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Michi's Memories

Michi's Memories: The Story of a Japanese War Bride OPEN ACCESS

Keiko Tamura
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24h3w7
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  • Book Info
    Michi's Memories
    Book Description:

    This book tells the story of Michi, one of 650 Japanese war brides who arrived in Australia in the early 1950s. The women met Australian servicemen in post-war Japan and decided to migrate to Australia as wives and fiancées to start a new life. In 1953, when Michi reached Sydney Harbour by boat with her two Japanese-born children, she knew only one person in Australia: her husband. She did not know any English so she quickly learned her first English phrase, “I like Australia”, in the car on the way from the harbour to meet her Australian family. In the last fifty years, she brought up seven children while the family moved from one part of Australia to another. Now, in her eighties, she leads a peaceful life in Adelaide, but remains active in many ways. Her voice is full of life and she looks and sounds much younger than her age.

    eISBN: 978-1-921862-52-6
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Prologue (pp. xi-xvi)

    THIS BOOK tells the story of Michi, one of 650 Japanese war brides who arrived in Australia in the early 1950s. The women met Australian servicemen in post-war Japan and decided to migrate to Australia as wives and fiancées to start a new life. In 1953, when Michi reached Sydney Harbour by boat with her two Japanese-born children, she knew only one person in Australia: her husband. She did not know any English so she quickly learned her first English phrase, “I like Australia”, in the car on the way from the harbour to meet her Australian family. In the...

  2. AUSTRALIAN MEN and Japanese women who would ultimately marry in the post-war period grew up in communities and nations where people simply could not have imagined the circumstances that would lead to those marriages. Japanese society in the 1930s was becoming more militaristic and the people were growing more confident since the Japanese had no experience of defeat in wars against outside powers. At the same time, Japan was in the process of expanding its colonial power in Asia and hostility towards Britain and the United States was growing stronger among the people. Australians who grew up in the 1930s...

  3. THIS CHAPTER covers Michi’s experience from her childhood in the Japanese countryside to the early 1950s when she left Japan for Australia. During that period, many drastic changes took place in Japan. Japan was virtually at war with China from 1937 with the aspiration of expanding its colonial power. The Pacific War started in 1941 and, by the time Japan was defeated in 1945, 2.6 million houses were burnt in air raids and 13 million people were homeless in Japan. The defeat also signalled the arrival of occupation soldiers; among those was an Australian soldier whom Michi eventually married.

    I was born...

  4. THIS CHAPTER covers the period between Michi’s migration to Australia and her settling down in this country. She arrived in Australia full of hope of establishing a new and happy life for herself and family. However, various difficulties awaited her as she needed to adapt to the new language and culture. Her narrative will reveal her struggle to realise stability and peace in her marriage and family.

    Japanese migrated to Australia from the late nineteenth century mainly as contract labourers in the pearl and sugar cane industries in northern Australia. Wool buyers also arrived before the turn of the century...

  5. MICHI CONTINUES her narrative in this chapter and talks about her life in more recent years, between 1970 and the present. As the children grew up and became more independent, Michi started to explore other activities outside home. But marriage stability for which she had been striving the whole time she was in Australia did not come easily for her. She also looks back on her life course and reflects upon her experience as a war bride.

    In 1969, Gus retired as a Sergeant Major in the Army after 26 years and we finally settled down in Adelaide. Since we...

  6. MICHI AND GUS had seven children, two daughters and five sons, who were born between 1948 and 1960. They were Sumiko, George, Wayne, Frances, Robert, William and Ronald in order of birth. Out of those, six survive as the youngest son, Ronald, committed suicide in 1981. I interviewed four of them. Interviews with Sumiko, Frances and William were carried out in Adelaide in November 1999, and with George in Perth in September 2000. The other two, Wayne and Robert, could not be interviewed because of distance and their work commitments. Sumiko was the first child, born in Japan. She lived...

  7. Keiko Tamura

    I CAME BACK to Australia in 1990 after three years of academic nomadic life, which took my family and myself to Japan and Germany as my physicist husband moved with his jobs. We had two young children and did not have much money, as shifting from one country to another depleted our savings. I was determined to do a PhD degree in anthropology, but I desperately needed an appropriate topic. While we were in Japan, I carried out preliminary research on the Ainu and their craft industry by visiting Hokkaido. At that time, the Ainu craft industry and tourism seemed...