Discover and research your Japanese American family history with our webinar series and special workshops!

Ongoing Programs:

May 13 – August 5, 2020: Your Family, Your History – Online Workshop Series on Researching, Preserving and Sharing Your Japanese American Roots with Genealogist Linda Harms Okazaki

Past Programs:

June 20, 2020: Japanese Family Names and Crests (Kamon) – Genealogy Webinar with Chester Hashizume


Accompanying Documents (click to download):
1. Discovering Your Japanese American Roots – Family Names and Crests
2. 100 Most Popular Japanese Surnames
3. Common Japanese Family Names


Your Family, Your History with Genealogist Linda Harms Okazaki and the Center: Online Workshop Series on Researching, Preserving and Sharing Your Japanese American Roots

Generously Supported by The Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation

Dates: Biweekly, May 13, 2020 – August 5, 2020
Program Fees:

5/13/20 Introductory Session – Free Admission
Sessions 2-8:  $30 Members, $50 General Public

UPDATE: The course is sold out and registration is now closed. Access to course materials and webinar recordings will be offered to new program participants at a reduced price following the conclusion of the current course.

Have you wanted to start researching your family history but didn’t know how to begin? Do you want to write up your family story but needed some assistance?

Please join genealogist, Linda Harms Okazaki, as she takes you on a genealogy journey. She will guide you through the research, and help you to write your story. Each session includes a homework assignment and culminates with sharing your final written project.

The series begins May 13, 2020 at 7:00 PM with a free introductory session, after which participants may enroll for subsequent sessions in the series held every other week. Participation in live webinar class sessions are limited to 30 participants. Video of webinar sessions will be recorded for enrolled program participants to access following the session date in case participants are unable to attend the live webinar as scheduled.

Program requirements: A computer is required and all classes will be conducted remotely via the videoconferencing platform, Zoom. Participants should have access to a computer and have basic computer skills.


Bi-Weekly Course Schedule:

1. Introduction to Family History – May 13, 2020, 7:00-8:30 PM (90 minutes)
Free Admission

This initial session covers getting started in genealogy, organization, pedigree charts and family group sheets, interviewing relatives, navigating websites, planning a writing project, and will end with an opportunity to “ask the genealogist.” Homework assignments will be described during the session.

Watch Session 1:

Download Session 1 Course Materials:

  1. Resource Sheet
  2. Pedigree Chart
  3. Family Group Record Worksheet
  4. Session 1 Presentation Slides

Full Program Sessions
May 28, 2020 – August 5, 2020 (7 session)
Fees: Members $30, General Public $50
Program enrollment includes access to webinar video recordings following live webinar sessions

2. Finding U.S. Records – May 28, 2020, 7:00-8:30 PM (90 minutes)
Basic records, including census, land, naturalization, vital, plus newspapers, city directories, manuscript collections will be covered. Camp records to be covered in next session. Homework to be assigned.

Watch Session 2 (Password Required):

Download Session 2 Course Materials:

  1. Finding Your Japanese Roots in the U.S. and in Japan
  2. Session 2 Class Materials
  3. Session 2 Presentation Slides

3. Camp Records – June 10, 2020, 7:00-8:00 PM (60 minutes)
Learn how to order camp records from the National Archives. Assembly Centers, WRA camps, and DoJ camps will be covered. Homework to be assigned.

Watch Session 3 (Password Required):

Download Session 3 Course Materials:

  1. Session 3 Presentation Slides
  2. List of National Archives Record Groups Related to WWII Incarceration Camps

4. Japanese Family Names and Crests (Kamon) with Chester Hashizume – June 20, 2020, 1:00-2:30 PM (90 minutes)
Learn about traditional Japanese family name meanings and origins, as well as family crests and designs. Webinar registration included with full course enrollment.

Watch Session 4 (No Password Required):


Download Session 4 Course Materials:

  1. Discovering Your Japanese American Roots – Family Names and Crests
  2. 100 Most Popular Japanese Surnames
  3.  Common Japanese Family Names

5. Records in Japan – June 24, 2020, 7:00-8:00 PM (60 minutes)
Learn about koseki, kakocho, okaka and more. Homework to be assigned.

Watch Session 5 (Password Required):

Download Session 5 Course Materials:

  1. In Search of Your Koseki
  2. Session 5 Presentation Slides

6. Writing workshop – July 8, 2020, 7:00-8:00 PM (60 minutes)
Overcoming writer’s block, brick walls, and other challenges. Homework to be assigned.

7. Writing workshop – July 22, 2020, 7:00-8:00 PM (60 minutes)
Proof reading, how to layout and print your project/book. Homework to be assigned.

8. Present Your Findings – August 5, 2020, 7:00-8:30 PM (90 minutes)
Present your completed written family history projects to other program participants. Congratulations! You did it!


Future add-on workshops and webinars:

Potential add-on sessions include:

  • “What’s All the Fuss about DNA?”
  • “Planning a Research Trip.”

About Linda Harms Okazaki:

Linda Harms Okazaki is a fourth-generation Californian, active in the genealogy and Japanese American communities in California and beyond. She is passionate about teaching Nikkei to research, document, and share their personal family histories. Her other areas of research include upstate New York, England, Australia, and the use of DNA in genealogy. Linda has been researching her husband’s ancestry since 2012, documenting his family in the internment camps and in Japan. A charter member of the Nikkei Genealogical Society, and a consultant for’s Progenealogists, she is also a featured columnist for the Nichi Bei Weekly. Her column, Finding Your Nikkei Roots, is published bimonthly. Her guide to Finding Your Japanese Roots was updated in 2020 and is available in hard copy. Ms. Okazaki is the author of numerous articles, including the recent National Genealogical Society magazine article “Paper Sons and Picture Brides,” which was co-authored by Grant Din. She is a member of as the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Genealogical Speaker’s Guild, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Linda currently serves as the past president of the California Genealogical Society, as a board member of the Nichi Bei Foundation, and a family history consultant for Densho.

Ms. Okazaki holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and a Master of Arts degree in Education. She can be reached at