My mother is a Japanese war bride, one of the tens of thousands of young women who married American GIs and came to the United States to make a new life among strangers. With two journalist friends, also first born daughters of Japanese war brides, I made a short documentary film about these women, telling the story through our mothers’ eyes. The film, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides” was released in August 2015 and premiered on BBC World Television. It has been showing in film festivals around the country. But it is a film featuring only three Japanese war brides — three mothers and three daughters. Me and my mother, Hiroko, Lucy Craft and her mother Atsuko Craft, Karen Kasmauski and her mother Emiko Kasmauski. The reaction to our film convinced me that there were many voices of women and their families that should be captured. I thought that an immediate and powerful way to convey their stories would be through audio, and with scanned family photos. With a “Time Out” grant from Vassar College, my alma mater, I took a year’s leave of absence from my job as an editor at The Washington Post and traveled around the country. The collection of stories here will continue to grow.
— Kathryn Tolbert