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In this episode we connect with Janice Munemitsu, author of the book The Kindness of Color. Janice shares the story of her families first arrival in California and how her father became an 8 year old land owner, and how it was through kindness and luck that her family was able to find someone to lease and manage their land after they were incarcerated following Executive Order 9066. As many other families lost what they owned while in the camps Janice's family had something to return to and a way to help out other families displaced after the incarceration camps closed down.
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Janice Munemitsu is a third-generation Japanese American Sansei. A native of Orange County, California, Janice was raised on the family farm and worked there from age 5 through high school. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and Biola University Institute for Spiritual Formation. Her family name, Munemitsu, 宗 光, means source of light in kanji. The Kindness of Color is her first book.
"I never thought of my grandfather as brave or courageous really. It just never occurred, but the more that I delve into this story, I'm like, 'Wow, he was pretty brave, and/or the situation where he was he would've not had any opportunity.'"
Medium History explores memories and moments through creativity and expression, capturing the cultural ethos of that time and place through storytelling and representation. Visual material culture, such as art, and other multimodal forms can elicit responses, emotions, and opinions—human expressions, tied to temporal and cultural aesthetics. This program explores how creative mediums provide context for history beyond dates, and names, and figures.
Partnering with Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Chapman University, this series will explore how comics, comic books, and graphic novels from and about the Japanese American Incarceration following Executive Order 9066, humanize the tragic experience, allowing the stories to live long past the lives of those who experienced it, and ensuring this never happens again. Supported by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, a state-funded grant project of the California State Library, this series is designed to be a companion to the interactive web project, Images and Imaginings of Internment: Comics and Illustrations of Camp.
Guest: Janice Munemitsu
Hosts: Jon-Barrett Ingels
Produced by: Past Forward
[00:00:03] Janice Munemitsu: When you think about it, it's quite crazy that you're forcibly removed from having a steady income but yet you're forced to pay income tax and property tax if you owned anything. I never knew this as a kid, but as I look at it as an adult, there was a lot of economic reasons why the majority population wanted Japanese out of the Central Valley of California, because they were just getting too prosperous, and so this is not a strategic war decision, especially in California. I think in other areas too people were threatened by the success of the Japanese farmers.
[00:00:42] Host: Welcome to Medium History, a collaboration between Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Chapman University and the curious minds at Past Forward. This series is an exploration of history through multimodal art and expression, allowing us to uncover hidden complexities often overlooked by conventional textbooks.
We observe visual material culture, that is the art, artifacts, music, storytelling, fashion, and other expressions of a particular time period, and consider its profound impact on our understanding of the past, going beyond mere dates and names to reveal the multifaceted layers of the human experience. It's about immersing ourselves in the emotions, opinions, and cultural subtleties that mold our world.
In this series, we engage with authors, artists, and educators to cast a fresh perspective on the history of Japanese-American incarceration through the lens of creativity and expression, specifically the lens of the comic book and the graphic novel.
I'm your host, Jon-Barrett Ingels, and in this episode, we connect with Janice Munemitsu, author of the book, The Kindness of Color, to share the story of her family's experience before, during, and after the incarceration of Japanese Americans following Executive Order 9066. Thank you for listening.
“I didn't think my grandparents were this brave, but that's pretty brave. Going to someplace you don't know, you don't know the language and your new husband is saying, 'We're going to go to California. I work there,' on a ship.”
Let's start at the beginning of the story of the Munemitsu family here in the United States. I'd like to start with your grandfather, Seima Munemitsu, in his early life. He came over fairly early, correct?
[00:02:32] Janice Munemitsu: Yes. He came in 1916 when he was 17 years old. I believe his father was here a little bit earlier, but his father, mother, and he came to work on a farm called the Carson Ranch. It would be in the Carson Torrance area of Los Angeles now. He came and worked on that. Then when he was 21, about 5 years later, he went back to Japan, married my grandmother.
I didn't think my grandparents were this brave, but that's pretty brave. Going to someplace you don't know, you don't know the language and your new husband is saying, "We're going to go to California. I work there," on a ship. We have a picture of what essentially is their wedding picture with him in a Western suit that I'm sure he saved money to buy, and her in a Japanese kimono, which is essentially their wedding picture in 1921.
