“A picture can speak louder than words” or has a greater impact than any spoken or written word. Or “this speaks volumes” which is some hyperbole for the impact of a thing, its ability to express something so completely. I recently finished reading a non-fiction book Picture Bride Stories by Barbara F. Kawakami about Japanese Picture Brides in Hawaii who came to Hawaii from Japan and Okinawa during the 1885-1924 Immigration of Japanese laborers. The author immigrated to Hawaii with her parents from Japan as a baby and lived near the pineapple plantations. In her book she documents her interviews with sixteen women who were picture brides*. There were more that 20,000 of these women. On the publication of this book in 2016 the author was 94 years old. This book recounts the tremendous struggles and hardships these women faced in a place they thought would be paradise. Sometimes the men used younger photos of themselves or a photo of a more handsome friend to obtain their bride. On first meeting their husbands some women wanted to return to Japan, others had no choice but to make the best of it. These women labored long hours in the fields of the sugar and pineapple plantations with their husbands along with raising their children, and yet they were able to gaman, (persevere and endure). In this case the photos of the Picture Brides did not speak louder than their own words faithfully recorded by this author. Their poignant stories are an important part of the history of immigrants to our country.
In modern times many couples meet on internet dating sites. Their images are posted and become part of the selection process. The difference in this process to that of the “picture brides” is that the people go on to meet in person before making a permanent commitment.
Would you like to marry someone based on a picture and move to another country often never seeing your friends or families again?
* A practice of arranged marriage where the picture of the woman was exchanged with a picture of the man between the families. The bride and groom usually never met each other in person before agreeing to the marriage. The women who were married in this way were called “picture brides.”
This post is my contribution to Stream of Consciousness Saturday hosted by Linda G Hill. The prompt for today is “vol.” Featured image of Traditional Japanese Woman and Mountain from Public Domain Pictures.net