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/.
Upcoming Fall 2018 Community Service Events
With the changing of the leaves comes many opportunities to support various NGOs and their efforts. Take a look at the events below and reach out to the organizations through the contact information provided if you’re interested in lending a helping hand! The Big Draw Festival 2018 The world’s largest cross-cultural drawing festival, led by […]Published on 15th October 2018
Recap: WSC — Creating Your Story & Brand with the Help of Masterminding Groups
“A brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon For the 2018-2019 season, Women’s Startup Club focuses on helping you create YOUR story and brand, kicking off the season with Masterminding—Supporting Your Success. Thirty women from diverse career backgrounds, a wide variety of […]Published on 7th October 2018
October 2018 Sponsor Offers & Member News
Check out the latest offers and opportunities from our Sponsors and other FEW Community Events here! Our Sponsors are committed to bringing the best services and products to FEW members. Visit our Sponsors page to learn more about all of FEW’s Sponsors, who not only support FEW’s activities but also provide professional and personal services benefiting […]Published on 30th September 2018
September Monthly Meeting Recap – Rina Bovrisse
From Prada Epicenter to Court Battle…and How She Persists Rina Bovrisse, a former fashion industry leader who sued her employer – Prada Japan – for discrimination and sexual harassment in 2009 and, eventually, lost her fashion career due that suit, shared her inspiring journey at the FEW Monthly Meeting in September. Now running her own […]Published on 26th September 2018
July Monthly Meeting Recap – Ama Divers
Living at the pace of the ocean In July, FEW welcomed professor Anne McDonald from Sophia University to share the stories of Ama divers, female free divers of Japan, during the Monthly Meeting. McDonald has been researching the Ama communities by interviewing the members and taking part in their daily life – even diving into […]Published on 26th September 2018
CANCELLED - Earthquake Preparedness Workshop with WaNavi Japan
Disasters happen. WaNavi, with FEW, will help you prepare for them.
Rethinking Strengths with Professional Certified Coach Jennifer Shinkai
In this experiential workshop, participants will create a visual map of their strengths based upon the concept of “Strengths are what make me strong”.
Midweek Lunch Mixer
Take a break from work and join us for delicious food and great networking at our monthly midweek lunch gathering at Cafe Park in Ebisu!
Note: The Lunch Mixer will take place on a Wednesday!