American Recipes in English and Japanese

A friend returned from Hawaii with a gift: two vintage cookbooks from Japan she found at a used book sale.

American Recipes in English and Japanese

This book has basic American recipes arranged in sections according to courses/main ingredient: canapes, soups, fish, eggs, bread, sandwiches, vegetables (including a macaroni and cheese souffle!), poultry, meats, sauces, salads and dressings, cakes, cake-fillings and icings, pies-puddings-fillings, cold desserts, candy, jellies and pickles, and beverages.

In the section before the recipes, there are definitions of weights and measures, oven terms (including how long it takes to heat the oven), candy terms, handy household hints (for example removing red wine stain from linen), and equivalents and substitutions.

Each recipe is numbered. Left pages are printed in English; right pages in Japanese. I thought this format would be useful for an English speaker living in Japan to take to the market in order to show Japanese store-keepers which specific items she wanted. Mr. Tess said it would be a good way to learn Japanese words one normally wouldn’t see in a regular language class, ie food vocabulary.

The title page says that the book was
“Compiled by the DAUGHTERS OF AMERICA, Yokohama”
The book was translated by MRS. HANAYO KUDO and MR. KENZO KUMAGAE.
Publication date: 1939
Sales agents: Yoshikawa Book Store, Yokohama
Publishers: O’Dell’s Service Bureau, Yokohama

I marveled that a 73 year old book could be in such great condition!

My friend wondered who the Daughters of America were. She had quickly glanced at the book before she purchased it and saw something about Refugees International Japan, and a recommendation from a fellow in the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service.

My friend told me some years ago about someone she was close to who had been interred in a Japanese prison camp during WW-II. Her health had broken and she died young. That would explain her curiosity about what possible sort of refugee aid (in connection with the U.S. Department of State?) a xenophobic 1939 Japan would provide.

I recalled reading something a long time ago, a novel or biography, about a Japanese person who had sheltered some refugees during the war. It was memorable for its exception, but I couldn’t bring forward any details.

Some Googling at home, and I found Chiune Sugihara. He was a Japanese diplomat who served as Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania. During World War II, he wrote travel visas that facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family’s lives.

The book was A Special Fate: Chiune Sugihara: Hero of the Holocaust, by Alison Leslie Gold. Click the photo to reach Amazon.

Visas and Virtue is a 1997 narrative short film based on an original one-act play by Tim Toyama, which was performed at The Road Theatre Company in Los Angeles in 1995. The play was then adapted by actor/director Chris Tashima in 1996, and completed as a 26-minute film in 1997. The film was produced by Cedar Grove Productions with Visual Communications serving as non-profit sponsor. The film won the Academy Award for Live Action Short Film in March, 1998 (70th Academy Awards). The Oscar statuettes went to actor and director Tashima and producer Chris Donahue. ~~~from Wikipedia

On walks through winter woods, a bird’s dry carcass
Agitates the retina with novel images,
A stranger’s quiet collapse in a noisy street
Is the beginning of much lively speculation,
And every time some dear flesh disappears
What is real is the arriving grief…

But we have only to learn to sit still and give no orders,
To make you offer us your echo and your mirror;
We have only to believe you, then you dare not lie;
To ask for nothing, and at once from your calm eyes,
With their lucid proof of apprehension and disorder,
All we are not stares back at what we are.

from The Sea and the Mirror by W.H. Auden

The title page says that the recipes were compiled by the Daughters of America, Yokohama. I didn’t find who they were. The below are unlikely:

The Daughters of America was the women’s auxillary organization of United American Mechanics. They organized in 1845 in Philadelphia as a secret fraternal society based on the Masons. The organization’s concern about immigration was prompted by “The constant landing upon our shores of the hordes of ignorant, vicious and lawless criminals of the old world….”

The Catholic Daughters of the Americas is one of the oldest and largest organizations of Catholic women in the Americas. They donate to charities, administer scholarship programs and strive “to be helping hands where there is pain, poverty, sorrow or sickness.” But the Catholics have had some difficulties in Japan.

Perhaps these daughters were American women in the “foreigners’ neighborhood” who adopted the name “Daughters of America.”

Mentioned next on the title page were the names of two translators but I couldn’t find any information about them.

The cost of producing American Recipes in English and Japanese appears to have been covered in part by adverts for local businesses which served the foreign community. The advertisements provide an insight into what life in Yokohama must have been like in 1939.

