"We didn't lose everything"

The Other Side of the Japanese American Story

A collection of evacuation and resettlement stories about prosperous Japanese American businesses on the West Coast.

"Honoring the Family Business: Building the American Dream.
Gala Dinner & Silent Auction, March 29, 2003.
Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, California."
Published by the Japanese American National Museum

1. Baseline Flower Growers, Phoenix, AZ

Nakagawa family evacuated to Poston Relocation Center (RC). After 8 months there, returned to Glendale, AZ, and worked for a Japanese American farmer who was not evacuated due to living just on the other side of the military zone border road.

2. Benkyo-do, San Francisco, CA

Evacuated to Amache RC, the Okamura family temporarily closed their confectionery store. They returned and reopened after the war.

3. Endow Nursery, Carpinteria, CA

The Endow family voluntarily evacuated to Utah. After the war, they returned and restarted their nursery.

4. Etow/B&E Farms, Watsonville/Salinas, CA

The Etow family evacuated to Poston RC, sons returned to farming in Watsonville after the war.

5. Fugetsu-do, Los Angeles, CA

Kito family evacuated to Heart Mountain RC, closing their manju cake shop, but continued making them while at the relocation center. Business was reopened in Little Tokyo after the war.

6. Fukui Mortuary, Los Angeles, CA

Fukui family evacuated to Heart Mountain RC, reopened their business after the war.

7. Hiji Bros., Inc., Oxnard, CA

Hiji family voluntarily evacuated and moved to Colorado to farm during WWII and until 1948, when they returned to California.

8. Hiroshi's Anzen, Portland, OR

Umata family evacuated to Minidoka RC (father interned in Missoula, MT), all reunited at Crystal City, TX. They returned after the war to restart their business.

9. Hiyama Farms, Inc., Fowler, CA

Hiyama family evacuated to Gila River RC, their farm taken care of by neighbors, to which they returned after the war.

10. Iwasaki Bros., Inc., Hillsboro, OR

Iwasaki family voluntarily evacuated and moved to eastern Oregon, and returned to their farm after the war.

11. Kern Park Floral Company, Portland, OR

Itami family evacuated to Minidoka RC, returned after the war to continue their retail flower business.

12. Kogetsu-do, Fresno, CA

Ikeda family evacuated to Jerome RC, returned after the war and carried on their confectionery business in the same building.

13. Koida Greenhouse, Inc., Milwaukie, OR

Koida family evacuated (to Minidoka RC?), returned after the war to continue their business.

14. Kono & Sons, Carpinteria, CA - Sunrise Ranch/West Flower Growers, Inc., Oxnard, CA

Mimaki family evacuated to Heart Mountain RC, continued their flower business after the war.

15. Marutama Company, Inc., Los Angeles, CA

Yoshiwa family evacuated to Jerome RC and Tule Lake RC, restarted their kamaboko fishcake business in Little Tokyo after the war.

16. Mikawaya, Los Angeles, CA

Hashimoto family evacuated to Poston RC, reopened confectionery store in Little Tokyo after the war.

17. Naito Corporation, Portland, OR

Naito family voluntarily evacuated to Salt Lake City, UT, returned to their import business after the war.

18. Nakamura Bros. Furniture, Woodland, CA

Nakamura family evacuated to Amache RC, closing their business and leasing their home to help with paying rent. Via their banker, they were able to return to the same building with full inventory.

19. Nichi Bei Bussan, San Jose, CA

Tatsuno family evacuated to Topaz RC, returned after the war to reopen their store.

20. Oku Nursery, Mountain View, CA

Oku family voluntarily evacuated to Denver, CO, continuing to operate their nursery through their employees, and returned after the war.

21. Ota Tofu, Portland, OR

Ota family evacuated to Minidoka RC, returned at the end of the war to resume their business at its original location.

22. The Rafu Shimpo, Los Angeles, CA

Mr. Komai was interned in Santa Fe, NM; the rest of the family evacuated. After contacting former employees, they returned at the end of the war to continue their Japanese-language newspaper business.

23. Sakuma Brothers Farms, Inc., Burlington, WA

Sakuma and Tule Lake RC, returned to their strawberry farm after the war.

24. Sego Nursery, North Hollywood, CA

Murakami San Fernando Valley after the war, with many friends who lent money and leased property to them for the nursery.

25. Takahashi Market, San Mateo, CA

Takahashi family evacuated, after the war a son returned to carry on the family business.

26. Toyo Miyatake Studio, Los Angeles, CA

Miyatake family evacuated to Manzanar RC, returned to Little Tokyo to continue the studio.

27. Uoki K. Sakai, Co., San Francisco, CA

Sakai family evacuated to Topaz RC, restarted business quickly after the war due to much of the store equipment having been kept in storage.

28. Uwajimaya, Inc., Seattle, WA

Moriguchi family evacuated to Tule Lake RC, continued Asian food business after the war, becoming the largest in the Pacific Northwest.

29. Uyematsu, Inc., Watsonville, CA

Uyematsu family evacuated to Jerome RC, resettled and continued strawberry business after the war, becoming a partner with one of the largest strawberry shippers in the nation.

30. Yamasa Kamaboko, Los Angeles, CA

Kawana family evacuated to Rohwer RC, continued fishcake business after the war, using his equipment stored in a neighbor's garage.

J. Toguri Mercantile Co., Los Angeles, IL - Chicago, IL

The Toguri family had a mercantile business first in Los Angeles, one of the family helpers being Ikuko "Iva" Toguri (later known as "Tokyo Rose"), fresh from UCLA; she sailed for Japan on July 5, 1941, to visit an ailing aunt. The Toguri family left Gila River RC in 1943 to set up a new store in Chicago. This business helped supply goods for the War Relocation Authority. After being released from prison in 1956, Iva worked at the Chicago store until 1998.

Neighbor took care of hotel business during the World War II

"Well, we didn’t know what to do and my mother don’t know what to do, so there was a lady named Mary Galletly and she was a very nice American lady and so when we had to go to Santa Anita, she said, “I’ll take care of the hotel for you.” And so my mother said she would give you everything that we have, so she would take care of it. So every month, she sent us the money into the camp. I just don’t know why, but she took care and she did a better…well she did a better job than we did. The hotel was always full."
-- From interview of Fujima Kansuma

November 30, 2004 at California, US. Video by Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

For a large number of individual case files dealing with claims filed from 1950 to 1956, see Japanese American Evacuation Claims Act of July 2, 1948, showing the amounts claimed and amount of reimbursement.

As the best possible evidence of their loyalty to this country... Japanese and alien Italians and Germans who may be required to move should continue their farming operations. No operations should be neglected... but all should be cared for and carried on in the best manner.

These same people should not dispose of property, real or personal, or their possessions of any kind at sacrifice figures. Federal officials are now being appointed to assist them in the handling and transfer of their property. Until they have an opportunity to turn their business over to a regularly-appointed custodian, such persons should not dispose of their possessions unless they recieve full value in return.

-- Western Defense Command HQ Press Release re advice to enemy aliens and Japanese-American citizens, March 6, 1942

Excerpt from National Defense Migration Hearings regarding alien property losses

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