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My Grandfather

My Japanese grandfather, Sansuke Kawamoto, was lured by dreams of riches in Canada, traveled from Meiji Japan at the age of sixteen, destined for Victoria, BC. His intent was to send money back to his family of six in Yanai, Yamaguchi-ken. After hand tilling land in the Fraser Valley and building a shack in Haney, he felt ready to call over a picture bride from the same village in 1906. After a year of paperwork, my grandmother, Kiko Kawamoto, arrived in 1907 on the SS Keemun, just after an anti Asian riot on Powell Street in Vancouver.

Unfortunately, they discovered that along with potential wealth came much discrimination towards Japanese immigrants. They were not allowed to serve the country they were loyal to in the Second World War, and were displaced to internment camps when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

Yet the family bribed the BC government to live in Lilooet, and after the war, settled in Vernon, BC, watched over by a WW1 vet.


Blue Frost said...

It's very sad how Japanese was treated here, hopefully our memories isn't to short to let it happen again to anyone in our country's.

Much respect to those who endured and overcame.

Steve said...

My paternal grandmother probably was born in Hawaii, but her father moved with her and her brother back to Japan after possibly establishing horse racing in Hawaii, following their errant mother to the motherland due to her infidelity.

Later on he was adapted by the childless Tanaka family, a minor house which funded the breeding and establishment of race horses in Japan for export to Hawaii.

Grandmother recounted that her mother used to envy her daughter's rise out of middle class drudgery into a posh environment where a nanny looked after both her and her brother.

So it was a disappointment to marry Sansuke Kawamoto as she felt she had stepped down the social ladder into obscurity in a foreign land.

Steve said...

However, it was better than being constantly harassed by her mother, who envied her change of circumstances in Japan.

So Grandmother Kawamoto became a picture bride to escape a life made miserable by enduring the domination of her estranged mother.