available to help you understand your results? Are there ethical considerations with testing? Do you worry about privacy? Disclaimer: I don’t.

There are classes available in many locations. The California Genealogical Society offers a series of DNA classes. There are websites, blogs, and YouTube videos. There are facebook pages galore. And there are conferences. Last week, the Institute for Genetic Genealogy was held in San Diego with speakers such as CeCe Moore, Blaine Bettinger, Angie Bush, Kitty Cooper, Schelly Dardashti, and more. Two days, 22 lectures, and all were recorded. Hopefully those recordings will be available for purchase within the next few months.

There are two big DNA events planned in northern California in 2018. The first is “A Day with the Genetic Genealogist: Blaine Bettinger.” Held at the David Brower Center in Berkeley on March 3, the day will feature four lectures and a catered buffet lunch by Greenleaf Platters. This seminar is sure to sell out and is one of the signature events planned in honor of the 120th anniversary of the California Genealogical Society. In November, the San Mateo Genealogical Society will host Genetic Genealogist, CeCe Moore, who will present a different line up of lectures.

Whether your ancestors came from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Pacific Rim, or the Americas, whether you can trace your ancestors back dozens of generations or you were adopted and don’t know your biological family, DNA has something for everyone. Join the fun and add DNA to your genealogy tool box.

February 19 – A Day to Remember

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On February 19, 1942, then President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This legislation set the stage for approximately 120,000 ethnic Japanese to be incarcerated; the majority were American citizens. Many were initially housed in animal quarters at racetracks. Eventually, most were sent to live in “Internment Camps”  located in remote areas of the United States. There were also camps in Canada and Australia, as well as Hawai‘i. Eventually, Germans, Italians, Japanese Peruvians and others were also held without due process, primarily in Department of Justice Camps. Some were intended to be used in a prisoner-of-war exchange.

Throughout the month of February, community events, special church services and film festivals will be held in honor of those unjustly imprisoned. In Los Angeles, the Skirball Cultural Center has on display camp photographs by Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams and Toyo Miyatake, which runs through February 21. The Nichi Bei Foundation will host an all-day Films of Remembrance on February 20. And on Sunday February 21, the National Japanese American Historical Society  will hold an event in San Francisco. Commemorations will also be held across the country, including an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Densho has developed a “Teach-In” consisting of five free digital lessons about the internment experience.

If you aren’t familiar with Densho, be prepared to be impressed. The website states that “Densho’s mission is to preserve the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished. We offer these irreplaceable firsthand accounts, coupled with historical images and teacher resources, to explore principles of democracy, and promote equal justice for all.”  

Seventy six years have passed. Let’s not forget.

A Reference Guide to Finding Your Japanese Roots

Finding Your Japanese Roots

I’m excited to announce that the second edition of my 6-page laminated quick guide to Japanese and Japanese American Genealogy is now available! The first edition sold out quickly. Order yours today for $12 plus shipping (8.5% sales tax in California). Aimed at those who are new to Nikkei genealogy, as well as seasoned genealogists who are new to these records, this guide provides a basic introduction to get you started and includes:

  • A brief historical overview and timeline of laws and events which impacted Nikkei (those of Japanese Ancestry) in the U.S. and in Japan
  • Clues in Conventional U.S. Records
  • Records Unique to Japanese Americans
  • Clues in Conventional Japanese Records
  • Glossary of Japanese Words Related to Family History
  • Online Resources
  • Bibliography

Contact LindaHOkazaki@gmail.com to place your order. Payable through Paypal.

It was a Beautiful Day for a Pilgrimage!

Second Annual Nikkei Pilgrimage to Angel Island

Angel Island Immigration Station

Angel Island Immigration Station

On 3 October 2015, the Nichi Bei Foundation hosted the second annual Nikkei Pilgrimage to Angel Island, in honor of the Japanese immigrants who arrived there between 1910 and 1940. An emphasis was placed on the women who immigrated, specifically the picture brides. There were over 300 attendees who journeyed by ferry to enjoy the music, dramatic presentation, speeches, bento lunches, and family history stations.