[00:03:27] Host: Was farming the family trade back in Japan? Was that--
[00:03:32] Janice Munemitsu: My grandfather would say we've always been farmers. The closest relative that we were in contact with was my grandfather's cousin. He lived on the family land because I remember in the 1980s when we went to visit, you had to-- I can't say hike because you actually had to hold the ropes and lean in crawling up this hill, and at the top of the hill there were a lot of these headstones. They weren't fancy. They were very rough, but our Japanese name in Kanji was carved on them, so there was little Munemitsu headstones all around this hill.
My grandfather would say, we've always been farmers. This is on Shikoku Island in the Kōchi Prefecture. Even still today, I think farming and fishing are pretty prevalent there.
[00:04:26] Host: When your great-grandfather came over, was it an idea that he'd come over and start a new life, or was it the thought, we'll come over, make some money, and return?
[00:04:36] Janice Munemitsu: I think in that day and age, if they didn't have opportunity, they were coming here. Japan is fairly hierarchical and so the oldest son of each family would get the bulk of the family land. I don't know the details of our story, but I've never heard of any indication that they intended to go back. In fact, my grandfather, even when I was a kid, I remember he had a picture of George Washington on the family room wall and so I don't think he had ever intended to go back.
Some Japanese during World War II, in that short timeframe where they knew they were going to be forcibly removed and incarcerated in camps, there were Japanese who did go back, but I don't think by that time they had established their home, their family, their farm here. I've never heard my grandfather wanting to go back other than a visit to see-- [crosstalk]
[00:05:37] Host: Your grandfather had so much affinity for the nation of the United States. He enlisted or volunteered for World War I, for combat.
[00:05:50] Janice Munemitsu: I'm not sure if they actually volunteered, but they did have to sign up. I guess because they were legal residents they did have to sign up. They were never called to duty, but he and his father, my great-grandfather, did have to sign up. I'm not sure if that was voluntary or mandatory, but we do have record of that. I guess it would've been possible.
[00:06:14] Host: He chose to name your father, his first son, to give him this middle name, Lincoln.
[00:06:24] Janice Munemitsu: Yes. I think there's a lot of indications that say grandpa was pretty proud to be here. I think that also goes into the story. I'm often asked, "Why don't you have more resentment?" He chose to be an immigrant. I think with that choice, and even immigrants today, I am sure when they choose to migrate they know they're in for a ride. This is not going to be easy. They're in foreign territory with foreign customs, not necessarily welcome. Unfortunately, that seems to be the posture of the day, and was then too.
I never thought of my grandfather as brave or courageous really. It just never occurred, but the more that I delve into this story, I'm like, "Wow, he was pretty brave, and/or the situation where he was he would've not had any opportunity." My grandfather would say we're farmers, but some of his best friends there did some very, very, very awful jobs, sewage collection and stuff like that. Perhaps a lot of things looked better in America.
[00:07:36] Host: They spent that first bit of their life together, your grandparents, on that Carson farm?
[00:07:43] Janice Munemitsu: Yes. He was there after he married and probably till right around 1930. That's when he was able to lease property in Westminster.
[00:07:54] Host: Your father and your uncle were both born there in Carson, in that Torrance area as well?
[00:08:00] Janice Munemitsu: Yes, in the Torrance area.
[00:08:01] Host: Let's talk about this farm in Westminster. That's one thing to work on somebody else's property, but to manage your own property changes the financial opportunities.
[00:08:16] Janice Munemitsu: I think this is also where the woman that he leased this farm to was not actively farming. I don't know much about her, but she was elderly, older, and not farming. No one was farming, so she kindly leased the farm to an immigrant Japanese man and his young family. She obviously didn't have prejudice against doing that, and they built a good relationship. My grandfather, my grandmother, my dad, and uncle moved to that farm, as did some extended family, my grandfather's stepmother.
That farm was about 40 acres. It had a farmhouse on it, it had a barn. It also had four workers' cottages on it because back then Orange County was rural. It wasn't like if seasonal workers came up they could just rent a place to live for a few months of the year and so the farmers, I think many did, I don't think ours was the exception, but many of the farms had living quarters for their seasonal workers there. Now, the cottages did not have a kitchen, so my grandmother would cook for the workers as well as her own family. She was pretty good at making large quantities of food.
[00:09:39] Host: Give us the story of how they went from leasing a farm to being farm owners.
