|Mr. and Mrs. Yatsuhashi in Washington DC, ca.1930|
Born in Japan in 1886, Harumichi arrived in the US in 1907 as a clerk at the Yamanaka Boston branch. Six years later he married Shigeki. Together they raised 5 children in the Brookline neighborhood of Boston, just up the street from the Joseph Kennedy home. By the 1930s, Harumichi was vice-president of the Boston branch. He also served as president of the Japan America Society Boston chapter.
In addition to papers and photographs that document the commerce of Asian art in the 20th century, the collection contains a number of photo albums of the Yatsuhashis, a thriving Japanese American family. Notable in the albums are the many photographs of their trips to Washington DC. Visiting the nation’s capital must have been an important regular event, taking in the monuments, the cherry blossoms, and naturally, the Freer gallery.
In 1944 the federal government seized all of the Yamanaka shops through the Alien Property Custodian and auctioned off their holdings. After the war, Harumichi and his oldest son opened a small shop of their own and did appraisal services. He occasionally corresponded with Freer staff into the 1950s, but as far as I can tell the Freer never did direct business with him, as we had when he was with Yamanaka & Company. Shigeki passed away in 1961 and Harumichi in 1982.
I hope that by preserving these albums we honor an old friend who in his quiet way contributed much to us and to his adopted country.