Fellow researcher Jeff Morita was nice enough to both write to us and allow us to post his experience of trying to obtain copies of his grandparents' koseki in Hiroshima-ken. Thanks so much, Jeff!
"Yes, I agree with you that the family registry contains a vast amount of information. Years ago, my father's cousin went down to the city office and graciously procured copies of my great-great grandfather's Koseki Tohon. Based on the Tohon and the request for Koseki Tohon forms that you can find on the Internet my wife filled out the required information on the forms in Japanese. In order to make my relationship as clear as possible I've also attached my homemade direct lineage charts, in Japanese, to explain my relationship for the people I'm interested in. We also included ¥500 for return postage and any services the city office could provide. We also stipulated that we would more than willing to provide any outstanding balance once we received a reply from the city office. Two inquiries were sent to two different city offices in Hiroshima-ken (one for my grandfather and one for my grandmother's family).
One replied that the records that I requested are no longer in existence. Apparently the city office had done some "Spring" cleaning. The other came back basically saying that they cannot release the information because other people are annotated on the records that are not my blood relatives.
Your comments about slumbering information and the potential for this information to affect lives in the present day is very believable. My father's cousin has since passed away and I no longer have any (known) relatives in Nihon.
One city office was gracious enough to forward a list of 5 Oteras (Buddhist Temples) that may have some linkage to my relatives. I am in the process of having my wife write a brief letter requesting information on obtaining the Death Registry(s), if they exist, on my relatives. My cousin in Seattle sent me a copy of a Death Register for my mother's side. It too contained much information, however, 95% of the names listed were in Buddhist Name only. Unfortunately, I have no way of determining who is who and how each are linked to me. I have yet to visit my "hometown" and visit the city office(s) personally--my dream vacation! ;-) Although I've hit brick walls in the research process, I haven't given up hope on finding more information via other means."Thanks for the input! If you have tips, experiences, or information about obtaining a copy of a koseki from Japan, please drop us a line.