Linda's Orchard

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Category: Okayama

Nobutaro Who?

Who was Nobutaro Okazaki? He was born about 1879, emigrated to Vancouver, BC in 1898 where he worked as a coal miner. He married, had two sons, and divorced. What’s most important is that he was from the village of Tabara, Okayama, Japan, the tiny hamlet from where my husband’s family originated. As of this date, there are precisely 7 families in the village with that surname and reportedly 6 of those are related.

How is a genealogist expected to figure this out? Koseki records are only available to those who can prove direct descent. Last week I contacted several potential descendants in Canada and the US but so far have not had any response.  Even if I could compare koseki content with some descendants, the data might not go back far enough in time. And y-dna studies aren’t an immediate choice because of the frequency of heir adoptions.

Perhaps there is a written history of the town. Certainly there must be a written history of the prefecture, but translation would be cost prohibitive. Interviews with the eldest residents  in Tabara might be my best option.

Looks like I need to get back to Japan.

A Long Journey

We flew from San Francisco to Narita, took a train to Tokyo, spent one night in a hotel, boarded an early Shinkansen and arrived in our destination of Okayama city, located between Kyoto and Hiroshima on the inland sea. Exhaustion from two days of travel hit hard and all we could really do was grab a quick bite to eat and settle in for the evening. Fortunately, the refrigerator was well stocked and the snacks came in handy when jet lag surfaced at 2 AM.

Our first destination was the Peace Museum in Hiroshima. So much of the Okazaki family history had to do with World War II; visiting the memorial was a fitting way to begin this leg of our journey. Pearl Harbor may have been the reason the Okazaki’s were interned but the end of the war was ultimately the reason they returned to Japan. In 1945, post war Japan was in ruins, poverty was rampant and food was scarce. Hiroshima was about 115 miles from the village of Tabara where the Okazaki family relocated and where the matriarch Kiwa still lived.

Following our visit to the epicenter of the bombing, we travelled to the sacred temple at Miyajima to pay our respects.

Epicenter of Hiroshima Bombing

Peace Memorial

Temple at Miyajima