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Masumoto and Saito Family Photos

 Collection
Identifier: SPC-2020-028

Scope and Contents

The Masumoto and Saito Family Photos documents four generations of the Japanese American family in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. Photographs depict the family’s businesses, trips, weddings, funeral, and others. Included are images of Jack Toshio Robert Masumoto’s trading company in San Francisco, Toraichi Okamoto’s produce store in Glendale, the Southern California Sewing School and a Japanese tailor in Little Tokyo, Japanese passenger ships, family outings such as trip to Golden Gate International Exposition and Yosemite National Park, and picnics with friends, family gatherings for the wedding of Jack and Teruko Okamoto in Japan, Toraichi’s Western-style house in Japan, the facilities and barrack buildings of the Manzanar incarceration camp during the war, the post-war activities of the Koyasan Boy Scouts of America, and Tokyo during the Allied Occupation of Japan.

Dates

  • 1920s-1950s

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Gerth Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Gerth Archives and Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Family History

Masumoto Family

Umekichi and Kane Masumoto immigrated from Ageno-sho, Oshima, Japan to the United States and settled in San Bernardino, California. They opened a store, a barbershop, a pool hall with a small bar, and payroll check cashing services for farm workers. Through interaction with customers Kane became fluent in Spanish. Their Nisei children, Jack Toshio Robert and Mary Elizabeth Shizuko Masumoto were born in San Bernardino. In 1920, the family left the U.S. and returned to Oshima when Jack was at age 7 and Mary was at age 5. Jack continued to study English while attending school in Japan. Because of the rise of Japanese militarism, Kane sent Jack back to the U.S. to avoid conscription by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1929 when he was 15 years old. Jack returned to the U.S. alone and stayed in San Francisco as a houseboy to complete schooling. Later, he became partners in an import-export business between Japan and the United States. In 1939, he visited his hometown, following his mother’s wishes, and was introduced to a young woman who would be his future wife, Teruko Okamoto. Teruko was a Kibei Sansei who was born in Brawley, California. They married in both countries, Japan and the United States, in 1940 to fulfill marriage requirements. Jack continued operating a Japanese trading company in San Francisco. Soon after Jack left, Mary also left Japan for the U.S. After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the Executive Order 9066 signed by then President Roosevelt, all Japanese Americans were removed from the West Coast and the whole Masumoto family were also forced to move to the Tanforan Assembly Center, where living quarters were smelly horse stalls or some newly built barracks. Later, they were incarcerated in the Topaz incarceration camp and left the camp to reestablish their lives in Chicago, Illinois and Salt Lake City, Utah, and finally returned to California and settled in Los Angeles.

Okamoto Family

Teruko Okamoto’s grandparents, Hatsuzo and Ino Okamoto, were the first generation from the Okamoto family of Oshima, Japan and early immigrants to Hawaii. Hatsuzo was a carpenter and their Nisei children, Kiyoshi, Toraichi, Kame, Masu, and Ryoichi, were born on the Island of Hawaii. Because of Ino’s passing and Hatsuzo’s illness, Toraichi decided to return to Oshima, Japan in 1930 with his ailing father and helped run the tangerine family farm. He married Hisa Fujioka in 1918, who was an Issei of Oshima, and returned to the United States. They resided in Los Angeles, California initially, and moved to Little Tokyo, and then Brawley, California where their Sansei daughter, Teruko was born in 1922. The family moved to Glendale and opened a produce market. In 1930 when Teruko was 8 years old, her parents decided to sell their business and move back to Oshima, Japan. Since Teruko was reluctant, her father built her a western style house with a western style bathroom in Oshima and farmed 10 acres of tangerines. He later moved to Shanghai and started a business and Teruko attended school there. In 1939, Teruko visited Oshima with her mother and met her future husband, Jack Thoshio Robert Masumoto. After Teruko completed school in Shanghai, the family returned to Oshima because of unrest in Shanghai, and Teruko married Jack in 1940. Jack and Teruko started a new life in San Francisco and their daughter, Nancy Toshiko, was born in 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, they were under house arrest. In April 1942 they were forced to move to the Tanforan Assembly Center and transferred to the Topaz incarceration camp in Utah in October. They left the camp and moved to Chicago, Salt Lake City, and then permanently moved to Los Angeles settling in East Los Angeles. Toraichi’s siblings, Kiyoshi, Ryoichi, Kame, and Masu, remained in the U.S., on the other hand. When the war broke out Kiyoshi was removed to the Santa Anita Assembly Center and then incarcerated in the Heart Mountain incarceration camp in Wyoming. He became the founder and head of the Fair Play Committee and was known as one of the largest organized resisters. Other siblings, Ryoichi, Kame, and Masu, were not residents of the West Coast, residing in Utah and New York, and were not incarcerated during the war.

Saito Family

Sadataro Saito and Nobue Nakasu were immigrants from Tokyo, Japan. They were hired by the Consul General of Japan, San Francisco and probably met each other on the passenger ship sailing for San Francisco. They married and later moved to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, California and opened a restaurant, “Mangen An” on the First Street. They had two daughters, Takako and Otome Angelous, and three sons, George Masami, John Katsumi, and Henry Sadao, and the Nisei children grew up in Little Tokyo. After Sadataro's passing in 1933, Nobue supported the family by becoming a seamstress. During the war, the family was removed from Boyle Heights then incarcerated in the Manzanar incarceration camp. Nobue, an Issei mother, managed all the difficulties throughout the time.