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Kenji Taguma, Nichi Bei Foundation

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Picture Bride, Produced by Judy Hamaguchi, SF JACL

Linda Harms Okazaki and Karen Korematsu

Linda Harms Okazaki and Karen Korematsu

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Learning about Picture Brides, inside the Immigration Station Barracks

There were honored guests and special speakers, including Karen Korematsu, who is perhaps best known as the daughter of civil rights activist, Fred Korematsu. On this day, however, she spoke about her grandmother, Kotsui Aoki, who arrived on Angel Island on January 12, 1914 as a picture bride. Karen addressed the importance a discovering family roots and understanding the experiences of our immigrant ancestors.

Following the formal program, six volunteers from the California Genealogical Society provided research consultations, including Todd Armstrong, Grant Din (also of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation), Linda Okazaki, Jim Russell, and Adelle Treakle. By far the most frequent question among the consults was “Did my ancestor come through Angel Island?”

Though most of the participants were of Japanese ancestry, there was a definite mix of ethnic groups represented. Guests had ancestors from Korea, China, Latin America, Canada and Europe. The genealogists were rewarded every time someone “found” an ancestor on an immigration record or census document. Those asking questions ranged in age, as well. One woman was 97 and had been incarcerated in an internment camp. Another young man was eight years old and very interested in family history. His parents listened intently as he asked questions about his great grandmother who was born in Mexico and was currently living in California. It was a teachable moment when he discovered the importance of interviewing the eldest living relatives. He is most definitely the “NextGen” in genealogy.

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Author’s Note: This blog publication can also be viewed at blog.CaliforniaAncestors.org, where it was republished with permission.






Japanese Genealogy


Finding Your Japanese Roots in Japan and in the U.S.
August 29, 2015
At the California Genealogical Society and Library

Shichi Go San

Shichi Go San

Are you a Nikkei who is ready to document your family history? Do you want to find those WRA camp files, Enemy Alien files or other records from WWII? Do you wonder if Obāchan was a picture bride? Or if Ojīchan was arrested and sent to a Department of Justice camp? Are you a genealogist who wants to know about different record groups? Or are you helping a Japanese American friend with their genealogy? Come learn how to find your Japanese roots.

When?
Saturday, August 29, 2015
12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Where?
California Genealogical Society and Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2

Cost?
$30 for non-members (non-refundable)
Free for CGS members

How?
Register on Eventbrite

Manzanar Cemetery

Manzanar Cemetery

Lordsburg, New Mexico

Lordsburg, New Mexico

Part I of the three-hour seminar will be a brief overview of Japanese culture, history and language as it pertains to family history. Records available through the National Archives, USCIS, Ancestry.com, and FamilySearch.org will be covered.

Topics will include:

  • the early political climate in the U.S. and laws of the time
  • internment camps
  • post WWII experiences, repatriation, resettlement, and  redress

The second half of the seminar will focus on documenting your ancestors in Japan, from using the information in the American records to finding your koseki, understanding ohaka and kakocho, plus visiting relatives, cemeteries and temples.

This seminar is suitable for all levels of research experience. Limited to thirty participants; the fee may be applied towards membership on the day of the class.

Traditional Marriage

Traditional Wedding

 

Please visit our Eventbrite page to register for this seminar. Preregistration is required. Confirmations and a parking permit will be sent to the first thirty registrants.

Participants are invited to come early and meet others who share an interest in Japanese research. Use our computers, browse in our library, or bring a bagged lunch and meet at the library before the session. The library is open from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

 

Republished with permission by
California Genealogical Society and Library
Copyright © 2015

 

 

Northwest Genealogy Conference: An Opportunity for Nikkei to Find their Roots

This summer there will be a genealogy conference held in the Pacific Northwest, just outside of Seattle. Aside from Jamboree, which is held every June in Southern California, this is the largest genealogy event in the west. There will be some BIG name speakers including Lisa Louise Cooke, Luana Darby, Cindy Ingle, Angela Packer McGhie, CeCe Moore, Elissa Scalise Powell, Judy Russell, and many more. Classes are suitable for a variety of levels. This event combines the best of genealogy, from beginning classes to DNA to understanding the law. On top of that, there will be two classes geared for just Nikkei. The first lecture is “Finding Your Japanese Roots in the US” and the second lecture is “Finding Your Japanese Roots in Japan.” Bring your JA friends, and learn all about documenting your heritage. Come for a day or two or three. There are even some free beginning classes before the event. Registration opens April 15. See Northwest Genealogy Conference for more details.

