Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Junkoh Harui Interview
Narrator: Junkoh Harui
Interviewer: Donna Harui
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: July 31, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-hjunkoh-01

<Begin Segment 1>

DH: I'm talking with my father, Junkoh Harui for the Densho Project at Bainbridge Gardens, and today is July 31, 1998. So we'll start with when your father first came to America. What year did Zenhichi come to America?

JH: 1908.

DH: And first he arrived in San Francisco.

JH: That's correct.

DH: And then Bainbridge Island. What was his reason for coming to America?

JH: Basically, it stems from way back in the history of Japan. As you know, Japan was an isolationist philosophy for many years, until Commodore Perry came to visit Japan in 1954, or 1854, excuse me, and they met with the Emperor and they made a treaty. And the isolationist philosophy ceased from that period.

DH: And then, your personal history is that, Zenhichi was one of many brothers. How many in the family?

JH: There were five brothers in the family, yes.

DH: And, how did he decide to come to America? What were his personal circumstances?

JH: Well, of course, with the Meiji Restoration period in Japan, they went into heavy industrialization. And my father and his siblings were orphaned during a great flood in Japan, and so they were, all of 'em were farmed out to different families. And of course, with the Meiji Restoration there was a thought of heavy industrialization, so they taxed the farms very heavily, which caused a strain on the farm family. And so a lot of the young men that lived in Japan could not find work, especially orphaned men, so they discovered the fact that they could seek their riches in this grand, great country called America. So there was a tremendous exodus of young men that left Japan, and they left and primarily arrived on the shores of Hawaii, but quite a few of 'em went to America, and to South America.

DH: And what was your grandfather's brother's name, your uncle?

JH: Zenmatsu.

DH: Zenmatsu Seko.

JH: Seko, yes.

DH: And why was his last same Seko?

JH: Because when you marry the eldest daughter of an all-girl family, then in order to retain the family name they took the woman's name.

DH: So Zenmatsu Seko came to America first, and then as I understand it Zenhichi followed him.

JH: That's right, he preceded my father. I think, basically the reason they arrived in Bainbridge Island was because of the Port Blakely mill, which was the largest mill in the world at one time. And the reason it was the largest mill in the world was there was huge timbers that existed, the virgin timbers, that were well over 6 feet in diameter, and it was a great source for lumber. And of course, it was sited on the north side of the Port Blakely harbor, and ships from all over the world would come in, including ships from Japan.

DH: So they both were employed at the mill for a while?

JH: Yes. They were both employed at the mill for rather a short period of time. They became disenchanted with the working conditions and the wages, and so they started to farm near New Brooklyn Road, which is only about a mile from the Bainbridge Garden site.

DH: Did they, did he ever describe what life was like at the mill for a couple of bachelors from Japan?

JH: I never had a conversation about the mill itself, or his role in the mill, but I have some documented photographs that he did work as a laborer in the mill. But I never had any conversations about his life at the mill.

DH: My understanding from what I've read is that it was a pretty rough place.

JH: Yes, it was.

DH: The mill was rough for Japanese, and even the living conditions were pretty rough. A lot of 'em took to gambling and those sorts of things. Did he ever comment on that, or have you hear stories about that?

JH: Yes, I have heard stories about gambling going on practically every night. And I don't know whether it was a source of entertainment or what it was, but my father was dead set against any type of gambling, so he didn't partake in that.

DH: Was he Buddhist?

JH: Yes, he was.

DH: Very religious man?

JH: To some extent. I think in most cases those individuals spent most of their time working, so they had very little time for any other religious studies, or for education, or any of those types of activities. They practically worked seven days a week, and many long hours per day.

DH: So after working at the mill for a short period of time, then what did they do?

JH: After the mill life? Well, they started a farm in nearby New Brooklyn Road, and they raised produce basically, but they had a great crop of what they call Olympic berries. And they would sell them to the Olympic Hotel in Seattle, and that was one of their big cash crops. But otherwise, they raised vegetables and they sold them in a produce stand. In fact, they even went to the Pike Street Market to sell their produce as many farmers did, and then they branched out into a greenhouse operation.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

DH: How did they acquire the land that was here?

JH: The land that sited on Bainbridge Gardens, we believe was acquired through trade. And obviously the land was reasonable in price, but of course, it was still dear in those days. But the significant part about their acquiring their land was not so much how they paid for it, but whose name it was in, because there was an alien land law at the time. And they placed the land in the name of a young Nisei friend. So that's why they were able to acquire this property.

DH: When did they move from the New Brooklyn farm then to the site where we are now?

JH: Approximately 1911.

DH: So then again they started farming.

JH: Yes, they did. They, both of them, my father and my uncle were partners, and they began the clearing operation of the land, which as I mentioned previously were huge timbers, virgin timbers, that were extremely huge, and they had to do that all with the team of horses and dynamite. And I'm sure in order to clear that land it must have taken 'em literally years to be able to clear that land and get all those huge stumps out of the ground.

DH: So what were they clearing the land for? What was in here?

JH: Their ultimate goal was to have a nice produce farm, and of course, significantly in those days, when you raise produce you had to have greenhouses because of winter protection for your vegetables. And so they began building greenhouses.

DH: During this time then, Zenhichi got married.

JH: Yes, he did.

DH: Describe the details of that.

JH: Okay. Well, like many marriages at the time it was an arranged marriage by a matchmaker,baishakunin, and she was brought over to the United States in about 1920.

DH: Her name was Shiki Sugiyama?

JH: Her name was Shiki Sugiyama.

DH: What was her background?

JH: Well, she came from a city family, and I really don't know that much about her background, but she lived in Kobe.

DH: And Zenhichi was from Gifu.

JH: Gifu, yes.

DH: Does she ever talk about being a picture bride, or coming to this new country and not knowing any of the language?

JH: We didn't have a conversation about that particular era of her life. It was quite a common thing to have arranged marriages, and I guess in those days the role of the woman was to accept things like that. I'm not so sure it would be so popular today, but most of those marriages did work though.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

DH: So together they began to build this produce stand into an expanded business.

JH: Yes, they did.

DH: Describe that.

JH: Well, along with the produce stand and the building of many greenhouses, they started to raise nursery stock, and sell nursery plants. And then they developed this fantastic sunken garden, which was in the south portion of the property, and had a viable running stream coming through it which furnished the water; and they had very intricate pond landscape with carved lion heads, and art pieces, and lots of flora and fauna -- fauna, meaning that there was ducks and geeses. And it was a, they built it to a real treasure, landscape treasure, and people would come to see this for many, many miles, just to see Bainbridge Gardens.

DH: It was 20 acres?

JH: Yes, it was... at the time it was, I think, around 27 acres in total.

DH: I'm trying to get a picture then, to have you describe sort of a picture what it would look like. So there was produce growing in one section, sunken garden in another section. Describe more, describe how this was laid out.

JH: Well, the north -- basically the north portion of the property was basically in produce and nursery stock. And then, what they also did was they built a produce stand, which slowly developed into a full size, large grocery store. That was toward the southern middle part of the property because Miller Road divided the 27 acres. The predominant west side of it had more acreage. There was 17 acres on the west side and approximately 10 on the east side, but the sunken garden was totally on the south portion of both sections of the property because the river flowed from the east to the west under a culvert in the road, and it was a beautiful flowing stream. I recall nice, fresh rainbow trout coming up the stream, and also fresh watercress and crawfish. And those were my childhood delights to observe all those fauna in the wild, more or less.

