A century of growth

One hundred years ago, Gijiu Kitazawa established the seed company that still bears his name. He first worked as an apprentice for a seed company in Japan before immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 22. In 1916, Gijiu and his brother Buemon started the Kitazawa Brothers Nursery and Seed Company in San Jose, […]

RABBIT RAMBLINGS: Avoiding government-induced poison

Well, that does it. From now on, I plan to buy mostly organic produce. I know that it will cost me a bit more, but after watching the new Rachel Carson documentary, this is a small price to pay for food that is certified to have no pesticides or herbicides used in its production. And […]

Memoirist intertwines family, farming and feelings of the heart

CHANGING SEASON: A FATHER, A DAUGHTER, A FAMILY FARM By David Mas Masumoto with Nikiko Masumoto (Berkeley, Calif.: Heyday, 2016, 192 pp., $16, paperback) In the mid-1980s, while researching the World War II incarceration experience of Americans of Japanese ancestry at the Gila River Relocation Center in south central Arizona, I discovered a brief yet […]

Honoring a legacy: Produce giant George Tanimura dies at 100

SALINAS, Calif. — George Minoru Tanimura, widely known as the family patriarch of Tanimura & Antle produce, died peacefully in his Salinas home April 15, 2016. He was 100 years old. Known for his humility and generosity as much as his success, Tanimura’s passing is a loss to the agriculture industry, Salinas Valley and Japanese […]

A look at ‘Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm’

Some documentaries get by largely on the strength of their subject matter. Jim Choi’s new documentary, “Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm,” could have easily been such a film. Its subjects, the Masumoto family, are icons of the slow food movement. Their pioneering organic farm — run by husband and wife, David “Mas” and […]

The fruits of Santa Clara Valley’s Asian laborers

GARDEN OF THE WORLD: Asian Immigrants and the Making of Agriculture in California’s Santa Clara Valley By Cecilia M. Tsu (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013, 304 pp., $99, hard cover; $29.95 paperback) As Cecilia Tsu tells readers in her cogent introduction, its underlying purpose is “recovering the intertwined history of the Santa Clara Valley (in […]

RABBIT RAMBLINGS: David ‘Mas’ Masumoto, you’re a peach!

I had the great good fortune to attend a surprise birthday party for David “Mas” Masumoto, his 60th. It was held at the University of California, Berkeley campus Alumni House, his alma mater. As his daughter, Nikiko, related, the hardest part was keeping it a secret. They managed to pull it off, so, “Surprise!” really […]

A ‘LABOR OF LOVE’: Farming exhibit in San Jose honors Issei legacy

SAN JOSE — The Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj) introduced its new agricultural exhibit, “Yesterday’s Farmer: Planting an American Dream,” on Dec. 10. With a focus on the Japanese immigrants who settled in Santa Clara Valley in the early part of the 20th century, the permanent exhibit features more than 100 types of […]

Connections to Clarksburg

CLARKSBURG, Calif. — Passing through acres of vineyards along the narrow country road, we are mesmerized by the serene rural landscape and miss the turn. We double back to find our way, and spy in the distance, a forlorn wooden-framed structure with mint julep painted trim that otherwise matches the silhouette of the old gakuen […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: The astonishing history of Japanese Americans in Louisiana

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series. The story of Japanese settlement in Louisiana, whether in the metropolis of New Orleans or in the bayous, is rather unknown, even to locals, but Nikkei have had a surprisingly large impact on the state’s history. Jokichi Takamine was possibly the first Japanese settler in […]

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