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Pilgrimage: A Journey with a Purpose

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For more than 250 years, travelers were prohibited from entering or leaving Japan. During the Meiji Restoration, which began in 1868, Japanese were finally permitted to leave the country as “dekasegi,” or temporary workers. As with so many other immigrants, they sought economic prosperity in North America, Hawaii, and, eventually, Latin America and Australia. From 1910 to 1940, the Angel Island Immigration Station was the stopping point for about 85,000 Japanese immigrants, including thousands of picture brides.

On 4 October 2014, the Nichi Bei Foundation hosted a Nikkei Pilgrimage to this site. More than 600 attendees came to honor the immigrants who had been detained and processed on the island. The formal program included poetry, music, awards, and speeches. A reading by poet Hiroshi Kashiwagi and a dramatic performance written by Judy Hamaguchi were my favorite parts of the day. Inside the immigration station’s original Mess Hall were displays, a kids’ corner (sponsored by the Japanese American Museum of San José), and complimentary family history consultations (provided by the California Genealogical Society). Bento lunches were part of the experience as we reflected upon the Issei immigrants who came through Angel Island so many years ago.

Terumi and Ted Okazaki

Terumi and Ted Okazaki

 

Isla de los Angeles

 

California Genealogical Society Members: Kay Speaks, Grant Din, Linda Okazaki

California Genealogical Society Members:                                                                Kay Speaks, Grant Din, and Linda Okazaki

 

Angel Island is a beautiful place for a picnic, a picture perfect location for tourists and locals alike. But the real beauty lies in its history. I am a fourth generation San Franciscan who grew up in Marin County, but it wasn’t until I was an adult with children of my own that I understood my personal connection to this gem.

The largest island located in the midst of San Francisco Bay, Angel Island has a long and rich history. Occupied first by Coastal Miwok Indians, it was visited and named by Spanish explorers in the 1700’s. Later, there was a cattle ranch. Eventually the U.S. federal government took hold of the island. An army base operated there during the civil war. A quarantine station opened in 1891, and from 1910 to 1940, the government operated an immigration station. Though most immigrants were Chinese, individuals came from all over the world, including approximately 85,000 Japanese. POW’s were detained on the island during World War II, among them, hundreds of Japanese immigrants from Hawaii and the mainland who were declared Enemy Aliens. [i]

Over the past several decades, Angel Island became better known a place for recreation. Fortunately, numerous individuals have worked tirelessly to preserve the historical site. The Immigration Station Barracks now serve as a museum. The former Immigration Station Hospital is currently being renovated.

On July 19, 2014, the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation hosted a Family Reunion Day. Led by AIISF Community Relations Director Grant Din, speakers presented information about Chinese, Japanese and Russian immigrants, as well as employees who lived and worked there. This was particularly personal for me. My English immigrant great grandfather worked as a night watchman in the Quarantine Station for 11 years, during which time many of my husband’s Japanese family members were “processed” through the Immigration Station. My children’s history is two sided; speaking about both sides of their ancestry at this event was truly a privilege.

For additional information regarding the preservation of this historical site, please visit AIISF.org.

The Nichi Bei Foundation will host a Japanese American pilgrimage to the island on October 4, 2014. Please visit NichiBei.org later this summer for details.


[i]Erika Lee and Judy Yung, Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 9-27.

Half-a-Sansei

 

Tabara Village 1947

Tabara Village 1947

 

Those of us connected to the American Nikkei community know the usual vernacular: Issei, Nissei, Sansei, Yonsei and so on. Of course, there are a variety of other terms, Happa being the most prevalent in my family.

My husband recently coined his own term, Half-a-Sansei. You might wonder, shouldn’t that be Happa-Sansei? Well, no. Happa implies that the individual is racially mixed. Hubby is racially Japanese, born and bred in Tokyo, though educated there in American schools.

