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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Who Taught the Word skebe to Americans?: Skebe in Chicago's Japanese American Community - Part 1

Hiroichiro Maedako, a proletarian writer who came to Chicago in 1907, once wrote in one of his articles the following confession:

“When I was walking on Armour Avenue, a woman called out to me, ‘Hello, honey boy, come on in—you want skebe?’From the beginning of the encounter, I was dumbfounded by this flatly fired off Japanese word: skebe.1

Then in 1910, while in a carriage returning to his hotel, Kasho Kono passed four or five Japanese women riding in a fine-looking carriage on State Street. Kono asked the driver who they were, and the driver answered that …

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Japanese Christians in Chicago

Chapter 4: Misaki Shimazu and The JYMCI at 747 E. 36th Street

In 1917, Shimazu visited the New York Japanese community to secure funding to purchase the property.1 It was variously reported that Shimazu raised $11,0002 or $18,0003, but these donations came mainly in small amounts from friends of the Central YMCA of Chicago.4 Notably, William J. Parker, the General Secretary of the Central YMCA, donated $4,000 to the JYMCI in May 1918. Parker agreed “to deed the property to such corporation as might be formed or selected by the JYMCI, whenever the note secured by the trust deed had been paid.”5 The option to purchase …

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Japanese Christians in Chicago

Chapter 3: Misaki Shimazu and the JYMCI

The Japanese YMCA that Shimazu had taken over in 1908 had yet to realize its mission, which was to better the lives of the Japanese immigrants scattered around Chicago, in the spirit of Christianity.1 For the next thirty years, the Japanese YMCA endured many twists and turns, changing its location and name several times, but it eventually became one of the main foundations of Chicago's Japanese community.

The Japanese YMCA's thirty year history can be divided into six periods. The first period was from 1908 to 1911, when Shimazu was struggling alone in his mission work. By supporting himself …

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Japanese Christians in Chicago

Chapter 2: Misaki Shimazu — Birth of the Japanese Christian Community in Chicago

According to Misaki Shimazu, there were four stages of activity among the Japanese Christians in Chicago: the Fujita era, the Baptist days, the Confusion period, and the Separation and Independence era.1 The first period, the Fujita era, was from July 1899 to April 1903, when Toshiro Fujita was the Japanese Consul in Chicago. A few Japanese met at Consul Fujita’s home twice a month to study Christianity. Consul Fujita was a Christian2 and he managed all of the correspondence of these Japanese Christians.

Shimazu named the second period the Baptist days after the founding of the Japanese Baptist …

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Japanese Christians in Chicago

Chapter 1: Introduction

It is well known that prewar Chicago had no “Japan town.” Was it simply because the Japanese population before 1940 was too small? Or was there a specific reason that Chicago did not establish a center for Japanese immigrants?

Jesse F. Steiner spent seven years (1905-1912) as a teacher at North Japan College in Sendai.1 He was subsequently trained under Robert Park and lectured in sociology at the University of Chicago in 1915 and 1916.2 In his thesis, The Japanese Invasion: A Study in the Psychology of Interracial Contacts, Steiner wrote:

An individual alone is not the same …

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