Film | Wide Angle

Documentary on Japanese 'war brides' is gaining steam

by Kaori Shoji

Special To The Japan Times

The documentary-film scene just keeps getting better, and here’s one recent example that strikes a chord. Three women (Kathryn Tolbert, Lucy Craft and Karen Kasmauski) — all first-born daughters of Japanese war brides who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s to wed Americans — have gotten together to make “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight,” a 20-minute documentary about an overlooked slice of life in America’s history.

You’d think the existing Japanese communities in the U.S. would have welcomed with open arms the roughly 50,000 Japanese women who immigrated after World War II but, as it turns out, “the exact opposite was true,” says Craft.

“The Japanese in the U.S. had such a horrendous experience in the internment camps that they wanted nothing to do with the Japanese from Japan,” she says. And so the women, such as Craft’s own mother, Atsuko, were ignored by Japanese Americans while at the same time being shunned by their husband’s family and friends in predominantly white rural communities.

“But they wrote glowing letters back to their families in Japan,” says Craft. “The majority of Japanese war brides were too embarrassed to admit their unhappiness, or that they’d made a mistake.” Now their daughters are telling their stories.

The film is currently looking for a distributor and has already attracted the attention of several festivals and museums in the U.S. and Japan. For more information, visit fallsevengetupeight.com.