Is my husband “Nihonjin” or “Gaijin” or something else? His mother was and is a Japanese citizen, or Nihonjin. His father, born in California, WAS an American citizen, or Nissei. Sadly, Ojichan lost that citizenship at the end of WWII. As immigrant Asians, his parents were prohibited from becoming American citizens. After years spent incarcerated at multiple facilities in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, they chose repatriation to Japan when the war finally ended. Ojichan sailed with them aboard the S.S. Matsonia, arriving in Uraga Harbor on Christmas Day, 1945. He was a renunciate who gave up his American citizenship in order to remain with his parents. He was stateless until his U.S. citizenship was restored in 1949 at the U.S. Consulate Office in Kobe, Japan.[i] Ojichan remained in Japan for the next 50+ years, a reinstated American citizen working for the United States government. He married a Japanese citizen and had two children.

They were both born stateless.

When documenting family history, it is critical to understand the laws of the time. The old U.S. law is very clear. From 10 October 1952 until 14 November 1986, children born abroad to married parents consisting of one American citizen and one alien parent were ineligible for U.S. citizenship unless that American parent “was physically present in the U.S. or its territories for a period of at least 10 years at some point in his or her life prior to the birth, at least five of which were after his or her 14th birthday.”[ii] Ojichan left the U.S. just after his 18th birthday, having only lived there 4 years beyond the age of 14. To further complicate the situation, Japan does not recognize dual citizenship. In order for his children to become Japanese citizens, Ojichan would have been required to renounce his American citizenship once again.[iii] And that was out of the question.

At the age of 21, my husband received his American naturalization papers.[iv] He truly was half-a-sansei, with one Japanese parent and one Nissei parent. Our daughter was also born in Japan, but a few years after the 1986 law change. She was granted American citizenship by birthright. Is she Yonsei? Half-a-Yonsei? If I am Hakujin, maybe that makes her Hafu-Happa-Yonsei.

Glossary
Gaijin: Non-Japanese
Hafu: Ethnically half Japanese; term used in Japan
Hakujin: Caucasian
Happa: Ethnically mixed, originally a Hawaiian word
Issei: First generation Japanese immigrant
Nijonjin: Japanese citizen
Nissei: Second generation, born to Japanese immigrants
Sansei: Third generation, grandchildren of Japanese immigrants
Yonsei: Fourth generation, great grandchildren of Japanese immigrants

[i] Terumi Okazaki ([ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Lafayette, California), multiple interviews by Linda Harms Okazaki, 2012-2013; Video and audio recordings, privately held by interviewer, Lafayette, California. 2013.

[ii] U.S Citizenship and Immigration Service, Citizenship Through Parents, Online Instructional Pamphlet, (http://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-parents : accessed 15 June 2014.)

[iii] The Ministry of Justice, The Japanese Nationality Law, Online Descriptive Pamphlet, (http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/tnl-01.html : accessed 15 June 2014.)

[iv] Naturalization Certificate, Okazaki Family Collection; privately held by Okazaki Family, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Lafayette, California, 2014.

A Sense of Community

The Kagami and Umemoto Family

Three Generations

Boy and His Grandmother

A Boy and His Grandmother

Labor of Love

Labor of Love

Japanese Cemetery in Colma

Japanese Cemetery in Colma

Spending a Saturday morning pulling weeds and raking leaves doesn’t sound like much fun. That is, unless you happen to be a cemetery-loving genealogist with a passion for all things Japanese.

On 17 May 2014, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California held its annual clean-up day at the Japanese Cemetery in Colma. More than just a dusty experience, this event brought together a community of more than 200 individuals  from all over the Bay Area: children with their parents and grandparents, boy scouts, single adults and couples. Throughout the morning, people of all ages and abilities smiled and visited while filling dozens of trash bags. We broke briefly for a bento lunch and group photo before returning to the task of honoring the ancestors.

The genealogist in me was pleased to see the gentle care taken while cleaning the ohaka. No harsh chemicals or scrub brushes, just plenty of water and soft rags. Flowers were placed at many of the sites. Rubish and debris were removed. It was fun for me to combine two of my favorite things: genealogy and Nikkei culture. Along the way I made new friends. All in all, I left the experience dirty, exhausted, content, and pleased to be a part of this community.