Ned Bunya Fujii was born to Riyue & Moto (Fujimoto) of Iwakuni, Yamaguchi ken on Nov 22, 1909 in Skykomish, WA. His father immigrated to the US to work in the logging industry near Seattle. His parents arrived together. He eventually opened & operated a dry goods store in the Japanese community near the logging company.
He was the eldest of 8 children, 6 boys & 2 girls (the younger sister passed away as a toddler). As a toddler, he was sent to live with his paternal grandparents in Iwakuni to be educated. When he was 19 yrs old, he returned to the US. By that time, his family had grown & lived in several places in Washington State & California. They eventually moved to Sacramento where he rejoined his family. The family ran a dry goods store in Sacramento.
When he first returned to the US, he was enrolled in 8th grade, but due to the age difference with his fellow students, he eventually quit. He then became a houseboy in San Francisco to learn English. The family he lived with gave him the name Ned.
During this time, he met the future Rev. Kubose, who at the time was also a houseboy in another house in the same neighborhood. He eventually moved to the LA area to work at a farm in Long Beach where he met his wife.
Tomiye Fujii was born Tomiye Shiode to Shioichi of Ehime ken & Fumiye (Yonenaka) of Yamaguchi ken on Oct 4, 1915, in Stockton, CA. When she was a toddler, she was sent to Ehime ken to live with her paternal relatives, an aunt & uncle, where she was educated
When she was 14 yrs old, she returned to the US. By that time, her family was living in LA & operated a diner. She had a brother 8 yrs younger than her. They also lived with her maternal grandfather & 2 uncles, one was 2 yrs older & the other 2 yrs younger than her. Because of their ages, her uncles were more like brothers to her than uncles.
She was enrolled in 9th Gr at the local Jr. High. By the 10th Gr, she became frustrated & quit. She eventually went work in her family’s diner.
Bunya & Tomiye were introduced when the wife of the couple he worked for needed to visit their daughters who were living with Tomiye’s family. He would drive her periodically for these visits. During these visits, Bunya & Tomiye met. Because they were both kibei, they found comfort in someone with a similar childhood. They married in LA in Oct, 1936.
After their wedding, they moved to Stockton near Bunya’s family, where they opened a 5 & 10 Cent store, a subsidiary of his parents’ store in Sacramento. During this time, their oldest child, a son Mineo, was born.
During WW II, they went to the Tanforan Assembly Center, then to Tule Lake with Bunya’s family. Bunya along with several of his siblings & friends were able to move to Chicago to find work. Tomiye along with their son Mineo, Bunya’s parents & several of his other siblings & extended family were sent to Granada (Amache) in Colorado.
In 1944, the Fujii family was reunited in Chicago, where a majority of Bunya’s parents & siblings along with extended family lived in a house on the southside of the city, near Comiskey Park. Eventually, some of his extended family moved back to Sacramento. In the early 50s, Bunya, Tomiye & Mineo moved to the northside, where they soon added to their family. Janet, Kathy & Nancy were born. During that time, they operated a dry cleaner at Leland & Kenmore. In the late 50s, they opened Fujii’s Gift shop on Clark St. near Wrightwood. They eventually moved the store to 2 other locations, one near 6 corners on Milwaukee Ave. & the other in Andersonville on Clark St. north of Foster. In the late 50s & early 60s, Tomiye also worked at LaSalle Photo. In the late 60s through the 70s, Bunya went back to work as a steel burner in a welding shop, a job he also held in the late 40s.
Bunya was a member of the tanomoshi group at BTC. He occasionally made large signs in Japanese calligraphy for various functions at the temple. Tomiye would often walk with her daughters to temple on Sundays
In the late 80s to early 2000s, Tomiye lived in Heiwa Terrace. She would often attend the Japanese services in her later years.
Bunya passed away on July 26, 1981 & Tomiye on Dec 6, 2005.