Accepted paper:

Journey Through Cultures: Tatar Migration from Japan to Turkey as Reflected in Diary Notes


Liaisan Sahin (Marmara University)

Paper abstract:

In the early 20th century, a Turkic-Tatar immigrant community formed in Japan, though not considerable in size but rather conspicuous and significant in terms of cultural activities. Especially in the 1920s and 1930s, the community had a very active communal life. For example, in 1927, the community school was opened, in which Japan's primary school curriculum was applied; at the same time, children of the school were taught Tatar, Turkish, Russian and English languages. In 1934, a printing house was founded in Tokyo. Two mosques were built: Kobe Mosque in 1935 and Tokyo Mosque in 1938. The Turkic-Tatar community organized a range of cultural events, such as religious celebrations, literary evenings, theatrical performances, commemoration meetings, festivals and social gatherings. After the Second World War many members of the Turkic-Tatar diaspora in Japan migrated to Turkey - some of them later went to USA and Australia - while preserving ties with relatives and Turkic-Tatar fellows left behind. In Turkey, Turkic-Tatar immigrants found a rather comfortable environment due to friendly government policies as well as Islamic religious tradition and kindred language of the Turks. This paper focuses on the processes of linguistic and cultural adjustment and transformation Tatar immigrants from Japan experienced in a new national setting. In this paper I will consider an individual case, basing my analysis on a diary kept by a young woman from a Tatar family that migrated from Japan to Turkey in the late 1950's. The diary was kept by the woman irregularly between January 1961 and December 1964. While content of the diary provides details of daily routine of an immigrant Tatar family, its linguistic features give insight into the processes of cultural transformation. Based on this material, I will firstly draw attention to and consider reasons for the drastic linguistic shift observed in the diary as its first entries are written in Tatar language with Arabic letters and the last ones in Turkish language with Latin letters, with an intermediate period of zigzagging between two languages and two alphabets. Then I will examine how various cultural elements from different backgrounds became entangled in the everyday life of a Tatar immigrant family in the process of cultural adjustment to Turkey.

panel HIS-17
Diaspora, Migration and Resistance in Eurasia