Jean Mishima, Chicago Japanese-American Historical Society 


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Doris – SURVIVOR   

My mother, Kimiye (Doris) was born in Los Angeles, California on August 13, 1916. 

She was taken back to Japan when she was 4 years old to live with her parental grandparents.  She remembered going up the mountain every day to collect fire wood   She returned to the United States when she 11 years old on July 19, 1927.

In her high school years, she was boarded out to a physician’s family to take care of their twin sons in exchange for her room and board until she was 17. A marriage was arranged at the age of 18 to a man she met only a week before the wedding.

On August 2, 1942 during WWII, she and her family were incarcerated and put into an internment camp in Gila River, Arizona for a little over two years, and their only crime was they were of Japanese descent. 

She came to Chicago in October 1944, found an apartment and returned to Gila River to collect the family.

We lived at 55th and Blackstone and eventually moved to the north and later west side of Chicago.

She was a survivor.  She endured many hardships:  denied family cohesiveness growing up, forced into an arranged marriage, endured being imprisoned for being a Japanese American, and raised three children as a single parent.

She died in October 1944 of bone cancer.

In 2018 Jean was honored with our outstanding community leader award. Check out her interview below to hear her story!