In December 2017, Oregon Nikkei Endowment received an Oregon Heritage grant to translate ten special issues of the Oshu Nippo (Oregon Daily News), a Japanese newspaper printed in Portland's Japantown from 1906–1953. The ten issues included eight New Year's issues, one Fourth of July/30th anniversary issue, and a special Hotel issue. Professional translators from the Portland law firm Lane Powell, volunteers from Sapporo (Portland's sister city in Japan), and local Portland volunteers helped with the tremendous task of translating these rare documents that provide an inside look at the lives of Japanese immigrants in Portland in the early part of the 20th century.
The translation task was divided into stages. Stage one was the original digital scan. The second stage was a transcription from the original scan. The third was a translation from old Japanese to modern Japanese, and the fourth stage was a translation into English.
The translation from old Japanese to modern Japanese was challenging as the old Japanese kanji is no longer in common use and can only be read by scholars and the older generations. The volunteers from Sapporo were especially helpful with this step!
Note: This page from the 1921 issue features the Teikoku Co. store, at that time located in the Merchant Hotel building at NW 3rd Avenue and Davis Street in Portland's Japantown. The Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center is one of the businesses currently in the Merchant Hotel building.
Note: This special issue celebrated the 20th anniversary of the newspaper. This page featured a photograph of the famous Japanese Farmers' float from the 1921 Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.
The first Japanese language newspaper in Oregon was called the Oregon Shimpo and was started in 1904. It was published by the S. Ban Company primarily to communicate with the hundreds of laborers throughout the western states who were contracted by the company.
In 1909 Toyoji Abe took over the publication and changed its name to the Oshu Nippo. The newspaper was taken over by Mr. Iwao Oyama in 1917. He remained the publisher and editor until 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and he was incarcerated at the Santa Fe Department of Justice Camp.
After returning to Portland in 1945, Mr. Oyama resumed publication of the newspaper, calling it Oregon Nippo. The Japanese type and printing press had been confiscated by the U.S. Navy during the war to publish propaganda pamphlets, so the paper was published as a semi-weekly mimeographed paper.
The first publication office was located on the corner of NW 2nd Avenue and Davis Street in downtown Portland. Eight-to- ten people worked on the newspaper, which was printed daily in Japanese type. The kanji characters were stored in large trays which were divided into hundreds of compartments. Each kanji had its own special compartment. To prepare a page of the paper, each kanji was hand-picked and placed on a plate.
The Oshu Nippo covered local news, national news, and news from Japan. It included articles on everything from the future of the Port of Portland to child rearing to personal hobbies and recreation, and was widely circulated throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The newspaper served a critical function in the community—the only link between newly arrived immigrants from Japan and the rest of the world.
This project took over a year to complete and involved the generous support of the Oregon Heritage Commission and the law of firm of Lane Powell. Special thanks to Yoko Gulde, Naomi Diffley of Lane Powell, Henry Ueno, Santiago Ravello, and Colin Takeo who helped get this project off the ground.
We could not have completed this project without the help of over 150 volunteers. Thank you!
Chie Alleman, Roy Dawson, Joel Davis, Naomi Diffely, Akiko Gates, Saori Grigonis, Jennifer Guinasso, Yoko Gulde, Satomi Hayashi, Mikiko Hige, Asuka Ishigami, Chiaki Ishimura-Smillie, Chieko Kagawa, Bridget Keaveney, Mami Kikuchi, Tokiko Kosugi, Yuki Mandelbaum, Yuki Marsh, Miyuki Masuda, Yasuyo Mineyama, Kogo Satomi (Mishina), Molly McCarthy, Miki Morimoto, Miwako Murakami, Etsuko Murozono, Yoko Nakamura, Megumi Nishimura, Yuko Oblander, Kaori Ogiso, Satoko Okano, Hiko Ozawa, Ken Pincus, Santiago Ravello, Ryan Rivers, Yuri Poupdayel, Hiroko Stacey, Takae Sato, Yoshiaki Shimizu, Felix Stark, Yumiko Suzuki, Yumiko Tahara, Madoka Takahashi, Rena Takahashi, Mami Takahashi, Colin Takeo, Satoshi Tanaka, Kazuyo Tojo, Miwako Tokugawa, Yuri Utsunomiya, Robert Vital, Miho Weinstein, Rieko Warrens, Masako Wieber, Noriko Yamauchi, Manami Yamaguchi, Henry Ueno
Kozo Abe, Shinobu Adachi, Noriaki Ammi, Yoshitaka Aoki, Miki Asai, Masae Asano, Miwako Chiba, Yoko Esashi, Shiho Fujibuchi, Masaru Fujimura, Yumi Fujita, Reiko Fukazawa, Junko Fukuda, Shoichiro Fukusako, Michi Goto, Yoshiyuki Hanano, Michiko Hatayama, Aya Higuchi, Ritsuko Hirose, Machiko Horiuchi, Hatsue Igarashi, Sachiko Iguchi, Hiroshi Ikeda, Megumi Inagaki, Tetsuji Inoue, Rina Ishige, Koji Ishizuka, Tomoyoshi Ito, Yoshie Iwahashi, Satoh Iwao, Sachiko Kaneko, Yumiko Kaneko, Hironobu Kanno, Megumi Kawabata, Yukiko Kawabata, Miyako Kawakami, Hiroko Kawamura, Katsuko Kemanai, Sonoko Kikuchi, Yoshie Kimura, Yoshihiko Kimura, Hitomi Kodama, Miyuki Konno, Midori Matsukawa, Misao Matsumura, Ayumi Matsuo, Koya Morita, Shoko Nakabayashi, Yoshiko Nakayama, Shigetaka Nanba, Miyuki Nishimura, Yujiro Nishio, Yukiko Obata, Yumiko Odagawa, Mariko Ogi, Maki Okabe, Nanae Okita, Tugumi Okuyama, Takayuki Ota, Maiko Otake, Miyo Oyama, Shunichi Sagawa, Yukiko Sakai, Reiko Sakamoto, Kiyomi Saruhashi, Midori Saruhashi, Yoshiharu Sasaki, Naoyuki Sato, Yuko Senme, Seiji Shigeno, Akiko Shimamura, Etsuko Shimoguchi, Momoka Shimoguchi, Miki Sugawara, Akiko Sugaya, Aya Sugimoto, Chizuko Suzuki, Kiyoshi Suzuki, Mutsumi Tabata, Shoji Taguchi, Shizue Takada, Yasuko Takahashi, Yoichi Takano, Hisako Takeda, Makoto Ueda, Nozomi Ueda, Rieko Ueda, Makoto Uno, Naoko Yago, Megumi Yamada, Mariko Yamanaka, Keiko Yoshida
The Japanese American Museum of Oregon has a wealth of resources documenting Japanese American history and culture, housing original manuscripts, government documents and publications, as well as historical and contemporary artifacts and photographs.
Sharing and preserving Japanese American history and culture in Portland's Old Town neighborhood, where Japantown once thrived.
© Rich Iwasaki