[00:09:47] Janice Munemitsu: I think we'll have to introduce a new character in the story, Mr. Frank Monroe. He was the banker at First National Bank of Garden Grove. That building is still there on Main Street, Garden Grove. I often stay right across from Costco, and then everyone goes, "Oh, we know where that is." At that time, small town Garden Grove, Main Street was a few blocks long. Mr. Frank Monroe was the bank manager. When my dad was a kid, from the age of eight, he would go with my grandfather to the bank to essentially be a translator, English to Japanese and Japanese to English. As you can all imagine, it takes twice as long for the banker to do any kind of business.
Mr. Monroe really took my dad under his wing and through this translation process, he essentially taught him the rules of banking, savings, checking, loans, leases, and things like that. Mr. Monroe would become pretty pivotal in this as my dad's-- He would say, "The best friend of any person could ever have." Right after that, he said he didn't have a prejudice bone in his body. That would tell you what the rest of the environment was. That there were others who were prejudiced. The loyalty to Mr. Monroe was because of his loyalty to our family as well.
The woman who owned the land, when she passed, in her will, she gave my grandfather the first right of refusal to purchase the land. Even though the national laws were Alien Land Laws prohibiting immigrants from owning land and also prohibited my grandfather from being a naturalized citizen. It was like they blocked both ways for him to actually own land, but she did it anyway. I'm sure she knew that, but she wanted my grandfather to have that chance.
As my father, he was only eight at that time, and I don't know when she passed, but it seems they worked out some lease-to-own agreement. There was probably some handshake agreement like, "You just continue to lease it and pay us this much, at the end of the term, you would own it." Some deal had to happen like that. My dad became a young landowner because he was the first US citizen in our family. This probably had to take some time, one, to raise the money, and two, for him to become a little bit older.
We do have one story that there was somebody, an older Japanese friend, who was a US citizen, who became my dad's guardian in this business transaction. That's family folklore, but we don't really have any paperwork to back that up. Nonetheless, my dad was a very young landowner as the first citizen in our family.
“The day my dad heard about Pearl Harbor, that Sunday, he was out harvesting cabbage. Didn't hear about it until he went in for lunch. From that time frame at lunch, noon on December 7th, California Pacific Time, that was when the threat to our family started.”
[00:12:50] Host: Then we're about 10 years after this point when Executive Order 9066 passes. You have this land that is your livelihood, where you live, and your home. I know at that moment as hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans are forcibly removed, you have to make a split-second decision of what to do with your property. A lot of people lost their property. A lot of people sold it for whatever they could get for it, but your family had this other opportunity. Will you talk a little bit about that?
[00:13:35] Janice Munemitsu: Yes. Actually, the lease with the Mendezes didn't formally on paperwork happen till 1944. I don't know when the Mendezes actually moved there. Sylvia remembers having her eighth birthday on the farm, and that was before the leases were signed. [laughs] Again, it's like, move when you can. Come on and restart. [crosstalk]
[00:14:01] Host: More gentleman's agreements than actual paperwork.
[00:14:04] Janice Munemitsu: More handshakes. The day my dad heard about Pearl Harbor, that Sunday, he was out harvesting cabbage. Didn't hear about it until he went in for lunch. From that time frame at lunch, noon on December 7th, California Pacific Time, that was when the threat to our family started. There are many stories, depending on where the Japanese and Americans lived, if they lived near a strategic port, train station, or city hall, they were visited by the police and the FBI even that day, that week of December 7th.
Out in Westminster, that didn't happen for a while, but certainly the prejudice became more vicious and threatening amongst people, just neighbors and such. I'm sure the rhetoric group was, "These are our enemies." They look like Japs, they are Japs, that type of language. The threats became much more violent. I think we were fortunate to be more in a rural area. The other thing is my grandfather had been here for 26 years at this time. My mother's father had been here for 39, far longer than they were ever in Japan, as young teenagers, and so they had established friends. I'm sure that they had some supporters of like, "Oh, we know these people. No, they're not-- They've lived here a long time."
Nonetheless, as every day and week went by, the threats of the national news and the rhetoric from government officials became much more severe. Then, FDR signs Executive Order 9066. Now they know they're going to be forcibly removed regardless of where they live. It's going to be the whole West Coast of Washington, Oregon, and California. People would start to plan for that. I think this is also the period where people had the chance to say, "We're going to pick up and go back to Japan."
Now, Japan's in a war. I've heard stories where some sent their children to live with their grandparents, or they all went back. There's a lot of confusion in what families had to make decisions of. If the Japanese owned anything that they couldn't carry, furniture, cars, homes, businesses, trucks, tractors, they had to figure out what to do with them. My dad had this long relationship with Mr. Monroe and went to him and said, "What do you think is the best thing to do?"
