A New World: The Story of Japanese Migration

By Pam Yoshida, co-owner of Nikkei Traditions

An on-line order from Japan to Nikkei Traditions (NT) several years ago caught my attention. The customer, Shigeru Kojima, was the curator and researcher of the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum (JOMM) of Yokohama, Japan — the largest museum in Japan devoted to overseas migration.

In 2013, I visited the JOMM with an armload of programs and posters from San Jose Japantown that illustrated the activities and vitality of one of the three remaining Japantowns left in the United States. This led to Kojima-san’s interest in the history of San Jose’s Japantown and will result in his research visit in March 2014. A week of interviews with Japantown merchants, walking tours through Japantown, visits to areas of significance to highlight the contributions from the San Jose-Okayama sister city relationship as well as local Japanese contributions in the abalone industry in Monterey and the produce industry in Salinas are included in the visit.

On March 8, 7:00 pm, Kojima-san will make a presentation at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj) to discuss the Japanese migration to North and South America. The question,”Where are you from?” will have a different meaning after the presentation by Kojimasan. He has devoted many years of study to this topic.

For hundreds of years, Japan’s “closed door” policy led to isolation. In fact, it was not until the 1880s that Japanese were even allowed to leave. Why were Japanese from areas such as Kumamoto, Yamaguchi, Fukuoka and Hiroshima among the largest groups to leave Japan? What were the conditions in Japan at that time to make leaving to an unknown future so attractive? When they left, where did they go? How did they leave Japan? How many returned? Under what conditions did they return? How was migration to South America different than to
North America? What is the current status of migration from Japan, and who is now returning to Japan?

Appreciation of and curiosity about the Issei generation and other early pioneers will grow after learning how and why the first Japanese came to America through Kojima-san’s research and exhibits at JOMM.

This presentation is co-sponsored by JAMsj and Nikkei Traditions of San Jose Japantown. Nikkei Tradition’s mission is to preserve and further Japanese American heritage and culture through their support of products that are created by third and fourth generation Japanese and Asian Americans.

While there is no fee for this presentation, donations to JAMsj will be appreciated. RSVP
required. Reserve your spot by contacting PublicPrograms@jamsj.org or calling (408) 294-3138.
For more information, please email PublicPrograms@JAMsj.org or call the JAMsj office
at (408) 294-3138.

About JAMsj

The Japanese American Museum of San Jose's (JAMsj)mission is to collect, preserve, and share Japanese American art, history, and culture with an emphasis on the Greater Bay Area.
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