Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Fumiko Hayashida holding daughter Natalie during relocation, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Fumiko Hayashida holding daughter Natalie during relocation, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

"Fumiko Hayashida: The Woman Behind the Symbol."

Produced by Stourwater Pictures in association with the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.

In 1942, two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing the relocation of 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast in order to incarcerate them in isolated and desolate concentration camps. The government’s justification was to protect the country against espionage and sabotage by Japanese Americans. Those rounded up included everyone who had at least 1/16th of Japanese heritage—from newborn babies, young children and orphans, to the elderly and the infirm. They were interned between 1942-1945 in ten states from Idaho to Arkansas that were surrounded by barbed wire and soldiers with machine guns facing inward.

Exclusion Order No. 1, authorizing the first relocation, targeted the Japanese Americans living on Bainbridge Island, Washington. One of them was 31-year-old Fumiko Hayashida, a pregnant mother of two. She was one of 227 members of her community who, dressed in their best clothes, assembled at the Eagledale ferry landing on March 30th, 1942. As they waited to be taken off the Island by armed military escorts, Fumiko, holding her 13 month old daughter Natalie Kayo, was photographed by a Seattle Post-Intelligencer photographer. The photograph has since become a lasting iconic symbol of the internment experience.

Fumiko Hayashida's story reflects the effect of a great historical injustice on the lives and dreams of many immigrant farming families in the early 1900s, and how the futures of an entire ethnic community were changed by that experience. Families suffered loss of property, hardship, and shame because they looked like the enemy. Often separated from their husbands, in other camps or away fighting to defend the country that had imprisoned their families, the mothers and grandmothers in the Camps maintained the community.

With additional support from Humanities Washington, Artist Trust, the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council, the Bainbridge Community Foundation and the Celluloid Bainbridge Film Finishing Fund, the producers were able to lengthen the original 9 minute website film to a 15 minute film.

The longer version of FUMIKO HAYASHIDA:THE WOMAN BEHIND THE SYMBOL premiered MOHAI and was broadcast on Public Television stations KCTS/Seattle and KYVE/Yakima. Soon after, it was broadcast on Idaho Public Television and on Oregon Public Broadcasting. The film was also shown on Spokane PBS and at the Minidoka Symposium in Twin Falls. The theme of the symposium was Civil Liberties and the Arts.

The film was shown at the Port Townsend Film Festival, the Tacoma Film Festival, and the Gig Harbor Film Festival. Fumiko Hayashida made an appearance at those festivals at age 99. In addition, the film was shown at the Northwest Film Forum's Local Sightings Film Festival in Seattle. The film was screened as part of Kitsap County's "One Book, One Community" program in Bainbridge Island, Port Orchard, Bremerton and Poulsbo. The film was screened along with several other of Lucy Ostrander’s films at the Olympia Timberland Library and at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

Contact Information:

Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community
1298 Grow Avenue Northwest
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Karen Matsumoto
Project Manager