We have to really remember this is in the middle of World War II, the whole world is at war now. Frank Monroe opted to say, "The best outcome is the war ends and you can come back. Let's count on that and try to lease the farm." Most of the farmers, or I shouldn't say most, but a lot of the farmers in Orange County were Japanese, so they were all leaving too. That's when the idea of leasing came up.
There's probably 12 to 18 months, if not more, time before I know that Sylvia showed up on the farm. They could have gone back and forth. They could have tried different options. There might have been some people who said they were going to lease, but no, they weren't. There could have been a lot of uncertainty until he asked Gonzalo and Felicitas. I don't know. All I know is that Gonzalo always said, "I want to be the boss of a farm." Because he had worked on a farm.
In learning about Gonzalo through oral stories, this guy, he was a leader. He was an entrepreneur. He started his own restaurant. I could totally see him saying, "Well, I could be the boss of a farm. I used to work on them, and I could do that just as well." Because he had said that, Mr. Monroe went to him and said, "What do you think?" Some of that time frame is a little fuzzy, and we don't really have any--
[00:18:17] Host: There may have been a time when nobody was on the farm, where it was just left vacant.
[00:18:22] Janice Munemitsu: It's interesting, because after I wrote this book, I am talking to people or people read the book and said, "Oh my goodness." There was a Mexican gentleman, he was probably in his 80s, I think, at the Orange County Historical Society event that I spoke at. He came up to me, and he said, "Where exactly was this farm?" I told him, and he goes, "I played on that farm when I was a little kid." He also went to the Mexican segregated school with a little boy who lived on our farm. He goes, "My little friend's dad worked for your dad." That just gives us another clue that there were Mexican workers who were being paid to just continue to keep the farm up.
The story evolves. We have general history, but we don't have moment to moment to moment facts. Quite honestly, I don't know that my dad would remember. My aunts remember some things. They were very young. They were only seven years old. They're like, "Well, yes." They remember the major things, especially not business details. My one aunt said she always remembers her father saying, "One day Tad," which is my father, "will own this farm." That really gives us the idea that there was some lease-to-own agreement that they were working towards.
That's some of the background. Mr. Monroe was the one who also had Gonzalo Mendez as a customer of the bank. I think this is very interesting because Santa Ana, California is a big city back then. That was the major city, the county seat of the county. Why would Gonzalo go all the way to Garden Grove to bank? I think there had to be a reason, and I have a feeling it was because Mr. Monroe didn't have a prejudice bone in his body.
[00:20:15] Host: Right, and the word was out that this is the guy to see.
[00:20:18] Janice Munemitsu: The word was out, this is the man who can help you.
"It was hard to go to college because many of the colleges would not accept Japanese Americans."
[00:20:22] Host: For time's sake, I'm going to jump ahead a little bit here. Farm is taking care of and being tended and being worked on. While your family was in the camp, do you know what work they did? They were at Poston, correct?
[00:20:41] Janice Munemitsu: They were at Poston. Actually, there's a program called the Indefinite Leave. I don't think I know any non-citizens who were able to take advantage of this. My mother's sister was in the camp for about, I want to say it was about a year. Then she signed up for Indefinite Leave and she was placed with a family who lived in Cleveland, Ohio, in Shaker Heights, in a very nice area of Cleveland. I think the man of the house was a doctor, a physician. She was hired as she would call it a girl Friday. She would do little chores around the home. They also gave her the opportunity to go to community college.
Several of her Japanese friends ended up in Cleveland, because I have a picture of them in the book with these big coats on. I think it's probably the first time my aunt ever saw snow. [laughs] She lived and worked there. My mother signed up for Indefinite Leave, but by the time she got there, she was only in Cleveland. She got a job, and she was only there for a few months, really, because the war ended and they were able to come back. My father also got Indefinite Leave and he went to Denver. My parents weren't married at the time. He went to Denver and he worked in a foundry and on road construction, so was making money and doing something.
I don't know what the percentage of people who were able to do that. My uncle got Indefinite Leave. He went to work in the Midwest with the thought that he was going to go to college. It was hard to go to college because many of the colleges would not accept Japanese Americans. He ended up through a friend who told him that Carleton College in Minneapolis area was accepting Japanese students. He applied and got accepted to Carleton. He ended up not really ever going back to the camp. Through his studies and medical school became a surgeon. He didn't come back to California, I think till probably right around 1960.