DH: There's hardly any stream running through the property today, but you caught a trout.

JH: Yes, I caught a trout one time with my bare hands. That was a real thrill.

DH: How old were you then?

JH: I was -- well, actually this was after the war, so I was about thirteen.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

DH: The grocery store had some other parts to it, a gas station?

JH: Yes, there was a gas station. We had one of the first full-fledged gas stations on Bainbridge Island. The roads at that time were mostly oiled gravel roads, and there was huge pot holes in the roads all the time. And you have to remember in those days they either had steel tires, or hard rubber tires, and invariably it was a very, very bumpy trip when you rode on those roads.

DH: Explain about Zenhichi and his truck.

JH: Oh. My uncle and my father bought one of the first trucks on Bainbridge Island, and you'll see classic pictures of it being decorated for a summer festival. If you look on the license plate, I think it says 1923, and it was one of the first trucks on Bainbridge.

DH: Back to the business a little bit, who shopped at the grocery store? Was it mostly the Japanese community or the entire island?

JH: The entire island did, yes. In those days there were a lot of grocery stores. In every little community there was a grocery store, because people didn't traverse in cars like they do today; and so every little shopping community, or little... small communities had just a little grocery store and usually along with it was a little post office. And so it was kind of a community meeting place, with the potbelly stove in the middle; and people would learn about each other around the potbelly stove and the cup of coffee or tea, or whatever it may be, and the little post offices, they came in and picked up their mail every day.

DH: Who worked there besides your parents?

JH: Well, my parents hired several Nisei, young Nisei people, to work for them. Of course, they were very important because of their ability to communicate with the rest of the population. And so we have Fuji Sakuma and Matsushita girls that worked there and several others that I didn't really know, but they were a integral part of running the operation of Bainbridge Gardens.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

DH: You had -- you were the fourth of five siblings.

JH: Yes.

DH: What year were you born?

JH: 1933.

DH: And describe the birth order of your siblings.

JH: Okay. Okay, my oldest brother was Arthur, who has passed away. My next oldest, the next oldest sibling is my sister, Teruko, and then next brother was Norio, and then myself, and then my youngest brother is Yoshihiro.

DH: You said, "Arthur." That was the name that, kind of a nickname.

JH: Yes, his name was Yoshiho.

DH: Can you talk a little bit more about your childhood besides the trout, catching the trout, what was your life like here for you and your siblings growing up here? Before the war, on Bainbridge Gardens.

JH: Well, before the war, of course, the world was a wonderful world. We were free to roam around and play on the huge premises of Bainbridge Gardens. And then we were just in walking distance to Fletcher's Bay, which is only, approximately less than a mile from here, and -- well, I should say about a mile. And we would traverse through the woods; later on when we were able to ride bikes, we would bike there. And they had a ferry dock. The ferry dock was part of the, what's called a "mosquito fleet," and in those days the ferries would land from place to place on Bainbridge Island to pick up their fares, and then move to Seattle. It was, sometimes took over two hours to traverse from here to Seattle. But anyway, at Fletcher's Bay there was this huge dock in which we would handline fish for perch, and for shiners, and cod, and then there was a huge beach that furnished us with oysters and clams and geoducks and seaweed. So every day that we went there was just a truly wonderful event, and it was very enjoyable. As most parents do when you're that age, they shelter you from anything that's negative anyway. So you know, those were great days, and they were worryless days, and very enjoyable days.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

DH: What values do you think that your parents instilled in you during that time?

JH: Well, I think that like many Isseis... they showed a lot of integrity. And I think they taught you honesty and integrity. And I think that, I hope, reflects in my life, and I hope it reflects in my children's life. That was one of the great values. I think there was a value of humility too. Of course, being persons of a minority group, I guess you had to practice a little humility anyway. I think we were, though poor and poorly dressed, we were always clean, and I think that was something that was instilled in us also, was cleanliness. And I think in a way we were very fortunate, because we had a retail business and we were exposed to people all the time, and I think that helped us in an awareness of being social, and it was a little easier for us to greet the public. And those things, a lot of things that your parents tell you or try to teach you are not taught vocally, but by example. And I think the standard in bearing of both of my parents were a classic example of being a good person, and I hope it reflected on their children.

DH: Do you think those were Buddhist values or personal values, or are they just so intertwined that it's hard to say?

JH: I like to think that those were developed by what the short relation -- in my father's case, a very short relationship with their parents. And from what I understand, where my father went after the flood and they lost their, after they lost their parents, he was tutored by the mother, stepmother, where he stayed for a short period of time. And I kind of recall him saying that this lady took time to teach him a lot of things, which maybe some others didn't have that opportunity.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

DH: You said he was not a very educated man. [Ed. note: Referring to the Narrator's father]

JH: No, he wasn't.

DH: At least, academically.

JH: That's right. He only went, I think, to the second grade.

DH: But he was known to be quite an inventor.

JH: Yes. He had a enormous talent, mechanical talent, and he was absolutely wonderful with his hands; he had the most talented hands of any man I've ever seen. And he would create machinery, and he would create bonsai, and he would have a tremendous artistic feel. And he had the most wonderful work ethic I have ever seen in a person. He worked, and worked, and worked, and worked, and worked, and never complained, and he seemed to enjoy doing what he did. It didn't seem like work for him. It did to me, but not to him.

DH: Describe some of the things that he invented.

JH: Well, the classic thing he built was one of the first mechanical chain saws. I can't swear that it was the first one, but he did build a mechanical chainsaw to cut through those huge timbers that we were talking about, the virgin timbers. And then to change the soil in the greenhouses he had fashioned out a railroad track system to escort the carts in and out. And one of the first things I wanted to see if there was any remnants of that after the war, and they had totally been stolen, there was not a trace of it. But even at my young age I remember, of course, riding in those little carts while they were emptying and filling the bins.

DH: What was it like?

JH: It was a actual track that you could assemble, and there was a little cart with steel wheels on it that rolled on the track, so you can dump the soil and then throw the old soil out and dump new soil in. And, of course, when we were kids we rode in it. We were probably not supposed to, but we did anyway.

DH: Sounds like a lot of fun.

JH: That's right.

DH: And did he invent some steam pumps for the greenhouse?

JH: Yes, he did. Yes. The greenhouses went through a tremendous transition as far as the source of fuel. At first it was the natural wood because there was a lot of slab wood available for burning, then we went into coal, and finally to oil. But there had to be -- the greenhouses were all steam heated, and he had to build the steam tracks, the piping underneath the greenhouses, and engineer that. And he did that pretty much on his own, and he had figured that all out, and it's quite an engineering feat actually, with no background in engineering. So it was quite a wonderful feat.

DH: Describe his relationship with bonsai. I know you've written about it before, Zenhichi's relationship with the bonsai.

JH: Well, I think if you work with bonsai miniature plants, I think it's not only...well, in his case, I think, he did 'em to sell 'em, but I think he very rarely sold 'em because he would not want to part with 'em; and they became part of his soul. And if you ever work with bonsai plants and you get involved with it, you kind of get lost in a different world. It's a small world around, centered around a miniature tree, and I think you totally get involved in it, in a bonsai piece. And I think, as I recall, he would work on those late in the evenings when he couldn't work outside, and he worked under a light. And I think it was more for his amusement than for profit; and there is a lot to be said for that.