The book was offered for sale at the Yoshikawa Bookstore. The picture shows an advert for the bookstore which sold “books, magazines, stationery, and general job printing.”

On the facing page, The Yokohama Tansan Aerated Water Co. sold some interesting sodas, including “Tansan, Club Soda, Lemonade, Dry Ginger Ale, Pale Dinger Ale, Ginger Beer, Sarsaparilla, Tonic and Vita Cola.” Carbon Dioxide is called “liquid coal” in Japan; it’s used for a variety of manufacturing processes as well as for beverages.

In the Philippines, a tansan is a crown-shaped metal cap on a soda or beer bottle. Tagalog is an Austronesian language spoken as a first language by a third of the population of the Philippines and as a second language by most of the rest. If you use Google Image search you will see many crafts made with these bottle caps. I wonder how the Japanese came to use “tansan” as a word for carbonated water? History or happenstance?

Below the advert for sodas, beer and liquor, is another for a butcher shop T. Midzuo and Co. “Packer of Ham, Bacon, Sausage, and Butcher Shop (Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb)” “Provision Merchants and Ship Chandlers”

On the bottom of the title page, O’Dell’s Service Bureau is noted as the publisher of American Recipes in English and Japanese.

  • The advert in the picture indicates Douglas H. O’Dell published a “Household Guide and Expense Account,
    A kakeibo (家計簿) is a family account book. Any Japanese housewife worth her salt will keep a detailed record of her family’s expenditures and keep a the purse strings tight.
  • O’Dell’s Book of Cocktails and Fancy Drinks
    (which I found for sale online: in English and Japanese),
  • and Motorists’ Handbook of Japan.”

Also found online: Master of the Royal Secret 32th [degree]. (freemasons)
S. S. “Malolo” around Pacific cruise 1929 : Japan itineraries and sightseeing program.
Cha-no-yu The etiquette of a cup of tea; cha-no-yu, the tea ceremony of Japan.

Now have a look at the preface to the book.

This book is designed to assist the housekeeper in Japan, by reducing the liklihood of misunderstood instructions. Each recipe is numbered, so that, for example, having decided upon No. 6, in English, one may point to No. 6 in Japanese with the assurance that “cook san” is receiving accurate directions for that recipe.

that solves the mystery about who this book was intended for:
an English speaking foreigner who has a Japanese cook!

Or rather, for the Japanese cook to properly prepare unfamiliar dishes for his employer…

And now to the back of the book (The recipes themselves are quite basic American dishes, and perhaps some other time I’ll write a review about them) to solve my friend’s questions about Refugees International Japan, and the recommendation from a fellow in the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service.

The first thumbnail picture says “On behalf of Refugees International Japan, I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the republishing of the cookbook “American Recipes.”

Refugees International Japan (RIJ) is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to assist refugees who have been displaced as a result of war and conflict.

For more information about them, take a look at their web site.

The middle thumbnail picture shows a second title page at the end of the book: the publication date of this “facsimile” book. Thus solves the mystery about how a 73 year old book could be in such great condition. Though it reveals how broken my camera is and how much I need a new one… Published 1991!

The third thumbnail is an endorsement of this book written by Peter M. Skaer
Director, U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute Yokohama
Currently Mr. Skaer has been teaching linguistics at the Japanese National University in Hiroshima for six years. Before this, he worked with the U.S. State Department as director of the Japanese Training Institute in Yokohama. Skaer holds an M.A. and a Ph.D., both from the University of Washington.

Click page 2 for more information about topics I addressed in this post.


2 thoughts on “American Recipes in English and Japanese

  1. Hi Tess, My husband and I had the pleasure of watching a full feature of Sugihara’s story, 2005 Yomiuri TV production, a two-hour-long drama titled Visas for Life, based on his wife’s book. I was looking for a blog with Japanese cooking and not only delighted to find your blog, but also to watch a clip of heart warming history. Thank you, Fae. :)

  2. Hello Fae,

    Mr. Sugihara was certainly a man to be admired. You and your husband were fortunate to see the “Visas for Life.” I couldn’t find that online! How wonderful that his wife was so supportive, yes!

    What I mean to say is that I’m very glad that you found my blog. I hope you enjoy my approach to Japanese home cooking—it’s changed over the years I have been posting. Most of the early recipes here are based on Hiroko Shimbo’s book The Japanese Kitchen.


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