I think it's important too, people are always surprised that the Japanese Americans still had to pay taxes during this time.
[00:23:02] Host: Really? On little money that they made while working in the camp?
[00:23:06] Janice Munemitsu: Yes. Now, if they weren't making money, they couldn't. My dad's tax return shows the lease money he received from Gonzalo Mendez, and then also the hourly wages he received in the time that the two families were living on the land together back here in Westminster. People are shocked. I recently heard a story of a family in Sacramento, and this man is now chancellor of a college system. He's the grandson. The grandfather owned 100-acre farm and then another 10-acre farm. During the war, he was not able to pay the property tax on the 100 acres. He was able to pay it on the 10 acres. They lost the 100 acres because he was in the camp and couldn't pay [crosstalk]
[00:23:55] Host: Nobody was working it.
[00:23:58] Janice Munemitsu: For the 10 acres, when they came back, they were able to start back there. When you think about it, it's quite crazy that you're forcibly removed from having a steady income but yet you're forced to pay income tax and property tax if you owned anything. I never knew this as a kid, but as I look at it as an adult, there was a lot of economic reasons why the majority population wanted Japanese out of the Central Valley of California, because they were just getting too prosperous, and so this is not a strategic war decision, especially in California. I think in other areas too people were threatened by the success of the Japanese farmers.
[00:24:48] Host: After leaving, after the war's over, they're able to return. Your family has this land, but there is somebody leasing it and living there and working. While they could have come in and asked them to leave, they made another decision. I think this is so important to hear about this kindness from your family.
[00:25:14] Janice Munemitsu: As in 1944, it's looking like the war is going to end, because of the different military battles and things like that. It looks like Germany and Japan are going to lose. Then, Gonzalo and my dad in August of 1944 are like, "Okay, wow, we're going to get to come back." Sylvia's mother always said this was the one thing that she just really appreciated about my dad, is that now they're right in the midst of this lawsuit that's going to get filed in March of 1945.
Gonzalo, one, has spent his money, the profits of the asparagus farm, he's now spent it hiring an attorney and fighting this legal case. Two, it's called Mendez, et al. versus Westminster, et al. For him to move out of Westminster, he had leased his home that he owned in Santa Ana, but then that causes issues. He needs to stay in Westminster, otherwise, what's going to happen? The important thing that Sylvia's mother focused on was that they didn't have any money to restart a new business because they had spent it on the legal case.
Gonzalo and my dad really collaborate. This is a sacrificial collaboration. Because it's easy to say we're collaborating by talking, but if sides are not willing to sacrifice or give in on one way or another, it's not going to be a win-win. My dad, they decided that our family would come live in one of the workers' cottages and actually become workers for Gonzalo, get daily wages from Gonzalo. Gonzalo would continue to lease the property, and then he would be able, at the end of the year take the profit from the asparagus farm.
Gonzalo, basically, it's one of those trading places kind of things where the owners of the farm are now working as daily laborers for the guy who's leasing the farm so that the guy who's leasing the farm could leave at the end of the year with some profit to start his next business. I could totally see my dad doing this. It doesn't really even shock me. As I've told the story, people are just amazed.
That enabled Gonzalo, number one, he probably didn't even have to think about the farm because now my grandfather and dad are back and they're like, "Hey, you go off and do what you got. We know what to do. In fact, we're probably going to do it differently than you were doing it." [laughs] Then my grandfather, because there were so many people who had no place to go after the camp, different friends, they had invited them to come live on the farm as well. Those four cottages were well-used by Japanese Americans who came back.
I knew of a couple of families. It's interesting, I got several emails from a woman in her 80s, her husband had already passed, but she said, "My husband as a young boy, he was about 8 to 10 years old, he played with Sylvia. He was on that farm too." Other people have said that to me too. Now I'm getting of more the idea that it was like once one family got enough money to lease an apartment or a house or something, another family would come.
Then when I asked my aunt, I said, "Do you remember this little boy? Here's his picture when he was eight years old. His wife really thinks he was on the farm." My aunt says, "Janice, there were so many kids, but we don't remember them all." I don't know how many families--
[00:28:45] Host: These are families, families with multiple kids coming and living in these little cottages.
[00:28:51] Janice Munemitsu: Probably working for Gonzalo as well.
[00:28:55] Host: They have their freedom and they just left this horrible situation, so it is a step up. It's a step sideways almost, living condition-wise, but a step up because you're free and you're able to make money for yourself and start all over.
