Bainbridge Island Japanese Oral Histories

Dublin Core


Bainbridge Island Japanese Oral Histories


The Bainbridge Island Japanese Oral Histories Collection consists of digitized interviews with Japanese American and other community members historically associated with Bainbridge Island and the broader Puget Sound region. The interviews include pre-World War II history of the Bainbridge Island Japanese community, including the history of Japanese farms, the Port Blakely Mill, and Yama & Nagaya village, as well as World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans and historical events in the Seattle Japanese American community. The original cassette interviews are housed at Haselwood Library, Olympic College, Bremerton, Washington.

In the 1970s, University of Washington graduate student Stefan Tanaka conducted a series of interviews to collect data for his master's thesis in history: "The Nikkei on Bainbridge Island 1882-1942: A Study of Migration and Community Development". In 2016, Dr. Tanaka donated 17 cassette tapes with interviews of 15 different individuals and small groups to the Olympic College Libraries in support of the Yama Project.

Due to the age of the cassette tapes, the Olympic College Anthropology’s Yama Project and the Olympic College Libraries, with the assistance of Terri Gleich, Communications Specialist at the Olympic College Foundation, secured funding from Bainbridge Community Foundation to have the interviews digitized. Media Transfer Services, East Rochester, New York digitized the cassette tapes.

This public collection consists of five of the original English-language interviews. They were abridged and edited down to 5 to 20 minute excerpts, retaining the portions that were most audible and pertinent to the experience of the Japanese community on Bainbridge Island. These excerpts from the individual interviews, with abridged, edited transcripts that match, are accessible to the general public on the Olympic College Libraries Digital Archives The editing decisions were made by the project leads Dr. Caroline Hartse (anthropology), Dianne Carey (library), and Angela Krattiger (history). Please contact Professor Krattiger with any additions to or corrections about the individual items in the collection.

The Bainbridge Island Japanese Oral Histories Research Collection:
The complete unedited collection of Stefan Tanaka’s oral history interviews, English and Japanese, and matching transcripts can be viewed only on the computer in Haselwood Library room 126 (04-126). They are available to the OC community, visiting scholars, and the general public by appointment. For an appointment email

The Yama Project:
Olympic College in collaboration with Bainbridge Island Historical Museum (BIHM), Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community (BIJAC), Bainbridge Island Historic Preservation Commission (BIHPC), Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Parks and Recreation District (BIMPRD), Kitsap History Museum (KHM), and the University of Washington Burke Museum collaborated and developed the Yama Project. The project included a multi-year (2015-2017) archaeological field school, which included an archival research component, to survey and document the historic Japanese community of Yama and Nagaya. In 2018, Yama & Nagaya was listed on the Washington Heritage Register of Historic Places and the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The official registered name is Yama & Nagaya Village.
Located on Bainbridge Island, Washington, Yama & Nagaya Village was a Japanese village associated with the Port Blakely Mill. In the early 1900s, over 200 people lived at the village. By approximately 1910, the village included a Buddhist Temple, Japanese Baptist Church, grocery store, restaurant, hotel, baths, tea garden, photography studio, and more. With the closing of the Port Blakely Mill in the 1920s, Yama & Nagaya was abandoned.
Dr. Tanaka’s interview collection provides oral histories that expand the historic record of Yama & Nagaya and the Bainbridge Island and Seattle Japanese American communities.

Collection Items

Audio recording of interview with Emery Andrews - abridged
Recording at end of record under Files.

Emery Andrews was minister at the Seattle Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle from 1929 to 1955. During World War II, he and his family moved to Idaho to be near the Japanese Americans from the congregation…

Audio recording of interview with Tom Kitayama - abridged
Recording at end of record under Files.

Tom grew up on Bainbridge and after World War II, the family started a large floral business in California.

The interview discusses Tom’s childhood on Bainbridge, his leaving Bainbridge in September 1941…

Audio recording of interview with Art Koura - abridged
Recording at end of record under Files.

Art grew up on Bainbridge. He and his family were/are integral to Bainbridge Island.

The interview concerns the history of Art’s family in Japan before they immigrated to the U.S. The interview then…

Audio recording of interview with John Nakata - abridged
Recording at end of record under Files.

John was a butcher in Winslow.

The interview includes the history of John’s family (parents) in Japan. On Bainbridge, the family lived at Yama & Nagaya but then moved to Winslow where John’s father…

Audio recording of interview with Chiyo Umezuka - abridged
Recording at end of record under Files.

Chiyo (also known as Chiya Shigemura Umezuka) was the daughter of the Shigemuras who in 1904 bought and then ran the Washington Hotel at Yama.

The interview is almost exclusively about Yama & Nagaya and…
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