Akemi Kikumura Yano

Dr. Akemi Kikumura-Yano é Diretora Geral y presidente do Museu Nacional Japonês Americano, e é “Chefe de Projeto” do Projeto do Legado Nikkei, responsável pelo website Discover Nikkei. Ela tem doutorado em antropologia da Universidade da Califórnia em Los Angeles, e é autora e teatróloga premiada. Seu livro mais conhecido é Through Harsh Winters: The Life of a Japanese Immigrant Woman (“Através de Invernos Rigorosos: A Vida de uma Imigrante Japonesa”).

Atualizado em fevereiro de 2008

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Issei Pioneers - Hawaii and the Mainland 1885 - 1924 - Part 10

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Unlike Hawaii, where plantation workers had direct contract with their employers, on the Mainland, the Japanese workers often did not know who they worked for. Jobs were secured through labor contractors who acted as intermediaries between American employers and Japanese laborers.  The contractors made enormous profits, extracting a daily commission from the workers’ wages with some providing commodities and services to the workers.


There were more than 20 Japanese bosses who supplied Japanese workers for the railroads, lumber mills, farms, mines, and salmon canneries.  Kyutaro Abiko, president of the Japan Labor Contractor Company, …

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Issei Pioneers - Hawaii and the Mainland 1885-1924 - Part 9

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Though the Issei had come from various prefectures with different customs and dialects, their “oneness” as Japanese became reinforced by the color consciousness of America.  Upon arrival in America, there were almost immediately faced with racism, prejudice, and segregation.

In 1905, when Nisuke Mitsumori landed in San Francisco, he was met by a group of fifteen to twenty youngsters who routinely came to “rough up” the Japanese arriving at the port.  “Let’s go. Japs have come,” they shouted, picking up horse manure off the streets and throwing it at Mitsumori and his friend.  “I …

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Issei Pioneers - Hawaii and the Mainland 1885-1924 - Part 8

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While many Japanese stayed on the Island and made Hawaii their home, many also used Hawaii as a stepping stone to the Mainland, where wages were double.  Between 1890 and 1900, Japanese started to arrive in greater numbers in the port cities of San Francisco and Seattle.  At the same time, thousands of southern and eastern Europeans landed in New York’s Ellis Island.

It was a period of great world-wide migration to the United States.  America, “the land of promise,” beckoned to the adventurous and the ambitious from all …

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Issei Pioneers - Hawaii and the Mainland 1885-1924 - Part 7

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One of the earliest enterprises to start on the plantations was the public bath house (ofuro). The bath house operators charged the workers a monthly fee while the plantations supplied the fuel, water, and building.

Each camp had an ogokku (chief cook) or a couple, who prepared meals for 20 to 30 men at a monthly fee. Kosuke Teruya remembered “There weren’t any tasty foods” when he worked at Waipahu. Meals consisted of “udon (noodles), and tsukemono koko (pickled vegetables), things like that.” Teruya and …

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Issei Pioneers - Hawaii and the Mainland 1885-1924 - Part 6

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After the 1909 Strike, the workers’ wages stagnated at the same level while the cost living continued to rise. By the end of World War 1, the monthly cost of living had risen by as much as 45 percent.1 Proposals were sent to the HSPA asking for higher wages, nurseries for children of workers and changes in the bonus system, but their demands were summarily rejected.

By 1919, labor organizations had formed on Maui, Kauai, Hawaii, and Oahu. These groups sent 58 delegates to Honolulu where they established the Japanese Federation …

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