DH: There were some other nursery stuff that he would become very attached to.

JH: Yes, that's right.

DH: Some he wouldn't even sell.

JH: That's right. He would have lots of signs up saying "Not Sale," "Not Sale," as he refused to sell them. And I remember many customers that would beg him to release that plant for sale, and he wouldn't do it. He was very stubborn and [Laughs] he loved his plants. And he probably would have been better off to sell 'em because we were starving to death at the time.

DH: You paint him as a very hard worker, very spiritual, sort of reflective. Was your mother that same way, or was she more the business person?

JH: My mother was the hard-nosed business woman. Yes, she was. She was more practical, a little bit more conservative, and I guess she was really truly the backbone of the business from the standpoint of being business oriented. She -- I don't think she -- I don't know that she really loved her plants as much as my dad did. From the practical matter I think she raised them to sell so that we had sustenance in our lives. [Interruption] And I think... as far as her role, it was a difficult role. She not only worked in the greenhouses and as a retail clerk, but she had to raise the five kids, and then work on her own personal vegetable garden. So it must have been a long hard day for her. It must have been -- I'm not so sure what they found for entertainment in life. I do remember though that one of her -- the fond thing she did have was that she loved to read and she would read anything she can possibly get her hands on. And I would often remember finding her asleep with a book in her hand, wee into the morning hours, and I guess that was her world.

DH: How did she get those materials, because they were all in Japanese?

JH: Yes, they were Japanese books. And what they did was they had an informal book club among the community, and they would trade books.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

DH: You went to the high school with Caucasians then.

JH: Yes, I did.

DH: I'm sorry, before the war; it would be grade schools then. So you had your life here at Bainbridge Gardens, and then you would get on a school bus and go to school with everybody else.

JH: That's correct.

DH: What was that like?

JH: Well, we always had very small classes all my life and that was because we were born -- I was born in 1933, which was shortly right after the Depression, and people weren't having loads of kids in those days. So we always had small classes, and my class, at what was called Pleasant Beach School at the time, was very small and very intimate. And there were only three Japanese Americans in that class of approximately twenty-some, I don't remember the count. But they -- I don't remember any negative things that ever happened. I think I remember more the fact that we ate very menial looking sandwiches, with -- we even, I remember even eating potato sandwich, and sometimes a sandwich with just a thin piece of jello or jam in between the bread where everybody else had meat, and I remember that. And once in a while the school would give free hot lunches, and that was the most memorable thing that I can remember about school is that, "Gee whiz, we got these nice free hot lunches," and they tasted so good. But, otherwise.... Let's see, I was I guess in the second grade when the war broke out, and I don't really have that many recollections of my association with the classmates as far as that period is concerned.

DH: Was it hard to speak English at school and Japanese at home?

JH: Not for me. I had no problem that I can remember. I don't remember ever being embarrassed by that situation. I know in many cases that was a real problem because a lot of the young, [Interruption] a lot of the young Niseis spoke only Japanese at home, and they had a difficult time with the English language when they got to school.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

DH: So, around 1938, some of your family was sent back to Japan. Would you describe how that happened and why that happened?

JH: Well, actually it happened in 1939. They -- there were six people, two of 'em who were my brother and sister, sent to Japan to get a Japanese education. Now, why that, what the thinking behind that was, I'm not sure. I always thought that they were sent there to get a Japanese education because of the thought of the Isseis were gonna make their fortune in America and then take it back to Japan and live comfortably in Japan. But there were some other thoughts behind why they did that or what the reasoning is, but unfortunately my sister was only in the sixth grade, and my brother was only in the eighth grade, when they were removed from the Bainbridge High School schools and sent to Japan with very meager amount of clothes or very little money, and were basically farmed out to my uncles and aunts, to get an education there. And unfortunately, my brother and sister were stuck in Japan during the war.

DH: So was Bainbridge Garden successful before the war?

JH: Absolutely. Bainbridge Gardens was on its way to being a showplace of the Northwest. And in fact, from what I understand, they were just getting out of debt when the war broke out. And, of course, the rest is history.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

DH: I'm gonna touch on a couple of prewar things that we hadn't talked about. I want you to explain about your mother and the chrysanthemums.

JH: Oh. My parents use what they call a "disbudding technique" on their chrysanthemums, and they would disbud the chrysanthemum's stem to one total flower at the very end of the stem, which grew into mammoth sizes. And they were noted for their display of these huge disbudded chrysanthemums; in fact, they were noted in the Seattle Times at one time. And some of the flowers were larger than my mother's head, and they were just things of beauty. I'm not sure that they developed this technique. I'm sure the technique had already been thought of in Japan, but they were primarily responsible for introducing those lovely chrysanthemums in Bainbridge Island.

DH: Are there any other memories that you have of Bainbridge Gardens or the island before the war that I didn't ask you about before?

JH: Well, of course, I was a little young to remember some of the significant things that happened, but as I said before, it was basically a nature's wonderland, and it was very enjoyable for everyone to come and see and visit. I still have people that come to me who have lived on Bainbridge in that time, and they would mention to me the fact that they would always make it a Sunday tour to come to Bainbridge Gardens, go to the grocery store, get an ice cream cone, and they would walk around the grounds of Bainbridge Gardens. That was part of their weekly entertainment. So it must have been a very treasured and gorgeous place, probably had a lot of natural aura that was truly soothing for their soul, and I think that's why they came. I mentioned before that there was a lot of fauna available in the form of fish and crawfish and trout. And then, of course, along the trail to Fletcher's Bay were the natural matsutakes that grew prolifically on Bainbridge Island. In fact, that was one of the noted things on Bainbridge, was to come to Bainbridge to pick matsutake. And there was even a fellow that became so famous that he was called Matsutake Joe. But, of course that doesn't exist today because of all the housing and the beautiful matsutake beds are gone.

DH: Mushrooms, you're talking about.

JH: That's right.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

DH: Let's talk now about Moses Lake, which is sort of the next section. How did you hear about the war?

JH: Well, actually I wasn't totally aware that we were in war in December 7th, 1941.

DH: How old were you?

JH: I was eight years old. So I think the thought that there was war was sheltered from me. And, of course, in those days when you're eight years old, you wonder what you're gonna do to play today and what we're going to eat, and those were the only concerns. The only inkling that something was different was when I was in school, approximately in March 1942, I was told to go home. And I was wondering why I was singled out to go home among my class, and that was when the orders of relocation came, Executive Order 9066. And I wasn't, of course, obviously not aware of Executive Order 9066, but the thing that struck me was that I was told to go home, and I thought I had done something wrong in school. So it was rather a traumatic incident and, of course, obviously it was, because I remembered it.

DH: So as a point of history, Bainbridge Islanders were the first to be relocated.

JH: That's correct.

DH: And I know that 9066 came down March 26, 1942. So you're right, it was March.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

DH: So then what happened after you were sent home?

JH: Well, I don't recall what happened after I was sent home, but obviously the order for relocation came from a directive from President Roosevelt, and the Bainbridge Island Japanese citizens were the first to be evacuated.


