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Where to Look for My Japanese Ancestors


October 15, 2012 by Valerie Elkins

BIG NEWS!!! I will be presenting “Finding Your Japanese Ancestors” at the  National Genealogical Society (NGS) Conference in Las Vegas, NV,  May 8-11, 2013.                                                        I will be scheduling a limited number  of private consultations during that week. This conference would be an excellent opportunity to learn how to:

  • Research your Japanese family tree
  • Get your questions answered
  • Receive personal assistance

If interested in securing a consult, email me at

In search for your Japanese ancestors, let me warn against sites that promise that you can find your Japanese ancestors in Japan on their fee based database sites. NO ONLINE DATABASES have your family’s vital records from Japan on their site! They may have some records that a VERY members have entered, but this is rare.

I can understand why those of Japanese decent are not more interested in family history…it is so hard to do if you do not have someone helping you to do it. With companies promising resources that they do not have, it  is easy to get frustrated and want to give up.  Go to a Family History Center and use those databases for free first, see what, if any information they have, that maybe can help you before paying for a service.

Online databases like and are really only helpful in finding your ancestors information once the left Japan, not for those who remained in Japan. For that you will have to go through the steps outlined in this blog, or you can find the steps outlined on and type in “Japan” in the search bar. The wiki has quite a bit of information, a lot of which I have contributed, so please check  it out.

In the meantime, do not give up! It is possible, you just have to hang in there! Ganbatte ne!


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