1998.01.01–the accession number for this kimono–signifies that it was the first item in the first group of objects donated to the museum in 1998, the year of its founding. This number tells us that Fumie Sakano’s kimono was the very first object in the Japanese American Museum of Oregon’s collection. This symbol of community and belonging, crafted during a time when Portland’s Nihonmachi was well-established and thriving, is an especially fitting foundation for the museum’s collection.
Fumie Sakano (née Marumoto) grew up in Portland and graduated from Lincoln High School. In 1931, she was elected Japanese American community queen for the Portland Rose Festival Parade. The queen was selected by popular vote of the local Nikkei community who also sponsored a float. Portland held its first official Rose Festival in 1908 and Japanese Americans were included from the beginning; photographic evidence points to the community having a float that same year.
The kimono that Fumie wore for the festival was crafted specifically for this purpose by Mr. Yatagai and hand decorated with chrysanthemums on the front and the Marumoto family crest on the back. The tiara she wore is currently on display at the Japanese American Museum of Oregon.