DH: So Bainbridge Islanders were given eight days to get their affairs in order, and then to be relocated. What did your family do?

JH: Well, there was a rule that those people who lived on the west side of the Cascade Range needed to be evacuated, but those who lived in the east side of the Cascade Range, in the state of Washington, need not be evacuated. So that's the reason those people who lived in Spokane, the Japanese Americans citizens who lived in Spokane, did not go to camps. So my cousin, Kamekichi Shibiyama, heard of this, and he said, "Let's act quickly, and let's move to Moses Lake." So three of our families went to Moses Lake -- the Shibiyama s, the Sekos, us and -- in fact, there were four families -- and Koba family. Koba was... Fujiko Sakuma Koba, Fujiko Koba Sakuma. Actually it was a young lady, one of the Niseis that worked at Bainbridge Gardens, and we took her along, their family along.

DH: How did you acquire the property at Moses Lake?

JH: I think Mr. Shibuyama procured the property, and I'm not sure whether he leased it or he purchased it. But I have a feeling that he purchased the property.

DH: Do you remember the last days here at Bainbridge Gardens before you left?

JH: No, I frankly can't. I was probably out playing someplace.

DH: What have you heard about what your parents did during those last few days?

JH: Well, I hadn't really heard much at all about that. I think again, it's a matter of them protecting us from any harm. And they were very discreet about the war, the discussion of war, or anything like that, of negative feelings. And so frankly, I have very little recollection of what happened during our departure from Bainbridge Island.

DH: What arrangements did they make for the business?

JH: The grounds, the produce grounds, the nursery, the greenhouse, and the sunken gardens were leased to some individuals. Separately, the grocery stores were leased to other individuals. And as it turned out, the grocery stores were our salvation because the rent on the grocery store lease paid for the taxes for the property. And, therefore, we were able to hold the property in our name for all these years.

DH: And what did Zenhichi do with the bonsai that he had been working on so carefully, and the trees and the plants that he loved, the "No Sale" ones.

JH: Unfortunately he had to leave 'em all, but the significant story behind his departure, as far as in saying good-bye to his trees, were the red, Japanese Red Pines that he had started from seed from Japan. And he had little seedlings growing in the greenhouse in little clay pots. And he treasured those pines; he always loved those red pines. And so he hurriedly planted those in a shady part of the nursery, so that they may survive. And when we got back, a great many of them did survive and they grew out of their pots. And so, therefore, I treasure those trees. They're still standing today. In fact, it was recently recorded in the University of Washington Arboretum that they are the largest and tallest Japanese Red Pines in the state of Washington.

DH: He brought the seeds from Japan?

JH: He brought the seeds from Japan, yes.

DH: And he started a greenhouse --

JH: That is correct.

DH: -- right here and they still stand here.

JH: That's right. And those remaining trees still stand here; they're, they're... basically in the meadow of yesteryear.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

DH: Describe your memories of the move to Moses Lake.

JH: Well, the physical moving, driving from Bainbridge to Moses Lake which probably was a very harrowing move for my parents, I frankly cannot remember. However, I can remember the reception we got when we got to Moses Lake. It was not pleasant. For one thing, you cannot blame the community so much because most of them, most of 'em have never seen a Japanese before. And so with all the stories going around and the propaganda, they were probably very fearful or very suspicious of any person of Japanese ancestry living in their community. So the young men, when they reached there, tried to find jobs on the nearby farms. And there was tremendous amount of resistance to that by the white community, even as far as to say that, "I will never have a Jap working for me, never." And slowly some of the fellows did find jobs, and the community found out that they were decent people, and they were extremely hard working people, so they began to treasure some of the young fellows that started to work for 'em. In fact, some of 'em became foremen because they were so dependable. My --

DH: It must've been really traumatic... I'm sorry, go ahead.

JH: My personal trauma was going to school. And again, the same thing happened. We were met with suspicion.


DH: Your personal memories of life at Moses Lake -- you were in the second grade then, third grade then?

JH: Yes, I was. Mhmm. And in the playground -- this is one of the first tastes of racial hatred that I had experienced in my life because basically I had no experiences of that in previous life when I was a child. And, I would -- I remember his name, I will not mention it, but anyway, he was a couple grades older than I was, and he would beat the hell out of me every day in the playground, and everybody would stand around and watch. And this went on for about a month, until I finally proved myself that I was not an ogre, or whatever they thought I was. And also, during some of that times, we would play war and, of course, you can almost guess what side I was on. And then during the wintertime, we'd throw snowballs, and there was always rocks in my snowball that was directed to me. So it was not a pleasant situation. Even the school principal, who usually we admire, due to a lot of the propaganda that was goin' around in those days, would mention the word 'Jap' a lot of times. Which, of course, was very disturbing to me. [Interruption] I think it took a while for myself to get accepted by the rest of the children, and I think I did command a little bit more respect later. I remember there was a wonderful teacher at the time, by the name of Inez Crillette, who recognized my problems, and she went out of her way to shelter me a little bit and to understand what I was going through. And I valued her protection very much, and it was a great comfort to me. In fact, I looked her up after the war and we had a nice little visit.

DH: It must have been a rude awakening to the real world for a third grade boy.

JH: That's correct, that's correct. Yes, it was.

DH: Besides the nice schoolteacher, what else got you through that, because you must have dreaded going to school?

JH: Well, I guess part of that, your strength comes from the fact -- and I didn't mention this in the previous conversation about what values my parents taught to me, but one of 'em was education. And she always wanted -- at least Mom did. I don't remember my dad ever saying such a, much thing about education, but my mom valued education highly. And so I dug my nose into the books and sometimes I didn't go out to recess -- obviously you know why -- and I would do a lot of reading during recess periods.

DH: It must have been a really traumatic time for your parents too, because two of their children were stranded in Japan during the war, and then the rest of you had been displaced. Did they ever talk about that? Did they ever talk about what a hard time it was?

JH: You know, there was no mention of that situation, and this is what bothers me a little bit, of why they never even talked about Art and Terry in Japan. And with no communication, I'm sure they talked about it between themselves, but there was no communication about that when I was present.

DH: And none of your siblings ever asked, "Where are they, what will happen to them?"

JH: Not that I can recall.

DH: In retrospect, do you feel guilty that you didn't have to go to camp?

JH: In some instances I do, yeah. I -- you know, you kind of feel like you're singled out to be free, but we weren't totally free because we had people monitoring us all the time. They made sure we didn't have any short wave radios, or -- in fact, we had no radios and we had no cameras. And we were under surveillance by one of the neighbors that was -- he would come over, I think, about once a month and go through a checklist with us to see that we followed the rules of the game, if you want to call it that. So we were free, but we were imprisoned. I don't think that I am sorry I didn't go to camp. I can't really say that. From what I understand of what happened in camp, I guess I was very fortunate, but I certainly do not feel guilty for not going there.

DH: Did you feel like your family was fortunate that they had the opportunity to go to Moses Lake?

JH: I think so. I think we were able to farm and eke out a living.

DH: And that was what you did there?

JH: That's correct. We did, we raised produce and, basically potatoes and onions. And, I might add that those potatoes and onions went into the national food bank, so it helped the war cause.

DH: Raising produce for the war.

JH: That's right.

DH: So you were at Moses Lake from 1942 to 1946. Do you have any other memories from Moses Lake that you want to record?

