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Issei Women as Community Builders

Issei women were an important part of the Japanese community in San Franciscoy.  They worked, raised families, ran households, and participated in community organizations.  In 1912 a visionary group of Issei women, determined to provide social services for the women and girls of their community, founded the Joshi Seinen Kai, an organization that would eventually become the independent Japanese YWCA. The organization offered temporary housing, skills education, and social activities.


Issei Immigration

Until 1868, Japan isolated itself from the outside world, with some exceptions, under the auspices of the Tokugawa Shogunate.  The coming of the “Black Ships,” eight American steam-run naval ships led by Commodore Matthew Perry forced Japan to change this closed-door policy.  Under the Emporer Meiji, the period known as the Meiji Restoration, Japan focused on western-style modernization and industrialization. 

Rising from the Ashes

After being forced from their homes and businesses by the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, San Francisco’s  Japanese population concentrated in the Western Addition. The area became the center of government and commerce until about 1913 when the City‘s downtown  and civic center were rebuilt.  

Community leaders, most notably Kyutaro Abiko, publisher of the Nichibei Shimbun newspaper, advocated for the Japanese to locate in the Western Addition and to regard themselves as a settlement of Japanese who would establish businesses, raise families, and establish a permanent foothold for Japanese in America.


Yona Tsuda Abiko

More than any other individual, Yona Tsuda Abiko was instrumental in the creation and continued life of the 1830 Sutter building and its legacy. Her family (where in Japan were they?) supported women’s education - her sister Umeko Tsuda founded Tsuda College for Women in Japan. Active in the Japanese Christian community, 

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