[00:29:14] Janice Munemitsu: There's a lot of hope in saying, "Oh, we can go stay there?" I'm sure they didn't charge them anything. They said, "Yes, we've got work too." [laughs] "Because Gonzalo has to do the law case." Somebody even told me that their family story was that my dad and grandfather would drive around with their father and grandfather and look at land to see where they might rent or lease. There was this real strong sense of, “Okay, we're going to make this work.”
“It's interesting because that land where the Mendez family and other families came and fought for desegregating schools is now two schools.”
[00:29:46] Host: How long after the war did your family maintain that property in Westminster?
[00:29:53] Janice Munemitsu: They were there probably about till around 1950s. Because I know in 1951/52 they moved to Garden Grove, but it was because that land was taken under eminent domain. Today, there are two schools there, Johnson and Finley schools. It's an elementary school and a junior high school right next door to each other. Literally, right next door. There's a fence that runs between and then there's a little gate between the fence so when weekend soccer teams and stuff play, they can go through the fence. Literally, right next door to each other. It's interesting because that land where the Mendez family and other families came and fought for desegregating schools is now two schools.
[00:30:45] Host: Were your family compensated for that fairly, do you feel?
[00:30:51] Janice Munemitsu: I don't think an eminent domain lets you ever get the market price. I've never heard of a case. I don't know the specifics of it, but, yes. I doubt that they got the market price. That's not why governments do eminent domain, right? They're not going to give you market price. My father and grandfather, they moved and found another piece of property in Garden Grove, which, I don't know, is probably two-- It's not that far away, maybe two or three miles away, to farm strawberries.
Because a lot of our audience for this will be in Orange County, I really want to add this one thing. In 1970, my father and a lot of the Nisei, business people, farmers, nursery people, they raised $50,000, which would be about $450,000 in our money today, to build a Japanese Tea House and Garden, right on the side of the Orange County Courthouse. If people are in Orange County, they go to jury duty in Santa Ana, on the left-hand side of that building is this Japanese Tea Garden. The plaque says, "For the pleasure of the people of Orange County. A grateful Arigato in honor of our pioneer fathers."
I remember being part of that. I remember stuffing envelopes to canvas donations for it and everything when I was a kid. I had no idea that 1970 was 25 years after our families returned back to Orange County. It doesn't say that on the plaque. I wish it would because people go, "Oh, we know where that is? We don't know why it's there." It's because our Nisei parents wanted to acknowledge, "We've been back for 25 years and we are grateful," because there were places along the Pacific Coast, in California, Oregon, and Washington, that some even voted to not let the Japanese come back.
For however number of families that came back, I knew all those names, they were all my dad's friends and family friends who participated in this. It really is an interesting symbol of what was their attitude. It was one, they had to choose to be grateful to come back. Because I often get asked, "Why isn't there more resentment?" "Boy, if this happened to me, we would never let this go."
To some degree, and I don't know if I'd call it forgiveness, but in terms of letting go of the resentment and saying, "We're going to be grateful for what we do have, that our families, not only ours, but other families could come back and still farm here and have to build it back up, but we could still farm, we could come back. After 25 years, we feel like we want to say thank you and honor our pioneer grandparents."
One thing, I never could understand why they planted an 80-year-old bonsai tree. I'm thinking, "Should it have been a 50-year or 25? Why did they plant an 80-year?" Well, very symbolic of Japanese, the 80-year-old bonsai tree, that's now 132/3 years old, 80 years was about the average age of the pioneer grandparents. That little 80-year-old tree would have been right around the same age as most of the first generation who came here. That's why now that tree, and it's actually doing pretty good, it's maybe 133 years old this year.
[00:34:43] Host: About the age of your grandfather.
[00:34:47] Janice Munemitsu: My grandfather would have been a little younger, but they probably took about the average. Eight in Asia, eight tends to be a blessed number.
[00:34:57] Host: Right, good luck.
[00:35:00] Janice Munemitsu: Yes, good luck or whatever. That could have been symbolic too. I do know, actually some of the pioneer grandfathers, they were older than my grandfather, so that might have been the average age. I think it says a lot about what they were thinking.
[00:35:18] Host: We'd like to thank Janice Munemitsu for her time, her expertise, and her passion. Medium History is produced by Chapman University's Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and Past Forward. For more socially conscious content, visit pastforward.com, or follow us on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you podcast.
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