JH: Oh, yes. Most of them are somewhat negative. I think one young Japanese man dated a Caucasian girl, and that was, that was just very traumatic for that period of time. And then, my cousin Masaru was, his mother was a TB patient, so when she delivered Masaru, excuse me, Jimmy, he had to go to a hospital in Wenatchee to be delivered. And the big headlines in the Wenatchee Herald was "Jap born in Wenatchee."

DH: Because that was a first.

JH: That was a first. That was a first. Yeah. [Pauses] All in all though, again, I treasure the fact that we were able to roam around without any fences or guards. And, gosh, I remember a lot of my play time, and... you know, playing with bull snakes, [Laughs] and running in the tumbleweeds. And it was a different type of farm life that I'll always remember.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

DH: So when your family returned to Bainbridge, you were in about the eighth grade.

JH: Yes.

DH: And it was springtime?

JH: Yes.

DH: Springtime of 1946. Was there any question that your family would not return to Bainbridge Gardens?

JH: Not that I know of. I'm pretty sure that they, that probably within their own community, that there was rumors flying that we were not welcome there, and probably fears and anxieties over that, but they had their land here, on Bainbridge. And I would think that that's one of most precious possessions, next to children, that most Issei had, and I'm sure their intent was to come back.

DH: What did they find when they got back?

JH: Well, pretty much total devastation. The only redeeming fact was the grocery stores were leased to responsible people, and I think it was a viable operation. But, unfortunately, the nursery and the sunken gardens and the greenhouses were left to some very irresponsible people, and they let it totally get destroyed; I think basically through pilfering and neglect. The greenhouses collapsed under the weight of snow and nobody heated them, and the sunken gardens, the valuable plants, and the statuary were all missing. And so it must have been terribly devastating to our family.

DH: Did your parents ever talk about that?

JH: You know, that's another thing that puzzled me. And, they never did, I never did hear 'em say anything remorseful about coming back to what they obviously saw. Again, the protection element, I think. They just, they were steadfast and I think I wrote a story one time about my parents, in that, if they had even landed in hell, they would have made the most, the best of it. Because they were that kind of people.

DH: A sense of gaman?

JH: A sense of gaman is correct, yes.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

DH: And so do you have personal memories of returning? To the gardens, or to school, or any of those things at that time?

JH: Well, I, yes, I do. I remember going back to school in the first day in Pleasant Beach School. In late --

DH: Springtime, so it's the middle --

JH: The springtime, yeah.

DH: -- late school.

JH: It was almost, the season, yeah, the school year was almost over. And, I was introduced, and I remember there was tremendous tension in the air. Nobody actually came across and said, "Hi, I'm glad to see you here." There's basically silence. And, of course, that bothered me considerably.


DH: Okay. We're talking about returning to Bainbridge after the war. So you went back to school the spring of that school year, you were in eighth grade, and did you -- so did you ever experience any racism, any...?

JH: No, I did not experience racism. As I said, I returned to school, and a lot of my former schoolmates were still there. And I was introduced as a returning student by the teacher, and basically there was very little emotion that I could pick up from any of the students. But, that ended quickly, and I think the first recess I was... picked up conversations with some of my ex-mates, and I didn't really know 'em that well, I think the closest friend I had was Ray DeGroot, and I think he remembers me. And after the first recess, I think everything went well. I didn't feel any racial hatred whatever.

DH: Were the Japanese from Bainbridge, who were in the camps, returning around the same time?

JH: There were -- yes, a lot of 'em even preceded us. Yeah.

DH: So some of them were already back.

JH: That's correct. That probably helped the situation a little.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

DH: Then, tell us what happened to the business after your parents returned, and after the Sekos returned.

JH: Well, they -- my uncle, my father, and their families, had a meeting, and I guess after addressing the devastation that they witnessed here, they split the partnership. And, basically, the Sekos got the grocery store and most of the east side of the property, east of Miller Road, and we got the west side. And it was my father's goal then, to start a nursery under the name of Harui Gardens on the west side of the property.

DH: And did he succeed in doing that?

JH: Somewhat. He was not totally successful because we were undercapitalized, and he was getting a little bit older, and didn't have the energy level that he had previously. So, they eked out a living all those years. It was a very difficult life, but they seemed to eke out a living and were able to sustain themselves, and... but he never, I think, reached the goal that he wanted to be, wanted the Bainbridge, or Harui Gardens to be what it was.

DH: He and your brother started rebuilding.

JH: That's right. Norio was responsible for building a lot of the buildings, and helped my dad.

DH: So there was a nursery and what else, then?

JH: Basically it was just a produce garden and a nursery. And greenhouses, of course.

DH: Did he ever talk about the loss, that he wasn't able to restore it?

JH: Well, yes, on occasion. There was only one occasion which this came out. One time, he took me along on a planting job, and he was pointing out several trees in people's yards and said, "You know, those are mine." And so, I'm sure the hurt was there.

DH: But he never really talked about it?

JH: Never really, no.

DH: How do you think he felt?

JH: Oh, I'm sure he was crushed when he saw all the years that were, that he had put in to build the Bainbridge Gardens up, totally devastated. I mean, it was, it must have been real traumatic for him. But you know, he never expressed that to -- at least not to me. I guess the positive effect of trying to rebuild was his goal, and apparently he put the past behind him.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

DH: So from eighth grade on, you went to school here on Bainbridge.

JH: Yes.

DH: Which was basically then, high school.

JH: Yes.

DH: What was high school like for you?

JH: High school was wonderful. I was accepted in the class, I became class president in my sophomore year, and student body president in my senior year; so I was accepted. I was not an athlete, so I had basically to prove myself through either academics or citizenship, and there was just subtle racial problems, but they weren't really problems, they were just subtle things. I mean, you never dated outside of your own community and you were very careful in what you said or did. Which was quite common in those days. I mean, you just stepped very carefully when you acted. But, otherwise -- well, I do remember one real fine incident that happened during my sophomore year. I was almost an 'A' student through my freshman year, and finally, during my sophomore year, I went through a fit of... a bit of a depression; and for some reason or other I gave up at school. And finally, a teacher by the name of Robert Kidder -- he was a mathematics teacher -- picked this up, and he says, "You know something, there's something wrong with you. You used to get A's in my class, now you're getting C's. There's something definitely wrong." And he says, "You know, I think it's a matter of attitude." And I feel that he was pretty much responsible for lifting me up beyond that stage of depression. And I don't know why I became that way, whether I wasn't proud of myself or what it was, but, anyway, it happened, and I want to give Mr. Robert Kidder a lot of recognition for lifting me out of that.

DH: You were popular, and your family was poor...

JH: Yes.

DH: those days. So do you think, so it sounds, it's surprising that you were depressed about that. Was it teen angst?

JH: I'm not sure.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

DH: And you, so then you and your two brothers, your older brother and your younger brother, lived here at Bainbridge Gardens. Did you help your parents after school?

JH: That's correct.

DH: Did you work here?

JH: Yes, we did.

DH: What did you do? What was your job?

JH: Basically, we did a lot of hauling, and building, and weeding, and toward the tail end of the years I remember working with my dad on the steam boiler. And I learned a lot of mechanics by working in the steam boiler, and learning how to thread pipe, and using mechanical tools and watching the welding process, and it was a, truly a good learning experience.

