A Story of Japanese War Brides: Fall Seven Times Get Up Eight

The story of Japanese war brides is beautifully told in the moving film Fall down Seven Times Get Up Eight.

Before World War Two, Japan had a divine Emperor and an Empire that reached all over Asia. By 1945, the Emperor had renounced his divinity and it’s bombed out cities became home to an American occupation force that brought with it foreign ideals, products and men.

American men were attractive to Japanese girls and the postwar period brought an estimated 50,000 Japanese war brides to the United States. Usually, the story ends there, but how these women lived in the country of a former enemy, thousands of miles away from friends and family was a story that had been waiting to be told.

war brides

American Servicemen and Japanese girls during the Occupation of Japan

Lucy Craft, Katheryn Tolbert and Karen Kasmauski, the daughters of three Japanese war brides decided to share the Japanese war bride experience through the stories of their mothers. For Lucy, Katheryn and Karen, the decision to make a film came from shared experiences and a mutual desire to learn more about the struggles faced by their mothers and thousands of women like them. Originally, the idea was for a book, but the story eventually turned to the big screen. The result is a documentary film called Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight named after a Japanese proverb for resilience.

war brides

Steve and Emmy Kasmauski in Japan about 1952

In Japan, dating a foreigner, especially a former enemy was not considered “proper” for girls of good breeding. Even dating an American evoked an image of bar girls, cheap pick-ups or prostitution. The term “war bride” could bring shame on a family. However, for thousands of young Japanese women, falling in love with a happy-go-lucky American and going to the land of the victors was like dream, where everything would be plenty and happy.

For many, the honeymoon proved short. In America, the Japanese war brides were confronted with a language barrier, a different culture and hatreds left over from the war. Many husbands didn’t turn out to be what they seemed during the romance in Japan, and many women found themselves in a strange country with no one to turn to. Through all the hardship, the women never gave up, often writing wonderful letters back to Japan filled with good things, to hide their embarrassment about their unhappiness or sadness which might show they made a mistake.

war brides

Lucy Craft, Katheryn Tolbert and Karen Kasmauski

In their film Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight, Craft, Tolbert and Kasmauski document the Japanese war bride experience through their mother’s struggles to live in a new country, raise a family and put down roots. The film not only documents the lives of three unique women, but also sheds light on a story so often overlooked by history.

For more information about the film Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight see the website at: http://www.fallsevengetupeight.com/

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