Takako was a student studying Library Science and English at USC but was forced to leave college to be incarcerated at Manzanar along with her family. Since there was a shortage of librarians at Manzanar, she was hired to help run the main library in the camp and then became the director of the library. She left Manzanar for the University of Nebraska at Omaha with the support of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council and transferred to Columbia University in New York later. After graduation, she became the head librarian at the La Guardia High School of Performing Arts in New York City and was also a ceramic and sculpture artist.

Otome also left for college with the support of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council. She met her future husband, Daisuke Nagano, in Manzanar when incarcerated and they married after college.

John was granted a leave permit and left the Manzanar camp for the Great Northern Railway in Montana during the war, which was a heavy labor job but paid him only 52 cents hourly. After the war he was a merchant marine, and later worked as a chick sexer seasonally in the late 1950s in Tupelo, Mississippi while he would relocate to New Jersey to work as a bartender and coordinator for the New Jersey Yacht Club during the off-season. Chick sexing was dominated by the Japanese speaking Nisei and Kibei Nisei because the job did not require English language skills and was a well-paying job. Henry left the Manzanar camp to enlist in the U.S. Army during the war and was trained at Camp Shelby. After the war, he returned to Los Angeles and worked for Northrop Corporation in Inglewood.

George Saito was out of the camp and worked in Chicago. He joined the U.S. Army and was deployed in Japan during the Allied Occupation of Japan and met his future wife, Kinuko Tadokoro. After all her children left the Manzanar camp, Nobue was alone and remained incarcerated. She was a widow, lost her home, and also disabled because of an injury. Takako’s friend escorted her from the Manzanar camp by train to join Takako in New York City. Later, she moved back to Los Angeles to join her son Henry and passed away at the age of 101.

The Masumotos and Saitos were united in marriage by Earnie Masumoto, a Yonsei son of Jack Toshio Robert and Teruko Masumoto’s, and Marie Saito, a Sansei daughter of George and Kinuko Saito’s.

Extent

1.74 Gigabytes (Digital reproductions of 12 leaves from photo albums. Approximately 100 individual photographs (189 JPEG files; 1.74 GB).)

Language of Materials

English

Japanese

Abstract

The Masumoto and Saito Family Photos documents four generations of the Japanese American family in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. Photographs depict the family’s businesses, trips, weddings, funeral, and others. Included are images of Jack Toshio Robert Masumoto’s trading company in San Francisco, Toraichi Okamoto’s produce store in Glendale, Southern California Sewing School in Little Tokyo, Japanese passenger ships, family outings such as trip to Golden Gate International Exposition and picnics, family gatherings for the wedding of Jack Toshio Robert and Teruko Okamoto in Japan, Toraichi’s Western-style house in Japan, the Manzanar incarceration camp during the war, the post-war activities of the Koyasan Boy Scouts of America, and Tokyo during the Allied Occupation of Japan. All materials in this collection are digital reproductions.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The access files are 1.74 GB (189 files) and stored on the Public Use Drive. Access to the files is available on-site in the Gerth Archives and Special Collections reading room. Please request copies at the Reference Desk.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The donor, Marie Masumoto, donated the digitized photographs during a Scanning Day event in 2018. She lent the Gerth Archives her original photographs for digitization. The original photographs were returned to the donor on November 13, 2018.

Existence and Location of Originals

Physical materials remain with the donor.

Availability of Digital Reproductions

The entire collection has been digitized and selected items of the digital reproduction access files are available at the CSU Japanese American Project site: Masumoto and Saito Family Photo Digital Collection

CSU Japanese Digitization Project

This collection is part of the California State University Japanese American Digitization Project. Other collections about the history of Japanese Americans are found in the digital repository: CSU Japanese American Digitization Project

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Yoko Okunishi.

Digital Reproductions

The Gerth Archives and Special Collections created digital reproductions from original items for long-term preservation and electronic access, adhering to best practice and standards to ensure the authenticity, integrity, and security of material. For more information on digitization process, please see: CSU Japanese American Digitization Project: technical reference guide.

The entire collection has been digitized. The set of the digital reproduction access files is 1.74 GB (189 JPEG files) and stored on the Public Use Drive.

The set of digital reproduction preservation files is 6.32 GB (189 TIFF files) and stored on the Gerth Archives and Special Collections' department drive for preservation purposes. These files are also available for duplication requests by contacting the department.

The set of digital reproductions access files created for the digital management system is 6.25 GB (166 files) and stored on the Gerth Archives and Special Collections' department external drive for staff use.

Title
Inventory of the Photos of the Masumoto and Saito Family
Status
In Progress
Author
Yoko Okunishi
Date
2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the California State University Dominguez Hills, Gerth Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
University Library South -5039 (Fifth Floor)
1000 E. Victoria St.
Carson CA 90747
310-243-3895