DH: What was the steam boiler for?

JH: It was for heating the greenhouses.

DH: Did it help that the three of you spoke English so you could communicate with the rest of the English-speaking island? Did you translate for your parents still?

JH: Oh, yes. I was... after Norio left for Chicago, they depended on me to do everything from, you know, that needed to be interpreted. I did the books, I did the ordering, and it was a valuable experience for me.

DH: So you learned the business end.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

DH: When you graduated from high school, you were the student body president...

JH: That's correct.

DH: I understand, and I heard that you gave a speech.

JH: Yes. It was a senior banquet, and I addressed the class with all the parents there. And, of course, I'll have to add that my parents were there also. And they were... they were dressed rather uniquely, I guess, is a proper, I guess it's a polite word of saying I was a little bit embarrassed, the way they were dressed.


DH: Well, describe it. What were they wearing?

JH: I can't really tell you what they were wearing, but I was slightly embarrassed with them, because they were wearing -- my father was fine, he was wearing a suit and tie. But my mom had very little clothes; we were very, extremely poor, and she was dressed cleanly, but a little shabbily, and I remember. But, I did make a speech to the parents, and it was based on how I felt, how I was accepted by all the fellow students, even though I was obviously a different ethnic persuasion. And several of the teachers and parents came over and shook my hand and told me what a great speech it was. And it was one of the highlights of my life.

DH: What was the point of the speech?

JH: Basically that, I thanked them, both the students and the parents, for accepting me as a fellow student, and that was the basic part of the speech. And, of course, we always are at odds with our parents, but I told 'em what, how valuable they were, and basically we thanked all the parents for all the students who were there.

DH: Did, could your parents understand what the speech was about?

JH: I think so. I think so. I know they were very proud.

DH: That's what I was going to ask, if they understand what an honor it was to have you selected to give the speech.

JH: Yeah.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

DH: So you graduated in high school in 1951. So then, tell us what happened between that time in 1958, when you were going to Town and Country Florist.

JH: Well, in 1951 I won a scholarship to go to Olympic College for a year, and I attended Olympic College in Bremerton for a whole year. And then I decided that it would be better for me to attend the University of Washington, so I went there in 1952. So I began there in the fall of 1952, and graduated there with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. But a wonderful thing happened, was that I met my wife there, my wife-to-be there, on the steps of the library, at the University of Washington campus.

DH: How did you meet her?

JH: [Laughs] Well, it's kind of a long story, but I'll shorten it by saying that, that her enterprising brother arranged my meeting her.

DH: [Laughs] So you met your wife, or your... and you started dating, and then, after college what did you do?

JH: After college I was drafted by the United States government. In actuality, what happened was that I graduated, as I say, in business administration. I was offered a job by Lou Goller, the local banker at the American Marine Bank, and I was ready to go to work the next week, and I got my draft notice the next day. So I had to go to Lou and say, "I'm sorry, Lou. I can't work for you." So, "I have to go in the army." So I spent two years in the army, and was able to visit France. That was a basic part of my duty, was as a medical records specialist in a hospital in La Shapelle, France. It was a real fine duty there. I was able to see a good part of Europe because of my experience in the army.

DH: Looking back on that, that would have been, that would have changed everything if you had taken that banking job.

JH: That is correct. I've often thought about that. If I had, I probably would still be working at the bank. [Laughs] But I think I would have made a good banker.

DH: What did you think of army life?

JH: Well, army life is not for everybody, and.... Although, it was enjoyable because, when you reflect back on it, because you meet so many facets of people, and you're forced to live with them. And so, [Laughs] I learned a lot of good things, I learned a lot of bad things.

DH: Was there a lot of racism towards Japanese?

JH: No, there wasn't. As a matter of fact there was hardly any racism. We lived with Hispanics, African Americans, all sects of life, and we all lived in this Quonset hut, and we learned to live with each other. I thought it was a very valuable experience, because I probably never would have been able to live with some of these ethnic groups otherwise.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

DH: Then after the army, you got married.

JH: Well, yes. First of all, I came back the army, and I was pondering what to do with my life. So somebody suggested that I should start a florist shop, because there was none around in Winslow area. So I looked into that, and I said, "Well, gee whiz, that's part of my background, maybe I will try it." So I did, and I started the business around January... of 1958; and it was a start of a struggling business. And then in September I married Chris.

DH: It was a tiny floral shop.

JH: It was a very tiny floral shop. In fact, I can't give you the dimensions, but I don't think it was much more than 25 by 20, probably about 400 square feet, but we made it work. In fact, we raised two of our children in a little paper cardboard box behind the flower shop, because Chris and I had to operate the business as a two person business, and we couldn't afford to have a baby-sitter, or they didn't have daycare in those days, so we managed somehow or other.

DH: And there are four of us.

JH: Yes.

DH: And so after you married in 1958, you were, you had four children, including me, between 1960 and 1966. And then, describe more about how the business evolved then, from being a little floral shop.

JH: Well, we started as a floral shop, yes. And about three years later, obviously with 400 square feet of floor space we were being squeezed. And the business was doing reasonably well, so we moved about approximately a block away to another building, and then we expanded into a nursery and garden store operation. And then, about seven years later that became too small, so we moved up to the Village Shopping Center, northern area of Winslow, and began a full length garden store business with a flower shop also, and nurseries, and nursery and garden supplies. So it became a pretty thriving business.

DH: And you also opened Bainbridge Landscaping during that time.

JH: That's correct, yes. We had a addendum side business in landscape operation, which I had a partner in.

DH: How many employees did you have at that time?

JH: We had approximately twelve employees that sometimes grew to sixteen during the peak season.

DH: A thriving business.

JH: Yes, it was.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

DH: And during this time your parents were still living out here at Bainbridge Gardens for during the '60s and '70s.

JH: That's right.

DH: Were they still running the business?

JH: Yes, they were. Toward the tail end in 1970s my mom had health problems, and she was diabetic and she was having serious health problems so she really wasn't very active in the business. And she died in 1972 -- or excuse me, 1970, and then without his wife's support my dad became weakened too so he died in 1974.

DH: How old was he when he died?

JH: Eighty-eight.

DH: What did they think of your business?

JH: Well, you talked about a sense of guilt, that's probably where I felt a little sense of guilt. They really wanted me to operate the business that they had started after the war, and for some reason I resisted. And I think they were a little bit disappointed in me for having a side operation that maybe in some ways they may have felt that I was competing against them, but I really wasn't. That hadn't entered my mind at all, but it's probably kind of a rebellious feeling that I had in those days that I liked to do things my way and let them do their thing their way. And, of course, in retrospect maybe they were right. Not in the way they operated, but in the way I should have taken over their business. So I have feelings of guilt about that.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

DH: So now let's talk about the restoration because now you are back here. Explain how you came to move back to Bainbridge Gardens.

JH: Well, the last site that I mentioned at the Village Shopping Center I leased that property, and the landlord decided he was going to sell all the property there, which constitutes some 20 plus acres, into a major shopping center. So they didn't have room for me because the land cost, land development cost, would be too high for an expanded nursery operation. So I had to make some decisions and I probed around and found about three different locations to move my nursery operations plus Bainbridge Gardens.

