January 27, 2006 Wall Street Journal article by Steve Mollman

Also, research Tips based upon own experience for researching your family in Japan, as well as an interesting article on the origin of Japanese family names.


Nakamura (中村)family in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Fukutaro Nakamura was Born 6-6-1890 and emigrated to Brazil in 1919 aboard the ship Sanuki-maru, departing from Nagasaki, Japan on March 27, 1919, arriving to Santos on May 20th, 1919. Fukutaro traveled with the Nishimiya (西宮)family, neighbors from his home village Sekido. Fukutaro's last known address in 1933 was: Rua Nossa Senhora da Lapa 435, Sao Paulo, Brazil




There are probably over a thousand locations that can make claims to a Heishi (aka Heiki or Taira Clan) Ochiudo "fallen" connection after their demise when protecting the boy emperor at Dan no Ura in 1185.

It appears that the Tanaka (田中)and Nakamura (中村)family ancestors were in hiding in their tiny Yamaguchi mountain village (not even found on Google maps) for maybe as long as 800 years. From the hundreds of weather worn headstones in the village Ohaka, it comes as no surprise.

To support any theory of a Heike connection, even if only circumstantially, local oral legend dictates that the Tanaka and Nakamura ancestral village and a nearby village (just a 15-min. walk along a mountain path) once had two boats (Nisou Bune) from the Heike period on the mountain top that they brought with them, as well as a Heike (Jyofuku-ji) temple, a reputation for making bows and arrows, a local Kyoto Ben accent (according to local Bhuddist head) used through the mid-1900s and a host of other stories that imply a link. After all, why would farmers in the mountains of Yamaguchi Ken need or have the skill to make bows and arrows?

One particularly interesting story says that the neighboring village once had over 200 villagers prior to the arrival of the fleeing Heike Samurai in 1185 A.D., but there was some sort of conflict over the Samurai bringing their own Buddhist temple (Jyofuku-ji) temple, which differed from temple of the indigenous farmers and that this resulted in conflict.

One theory is that the Samurai did not want to risk being turned over to the Genji (Minamoto) by the local farmers and fled to the neighboring ancestral village Maruda (a 15-min. walk away).

There is somewhat of a sense of urgency in researching this village because only one elderly resident is left with any sense of the local history. Furthermore, there is construction starting to take place in the area, rendering any archaeological prospects negligible.







During the Edo era, a local Daimyo (warlord) designated an area village to produce Washi. There were many Kozo (mulberry trees) that grew in that area and this was the source of their ability to produce unique and exceptional quality Japanese paper. Even today, there are some scattered Kozo trees. Apparently, the Daimyo set a policy that nobody from the village (who knew how to make such high quality Washi) could move out of the village, and if someone else outside of the village wanted to marry someone in the village, that person had to move into the village and stay in order to protect their paper-making secret. Some of those papermaking tools are still stored in one of the old Kura (storage building, on the second floor). When asked to see the tools, the Yoshikazu and another woman were a little hesitant to show them because the owner of the storage warehouse was not there.


Sign indicating the way to Maruda (丸田)