Chicago Shimpo

Real Japanese Life in Post-war Period Witnessed by American Woman:
Annette’s Photo Exhibition at Futabakai School

• Post-war photos taken by an American woman have been exhibited at the Chicago Futabakai Japanese School in Arlington Heights until July 17. More than 100 photos including 60 color photos show first-hand Japanese lives from 1946 to 1947.

• The photos were taken by Annette Chait Finestone whose adventurous spirit brought her to an unknown land of Japan. In her late 20s, she applied for a job with the U.S.’s General Headquarters (GHQ), which administered Japan directly after WWII. She arrived by ship to Japan in March, 1946, and after an eight-week orientation in Tokyo, she was assigned to the 5th Air Force headquarters in Nagoya, a city between Tokyo and Osaka. Her job was to place U.S. civilian personnel in various jobs.
• She often rode her colleagues’ jeep to visit the countryside around Nagoya and took photos with a Mercury camera.

• Annette returned to the U.S. in May, 1947 and long thought that the negatives of the photos were lost; however, she found them in her shed several decades later. She developed the photos, then relived her experiences in Japan.
• She captured daily life of Japanese people in a difficult time, such as skinny children with bare feet or straw sandals, a thin man at a stall selling things for food, a procession of returning soldiers, and more. Her photos vividly depicted the people who were returning to their ordinary lives by holding a festival, playing in a sumo tournament, wearing kimono dresses on a new year’s day, organizing a fire station, and so on. She also captured beautiful rural scenes which escaped from wartime attacks.

• Interestingly, a photo captioned as “unknown castle in unknown city” came out as Osaka Castle in Osaka City. According to Tadashi Sakano, Futabakai Day School Principal, faculty of the school found a building that was Osaka City Hall.
• A sumo wrestler was also identified by the Chunichi Shinbun in 1997. A skinny sumo wrestler in a photo was Tochi-nishiki, who became a Yokozuna, top sumo wrestler later.

Annette and Chicago

• Annette is grandaunt of Mutsumi Stone’s husband, Richard Stone, and the Stones live near Washington D.C. in Virginia. Mutsumi’s half-Japanese son, Quinn Hayanojo Stone is a student of Washington Japanese Saturday School, whose teacher, Akira Tanabe, has recently moved to Chicago Futabakai Japanese School.
• Quinn thought that his great grandaunt’s photos were very precious to know what post-war Japan looked like and wanted to share them with the students of the Washington Japanese School. So an exhibit was held last October and November. After his teacher Tanabe moved to Chicago, Futabakai School welcomed the chance to host Annette’s photo exhibit.

• The Stones visited Annette in New Paltz in New York on March 24 this year, a day before Annette’s 102nd birthday. Quinn said that she was very pleased to hear that an exhibit in Chicago was coming and talked about her memories in Japan. Unfortunately Annette passed away on April 14 at age of 102.

• According to Quinn’s release for the exhibit, Annette was saddened when her GHQ colleagues scattered chewing gums and cigarette butts on a street and mocked the people who flocked to pick them up. She said, “We are the same human beings...”
• In another episode, Annette often had visitors who wanted to sell her ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), books, or potteries. One day she gave the Stones one of the books she bought in Japan and said, “I remember that a boy of 11 or 12 years old came to sell this book. I knew that he was selling it to make a living, but I asked him for a discount. I still regret it.”

• In 2015, Annette’s photo exhibit was held in Niimi City, Okayama Prefecture, a sister city of New Paltz. She said in an interview video, which was made by the City of Niimi, “There are pictures of some of things that I witnessed while I was there. It was memorable experience in terms of educating me as the purpose of trip there, what happened prior to it, and political and social results of the devastating war.” The video can be seen at

• Quinn wants to spread Annette’s photo exhibit to Japanese schools across the U.S. and worked on fundraising through “Go Fund Me!” He collected $580 and made photo copies, so that more sets of photos were available for exhibitions. Quinn and his mother Mutsumi held an exhibit at Bethesda Elementary School in Maryland last March and are going to hold one in Detroit Japanese Saturday School. The photos will be preserved in the National Showa Memorial Museum in Tokyo where the lifestyles of Japanese people during and after WWII were displayed.

• Quinn and Mutsumi Stone wish to have photo exhibits in culture related facilities in the Chicago area. Anyone who are interested in Annette’s photo exhibit, please contact through e-mail

A day before Annett’s 102nd birthday. From left: Quinn Stone, Annette Chait Finestone, Mutsumi Stone, and Richard Stone.

Images from Annette's photo Exhibit at the Futabakai School

A thin man sells things for food.

It might be the first festival after the war.

Annette Chait Finestone whose adventurous spirit
brought her to an unknown land of Japan in her late 20s.

A sumo tournament. Award is a pumpkin.