Japanese American Issei Pioneer Museum
In Honor of the Struggle and Sacrifice of First Generation Japanese in America

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Sunday School Baseball Team -  White River, WA 1930


The museum is in the town of Hansville, situated in the peninsula of the Puget Sound. You could come here from the south by driving through Tacoma. However, if you are from Seattle, or further north, I advise you to take the Seattle-Bainbridge or Edmonds-Kingston ferry to save time. The jumbo ferry crosses the beautiful Puget Sound in approximately 30 minutes. It is 450 feet long and has a loading capacity of 2500 passengers and over 200 cars. They have about 20 sailings from early morning to midnight. It is then a 40 minute drive to get to the museum from Bainbridge, or 20 minutes from Kingston.

After my retirement in September of 2004, I started to arrange and display my collection of Japan-America relations and Issei immigration so that I could share them with people who might be interested in this field. In commemoration of the bi-centennial of the U.S., I decided to display my collection and opened the museum in 1976 at the Salinas Buddhist Temple in California. Since then, the volume has increased considerably, but the present building is smaller, so I am afraid it may be a little too small to be called a museum in the traditional sense.

On July 4, 1976, this nation joyfully observed its bi-centennial celebration. The main reason for the opening of the “Issei Pioneer Museum” was to recognize/honor the contributions of the Japanese Americans, in the history of the U.S. towards the prosperity of present day America. Since it was the first Nikkei museum in the country, congratulatory messages were received from President Ford, Premier Miki of Japan, Gov. Brown of California and many others. However, the hall that housed the museum was taken down to be replaced by a new gymnasium in 1994, and I was transferred to Seattle in 1995, and to Mexico City in 2000. These have contributed the delay of the re-opening.

When I arrived in the U.S. in December of 1956 (Sho-wa 31). some of the Isseis were quite old. However, many of the men were still acting as if they were still in the prime of their lives, and most women were still full of spirit. I have been associated with these Isseis ever since coming to America, practicing as an overseas minister of Nishi Honganji and served nearly 40 years at Buddhist temples in California, Oregon and Washington. I shared many fond memories with them and also conducted many last rites for them. Now, all of the Isseis are gone, and many Niseis are leaving us. In respect to the name of this museum, you will find many items associated with Niseis as well, since they are their sons and daughters.

Japanese emigration to the mainland U.S. began around 1880 (Meiji 13); about 130 years ago. It has been a long journey though it seems just short years ago. Those who have interest and/or would like to know more about the history of Nikkeis and U.S.-Japan relations, please come and visit us and get a feel for the Japanese American pioneers.

In Gassho, Yoshiaki G. Takemura

Museum Location and Contact Information

Japanese American Issei Pioneer Museum

36001 Hood Canal Dr. N.E.
Hansville, WA 98340

Free of charge

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Mailing Address
Issei Pioneer Museum
P.O. Box 346
Hansville, WA 98340


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Issei - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Issei (first generation) is a Japanese language term used in countries in North America, South America and Australia to specify the Japanese people first to immigrate. Their children born in the new country are referred to as Nisei (second generation), and their grandchildren are Sansei (third generation). All them come from the numbers "one, two, three" in the Japanese language, as Japanese numerals are "ichi, ni, san."

Sho-wa period - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Sho-wa period (Sho-wa jidai, literally "period of enlightened peace"), or Sho-wa era, is the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of Emperor Sho-wa (Hirohito), from December 25, 1926 to January 7, 1989.

Meiji period - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Meiji period (Meiji jidai), or Meiji era denotes the period in Japanese history during the 45-year reign of the Meiji Emperor (from 23 October 1868 to 30 July 1912). During this time, Japan began its modernization and rose to world power status. Meiji means 'Enlightened Rule'.

Japanese diaspora - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Japanese diaspora, and its individual members known as Nikkei, are Japanese emigrants from Japan and their descendants to other parts of the world. Emigration from Japan first happened and was recorded as early as the 12th century to the Philippines, but did not become a mass phenomenon until the Meiji Era, when Japanese began to go to North America, beginning in 1897 with 35 emigrants to Mexico and later Latin America, beginning in 1899 with 790 emigrants to Peru. There was also significant emigration to the territories of the Empire of Japan during the colonial period; however, most such emigrants repatriated to Japan after the end of World War II in Asia.

Significant Nikkei populations in: - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Brazil 1,400,000
United States 1,200,000
Philippines 120,000
China (PRC) 115,000
Canada 85,000
Peru 81,000
United Kingdom 51,000
Germany 30,125
Argentina 30,000
France 28,000
Australia 27,000
Singapore 23,000
Mexico 20,000
Taiwan (ROC) 16,000
South Korea 15,000
Bolivia 10,000

Japanese American Issei Pioneer Museum - isseipioneermuseum.com - 2010