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 (204)
Fishing and canneries (156)

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

156 items
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.
Two men washing canned salmon (ddr-densho-15-90)
img Two men washing canned salmon (ddr-densho-15-90)
Fred Kosaka (left) and (first name unknown) Takehara wash cans of salmon that have just been cooked. Washing was necessary to remove debris produced during the cooking process.
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.
Two men with oyster shells (ddr-densho-15-120)
img Two men with oyster shells (ddr-densho-15-120)
Hiroshi (left) and Masaru Odoi punched holes into oysters shells. The shells were strung on wire and hung on racks in the water to catch oyster spawn. Afterwards, farmers spread the shells over a bed. This was an experimental way of hatching oysters in the 1930s.
Men on ship's deck (ddr-densho-15-33)
img Men on ship's deck (ddr-densho-15-33)
These Japanese Americans are on their way to work in the Alaskan canneries. The man lying down on the far left is Mike Hirahara. The three men closest to the camera from top to bottom are Min Kanazawa, (first name unknown) Sano, and George Nojiri.
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.
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.
Oyster-farm station house (ddr-densho-15-104)
img Oyster-farm station house (ddr-densho-15-104)
The station house is where oyster farmers lived during the harvesting season. The house was erected on pilings. In the foreground is a bateau, or small barge, that was used to haul oysters.
Cannery workers (ddr-densho-15-20)
img Cannery workers (ddr-densho-15-20)
These workers are sitting on plywood in front of the cannery.
The Northwest Times Vol. 3 No. 41 (May 21, 1949) (ddr-densho-229-208)
doc The Northwest Times Vol. 3 No. 41 (May 21, 1949) (ddr-densho-229-208)
"B.C. Union Resolves Not to Oppose to Japanese Getting Fish Licenses" (p. 1), "Local Community Will Pay Tribute to GI Dead May 30" (p. 1),
The Northwest Times Vol. 1 No. 20 (March 18, 1947) (ddr-densho-229-7)
doc The Northwest Times Vol. 1 No. 20 (March 18, 1947) (ddr-densho-229-7)
"Fort Denies GI's in Town Saturday Night" (p. 1), "Pay Differences Peril Continuance of Salmon Industry" (p. 1), "Most Japanese Unaffected by Deportation Rule" (p. 2)
The Northwest Times Vol. 2 No. 31 (April 7, 1948) (ddr-densho-229-100)
doc The Northwest Times Vol. 2 No. 31 (April 7, 1948) (ddr-densho-229-100)
"Brief Raps Calif. Bill "Sheer' Bias" (p. 1), "Resignation of President Rojo from Local 7 Stirs Up Confusion Among Cannery Workers' Ranks" (p. 1), "U.S. Intelligence Officer Lauds Work of Nisei GI's in Japan War" (p. 1).
Robert T. Ohashi Interview Segment 8 (ddr-densho-1000-350-8)
vh Robert T. Ohashi Interview Segment 8 (ddr-densho-1000-350-8)
Meeting Japanese Americans from Seattle in the canneries

Nisei male. Born July 24, 1925, in Ketchikan, Alaska. Grew up in Ketchikan, where parents ran a store. During World War II, was removed to the Puyallup Assembly Center, Washington, and the Minidoka incarceration camp, Idaho. After leaving camp, went with family to work for a time in ...

John Kats Marumoto Interview Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1000-322-6)
vh John Kats Marumoto Interview Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1000-322-6)
The process of fishing at night

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

Giro Nakagawa Interview Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1000-422-11)
vh Giro Nakagawa Interview Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1000-422-11)
Being removed from the oyster farm station house after the bombing of Pearl Harbor
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