FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Vital Records — A vitally important part of your family history research

Vital Records are legal documents of major life events. Typically, these are birth, marriage, and death records. Usually they contain critical clues that can help you document your family history. More importantly, these records connect one generation to the next. In order to receive documents in Japan, you must prove your lineage to someone on the koseki; usually this is your Issei ancestor. By gathering vital records, you can prove your lineage through each document that names a set of parents.

THROUGH YONSEI EYES: The virtue of goodbye

Late March and early April are times of great change within the Japanese school system. In March, the students have their graduation ceremonies. They are serious affairs filled with tears and stoicism. It’s difficult to move on from a middle school.

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Read all about it — Using newspapers to build your family tree

Newspapers allow us to see into the historical period in which our ancestors lived. Newspapers help us to understand the general information about a time and place, and they are chock-full of treasures pertaining to the lives of our ancestors. Often, we are able to glean specific details which cannot be found anyplace else: a baby who died; a winter storm on the day an ancestor arrived on Angel Island; the loss of a business after the 1906 earthquake; stories about family and friends; social events, weddings, and funerals; and the day-to-day lives and activities of our family members. FI

THROUGH YONSEI EYES: School lunch

Like many things in Japan, school lunch is a ritual. It’s not cafeteria-style like in the states. Students will spend their entire day, including lunch, in their classrooms, and teachers will rotate every period. After the fourth period bell rings, several students will don ridiculously adorable white aprons and hats, and go down to the lunch room to bring food back to the classrooms.

DEAN OF THE COLUMBO J-SCHOOL: Passionate and profane, K.W. Lee fights on at 90

By STEPHEN MAGAGNINI Special to the Nichi Bei Weekly RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. — The man with nine lives has made his last stand in his bunker in Rancho Cordova, a pale green house filled with “a tsunami of boxes,” more than 100 cartons representing a fierce lifetime struggle for underdogs from Seoul to Sacramento, Mexico […]

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Traditions: A vital component of family history

The new year celebrations are an opportunity to ensure that your traditions are passed down to your future descendants. Start by creating a journal or calendar of family events, keeping them organized chronologically. Do you celebrate Oshogatsu (Japanese New Year)? If so, how do you do that?

THROUGH YONSEI EYES: Welcome home

I tried to take in the reality of my circumstances. I had just moved from the metropolitan Bay Area to rural Japan to teach English. I didn’t know any Japanese. I didn’t know anyone in Tottori, the least populated prefecture in the country. I had no Internet and no cell service, which meant I couldn’t even call home. There was nothing to fill the crushing silence.

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: What’s all the fuss about DNA?

DNA is all the rage. Television commercials promise us that we can determine our precise ancestral origins. But it’s not quite that simple. People take DNA tests for a variety reasons. Some are looking for ethnicity estimates. Some are looking for health reports. Adoptees might be looking for biological family members. In terms of genealogy, or family history, DNA is very good at helping a researcher to prove a hypothesis, confirm or disprove an existing family tree, identify living relatives, and estimate general ethnic origins. Overall, DNA is a tool to add to your family history research.

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Census data helps bring family history to life

Writing down your memories helps bring your family history to life. But your family history journey also requires some research. If you are looking to document the homes and addresses of your family members, the U. S. federal census is a good place to begin.

FINDING YOUR NIKKEI ROOTS: Visiting cemeteries

When visiting your deceased family members, there are a few things to remember. In Japan, there are customs for washing the stones, burning incense, and offering food to the ancestors. Even if your ancestors’ remains are in the U.S., there are some tips to remember.

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