Issei Women: Echoes from Another Frontier

By Eileen Sunada Sarasohn

Eleven voices representing some 50,000 women carry the reader from the culture and society of the Meiji Era in turn-of-the-century Japan to their new lives and struggles in the United States. Each of these women's life stories is individually compelling, but Issei Women also is a narrative of collective lives. Teiko Tomita explains kuro, or hardship, through the loss of a child in the most difficult of circumstances. Kuro becomes one of several common themes that reverberate in the memories of these women. Collectively, their stories also express the belief that their strength began with values learned in Meiji Japan, and that these values echo in the lives of their children and grandchildren.

Issei women came to view themselves as pioneers who carved new lives for themselves in the American West in a very different but no less important context than those who crossed the Great Plains in covered wagons.