Making Herself Clear (5:59)

Reiko Van Gelder

Reiko Teshima got a job as a telephone operator for the Americans, learning how to say “Number please,” and “Have you finished, Sir?” And that’s how she met John Van Gelder of Bath, N.Y. Today she believes that her problems with the English language made her seem more critical than she intended. She and her daughter Susan talk about language and relationships.

A Blending of Immigrants (6:25)

Hiroko Tokaji and Rudy Granado

During the U.S. Occupation of Japan, the favorite son of a close-knit Mexican-American family married a prominent Japanese family’s only daughter. It was an unlikely match, like so many of those post-war unions. Her grandfather was a Shinto priest. His family were devout Catholics. The ground had to shift under everyone.

Glorified Rice (4:05)

Hiroe Shibata Hosna

Hiroe’s husband grew up on a farm in North Dakota, and that’s where he brought his Japanese bride in 1955. For a girl from Tokyo, it was like another planet.   No people, vast unbroken horizon, the routines of farm life and in-laws who, while initially opposed to their only son marrying a Japanese, welcomed her and tried to make her feel at home. The one thing that Hiroe yearned for, however, was rice. Her husband told his mother, and so at dinner the next day….

Samurai Wife (4:33)

Yoko Fuji Jones

“You gotta speak up,” says Yoko Jones. And she did, even arguing in public about the stupidity of racial segregation in 1950s America. Speaking her mind is so much more an American trait than a Japanese one. But the word her husband used to describe her was samurai — when they argued, when he spoke of her admiringly and when he was frustrated with her stubbornness. It seemed to fit every circumstance for him.

Standing Out (9:38)

Clark and Akiko Hewitt

Many Japanese war brides gave up their special identities and all but disappeared into American society. Especially in small towns and rural communities, the goal was to blend in as best they could. In a sense, Akiko Hewitt was no exception. Nearly from the day she arrived, she was intent on becoming a true American. But the Hewitts also stood out. For one thing, they had eight children. But this is more than a story about a big family. It’s about the varied identities within one family, and the culture of service to country instilled by the daughter of a Japanese military man. It’s also a story about flowers.

Keno in Reno (5:28)

Kazuko Watanabe Jordan

Kazue Jordan – born Kazue Shibata – was a jitterbugging bobby-soxer who danced nights away with black GIs at a cabaret in Yokohama. She married one of those soldiers, Sidney Jordan, and accompanied him to the United States. Her California life, cleaning houses for the rich and famous, was a kind of immigrant success story. But she also lived in a smaller universe of Japanese women who married black GIs in the aftermath of World War II and had to negotiate an especially difficult racial and cultural divide.