Linda's Orchard

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Have I taken off more than I can chew? Nope!

2014 looks to be quite the year, genealogically speaking. I don’t usually make resolutions, but personal goals seem to be a good way to go. My goals for the year are off to a good start.

1. Attend APG Professional Management Conference. Check.

2. Attend SLIG. Check. Loved John Colletta’s writing course. Thanks, John Colletta and Michael Hait.

3. Start the NGS Home Study Course (graded, of course). Check. First two assignments completed. Yeah.

4. Enroll in ProGen. Check! I’m scheduled to begin ProGen 22 the first week of March.

5. Learn more about Japanese Canadian Internment records. Double check; I’m enrolled in a course in BC in a few weeks and can hardly wait.

6. Update my resume, business plan, business cards and any other outdated info. Check. Lucky to have a professional editor among my closest friends. Whipped that resume into top shape. The other docs will follow suit.

7. Join other societies. Recently joined Southern California and will attend Jamboree.

8. Make a difference in the Nikkei community. Since teaching Nikkei how to find their own records is what floats my boat, this shouldn’t be difficult. Already working with some incredible people at the newly formed Nikkei Genealogical Society. Collaborating with other colleagues on some potential publications. It’s all good.

9. Sort through my old genie files. Yikes. This part is challenging. Like others before me, I started out as a hobbyist. Have too many paper files with too few sources, plus a load of bad habits to break. Tackling #9 is going to take time and patience.

10. Keep a positive attitude. I can do it!


Have you ever seen the 1997 movie with Nathan Lane called Mousehunt? I’ve got a similar scenario with chipmunks. No, not the cute Alvin, Theodore and Simon singing variety. These are the annoying, chomping on the rafters, piddling through the drywall and keeping me up at night variety. This morning I decided that enough was enough. Pulled out the ladder, climbed up into the crawlspace. Yep, plenty of mouse and chipmunk skat to scare off an amateur. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a crawlspace so tiny not even an elf could enter. Now, those of you who know me surely understand these implications. I am elf-sized. I should be able to squeeze through the smallest of spaces. Not happening. No other attic access? Why didn’t I realize this when we bought the place? So what’s a girl to do? Break down the walls, aka Nathan Lane? Not yet. Call the exterminator? Already tried that. The fellow who showed up was huge and there was no way he could even get through the crawl space door, let alone get to the spot where Alvin and his family are living and rapidly reproducing. Bait? A possibility, but the thought of the stench of an entire family of dead rodents makes me hesitate, though not for long. I think what I will do is throw some peanut butter laced bait into the spaces too small for me to crawl through, set some traps in the areas I can reach, and wait for the snow to melt so that I can put wire and steel wool around any areas the critters might be using for access. I am open to suggestions. This is one family tree I’d like to extinguish.

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.

APG PMC 2014

APG PMC, or the Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference. What a mouthful. Sounds overwhelming and intimidating. In actuality, this was my first PMC and I found it to be incredibly informative. Speakers were knowledgeable, attendees were enthusiastic and everyone was approachable. I’m eager to start growing my own clientele, particularly Nikkei seeking their federal records.

Happy 90th Birthday, Auntie Maru

IMG_0670She is my muse, my inspiration, my role model. Auntie commands respect yet she still giggles like a school girl. She tells me stories of her childhood and of the internment, of missing her Papa who was arrested and detained. Though she isn’t even my relative, Auntie Maru embraced this hakujin with open arms back in the 70’s and ours has been a special relationship ever since. She is wise and thoughtful, kind and giving, respectful and considerate. All women should be so lucky to have such a role model. Domo arigatou, obasan.

Double Trouble


Happy 76th Birthday, Mom and Uncle Roger!


Hello Luna

This blog was originally supposed to be about gardening, genealogy and family. Not necesarily in that order. Due to my recent obsession with genealogy, gardening has definitely been on the back burner. My roses are a little dreary looking. Weeds are poking out all over the place. No summer veggies have been planted and pumpkins are nowhere to be seen. And pumpkins are my specialty. But alas, there is hope. We sent some seeds to Shinichi and he is growing some giants in my place, in Japan no less!

