Japanese immigrant will be portrayed at museum

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The Living History presentation at Fort Walla Walla Museum, 755 Myra Road, will be 2 p.m. Sunday. Yuso Shinbo, Japanese immigrant and restaurateur, will be portrayed by his son, Art Shinbo.

Yuso Shinbo was born in Kanazawa, Japan, in 1888. In the early 1900s he chose to leave the family business and emigrate to the United States for work in his brother's Portland import-export trade. He learned to cook in the kitchen of a Portland hotel. In 1910, he was a cook for a Hood River family but left for Walla Walla to join his brother, who had a business near First Avenue and Main Street.

He returned to Japan to marry Tomiko Miyamura in 1922. A few years after returning to Walla Walla, Shinbo opened the Imperial Café. The downtown restaurant became one of the largest and most popular in town, serving Chinese-American style fare.

Shinbo was a great booster of local sports and the young people participating in them, often hosting teams from the high school and college at the restaurant. At the time, only three Japanese families lived in the Valley.

With the onset of World War II, the Imperial Café closed, because all Japanese people in the community were subject to an 8 p.m.- 8 a.m. curfew, which made it impossible for him to prepare food for the breakfast crowd. A rock was thrown through his brother's store window. The Shinbo family was not forced into a relocation camp, because Walla Walla was just outside the exclusion area.

Shinbo took a job as a cook in Lyman House at Whitman College, one of the few places hiring at the time. He and his wife later became the cook and cashier for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Walla Walla.

Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Admission is $7 adults; $6 seniors 62 and up and students; $3 children 6-12; free for under 6. For more information call 525-7703, or visit www.fortwallawallamuseum.org.

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