FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: A fresh start to the New Year


When we finish the process of osoji, we are able to welcome the incoming year with a fresh start. Metaphorically speaking, we don’t bring any old dirt into the new year. This applies to your genealogy as much as it applies to the rest of your life.

Now that the house is clean, how do you plan to engage in family history research in 2022? Maybe you already have a shinnen no hofu, or new year’s resolution. Do you hope to find that elusive koseki? Do you yearn to prove the name of a previously unknown ancestor? Break through that proverbial brick wall? Will you clean up your paper files? Organize your documents? Write a family narrative?

Personally, I have several resolutions in place for 2022. First, I plan to finish scanning family photos and documents. Second, I plan to write a biographical sketch for each of my grandparents and great grandparents. Beyond that, I aspire to accomplish many other tasks, several of which are dependent upon COVID restrictions. I certainly hope to visit the National Archives at Washington, D.C., College Park and Riverside, IN PERSON. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Luckily for those of us in Northern California, it has been rewarding to research at NARA in San Bruno over the past few months; accessing the other facilities remains questionable at best.

Those born in the Year of the Tiger have been described as: brave, unpredictable, rebellious, colorful, competitive, powerful, passionate, daring, impulsive, vigorous, stimulating, sincere, affectionate, humanitarian, generous and confident. Do these characteristics apply only to those of you born in the Year of the Tiger? I think these characteristics apply to family historians in general.

Even if you weren’t born in the Year of the Tiger, I encourage you to be tigers when it comes to your family history research this year. Be assertive, determined, and steadfast in your quest for information. Be passionate when trying to understand the lives of your ancestors. Be confident when giving a voice to those who are no longer with us. And be generous when sharing your findings with others. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. In fact, please feel free to share your questions about family history through this column.

Happy new year to the tigers in all of you!

Linda Harms Okazaki is a professional genealogist who is past president of the California Genealogical Society. She specializes in Japanese American records. If you have a genealogical question which might be answered in this column, send an e-mail to The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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