Michiyo (Ibuka) Inouye
Tule Lake - Jerome

Brick #3109   Wall Location  Column: 64   Row: 11

Michiyo Ibuka Inouye was born in Yanagi, Tokyo, Japan on 11 November 1899. Her father was a medical doctor, as had been a number of his ancestors. She married Saburo Inouye, who traveled back to Japan from California to meet her, and immigrated to the United States in 1909. They settled in Sacramento, California, where Saburo opened a furniture shop. In 1941, the Inouye family, including sons William Yoshio Inouye and George Toshio Inouye, and daughter Miyoko Inouye, were relocated, at first to Tule Lake Relocation Center, California, then Michiyo, Saburo, and Miyoko to the relocation center in Jerome, Arkansas (William and George were by then at Swarthmore College).

In 1944, the Citizens Cooperating Committee of the War Relocation Authority asked Michiyo and Saburo to move to Philadelphia where they managed the Japanese-American Hostel. Until 1945, the Inouyes aided over 1,000 Japanese Americans relocating in the Philadelphia area. The hostel was located at 3228 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, and was sponsored by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Philadelphia Federation of Churches, and the Citizen's Cooperating Committee of the War Relocation Authority. It served as a halfway house for Japanese-American families arriving in Philadelphia from various relocation centers around the country. After the war the hostel moved to 4238 Spruce Street, Philadelphia and catered primarily to foreign students attending the University of Pennsylvania. When Michiyo retired in 1974 the hostel was closed.

The Inouyes were very active in the community. They were charter members of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League and parishioners of the Woodland Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. In 1969 Michiyo was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure by Emperor Hirohito for her role in bettering and maintaining good relations between the United States and Japan.

The Inouyes had three children, two sons and a daughter. William and Miyoko became medical doctors, and George a Ph.D. physics researcher.

Michiyo Ibuka Inouye died on 29 November 1978 at the age of seventy-nine. Saburo Inouye died on 14 April 1968 at the age of eighty.

The Saburo and Michiyo Inouye Papers are housed at the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, in Philadelphia, a total of five folders, span the period 1888 to 1985 with the majority falling between 1942 and 1949. They contain correspondence, news clippings, speeches, and immigration/naturalization documents relating to the Inouye's personal and public lives. The correspondence is limited to their son, William Inouye. It shows his attempts to recover an impounded camera and gain admission to Swarthmore College after having been relocated from an internment camp to Philadelphia (1942-1944). Similarly, the papers contain published articles relating to the experiences of interned and relocated Japanese-American college students (1942-1945). There are also a number of speeches given at a tea honoring the Inouyes for their service at the Philadelphia Hostel for Japanese-Americans. Miscellaneous items include a list of Japanese living in the United States for fifty years or more (as of 1960).

Mr. and Mrs. Inouye's papers were given to the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in 1985 by Miyoko Inouye Bassett and Eleanor Ward Inouye (William's wife) in conjunction with the Institute's exhibition on Japanese Americans.

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