Sakakura, Koutaro History

Sakakura FamilyThe following translated article written by Mr. SAKAKURA, Koutaro in Japanese was extracted from a book entitled “MIE KENJINKAI HOKUBEI HATTENSHI” (History of Japanese American from Mie Prefecture in North America) dated November 1966, page 120:


WIFE:  Kogiku

I was born on June 1, 1888 as the fifth son of SAKAKURA, Matsuuemon (TN:  Samurai era name).  I graduated from the Mie Prefectural Second Middle School in May 1906.  I believed in the Japanese proverb saying, “Fortune awaits you everywhere”, and I became ambitious about traveling to the United States.  At the age of 19, I came to the United States through San Francisco.   I worked hard on a farm and also studied at night for two years.  I worked as a contracted farmer in Salinas, CA for four years.  In 1912, I moved to Stockton, CA and ran an  onion farm with my older brother and business partner Ryuzo.   In 1916, I leased 180 acres of land on RINJI (sic) Island (TN: Currently unlisted on map.  The island could have been sold to someone else and renamed.) and grew potatoes and onions.

In 1917, I visited Japan and returned to the states with my wife.  In 1918, in addition to previously mentioned leased land, I expanded our farm by 400 acres to grow potatoes and beans.  In 1919, I increased the farm I had with my brother by 350 acres to grow potatoes. Mr. RINJI (sic), owner of RINJI Island, and I jointly managed 740 acres of the partnership farm and 180 acres of the leased farm.  We were blessed with prosperity after WW I.

In 1920, I acquired and operated 170 acres of land and orchard with successful results in MASEDO (sic) (TN:  Merced, CA).  Due to many happenings like the post 1922 depression, the law restricting foreigners from acquiring land, which was intended to discriminate against Japanese Americans, and the land owned by Japanese American being sold at auction, our untiring efforts to better ourselves and the long hours of hard work for many years were burst like a bubble.

In 1924, I moved to Los Angeles and started a landscaping business.  The night of the day that Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor in 1941, I was arrested at midnight and spent one night at the Los Angeles County Prison.  The following morning, I was transferred to the Federal Prison in San Pedro where I stayed for two weeks.  I was moved to HANGA (sic) Canyon (TN: Tuna Canyon Detention Station in Tujunga, CA) and stayed there for two weeks.  I spent about four months in Missoula, Montana.  In court I was classified as an internee and transferred to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  I was imprisoned there for about three weeks.  I was also imprisoned at Livingston, Louisiana for about one year and at Santa Fe, New Mexico for one year and half.

In March 1944, I joined my family at the Amache Relocation Camp, Colorado.  In September 1944, I went on a two month tour to Chicago but I had to comply with an extremely troublesome requirement that I had to make a weekly report of my location to the Immigration Office.  In June 1945, I returned to Los Angeles and restarted my landscaping business.  I have been in this business up to now.

Prior to the WWII, I held the following positions:  the CEO of  Seinan (TN:  Los Angeles Southwestern District) Conference, President of the Mie Kenjinkai (Association of Japanese Americans from Mie Prefecture), Los Angeles Japanese American Association Inspector, and the Chairman of the Seinan School Board.

After the WWII, as the way to solve the problems of lack of housing, Mr. NOMII, Kiyoshi, Mr. KUSUMI, Fukunosuke, Mr. OHNIWA, Hichiro, about ten more other supporters and I formed the Housing Purchasing Association.  The association’s assets reached to $50,000 and in 1951, our association was renamed as California Chartered Trust and Saving Association.  Presently, there are about 3000 clients with one million dollars of assets and it has become the top rated National Japanese American Trust and Saving Association.  Since the establishment of the association to 1961, I served as the President doing my best even though I was inexperienced and humble.  In addition, I held the following positions: the CEO of the Seinan Landscaping Association, President of the Mie Kenjinkai and Mie Club, Board member of MII (sic) Church, the Director of the NISSHO (TN:  Japan Trade Association?) and a Staff Officer of the Los Angeles Seinan Citizen Association.

I received a Letter of Commendation from Japanese Foreign Minister at the 100th Year Anniversary of the Japan and the United States of America Friendship Treaty.  I was also honored as one of Pioneers at one of the Nisei Week Parades.

My wife Kogiku and I have two sons and two daughters as follows:  the first son Jo (California University Graduate), the second son Naomasa, the first daughter Sachiko (married to KURIHARA, Saburo), and the second daughter Emiko (Pasadena City College Graduate, married to OBATA, Souichi).

In 1944 at the Amache internment camp, I was baptized by Minister Yamashika and I have been a devoted Christian since then.

(Translated by Shuji “Bob” Miyasaki, a family friend, January 19, 2015, (858) 486-9126)

(TN:  Translator’s Note)