Picture Bride Stories:
A Conversation with Barbara Kawakami
Thursday, October 18, 2018 • 7:00 pm
Kapiʻolani Community College, Hale ʻŌhiʻa
The Hawaiian Historical Society invites its members and friends to a conversation with Barbara Kawakami, on Thursday, October 18, 2018, at the Kapiʻolani Community College, Hale ʻŌhiʻa, from 7:00 pm.
Parking in Lot C (stairs) or Lot E is recommended, parking is free. The event is co-sponsored by the International Café at Kapiʻolani Community College. This presentation is free and open to the public.
During the Restrictive Immigration Period of 1908-1924, 20,000 picture brides came to Hawai῾i from Japan, Okinawa and Korea. Marriages were arranged through an exchange of photos of prospective brides and grooms. Behind every picture there is a personal story of how each photo led to a lifelong commitment after meeting for the first time at the immigration station. Barbara Kawakami will introduce you to a few of the picture brides she interviewed and share their initial reaction of first meetings with husbands, hardships they endured to raise a family, and survive in a foreign land. These women came with strong cultural values that led them to be innovative, determined, and adaptive.
Barbara Kawakami was born in Japan in 1921 and came to Hawaiʻi with her family when she was three months old. After graduating from the eighth grade, she was sent to a sewing school and had a successful career in dressmaking for thirty-eight years. While married and raising a family, she became a naturalized American citizen and earned a GED high school diploma. At age 53, she decided to pursue her dream of going to college, first at Leeward Community College, then to the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa where she earned a BS in Textile and Clothing and a Master’s degree in Asian Studies. Her childhood experiences growing up in Waipahu’s Camp 1 have influenced her passion to document the lives of the Japanese immigrants in their work and personal lives as a tribute to their sacrifice and determination to survive in Hawaiʻi. Her publications include Japanese Immigrant Clothing in Hawaii 1885-1941 (1993 UH Press) and Picture Bride Stories (2016 UH Press).