Fishing and canneries

Japanese Americans found work at salmon canneries along the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington, and their labor was welcomed in Alaskan towns such as Ketchikan and Petersburg as early as the 1890s. They traveled by ship to the cannery towns, where they slowly developed small communities whose population swelled with the yearly arrival of workers. Issei (Japanese immigrant) entrepreneurs started the oyster industry from scratch in Puget Sound. Japanese American oyster farms became thriving businesses before World War II.

Industry and employment (332)
Fishing and canneries (174)

Related articles from the Densho Encyclopedia :
Takahashi v. Fish and Game Commission

174 items
Shucking oysters (ddr-densho-15-93)
img Shucking oysters (ddr-densho-15-93)
These Japanese Americans are shucking oysters on a table. Unshelled oysters were stored behind the wall shown here. The workers grabbed the oysters through an opening in the wall, opened them, placed the oysters in buckets, then deposited the shells on a conveyor belt below the worktable. Shuckers were paid by the bucket.
Two men fishing for trout (ddr-densho-15-91)
img Two men fishing for trout (ddr-densho-15-91)
Fred Kosaka (top) and (first name unknown) Sano fish for Dolly Varden, a type of trout. The two men were in Alaska to work in the canneries.
Men playing go (ddr-densho-15-26)
img Men playing go (ddr-densho-15-26)
These Japanese Americans are seen traveling to Alaska to work in the canneries. The man on the left facing the camera is Mr. Abe.
Unloading oysters from a bateau (ddr-densho-15-107)
img Unloading oysters from a bateau (ddr-densho-15-107)
These workers are unloading oysters from a bateau at the processing area. The oysters were shoveled into a hopper and onto a conveyor belt that led into the processing area, where they were opened.
Men salting salmon (ddr-densho-15-22)
img Men salting salmon (ddr-densho-15-22)
Pictured at Shear Water Bay near Kodiak Island, these Japanese Americans are salting the nose area of the salmon, which will later be pickled. Pickled nose cartilage was considered a delicacy.
Oyster bateaux (ddr-densho-15-106)
img Oyster bateaux (ddr-densho-15-106)
The seven oyster bateaux shown here are about to be towed to the processing area.
Steerage ticket cover (ddr-densho-15-24)
doc Steerage ticket cover (ddr-densho-15-24)
This ticket belonged to Norio Mitsuoka, who was eighteen at the time he traveled to Japan.
Cabin quarters (ddr-densho-15-37)
img Cabin quarters (ddr-densho-15-37)
Yozo Sato reads during the voyage to Alaska. Sleeping on a bunk was a luxury. Most passengers had to sleep on cots.
Men on ship's deck (ddr-densho-15-39)
img Men on ship's deck (ddr-densho-15-39)
These Japanese Americans are relaxing on deck on their way to Alaska to work in the canneries. The man glancing at the camera is George Izui, whose family ran the Panama Drugstore in Seattle's Nihonmachi.
Oyster  farmer (ddr-densho-15-97)
img Oyster farmer (ddr-densho-15-97)
"Turk" Fujiya picking oysters at low tide. A bateau, or small barge, that carried the oysters is seen in the background to the right. Long poles were used to mark the cleared areas so that the bateau would not sit on unharvested oysters.
Seed oyster boxes (ddr-densho-15-112)
img Seed oyster boxes (ddr-densho-15-112)
These boxes once contained seed oysters from Japan. The oysters were strewn in the beds where oyster spawn or "spats" would attach themselves to the shells. The oysters were harvested the following season.
Unloading oysters from a bateau (ddr-densho-15-114)
img Unloading oysters from a bateau (ddr-densho-15-114)
Workers unloading oysters at the Willa Point Oyster Company, where the oysters were canned for shipping.
Cannery workers (ddr-densho-15-20)
img Cannery workers (ddr-densho-15-20)
These workers are sitting on plywood in front of the cannery.
Station-house dock (ddr-densho-15-94)
img Station-house dock (ddr-densho-15-94)
Oyster-farm workers often lived in station houses built on pilings in the bay. Since the only way to access the house was by boat, the houses had floating docks, such as the one shown here.
Oyster farmer (ddr-densho-15-101)
img Oyster farmer (ddr-densho-15-101)
"Turk" Fugiya pushes a bateau, a small barge, with a pole. The harvested oysters were loaded on bateaux and moved by towing or by digging and pushing off on long poles.
Interior of cannery (ddr-densho-15-43)
img Interior of cannery (ddr-densho-15-43)
Interior of the cannery before it was opened for the season. Note that several of the machines are disassembled.
Oyster bateau and scow (ddr-densho-15-116)
img Oyster bateau and scow (ddr-densho-15-116)
The scow (upper right) and oyster bateau (lower right) harvested oysters together. The scow was equipped with a winch-operated dredge, which was lowered and dragged across the oyster beds at high tide. Oysters were then loaded onto the bateau and delivered to the processing plant. Both scows and bateaux had to be towed.
Oyster  farmer (ddr-densho-15-99)
img Oyster farmer (ddr-densho-15-99)
Hisato "Monks" Yano harvesting oysters with tongs. Tongs were used when the tide was not completely out. Oysters were collected between two rakes, one at the end of each pole. The harvester pushed the poles together, closing the rakes, then pulled up the oysters. One load weighed approximately 20 to 30 pounds.
Oyster farmer (ddr-densho-15-96)
img Oyster farmer (ddr-densho-15-96)
Mr. Okazaki gathering oysters in bushel baskets. When full, the baskets were emptied onto the bateau in the background. If the flats were muddy, the baskets were pulled to the bateau on wooden slats. The gloves worn by Okazaki were made from canvas covered with rubber. Because of the sharp oyster shells, a pair of gloves ...
Oyster processing machine (?) (ddr-densho-15-32)
img Oyster processing machine (?) (ddr-densho-15-32)
This machine from the Yamashita oyster farm might have been used to process oyster shells.
[Seiichi Okine?, fishing] (ddr-csujad-5-23)
img [Seiichi Okine?, fishing] (ddr-csujad-5-23)
A photograph of two Japanese men holding fishing rods. Right is probably Seiichi Okine. Includes fish that they caught. See this object in the California State Universities Japanese American Digitization project site: oki_01_05_007
Letter from Frank Herron Smith to C. I. O. Reporter, Station KYA, San Francisco, May 5, 1945 (ddr-csujad-21-3)
doc Letter from Frank Herron Smith to C. I. O. Reporter, Station KYA, San Francisco, May 5, 1945 (ddr-csujad-21-3)
Letter to popular local radio reporter requests that he speak out against injustices perpetrated against Japanese American citizens during World War II. Smith notes his responsibility for "the care of our 37 Japanese churches," states that he is concerned that church members are not being allowed to work in canneries in Sacramento by the union, and ...
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