By Lisa Matsumoto, Public Relations & Communications Intern
Members and guests alike joined FEW’s monthly meeting on June 8th to hear the story of Japanese war brides, a story often overlooked and untold. We welcomed Lucy Craft, a filmmaker and former FEW member in the 80s, to reveal their hidden stories. As a daughter of one such war bride, Lucy’s life is intertwined with Japan. Together with two women with similar backgrounds — Karen Kasmauski and Kathryn Tolbert — Lucy decided to make the documentary “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides” to unravel their mothers’ stories.
It all began in the fall of 2011 at a Starbucks in Washington, D.C. Lucy, Karen and Kathryn wanted to learn more about the relationships between young Japanese women and American men after WWII, and in turn, about their family histories. What first started as an idea for a book instead turned into a movie. Lucy said the documentary was like peeling “onion skins. The more you get into it, the more there is to know.”
Like most families assimilating in the U.S., Lucy’s mother suppressed her past and barely shared her Japanese heritage, only taking Lucy and her sister to visit Japan after the 1960 Tokyo Olympics. Conformity was most important as mothers were concerned that their children would be looked down upon just because they were mixed race.
For many years, the topic of Japanese war brides was considered too sensitive to be touched upon and these women’s stories were not a serious focus in history. However, these women faced significant challenges in deciding to leave their homes and move to America that went beyond just the chance to escape the poverty of post-war Japan.
At the end of the war, millions in Japan were starving and suffering from disease. Marrying an American meant a way out, a way to survive and find a more positive future. However, these women who married Americans were shunned by other Japanese. Although similar war brides from European countries were celebrated, being a war bride from an Asian country meant dishonor and was viewed as synonymous with being a prostitute. Many women were abandoned by their families because of their decisions.
These women also faced hardships upon coming to America. Most immigrants settled into urban areas and find communities and support networks. Japanese war brides, on the other hand, were dispersed across the U.S. and had no ties to a Japanese community. However, these women persevered and conquered linguistic, national, religious and even culinary boundaries.
According to Lucy, the image of the “subservient” Japanese wife and “patriarchal” American man was the perfect metaphor for the kind of role the U.S. wanted to have in Asia. In fact, this feminized image of Japan helped end the era of hostility and “sold” Japan to the American people. These women who married “the enemy” were in fact diplomats, bringing these two countries together.
Lucy hopes to make a follow-up film that will air on television in addition to a traveling exhibit to areas in the U.S. where war brides lived. She is also working on a curriculum in conjunction with Stanford University. Lucy, Karen and Kathryn are currently fund raising for their new projects and we are excited to see where their endeavors will take them next.
Watch Lucy’s documentary “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides” at: http://www.fallsevengetupeight.com/.
September Strategic Partner News
Check out the latest member offers and opportunities from our Strategic Partners here! Our Strategic Partners are committed to bringing the best services and products to FEW members. And go to our Strategic Partners page to learn more about all of FEW’s Strategic Partners, who not only support FEW’s activities but also provide professional and personal services […]Published on 4th September 2017
July Meeting Recap: One Size Doesn’t Fit All
By Lisa Matsumoto, Public Relations & Communications Intern The 2016-17 FEW year ended with our monthly meeting on July 13, where we were joined by guests and members to hear about the endeavors of longtime FEW member, Melanie Uematsu. Melanie was born in Germany and studied fashion design in Berlin and London. Fascinated with Japan, […]Published on 3rd September 2017
June 2017 Women’s Start-up Club Recap: Mentorship and Networking
The FEW Women’s Start-up Club wrapped up the year on June 29, with a timely presentation on mentoring and motivation for entrepreneurs by Patricia Bader Johnston. Patricia’s career in Japan has spanned the public sector, including the Canadian Embassy, and the private sector, including positions at Goldman Sachs and Japan Tabaco, corporate decision-making as a […]Published on 1st August 2017
Event Recap: Few & Mirai no Mori Concert For a Cause
What a night! On behalf of all of us at FEW, a great, big thank you for joining us for Concert For a Cause! On a balmy, summer night, FEW members, friends and performers got together at British pub 2nd Half in Takadanobaba for a night of music to raise funds for Mirai No Mori, an NPO providing […]Published on 14th July 2017
How I Got Here: Joanna Sato
I look through the windows of my Japanese home at the cityscape of Tokyo and I see how my life has been a series of navigating varied landscapes. The landscape I inhabit now is very different from the one of my hometown in the south of Poland, where my journey began. I first left home […]Published on 30th June 2017
Midweek Lunch Mixer at Le Petit Marché Roppongi
Take a break from work and join us for delicious food and great networking at our monthly midweek lunch gathering at Le Petit Marché in Roppongi!
Share Your Passion
Do you run your own business or are you thinking of starting one? Join the first FEW Women's Start-Up Club of 2017-2018 to share your projects and passions and connect with other like-minded when who may be able to help you in your entrepreneurial journey.
Make the Connection: Practical Networking Strategies that Work for You
Join us for an interactive workshop with Helen Iwata, Founder of Sasuga! Communications, to learn about the benefits of networking, and gain insights, practical tips and strategies for connecting with confidence, conviction and purpose.
Japan's Path to Multiculturalism
At our October Monthly Meeting, we’re welcoming a panel of speakers to discuss multiculturalism in Japan today, including what steps organizations and individuals are taking to help expose people to multicultural environments and develop a more inclusive society.