DH: Now the 20 acres you are talking about is the site they call the Village. I just wanted to clarify that the nursery was about 20 acres and the Village was --

JH: Was only approximately about 3 acres, yeah. Anyway I had four possible locations. The weakest strangely enough was Bainbridge Gardens. Again the stigma of moving here didn't appeal to me, but I searched out all the possibilities. And then I had another option too, I could have retired. But at the time I was only fifty-five years old, and I was thinking to myself, "Well gee, what would I do if I retired?" I would obviously maybe find someplace to work, but being what I am, I never would have been happy working for anybody except myself so that became an unoption. And so investigating other possibilities of where to move, for some reason or other -- and I think this is fate. Maybe it was a guided fate, I'm not sure -- somehow or other I thought, "Well, gee whiz, here's a beautiful piece of property, here's something that was in the family since 1911. Why not try to rebuild it again?" And something just drew me to that decision.

DH: Do you remember how the first idea even came to your mind of even considering this site because for a long time you really neglected the site as I understand.

JH: Yeah, that's right. Well, it's kind of a painful thing to come here for quite a while because there were all memories of hardship.

DH: And your father had been deceased since 1974. We are talking about 1988.

JH: '88, yes.

DH: So no one had been on the property.

JH: That's right, for fourteen years it stayed latent, yes. But it had all very negative, traumatic feelings. But somehow and then I talked it over with my wife Chris and we decided well, this would be the right site, but we were going to just have a little modest operation, just a Mom and Pop-type store, and this way we would have connections with people. So I redid the Shiki Building, which was a very small building, and we operated out of that. But somehow or other it just kept growing and growing and growing, and I guess it's just my nature to make that happen because I can't sit still and I always want to build. I'm always itching to build and progress forward. But it was probably one of the finest decisions I've ever made. But as I said coming back to my discussion with my wife Chris, we were going to make it a very small operation, a Mom and Pop operation, so that maybe during the winter we can just lock it up and go someplace, but it never did happen. It just kept growing and growing and the thing that developed was the public awareness of what was happening here and the richness of the history and the wonderful legacy of the plants that our family planted here years ago and how all those plants have grown and have grown into an amphitheater of beauty. So as the project evolved it became stronger and stronger and more meaningful. So here we are today with an expanded operation that's certainly not a Mom and Pop operation.

DH: Let's go back a little bit. When you first -- then after you made the decision to come here, describe what it was like the first time you walked on to the property.

JH: Well, actually it was a lot easier than I had thought to develop this property because it already was a nursery at one time. And initially we only had to remove as I recall seven alder trees in order to make a development here. And that's really amazing because in most cases when you're developing a piece of property like this, you remove hundreds of trees in order to clear the land, but it was already somewhat physically developed. And, of course, in my childhood I actually worked here on the property so I knew the property pretty well so it was easy to develop a plan. And in most cases, in this case it wasn't really a drawn plan, it was a plan that was in my head, and it just kind of self-evolved. It was kind of like a cake walk. It just, everything just seemed to fit well together. And certainly there are some shortcomings in the development of this property, but all in all we were able to retain the beauty of the property, and I guess that's what attracts people here.

DH: Well, those who had seen it in the late '70s and during the '80s would probably remember it as a broken down gas station with a rusty gas pump standing in front and the whitewash peeling off of an old building that was falling down in the back and just the weeds. And for those people I don't think they saw it as such an easy plan or "a cake walk" as you described it because it seemed like a complete transformation that you brought something out of what appeared to be nothing. And in an interview, which you gave in 1983, you had talked about the ruins of Bainbridge Gardens and how it was in ruins and how it would not be restored. So in your own mind it seems that you have come to change, to completely change your direction and change your mind about how you felt about the gardens. Do you think that's true?

JH: Well, obviously. As I say that, I don't recall making that statement that I'll never come back here, but I must have said that one time. And as I reiterate, it was basically due to negative feelings about the property and the struggle we had in our previous years, and so probably I had absolutely no thought of making the change and developing Bainbridge Gardens. But as I say, the decision for some reason just evolved and it just like I was steered to do it.

DH: Do you remember what turned this from being kind of a business decision to an emotional decision when you walked along the property and saw it?

JH: Oh, gosh, yes. I tell you when that really happened and struck me. One of the decisions in the development of the property was to make a nature trail in the woods, and that's where my father's pine trees are, the ones that he had started from seed from Japan. And one day I was walking through the woods -- this was late in the afternoon -- and the sun filtered between those pine trees, and I thought I was in heaven. The glow of that sun was absolutely perfect and that made me so inspired that I'll never forget that moment. And it was just like somebody -- and it might be my parents -- that was holding the light between those trees, and I said, "My God, this is it. This has got to be it." And then I started to remember as I walked out of those woods and looked totally around myself and I saw all those beautiful trees that you can witness here if you ever visit and how significant they are to creating this wonderful atmosphere, this amphitheater of legacy. That's what's so important about this project. It isn't making -- the project is not about making money, it's about making and preserving a legacy for the future, a legacy, protecting that legacy that was left behind. And so that's where the value is.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

DH: Describe Bainbridge Gardens today for someone who hadn't visited.

JH: Well, Bainbridge Gardens -- our goal is to make Bainbridge Gardens a destination-type nursery. We want you to come here and want to totally explore the property with the theme gardens, with the wonderful statuary, the hundreds of varieties of plants and perennials and annuals, for a wonderful restaurant espresso bar, children's playground, memorial garden. We want you to come here and not stay for a minute or two, we want you to linger and enjoy the amenities of the garden. That's what we would like all our guests to do here. And we don't want you to come in and spend a lot of money, that's not point. The point is to enjoy a wonderful history and a wonderful legacy and smell the wonderful fresh air that's been created by these beautiful trees that my family planted here some sixty, seventy, eighty years ago. That's what's so wonderful about this property.

DH: So if people can still come here to shop as they would in any other nursery --

JH: That's right.

DH: -- some people come, I think, entirely for the history.

JH: That's right.

DH: Describe the Memorial Garden.

JH: Well, the Memorial Garden was actually an area where we sold plants out of, but during the war when we left for four plus years, the trees grew into large specimen trees during that short period of time. And the reason we picked that site is because of several significant trees, one being the sculptured pear tree that my father grafted from a very young group of trees in the shape of a pear. And then there's the age old wisteria plant that I remember during my childhood. There was a row of wisterias there, and that was one of the remaining ones. It's a beautiful white wisteria that blooms in March, or excuse me, May. And so we built a Memorial Garden in honor of my mother and dad.

DH: You also named the buildings for your parents?

JH: Yes, I did. We had the Zen Building named after Zenhichi and the Shiki Building named after my mom.

DH: Tell us the story of the lions.

JH: The lions. There are two cast iron lions that are in the Memorial Garden, and during the war they had been pilfered and were missing from the garden. And for some unexplained reason about five years ago -- I guess it more six years ago now -- one of the lions appeared. And we made light of that in the local newspaper and low and behold the next day the second lion appeared at our door, and now they are back home in the Memorial Garden.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

DH: Are you surprised by the response from the community to the restoration?

JH: Well, yes I am. I guess I know the property and the history and the legacy intimately because I worked in it and I lived in it, but I was surprised that other people have adopted it. And so people come from all over and they also bring, the local people bring their guests here to see Bainbridge Gardens and tell about the history. And, of course, I think of all things that happen, that pleases me the most.

