Takako Day

Takako Day, originally from Kobe, Japan, is an award-winning freelance writer and independent researcher who has published seven books and hundreds of articles in the Japanese and English languages. Her latest book, SHOW ME THE WAY TO GO HOME: The Moral Dilemma of Kibei No No Boys in World War Two Incarceration Camps is her first book in English. 

Relocating from Japan to Berkeley in 1986 and working as a reporter at the Nichibei Times in San Francisco first opened Day’s eyes to social and cultural issues in multicultural America. Since then, she has written from the perspective of a cultural minority for more than 30 years on such subjects as Japanese and Asian American issues in San Francisco, Native American issues in South Dakota (where she lived for seven years) and most recently (since 1999), the history of little known Japanese Americans in pre-war Chicago. Her piece on Michitaro Ongawa is born of her love of Chicago.

Updated December 2016

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The Chicago Shoyu Story—Shinsaku Nagano and the Japanese Entrepreneurs - Part 1

1. Introduction

In a short story titled “On January First” in his book, American Story, Kafu Nagai depicted a Japanese immigrant in New York who declined to eat a Japanese feast with his countrymen. His reason for declining was that Japanese food reminded him of his poor mother who had died in misery. How painful it is to imagine the depth of sorrow of a person who had to distance himself from his family history by abandoning Japanese food.

Did he mean to reject even “comfort taste” such as shoyu? Shoyu has the magical power to change the taste of ...

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Suspicious Points of Contact in Pre-War Chicago

The Japanese Consulate and Naka & Pearl Nakane - Part 2

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Naka and Pearl Nakane and Chicago

Did Naka Nakane ever come to Chicago? How much political influence did he have in Illinois? Did the Japanese consulate in Chicago somehow get involved in Nakane’s “black maneuver” in the Midwest? All that can be said at this point is that two documents purporting to be pledges from the Development of Our Own were found among others in a search of the former Japanese consulate in Chicago.1

The Development of Our Own was incorporated as a non-profit organization in Illinois on October 1, 1936. Its address was listed ...

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Suspicious Points of Contact in Pre-War Chicago

The Japanese Consulate and Naka & Pearl Nakane - Part 1

Introduction

On January 30, 1941, a long telegram was sent from Yosuke Matsuoka, a minister of foreign affairs, to Japanese embassy in Washington and forwarded to consulates in the US, including the one in Chicago. The telegram instructed that the ministry had changed the emphasis of its publicity and propaganda work to strengthen intelligence work in the US.

One of the programs Matsuoka mapped out was to “make investigations of all anti-Semitism, communism, movements of Negroes, and labor movements” and to utilize US citizens “of foreign extraction (other than Japanese), aliens (other than Japanese), communists, Negroes, labor union members and ...

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Suspicious Points of Contact in Pre-War Chicago

The Japanese Mutual Aid Society and Charles Yasuma Yamazaki - Part 2

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Charles Yasuma Yamazaki and the African American Community

Yamazaki led an interesting life, a life full of change. Born in Kochi in April 1877, he left home for better living and arrived in Seattle as a seaman in 1899.1 After working in railroad construction in Puyallup, Washington and Helena, Montana from 1899 to 1901,2 in December 1902, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Boston as a wardroom steward on the USS Raleigh, with a five year contract. After a month’s hospitalization in a navy hospital in March 1903 for unknown reasons, having ...

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Suspicious Points of Contact in Pre-War Chicago

The Japanese Mutual Aid Society and Charles Yasuma Yamazaki - Part 1

Background

Pre-World War II Chicago had no segregated residential enclaves for Japanese residents like the Japantowns and Little Tokyos on the West Coast, but this did not mean there wasn't a Japanese community. Actually, there was a Japanese community, but it was more of an invisible mental space in the Japanese residents’ minds than a physical community.

Although Japanesehad livedscattered throughout Chicago since the 19th century, they certainly had formed various community groups and organizations. Becoming members of those groups and attending their meetings helped these people maintain their identity as Japanese. In fact, a sense of community ...

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