Summer home

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ddr-densho-9-8 (Legacy UID: denshopd-p9-00008)

Kawaguchi Collection

This is the summer home of Masajiro Furuya, a successful merchant and banker in the Pacific Northwest. Masajiro Furuya was born in Yamanishi Prefecture, Japan, in 1862 and made his fortune in Washington State as a banker, merchant, and labor contractor. Furuya, a tailor by trade, immigrated to Seattle in 1890 and eventually opened his own shop. Several years later, he began operating a grocery store while he continued tailoring on the side. With the rise in Japanese immigration in the 1890s and early 1900s, Furuya's business grew rapidly. Soon, his mercantile business, complete with wholesale and retail import and export divisions, occupied a six-story building in downtown Seattle. He later opened branches elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, Japan, and Vancouver, British Columbia.Furuya, along with companies such as Tobo, also contracted Japanese laborers to work on the Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railroads primarily as section hands and engine watchmen. The Issei made anywhere from $.85 to $1.50 per day, less than their Caucasian counterparts. In 1907, Furuya organized the Japanese Commercial Bank, then later purchased the Oriental American Bank in 1914 and the Seattle Specie Bank in 1923. He consolidated all three banks into the Pacific Commercial Bank. Unfortunately, with the Great Depression, Furuya went bankrupt on October 23, 1931. He moved to Los Angeles and eventually returned permanently to Yokohama, Japan. Furuya died in 1938.

Photographs

Still Image

  • Furuya, Masajiro

Densho

Courtesy of the Mitsue Kawaguchi Family Collection

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