DH: There has also been a big response from the media.

JH: Yes. There has been, yes. We've had newspaper articles and I think all the major local televisions have based some programs on Bainbridge Gardens' history.

DH: So it's anything but a Mom and Pop operation now.

JH: It certainly is.

DH: How does that make you feel?

JH: Well, of course, obviously I'm very proud of what's been accomplished in a matter of the last ten years. I would certainly not like to see it end. It's a wonderful challenge and at my age it still makes me wake up in the morning to meet those challenges of the day. And so I guess that's a wonderful thing to have is to wake up in the morning and have something to go to.

DH: How do you think your parents would feel?

JH: Well, I have to tell you a story about that. I think my parents are here. And a couple of friends of mine -- I'll mention their name is Joe and Lillian Lavato -- told me one time that they were having a drink at our local espresso bar and both of them saw two golden shining images near where they were sitting, and the golden images were not bodies, but they were just imagines shimmering in the light. And Lillian was telling me about this and she said, "You know, it wasn't just me, but Joe saw it too." So I strongly believe that those were my parents visiting Bainbridge Gardens.

DH: You think they would be proud that you returned here?

JH: Absolutely.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

DH: What have you learned from the restoration experience?

JH: Well, I've learned that money means nothing. I think honor is more important than anything else, and when I say that I think through all the struggles that my parents went through the war and through their lives, I think that one thing that they did keep was their honor and their dignity. And they were poor, but they were rich because they had honor and dignity, and I think that's the one big lesson that I learned. I think the other thing is that if you have an honor and dignity, I think you can be very proud of yourself no matter what you are. It isn't a question of what ethnic group you're from, it's whether you have honor and dignity, and I think that will carry you further than any dollars will ever do.

DH: About the time that you were coming back to the site to restore it, the redress movement was really heating up. Did that have any effect on the restoration or the size?

JH: No. No, it did not. Redress had no -- it was actually after the fact anyway.

DH: So this was more of personal.

JH: That's right, yeah.

DH: Because you were very active in the Bainbridge Island Japanese community.

JH: Yes. But that was reactivated basically about fourteen years ago and so this decision necessarily, didn't necessarily, or this place didn't necessarily, or the changes I made to this place were decisions I made didn't necessarily reflect my thinking as far as the Japanese American community is concerned.

DH: What do you want other people to know about this restoration project? And when I ask that I'm thinking that a lot of the people who will get to see our interview will be other generations who are studying this time period and studying Japanese Americans. What do you want those people, younger generations, outsiders, to know about your work and what you've done?

JH: Well, I think I'm somewhat of a strong activist as far as racial discrimination is concerned. I put myself on the carpet several times making a stand, and sometimes that's not a very wise decision when you're in, when you're kind of a public figure. But I think you have to just believe and work for what you believe. The other thing is that -- and this may not quite answer your question -- but I believe that everybody in this world should search out their roots, and that was again one of the biggest values of this project was: I wasn't totally aware of my family history until I started to develop Bainbridge Gardens, then I said, "Wait a minute here. I got to learn more about my family," and I'm still learning. And those things have to be recorded quickly because the life period is very short. Before you know it, your information sources may be gone so I think people should, no matter what age or what period you're from, they should start recording their histories and finding out all the information. There is so much richness in the study of history. There's so many rewards in what you can find out about your family's life. There's some negative things you'll find too, but at least you know what the direction, where that direction came from. And it's invaluable to know about your personal history.

DH: In other interviews you talked a lot about legacy. What does that word mean to you?

JH: Well, legacy is basically something that your forbearers left behind. Basically it connotes positive things. I'm sure there are negative legacies too, but we don't seem so delve on negative legacies, we think about positive legacies. And those legacies add to the richness of your life and the richness of your history. And so they are very, very important and those need to be recorded. It is part of history. So each day you live you're building up your history and your legacies, and we hope that they'll help the generations to come.

DH: Do you have anything else you want to add to this interview?

JH: Well, for the most part I guess I want to reiterate that moral values are probably more important than anything else, and it will carry you farther than anything else. And I think success of any individual or business comes from a good family background, which I think my parents were.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

DH: There was a racial incident that happened recently after building Bainbridge Gardens, and would you explain?

JH: Yeah. I believe it was in 1991 in which some hate mail was left on our windshield wipers at home, which was very worrisome for us because the cars are parked right in front of our house, and we thought it was aimed directly at us.

DH: What did the letters say?

JH: Basically it was... it had quite a bit to do with the African Americans, but basically it was very derogatory. Then for, I believe it was a second night after this happened my wife Chris got a phone call, which was very disturbing. And so what I did was I reported this to the multicultural group, and thank goodness that our school district had developed a multicultural board for racial understanding. And so we summoned this multicultural council, and we banded together and got the schools involved. And we decided that one of the best things to do was to have a march, and so marched down the streets of Madison and Winslow Way, an organized march. And what was wonderful was the participation of all the middle school students and high school students, and there was a tremendous amount of people. I can't tell you how many they were, but we all carried placards. And then we also organized a signature for everybody to sign a pledge to support against discrimination, and we put it in the newspaper. There was well over a thousand signatures, and we put that in the local paper. And because we did this, we also got the police department involved and the police department did some checking, and they finally isolated where it came from, and they were gone within a few days.

DH: So it was a small sort of --

JH: It was a small group. They usually are small groups. But what happened was just this year, earlier this year, it happened again, but it was in a different part of the island. And it was not as organized, but we again banded together and we made issuing statement in the local paper again, and we summoned something like 700 plus signatures for that also. So we're very pleased with the community support on issues such as that and when the need arises -- that's what's wonderful about our community. When the need arises, there is a lot of people there that are willing to help and support, and that gives me a great sense of comfort to live in the community like this.

DH: Well, except for the period during the war it seems like Japanese Americans, Japanese and Japanese Americans, have been very welcomed in this community.

JH: Yes, yes. Well, I think when you stop and think about it, war history is literally hell. I mean, I think if the war was against Chinese or Iranians or Albanians or whatever, the propaganda and the hysteria would be directed against those people that look like Iranians or Japanese or Chinese or whatever they happened to be. And it's an unfortunate thing, but it's gonna happen, and I think it did happen as far as with the Iranian war period. There was a blatant discrimination against Iranian Americans. So that problem will always exist, but what we need is community support and that's why I think that there is some strength in our Bainbridge Island community because there are a lot of people that are here to help you and to support you no matter who you are. And that's what makes this community so great.

DH: Explain the new garden at the Bainbridge Island Library. Is it the Bainbridge Library or Bainbridge Island Library?

JH: Yeah. The Bainbridge Public Library, the Japanese American community on Bainbridge Island made a decision to donate a Japanese garden in the new expanded library. And it was basically stemmed from the fact that we want to honor the Issei generation who, like my parents, made great sacrifices to bring us up as great citizens or good citizens. And they made great, great sacrifices to do this. So if you go to the library you will see a placard that says "In honor of the Issei generation." And it's a wonderful garden with haiku poetry, and we call it an interpretive garden. It's a rather unusual garden because there are placards with haiku poetry. And it has been extremely well received and one of the proud places to visit on Bainbridge Island. And the community at large, the community at large is extremely proud of that public library garden.

DH: You designed it.

JH: I helped design it.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.