In July 1913, Tei Shida Saito immigrated to Hawai‘i from Fukushima, Japan to marry a successful pineapple businessman. She wore this traditional montsuki (formal family crest kimono) with a gold-brocade obi (sash).
Over 20,000 picture brides arrived in the U.S. between 1908 and 1924, when immigration from Japan was effectively prohibited by the U.S. government. A family member or a friend served as a go-between to arrange the marriage of a young woman living in Japan to the prospective husband working in the U.S. Often, the couple knew each other only through an exchange of photos and family information. The average age of the bride ranged from 16 to 20; their husbands were usually much older.
This wedding kimono joined our Barriers to Bridges exhibit which opened at the National Museum of American History on November 21, 2008—when the American History Museum itself reopened after an extensive renovation. This artifact case presents Asian immigration to the United States from the 19th century to the present.
Gift of Barbara Kawakami