Ikuo Shinmasu

Ikuo Shinmasu was born in Kamai in Kaminosekicho, Kumage-gun in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1950. After working at Teikoku Sanso Ltd. (currently AIR LIQUIDE Japan Ltd.), a foreign-affiliated company in Kobe, he retired and started his “second” college life at Nihon University as a history major. He lives in the city of Zushi in Kanagawa Prefecture with his wife and eldest son. He likes cooking and karaoke.

Updated June 2019

community en ja

Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather's Life in Seattle

Part 3 – Marriage and family

Continuing with Part 2 in which I wrote about Yoemon’s single life in Seattle, this part shares Yoemon’s marriage, children born in Seattle, and his barbershop business following the marriage.

Yoemon’s marriage and family life

In the early 1900s, the anti-Japanese movement became heated as hardworking Japanese immigrants increasingly impacted white workers. The Japanese government signed the Japan-US Gentlemen’s Agreement in 1908 to prohibit immigration from Japan to the US in order to alleviate the situation. This agreement made it extremely difficult for workers to travel to and from Japan freely; they had no choice but ...

Read more

community en ja

Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather's Life in Seattle

Part 2 – Yoemon’s first job and life in Seattle

Barbershop business in Seattle

Part one introduced Yoemon’s hometown, Kamai, and how he sailed across the ocean via Hawaii, pretending to be a sailor, and landed in Seattle in 1906. Part two shares a detailed story about how he started his barbershop business three years after his arrival in Seattle.

According to my aunt, Yoemon’s eldest daughter and now aged 102, many of those who moved to America from Kamai back then got their first jobs as dishwashers at restaurants and hotels. Yoemon started the same way. It was a kind of work that required no money, no ...

Read more

community en ja

Yoemon Shinmasu – My Grandfather's Life in Seattle

Part 1 – From Kamai to Seattle

Kamai Village in Yamaguchi Prefecture

Kaminosekicho Kamai in Yamaguchi Prefecture is a village on the southern coast of Nagashima, a thin island in Seto Inland Sea. Though it can be accessed from the mainland now through Kaminoseki Bridge, ships had been the only transportation available until around the 1960s. It was a small hamlet with approximately 100 houses and a population of about 400.

Jinzou, or “the old man,” who was over 90, and my grandmother Aki lived in the house where I was born. I thought that they were a couple but later I found that Jinzou was my ...

Read more