Is Your Name ...?
already made some headway
in their genealogical searches.
See if their family trees overlap
On one visit to Japan many years ago my Ojii-san (Grandfather)
sat me down on the tatami floor of his home and related our
family history. But my young mind was more on
(shaved ice) that hot, humid August afternoon, and I don't remember
much of what he said. Now I wish I had had a tape recorder!
Genealogical Challenges of Nikkei-jinIt seems North American Nikkei-jin (people of Japanese heritage) who want to research their family history face special obstacles, including:
LinksJapanese American National Museum, Los Angeles CA
Has JA immigration records dating back to the turn of the century
Japanese American Genealogy Home Page
Award-winning, comprehensive resource by Stuart Terashita
Genealogy Site Finder: Japanese
From genealogy.com. Includes many links to detailed maps of Japan.
Japanese Genealogy Forum
Give and get genealogy help on this bulletin board
JA Connection: Research Bulletin Board
Part of the National Japanese American Historical Society website
Japan Gen Web
Part of the WorldGenWeb Project. Information on koseki (family registries) and kakocho (death registries), personal webpages.
A genealogy website in Japan (in Japanese)
From Cyndi's List of Genealogical Resources
Family Tree Maker: Japanese Research
A bit of historical background and a few links
Ancestry.com: Ancestry World Tree
Enter your own family tree in this database and browse other people's.
"Digging For Roots"
Sansei (third-generation) JA writer Gil Asakawa's account of how he was lucky enough to find people in Japan who remember his relatives.
Tracing the Roots: Using a Regional Office of the National Archives
By Rodger Rosenberg, a genealogist who specializes in Jewish and Japanese-American research
Database of the Mormon Church is starting to add data from Asia
National Archives of Canada
Canadian Genealogy and History Links
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Nothing specific for Japanese or Asian genealogy, but good links about how to record oral histories
Journal of Online Genealogy
Other ResourcesU.S. Military Records
Japanese Americans with a U.S. military connection (e.g. children of war brides) can go through U.S. military records. They have family information including addresses. Veterans and family members can request marriage documents. All the Army documents are stored in Kansas City, and they are available through the Freedom of Information Act.
(Thanks to Gil Asakawa for this)
Japan Foreign Ministry Archives (Gaiko Shiryokan)
U.S. Maritime Museum in Honolulu Hawai'i
How difficult is it?
"I am interested in the my mother-in-law's surname. She hasn't heard from her family in many years, I don't know exactly how to spell the name."
"I've been looking for my grandmother. My search hasn't been too good though. I can never find any info about my last name. It seems as though it doesn't exist!"
"I am looking for information about my great-grandmother. I don't know a lot about her or my great-grandfather. She was born in Osaka, Japan, and my great-grandfather was born in Mie-ken, Japan. They both died in Kyoto, Japan. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you."
"My mother-in-law married my father-in-law in 1956 in Tokyo, Japan. He was from Maine, USA and in the military at the time. I would like to learn more (if not directly correspond with) my husband's family in Japan."
"I am looking for an Okinawan woman who was single and gave birth to a part-Okinawan son on May 21, 1927 on Oahu in Hawaii. I am his daughter, and would like to trace my heritage."
"How do I go about searching for a Japanese surname? I haven't had any luck on the Internet. There really isn't anything for the Asian surnames."
"I have to do a stupid project about my family history and my only source is my dad. All the rest of my relitives (sic) are in Japan, none of my Japanese relitives immigrated to America (where I live)."
"I am looking for my Mother's family. She is 88 years old and has lost all contact with her Japanese ancestors. Help!"
"I am looking for my cousin. My uncle was in Japan during the Vietnam War. He got married there and had a son. He didn't bring them back to the U.S. with him. This is for my grandparents. They would love to see the grandson they never met."
"My mother's family disowned her for marrying my father, an Airman in the U.S. Air Force. I guess her love for my father was stronger than the bond she had with her own kin. I was born on a base in Japan, then we left to move to the States. My mother died 8 months later. From time to time I often wonder what became of our relatives. Do they wonder? I just a hope that one day I could tell them about us."
"My nisei uncle had an old postcard from Japan he couldn't read. My Japanese husband translated it and we discovered a cousin in Japan and a whole new branch of the family in Hawai'i and Chicago. It was quite a shock to suddenly have 27 new cousins."
"We had an old Japanese passport but had to ask a friend's 94-year-old mother to read the kanji from the turn of the century. She died recently, so we just barely made it. Old kanji are hard if not impossible for the younger generation of Japanese to read."
"I have notes written in Japanese by my uncle, my mother's brother; unfortunately, Mom, a war bride, died in 1994 before these could be checked. She was my interpreter, you see, since I speak so little Japanese, you might as well say I speak none ... I have a bunch of photos, mostly unidentified, and a few with Japanese writing on the back. One day, I will find another interpreter, and find out what it all means."
Sadly, most of these are "orphan" posts with "No Responses".
Page first posted on 29 June 1999. Last updated on 10 June 2000.