Interpreting the Japanese Migration to the USA Using Photographs

Interpreting the Japanese Migration to the USA Using Photographs

Introduction

Through the evaluation of historical photographs, it is possible to get historical facts regarding a community. It is also possible to comprehend cultural background of a community using such photographs (Nanta 34). The aim of this paper is to evaluate the photographs of the Japanese from three varying sources. This evaluation is rationally based on the fact that interpreting the migration of the Japanese to the United States of America is possible using photographs. The argument of this paper is that depending on photographs alone to interpret the migration of the Japanese to USA is impossible. As such, the photographs ought to be supplemented by secondary sources in the interpretation of the immigration of this community to the United States.

Interpretation of the photographs

The business that the Japanese people were practicing in Japan prior the opening of the doors of their island to other global parts is depicted by the first picture of the old photos of Japan. This photograph shows a businessperson in Japan weaving baskets that were used for business purposes. Bamboos were used to weave these baskets. Although it is difficult to determine the Japanese cultural practices from this photograph, it is possible to determine the business that they were practicing back in their home (OldphotosJapan.com Para. 1). It is also possible to determine the life that these people were living in their home. Additionally, it is possible to comprehend why Japan opened up to other parts of the globe despite being closed for a long time. This photograph shows the lifestyle of the Japanese in the 1890s. At this time, Japan opened its doors. Azuma notes that the government of Japan did this with an aim of expanding its commercial goods’ market (Azuma Para. 4). On the basis of this knowledge, it is possible to relate what happened in Japan at this time with what the government of Japan did or why it opened its doors. This relates to the information acquired from the photograph as well as from secondary sources.

In broom vendor photo, one sees how the people of Japan conducted their business in the 1890s. This photo shows a person moving around selling different brooms. The person sells brooms to different customers. On the basis of the information that is provided below this photo, the vendor makes special calls to alert customers about his presence (OldphotosJapan.com Para. 2). Although this can sound somehow awkward, vendors in Japan used this method to reach out to their customers. As such, a historian can use this photo to learn the way street vendors in Japan conducted business. It is also possible to use this photo to comprehend various mechanisms that businesspeople used in Japan.

In the third photo, Nihonbashi fish which is a market is illustrated. This photo also shows how people lived in the 1890s. It depicts different boats in the seashore. It shows fishermen as they move around fishing. Some fishermen are preparing to start fishing while others are moving away from the seashore as they go fishing. Although telling much regarding the Japan fishing industry may be impossible, it is possible to tell that fishing was among the practices of the Japanese people at that time. It is also possible to identify the equipment that the Japanese people were using in the fishing industry at that time (OldphotosJapan.com Para. 3). Actually, among the equipments that the people were using include baskets made of bamboos. On the basis of this knowledge, it is possible for a historian to say that bamboos were very important among the Japanese.

However, a different type of a lifestyle is depicted by the Oregon Nikkei legacy center. It shows that the Japanese people who live in the US have a different lifestyle. This is followed the migration and settlement of some of them in the US. This photograph shows two men of the Japanese origin as they prepare mochi. This is a traditional Japanese food. The men are admired by onlookers while preparing mochi (lwasaki Para. 1). This is a different photo because the old photos of Japan indicate different business practices of the Japanese while this shows the Japanese people as they try to hold on to cultural practices while living in a foreign country. However, this photo does not indicate much about the cultural practices of the Japanese people. It depicts them as they try to show a type of cultural food.

A Japanese man called Kiyotomi Uehara is shown in the other photo as he write the Japanese people’ life history. HeProofreading-Editing is writing the history of the Japanese who migrated from Okinawa Island to Argentina. He seems serious while writing the story (Uehara Para. 1). Going by this photo, one can get information and write histories of different people or even anything else. Japanese photos will be evaluated in the next section from three sources that relate to the Japanese people’s migration to the US. The argument of this section is that one can write the interpretation of the migration of Japanese to the United States on the basis of the photographs that are currently available. Nevertheless, this paper will hold on to the fact that acquiring all the required information from these photographs is practically impossible. The photographs will first be compared from three main sources after which the argument will be developed.

From the comparison of different photos on primary sources, these photos differ from each other. The primary source shows old photos of Japan that depict the Japanese people’s lives back in their home before migrating to the US. It is possible for a historian to determine the kind of lives of the Japanese people back at home at that time. It is also possible to determine the businesses that they were practicing and the materials that were used to make goods. Additionally, it is possible for a historian to identify their religious practices before migrating to the US.

However, the other primary sources have photos that show different lives of the people of Japan after migrating to Argentina and the US. The Oregon Nikkei legacy center’s photo shows the Japanese as they try to hold on to their culture by preparing their traditional food after settling in the US (Iwasaki Para. 1). In the other photo, a man of the Japanese origin is depicted as he tries to write the Japanese people’s history after migrating from Okinawa Island to the US. This shows that the life of these people has been transformed (Uehara Para. 2). On the basis of this evaluation, the primary photographs’ sources show a variation in the Japanese people’s lives.

Going by the differences that are illustrated by the primary photo sources, one can write the interpretation of the migration of the Japanese to the US. This is because these photos provide varied information which can help in writing this interpretation. The old photos of Japan as a source provides information about the Japanese people’s lives back in their home before migrating to Argentina and USA. The other primary sources provide photographs that show the changes that the Japanese people underwent after migrating and settling in Argentina and USA (Iwasaki Para. 1). On the basis of this information, one can provide an account of the Japanese people’s lives prior and after settling in the US. The provided information makes interpreting such details possible.

Nevertheless, although relying on primary sources’ photos while writing the Japanese migration is possible, one cannot depend on the photos alone. This implies that historians should have secondary sources to write historical facts. Failing to rely on secondary sources will cause misinterpretation of these photographs. Regarding the migration of the Japanese and the photos, these photos lack adequate information that is required to write an interpretation of Japanese migration comprehensively (Nanta 39). As such, these photos do not have important information which may be required to write such an interpretation. The photographer’s interest might also differ from that of the person using the photographs. As such, relying on the photos alone in writing this interpretation would not be right.

Conclusion

The essence of photographs in the interpretation of historical facts is demonstrated in this paper. Its concentration is on the photos of the people of Japan as they migrate to Argentina and USA. Its argument is not in favor of the use of photos alone. It argues that secondary sources are required to supplement photographs. As such, secondary sources should also be used in interpreting the migration of the Japanese to the US.

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Works cited

Azuma, Eiichiro. Brief historical overview of Japanese emigration, 1868-1998. Retrieved on 11th December, 2013 from http://www.janm.org/projects/inrp/english/overview.htm

Nanta, Arnaud. Physical anthropology and the reconstruction of Japanese identity in postcolonial Japan. Social science Japan journal, 11.1 (2008): 29-47.

OldphotosJapan.com. Old photos of Japan. Retrieved on 11th December, 2013 from http://www.oldphotosjapan.com/en/

Iwasaki, Rich. Nikkei legacy. Retrieved on 11th December, 2013 from http://www.oregonnikkei.org/exhibit/today.html

Uehara, Kiyotomi. The Story of Okinawan Immigration to Argentina Told Through Photos From A Family Album. Retrieved on 11th December, 2013 from http://www.elenauehara.com.ar/fliaokinarg/default.html