by Atsushi Kikuchi of JCCCW, For The North American Post
The Omoide (Memories) program resumes on September 16 with the “Minidoka Memoirs” book presentation by the Fujii sisters of Seattle. Their father, Yoshito Fujii and mother. Yukiko, were prominent business and community leaders before, during and after the World War II incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry.
Mr. Fujii kept meticulous records of his family life, his businesses and as the chairman of the often maligned and controversial Community Council at the Minidoka War Relocation Authority camp. He later described his three years as chairperson of the resident council as one of the worst periods of his life.
His daughters –Irene Midori (Mano), Jean Ayako (Deguchi) and Beth Kazumi (Kawahara)—teamed with Ken Mochizuki, well- known nationally published author to produce the book. Mochizuki will join the Fujii sisters at the Omoide program. He did the heavy lifting—converting the records and working with the sisters.
Yoshito Fujii immigrated to Seattle in 1919, after completing high school in Hiroshima. He attended Pacific elementary, Franklin High School and earned a UW sociology degree in 1928. His wife, Yukiko Shitamae came to Seattle in 1916. She attended Main Street elementary (later named Bailey Gatzert), Franklin High School and graduated from UW in 1930.
They were married in 1931. Yoshito and Yukiko were among the few Issei couples with college educations. Both were recognized as social and business leaders in the fast- growing Nihonmachi (Japantown) of the 1930s.
Mr. Fujii’s family was active in the early hotel business. He was president of the Japanese hotel owners association. In 1935, he owned and operated the Cascade Soda Water Company on South Dearborn Street. Upon the 1945 return from the incarceration camps, Mr. Fujii resumed his business career. He was decorated twice by the Japanese government for his community-oriented leadership.
Mr.Fujii died in April 1995, at 94 years of age old. Yukiko passed in June 1999. She was 91.
The Omoide program sponsored by the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington (JCCCW) resumes in September after a two month “vacation.” The programs are held on the 3rd Saturday of each month at The “J,” 1414 South Weller Street, 1 pm-4:30 pm.
The public is invited. The programs are free.
The speaker’s program is held 1pm-2:15 pm. Following the guest speaker, the monthly Omoide (Memories) beginning writer’s workshops begin. The writing program enters its sixth year and is designed to encourage participants to record their family memories and histories.