Twenty-one-year-old Hana Omiya, the protagonist of Uchida’s Picture Bride, is on the ship that is taking her from Japan to the California coast as this story begins. It is some time in November of 1917, and Hana has decided to leave her village of Oka for a new life in the United States. She is heading toward Taro Takeda, whom she has promised to marry although she has never met him. Taro lives in Oakland. Their marriage has been arranged through Taro’s uncle and Hana’s parents. Hana encouraged this union so she might escape the drudgeries of becoming a Japanese farmer’s wife. Taro is ten years older than Hana and allegedly the owner of a thriving business.
When Hana first hears of Taro Takeda, she imagines that a life as his wife might be less confining than her prospects in an arranged marriage in her own small village. So she decides to take advantage of this unknown man’s need for a wife. She ventures out alone for the first time in her life and endures the long ocean journey. As she spends the cold days on the ship, she fantasizes about her future life as the wife of a merchant. She is hopeful that her life will be leisurely, with simple luxuries. At the end of the trip, she is eager to begin her new life.
Waiting for her is Taro Takeda, the first of many disappointments that diminish Hana’s dreams. Taro is much older than he appears in the picture he sent her, and Hana begins to...
(The entire section is 3476 words.)
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