California-grown flowers

Gerbera daisies

The object I have chosen to represent my family’s migration story is a flower. After my grandfather and the rest of his family were released from Minidoka Relocation Center, an internment camp in Idaho, they had to figure out their own way of picking up the pieces and moving on with life after being forcefully removed from their home and community of Bainbridge Island in Washington. No one was willing to hire any young Japanese men in the aftermath of World War II, so my grandfather and his older brother went to work for two Japanese flower growers located in the East Bay of San Francisco. After learning about flower farming firsthand, they were able to borrow some money and purchase a tiny farm to start their own flower business.    The flower business, named Kitayama Brothers, was established in 1948, and has grown and expanded to include many farms all over California and in Colorado. For many years, they were the largest greenhouse growers of flowers, having expanded from one acre of farmland to over one hundred. The business has undergone some structural changes, but has remained a family business producing cut flowers that are exported all over the country. Flowers not only brought my great aunts and uncles into California after the war, but they continue to bring us together as a family now, several generations later. 

– Maya Kitayama

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant