Left-to-right: father Umeyoshi (42), daughter Hideko (7), mother Tokuko (40), son Yōzō (3).
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) May 22, 1942
Unification between Japan and Korea starts with the Japanese Language
Without the “Imperial Spirit”, You Cannot Make Sushi, says Mr. Kaneko Umeyoshi
The family of Kaneko Umeyoshi (42) lives at 2-90 Motomachi and operates a well-known sushi restaurant called “Sakura Sushi” that everyone in the Yongsan neighborhood knows about. This family also regularly speaks Japanese and wears Japanese clothes like few others.
Mr. Kaneko is wearing Japanese clothes on a huge body of more than 20 kan (OP note: equivalent to 75 kg or 165 lb). It is hard to believe this uncle from “Sakura Sushi” when he says with a friendly smile that he is Korean-born. Fellow Koreans would dubiously ask themselves “What?” without thinking as they see how he impeccably wears his Japanese clothes and speaks Japanese so crisply. His wife and two children all love to wear Japanese clothes as well.
The Kaneko family lives by the spirit of the Imperial people and are Japanese people in body and soul, which is rare to see these days even among regular Japanese speakers. In 1925, at the age of 15, Mr. Kaneko went to Tokyo and worked hard at learning how to make sushi until he was 19. Then he returned to Korea and soon married his wife Tokuko (40). Since then, he has been at his current location for 20 years, gaining a reputation for his Japanese clothes and his Japanese language skills, and his restaurant “Sakura Sushi” has become widely known.
Since then, Mr. Kaneko says he has never spoken any other language than the Japanese that he learned in Tokyo. “It’s funny. Nowadays, it is more difficult for me to speak Korean,” he says with a wry smile. Of course, he doesn’t own any Korean clothes, but he has never worn them even once since he was a child.
He adopted a Japanese name when he was in Japan proper. He considered his children’s future prospects and reasoned that he should raise his children to become true Imperial people, so he should give his children Japanese-style names. First, his wife adopted a Japanese name. Then he named his eldest daughter Hideko (7), a first-grade student at Motomachi Elementary School (present-day Seoul Namjeong Elementary School). Next, he named his eldest son Yōzō (3). He raised his children speaking only Japanese and wearing only Japanese clothes. These days, his children not only don’t know a single word of Korean, they don’t even know yet that they are Korean. This resulted in an not-so-funny incident where he sweated quite a bit over how to enroll Hideko in school, and she was finally allowed to enroll even though he was told that there was no more room.
“I currently have about 20 employees, but I don’t allow them to speak Korean at all. Two years from now, more and more men will become soldiers, even here in Korea, so it would be a pity if they cannot speak Japanese well”, said Mr. Kaneko.
Mr. Kaneko really hopes from the bottom of his heart that all Koreans will become true Japanese people as soon as possible. (Photo: Kaneko’s family)
A donation of prize money
Mr. Yoon Eung-Byeon, a fourth-grade student at Kyodong Elementary School, visited the Jongno Police Station on May 21 to donate the prize money that he received when his light control shading device was selected to receive a special prize in the “Air Defense Product Exhibition” held by the police station.
(End of Translation)
This article is part of a series published by the government of Japan-colonized Korea in 1942 to highlight Korean families that were considered “households of the Japanese language” and exclusively spoke Japanese at home. Here are three other Korean families that were featured in this series:
- In 1942, pro-Imperial Japanese Korean parents boasted that their six children born and raised in Korea could not understand a word of Korean, because they ‘bit to death’ any Korean words which might accidentally slip out of their mouths, for which they were laughed at by other Koreans
- In 1942, one pro-Imperial Japan Korean family went to great lengths to force Japanese on their children, scolding a son for informally learning some basic Korean at school, making sure their Korean-speaking grandmother visiting them in Seoul from Kaesong did not influence them too much
- As a child, one Korean father was tormented by Japanese teachers who berated him as ‘an idiot who can’t understand Japanese’, so he and his wife imposed the Japanese language on their six children to make sure they did not suffer the same trauma that he did
Why am I posting this kind of content? Read my reasons here.
The Sakura Restaurant was located at Motomachi 2-90, as shown in this map of Seoul from 1933:
This is the same location in Seoul today as shown in Google Maps:
There appear to be an apartment building and some small shops where Sakura Sushi Restaurant used to stand – the restaurant appears to have disappeared.