Kinichi, Asami, Shoko, Ted, Kyoko

Shinichi, Asami, Shoko, Ted, Kyoko

Ted and Shinichi checking out the fruit trees

Ted and Shinichi checking out the fruit trees

Asami (hiding from the sun) and Ted, picking strawberries

Asami (hiding from the sun) and Ted, picking strawberries

Ted and Luna

Ted and Luna

My veggies are going to have to wait until next season. Shinichi, will you come and help plant our seedlings?

Tokyo Family History Center

5-12-29 Minami Azabu, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, Japan, 106-0047

No research trip would be complete without a visit to the local family history center. For the second time, we met with Yumiko Sase.  She addressed our questions about the immigration indexing project underway in Salt Lake City. We asked about hiring researchers in Japan and about other options for genealogical discoveries, beyond the basic koseki, otera, kakocho and ohaka. On our way out, we met Vicki Maetani, a sansei from Utah currently serving a mission in Japan with her husband, Howard. We discussed research related to Nikkei in Japan and in the US. Elder Maetani is a retired judge, well versed in the issues related to Japanese Americans during and after WWII. What a rewarding way to spend our last day of research during this trip.

Family History Center in Tokyo

Family History Center in Tokyo

Finding the Golden Egg While Chasing Wild Geese

Since the beginning of our trip, we wanted to go to the Diplomatic Archives Facility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and see what we could learn. Would we be able to get in the door? Would access to documents be restricted? Exactly what documents did they have that would be genealogically relevant? And could someone help us read whatever it was that we were looking at?

Diplomatic Archives With Map Showing Us Where NOT To Go

Diplomatic Archives Map Showing Us Where NOT To Go

I really wanted to find Sasanji’s immigration record but knew that would be like finding a needle in a haystack. I have been searching for his arrival in the US for quite some time. There were several possible hits, but nothing solid. So, we hopped in yet another taxi and were dropped in the middle of Azabudai, perplexed as to where the building was even located.

Wandering in the hot sun, we stumbled upon a large brick building that looked promising. No, just the post office. Then we found a sign for the right building with arrows directing us to the entrance. It was closed. Backtracking to the original sign, we boldly walked into the building, feigning gaijin ignorance.

Stopped at the front desk by a timid woman who seemed skeptical about our intentions, we kept at it, filled out the Japanese forms in English, placed our possessions into a locker and were escorted into what appeared to be a research room. It looked familiar. Computers? Check. Microfilm readers? Check? Rows of books that looked like finding aids? Check. Pleasant employee who spoke English? Double check. Filled out more Japanese forms in English then presented our passports. Oops. Left mine in the hotel. Not a good move. But we continued to ask a steady stream of questions. What records were available? Could we get emigration records? Fortunately, I had my laptop ready, complete with database AND copies of the Okazaki koseki.

Yonai-san explained that the immigration/emigration records were housed in the Legal Affairs Department and they would be “difficult” to find. Not sure if that meant we couldn’t search or if the records didn’t exist, or something else entirely. It’s hard to decipher that level of Japanese. He did, however, have microfilm records equivalent to passport applications. And there were no restrictions on access. If we knew the approximate time the ancestors left Japan, where they arrived in the US, the kanji in their names, their addresses and where they applied for a passport/visa, there was a remote chance we could find something. Hmm. Didn’t sound good. He looked in a finding aid to see what microfilm we might begin with. Sasanji may or may not have come to the US in 1898, he may or may not have come through San Francisco, he lived in Okayama-ken and may have applied for a passport there or Kanagawa-ken or Kobe or Yokohama or… oh my! So we decided to start with the applications in 1898 from Okayama and see how quickly we would become glassy-eyed.  At least they were in alphabetical order.

At the Microfilm Reader

At the Microfilm Reader

Sasanji's Application

Sasanji’s Application

And there it was. On 11 April 1898, Sasanji Okazaki was issued passport (or travel) #5462. The name and address matched that on the koseki. Although the date of emigration and the ship were not listed, he was bound for British Canada and planned to farm there. Canada!? I always knew that was a possibility, but now I had evidence. It got even better when we found Sasanji’s son, Ichimaru. The icing on the cake? Not only did we print the images from microfilm, Yonai-san brought the original documents for us to view and photograph. He told us it was a miracle. He really couldn’t believe we found this so quickly and so easily. This really was a golden moment.