Item No: #360870 A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur. Yonezo Okamoto.
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur
A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur

Taisho-Era Japanese American Business Archive

A Collection of Manuscript and Printed Materials for a Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur

Notes: An extensive accumulation of materials documenting the Japanese-American land investment company, New York Acreage Estates (and related companies), founded by Japanese immigrant Okamoto Yonezo (1881–1967). The collection, dating primarily from ca. 1912 to 1928, includes nearly 100 separate pieces, including books, pamphlets, maps, prospectuses, inscription documents, reports, and several letters and extensive draft manuscripts of documents. Present are both working material from the company as well as items sent to investors and potential investors.

This collection includes a small amount of material related to Okamoto's participation in a land subdivision project in Yonkers, New York (where he settled). The bulk of the collection relates to New York Acreage Estates, which purchased land in New Jersey on the proposition that once the Holland Tunnel (1927) and the George Washington Bridge (1931) were complete, that land opposite Manhattan across the Hudson River would become valuable.

Okamoto appears to have been very financially successful. Whether New York Acreage Estates was a legitimate investment or a land speculation fraud, your cataloguer cannot say. Okamoto came to the US in 1904. He claimed to be a self-made man described in the press as a real estate investor, an exporter of American machinery to Japan, and the owner of a school textbook publisher in Japan. By 1915, he and his wife, Shina, had purchased a large house in Yonkers, New York, where their son Yoichi Okamoto was born (1915–1985). Yoichi was Lyndon Johnson's official White House photographer.

The elder Okamoto appears most often in US newspapers in 1923, when his contemporary Japanese paintings toured museums, and again in 1937, when he was in negotiations to buy the Mary Pickford-Douglas Fairbanks mansion, Pickfair, which he planned to convert into an East-West arts organization. In 1943, the US government confiscated (as an enemy asset) 1600 acres of undeveloped land outside of Milford, New Jersey, that was owned by Baron Heitaro Fujita and managed by Okamoto. Almost nothing has been written about the Okamoto family in the academic literature of the Japanese immigrant experience, and none of his publications—such as the real estate prospectuses included here nor the literary works which went through many editions in Japan—are recorded in the two-volume bibliography, A Buried Past.

This collection includes the following items:

1) Nyuyokushi naigai no jisho [The Region in and Around New York City]. Tokyo: Hakubunkan, 1912 (Meiji 45). OCLC 672848163. A book promoting New York City and the surrounding region as a good place for Japanese to buy real estate. Illustrated with in-text maps and halftone photographs as well as with a small fold-out bird's-eye view of Manhattan and a larger fold-out map of Manhattan and the surrounding areas. 126+ pages. Covers foxed, else a very good copy in illustrated paper-covered boards.

2) Another copy of the above; good condition (spine cracked). Annotated in Japanese in the upper margins of many pages.

3) Second edition (1916; Taisho 5) of the above; near fine with the original printed dust jacket. OCLC 673340923. 134+ pages, with additional foldout illustrations and a small map of the tip of Manhattan (this edition does not have the large fold-out map of the first edition). The additional pages include documents for Okamoto's company, New York Acreage Estates.

4) Kabushiki gaisha Okamoto hiroyuki shuisho genko [Manuscript of the Okamoto Overseas Corporation Prospectus (cover title)]. Circa 1919 (Taisho 8). 75 manuscript leaves plus 20 printed leaves and one decorative illustration bound into cardstock covers. The manuscript appears to be draft versions of perhaps eight documents handwritten on commercially ruled paper. The printed leaves include blank examples of forms, as well as organizational and promotional documents of an import-export stock company Okamoto was forming in Tokyo. Very good. Appears complete.

5) New York Acreage Estates Company / Nyuyoku tochi tatemono kabushikigaisha. A 23-page pamphlet (including ten full-page halftone photographs) from New York Acreage Estates (Yonezo Okamoto, president) promoting the purchase of rural lands in New Jersey. Okamoto argues that New York real estate is the most expensive in the world and yet just across the Hudson River is very cheap land which will become valuable when a bridge or tunnel is built. Not dated, but ca. 1912?

6) Beikoku jijo [The Situation in the United States]. Shizuoka: Nyuyoku tochi tatemono gaisha shizuoka shucchojo [Shizuoka Branch, New York Acreage Estates], 1922 (Taisho 11). OCLC 673856539. A lecture on US-Japanese relations given by Okamoto on one of his many trips back to Japan.

7) Nyuyoku kinkyo hokoku [New York Status Report]. Shizuoka?: [Nyuyoku tochi tatemono gaisha / New York Acreage Estates], 1923 (Taisho 12). The text of several letters by Okamoto looking to reassure Japanese investors about their investments in New Jersey real estate. He assures the investors that the Holland Tunnel is under construction. 28 pages, plus a fold-out map showing the location of the company's Kingsland and Hackensack tracts in New Jersey.

8) Dai san Hakkensakku shindjikeito-in ichiran [Third Hackensack Syndicate Membership List]. Shizuoka?: [Nyuyoku tochi tatemono gaisha / New York Acreage Estates], 1923 (Taisho 12). 15 pages, plus a folded sheet. Appears to be a list of investors, organized geographically, laid into a printed sleeve.

9) Shokokai no shichijunichi [Seventy-Day Tour of Commerce and Industry]. 1902 [Meiji 35].146 pages. OCLC: 672883136. Okamoto's first book, a report on a survey of Japanese business, written before he emigrated to the US.

10) Four folding maps (small to fairly large) showing New York Acreage Estates properties and their geographical relationship to Manhattan

11) [Hackensack Syndicate Documents, June 1923]. Approximate 39 maps and documents in Japanese (various sizes, stapled into 15-by-10-inch covers with a handwritten title). An extensive prospectus for investing in land near Hackensack, New Jersey, which Okamoto promotes here as being ripe for development once bridges and tunnels are built to allow easy crossing of the Hudson River. Includes sample investment documents.

12) Kabushiki gaisha okamoto yoko shuisho [Prospectus for the Okamoto Corporation]. Tokyo: Baifukan, 1919. Seventh printing (in the year of original publication). 76, 35 pages with fold-out color plates. OCLC: 673759690. An overview of the American economy and its opportunities for investing followed by information on New York Acreage Estates. Near fine in a very good slipcase.

13) Ten leaves of correspondence, including manuscript, mimeo, and printed letters and documents related to New York Acreage Estates (1927, Showa 2).

14) Nyuyoku kinkyo hokoku [New York Status Report, parts I and II] by Yonezo Okamoto. 1923 (Taisho 12). 28, 58 pages, one fold-out map. A report on New York's booming economy, with many translations of newspaper articles and excerpts from reports on bridge construction plans.

15) Two pieces of sheet music with American themes for compositions commissioned by Baron Tadamitsu Shimadzu in honor of Yonezo Okamoto. 1916 (Taisho 5). 10-3/4 by 13-3/4 inches. Chromolithographed covers.

16a–e) Numerous other printed and mimeographed documents and maps.

Edition + Condition: Very good overall. Some documents with splits at the folds and chipping to the edges, but only affecting the text in a few minor places.

Publication: New York: (ca. 1910s–1920s).

Item No: #360870

Price: $15,000