From Ohio History Central
Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the Sho-Jo-Ji Dance Troupe is a prominent Japanese dance troupe.
The Japanese were among the last national groups to settle in Ohio. Most Japanese Ohioans did not arrive in the state until World War II. During World War II, the United States government, fearing a Japanese invasion, placed Japanese Americans into internment camps. As the need for more workers and soldiers arose, the government allowed some of the internees to leave the camps. Many of these Japanese Americans found employment in Midwestern cities, as the federal government refused to allow them to return to their homes on the West Coast. All of Ohio's major cities saw a marked increase in their Japanese population. The number of Japanese in Cleveland soared to 3,500 by 1946. With the war's conclusion in 1945, many of these Japanese Ohioans returned to their homes on the West Coast. For example, Cleveland's Japanese population fell to just two thousand people by the end of the 1950s and to just 1,500 residents by the late 1970s. Many of the Japanese Americans who remained in Ohio were actually recent immigrants from Japan. Many of these migrants were war brides of American servicemen.
Despite residing in the United States, many Japanese migrants still sought to maintain ties to their native homeland. For example, in 1955, Cleveland's branch of the Japanese American Citizens League formed the Sho-Jo-Ji Dance Troupe. The purpose of this group was to preserve traditional Japanese dances in the United States. The troupe originally consisted of just girls between seven and nine years of age. By the mid 1980s, due to declining interest among Japanese youth, membership was expanded to other age groups and nationalities. At the time of this writing, the Sho-Jo-Ji Dance Troupe continues to perform traditional Japanese dances in Cleveland.
- Van Tassel, David D., and John J. Grabowski, eds. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.