The Golden Gate National Recreation Area have two stories online that tell the tale of two Japanese-American families, the Takahashis and the Satos – because America is nothing if not a nation of immigrants – that is also a tale of internment, but also mutual aid & support of others, and even strawflower entrepreneurship. It’s an American story:
Two Stories of Internment
Before World War II, two Japanese families came to cultivate lands now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Takahashis and the Satos. Both their stories have historical importance. The first one is about a pioneer horticulturalist and leader of his community. The second is about the struggles of a farm family faced with internment and ruin.
Excerpt form the Takahashi family story:
San Mateo County Japanese American families always referred to the head of the first family as Mr. Takahashi. One source describes his flower growing enterprise just east of Montara as “a tiny nursery”114that launched the strawflower industry in San Mateo County. Another proclaims it “a large Japanese garden of flower terraces and fish ponds…that…is credited with starting the strawflower industry in the United States.”115 A photograph taken by the San Francisco Flower Market in 1940 shows Takahashi and his wife Kiku in front of a large hedge in front of his land saying “Welcome”. The 1920 Census indicates that both could speak English. It tells us that Takahashi owned his house outright – – that is he paid no mortgage. In part his property existed on the eastside of Sunshine Valley Road where horse stables for Renegade Ranch are today, on the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s portion of Rancho Corral de Tierra. It is reported that Mr. Takahashi was a former professor of horticulture from the University of Tokyo, and that he introduced the first dehydration chamber at Montara in 1911. He started out by selling flowers on the San Francisco market, using the Ocean Shore Railroad to transport his products.
Excerpt from the Sato family story:
Just after World War II, Seiro Sato and his son Hamm came to live up Denniston Creek on land on the eastern portion of Cabrillo Farms on today’s Rancho Corral de Tierra lands of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Seiro was born in 1872 at Kochi, a prefecture in Japan. He was the oldest son in his family and decided to come to the United States in 1890. At first he settled on lands near Stockton, California and did well as a farmer. More than a dozen years later, he decided to return to Kochi to find a wife. He met Masao Hara, who became impressed with Sato’s success in America. They were married and the couple eventually had two sons, Hamm and Sam, and daughters Sue (now Sue Okamura) and Yoshi (now Yoshi Mizono). After Masao died of cancer, Seiro moved the family to San Mateo in 1928. Here he worked as a gardener but longed to be a farmer again. By 1932, he had his family in motion once more. They leased property over the hill at Frenchman’s Creek, north of Half Moon Bay, where Seiro decided to get into the flower growing business. He grew marguerites (chrysanthemums) and strawflowers.