- 山形大学紀要 人文科学 (ISSN:05134641)
- vol.15, no.2, pp.198-185, 2003-02
'Picture Brides' are issei women who went over to the United States to marry husbands they knew only from photographs. The picture marriage was a convenient way for issei men to marry and raise families in their settled land, for it spared them the cost and trouble of retuming to Japan. Though a variation of Japanese traditional marriage customs, the picture marriages were attacked by the exclusionists as proof of Japanese immorality and savagery and were bamed by the Japanese govemment afterward. Now, the picture brides often found that the men they had just married were enormously different from the photos they had seen. The men often sent photographs of their younger selves or even someone else. They also often exaggerated their personal lives in America, claiming to be hotel owners and farmers, though they were only busboys and farmhands actually. As expected, some women refused to marry their husbands and demanded to be taken back to Japan. Others, who remained in America, left their husbands for other men in following years (kakeochi). The majority of brides, however, endured happily, improving the situation they faced. From historical point of view, the picture brides have beenbroadly classified into the two types of women:one is the doomed woman who deserted her husband and children and then had to be sublect to ostracism by the community, and the other is the blessed woman who bore her plight and helped to build the foundation of Japanese American families and communities. The actual situation around the picture brides, however, is more complicated and even contradicted. In her novel Picture Bride, Yoshiko Uchida resists such simplification of images of picture brides. Hana Omiya, one of picture brides and heroin of the novel, marries Taro Takeda. In their first encounter, she is shocked that her husband looks older than his photo. Before long she comes to love Kiyoshi Yamaka, a friend of Taro, who is younger and more amiable than her husband. Although Taro suspects his wife' s love affair, Hana dispenses with elopement by the abrupt death of Yamaka. After that, she becomes an obedient wife to Taro by helping him keep his pride but she can not fully enjoy a happy life of housewife, for he never forgives her for loving other man. The movie Picture Bride, directed and scripted by Kayo Hatta, represents an idealized version of picture marriage. Riyo, agirl of 16, marries Matsuji, who is 43, of almost the age of her father. The age difference between them causes her to demand to return to Japan. Living together, Riyo begins to show affection for Matsuji and at last they are united both spiritually and physically. The story of the movie is excessively idealized and beautified, wanting actual reality. But we find a distinct feature in the heroin's career that has been seldom recognized in most of picture brides. Riyo had a secret that her parents both had died of tuberculosis that was thought of as a hereditary disease at that time. It is a new discovery that picture bride herself may have deceived her future spouse. Riyo is never stereotyped as a picture bride.