As a tree that stretches to the sky from a common root,
Family spreads like its branches,
Yet as the countless streams that seek the sea,
the family calls us home,
the cradle of unconditional love
Each generation in each family lives the experiences and reflections of its time through lenses colored by the culture and values of the generations that preceded, and share a common reality of purpose, the search for identity, the immortality of name in the kinship of family.
These words were written by my late great uncle, Sam Itaya, and have come to have more meaning to me as I started to think about establishing a non-profit foundation. As I reflected upon these words, I came to realize that the beginning of Red String started long before me. Its origin can be found in my family and the values, traditions, experiences, and ideals that have been passed down through the generations. This is why the story of Red String could never be told without first knowing the story of our family.
The following narratives provides a brief family history of the first two generations since immigrating to the United States from Japan (Issei, Nisei). At some point, I will take the time to document the third and fourth generations (Sansei and Yonsei), but it gets considerably more difficult as the family tree continues to broaden.
Stan Adachi, Founder, Red String
Learn More: Read on for the Adachi Family History or click here for the Itaya Family History
Adachi Family History
(The following narrative was taken from recollections from Sam Adachi and the research and documentation by Lynn Matsumoto, Derrick, Tracie, and Ron Adachi, and Seiichi Kitani)
The Adachi family story begins in Sakaiminato-shi, Tottori-ken, located on the south western side of Japan between Lake Nakaumi and the Sea of Japan. The patriarch of the family, Hiroyoshi, was born in 1889 to Jintaro and Bun Adachi.
Jintaro Nakai married into the Adachi family when he married Bun Adachi. In Japan, this practice is called mukoyoushi (literally "adopted son-in-law"). Mukoyoushi is a common practice in Japan when an adult man is adopted into a Japanese family as a daughter's husband, and who takes the family's surname; this practice usually occurred when the bride's family did not have any sons to carry on the family name. Jintaro and Bun had 6 children, Kyouhei, Hiroyoshi, Minoru, Tomi, Sakuro, and Rokuro.
In the late 1800's, Japan's south western rural villages (which includes areas of Tottori) were suffering from a severe recession precipitated by a slump in rice prices, heavy land taxes, and bad harvests forcing many farmers to relinquish land, face economic hardships, and seek new opportunities. Around the same time, in 1896, a year after the end of the Sino-Japanese War, Yusen Kaisha steamships opened a regular route from Japan to Seattle making travel between Japan and North America easier. The convergence of these two events began a wave of Tottori-related immigration to
North America that would continue until enactment of the U.S. Japanese Exclusion Act of 1924, which ended further immigration from Japan. Between 1931 and 1950, only 3,503 Japanese immigrants found their way into the U.S.
Hiroyoshi's older brother, Kyouhei Adachi, was one of the eleven members from Sakaiminato to travel to Canada via Seattle during
the second immigration in 1898. Hiroyoshi immigrated to the U.S. on the SS Siberia traveling from Kobe and disembarking at the Port of Seattle in April 1906. The 1910 U.S. census roll shows an "Adachi" living at a boarding house run by a Maeda and working in Walnut Grove, California as a farm laborer. Based on information from his registration card, Hiroyoshi was living in Walnut Grove and working as a farm laborer at nearby Grand Island in 1917. Other than this, little else is known about his life during this time.
We pick up the story on September 16, 1918 when Hiroyoshi married Mumeno Kadonaga in Canada. Hiroyoshi had traveled from Walnut Grove to Mumeno's family homestead in Mayne Island, British Columbia on September 9. Immediately following their marriage, Hiroyoshi and Mumeno traveled back to Walnut Grove where Hiroyoshi was still working as a farm laborer.
Mumeno, the daughter of Gontaro and Funo Kadonaga, was born in Sakaiminato, Japan in 1894. Funo (Nakai) Kadonaga was the sister of Jintaro (Nakai) Adachi, making Hiroyoshi and Mumeno cousins. At the time, marriages between cousins were not uncommon in Japan. It was a tradition carried over from the pre-Meiji era (prior to 1912) when Japan had a rigid caste system (mibunsei) and marriages outside each class was prohibited.
Gontaro was a member of the first delegation from Tottori to visit Canada and the United States in 1895; he was one of seven delegates who traveled into Canada while the other members stayed in the United States. Finding abundant resources and opportunities in Canada, Gontaro and Funo immigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1900, where he purchased a 192 acre farm at St. John's Point, Mayne Island. He was the first Japanese settler on the island. In the wake of this, he, encouraged a number of other villagers from the Sakaiminato area to immigrate to Mayne Island to farm and fish. In 1903, his oldest son (Mumeno's older brother), Toru (b.1885, d. 1945), age 18, emigrated to Canada to rejoin the family. They set to work, felling trees, digging out stumps, removing large rocks, and overcame all the hardships of early pioneers to make the land suitable for farming. They raised cattle and poultry, fished, farmed vegetables, and harvested timber. In August 1905, Funo (age 38) passed away in Canada, and a year later, Gontaro, now 39, married Natsu Kinoshita, 29, in Japan. The couple returned to the homestead on Mayne Island in July 1906. They had three sons, Ei (b. 1908 d. 1993 ), Yoshi (b.1910 d. 1982), and Setsu (b. 1912 d. 2003) - Mumeno's step brothers. In 1910, Toru married Some Saga, in Japan. Afterwards, the couple returned to the Kadonaga homestead on Mayne Island. Two years later, in May 1912, Mumeno, age 18, immigrated to Canada and joined her family. Natsu passed away in Canada In 1915, at the age of 37 . Gontaro continued to work and live on the Mayne Island homestead until he passed away in 1924; he was only 56. Several years prior to his passing, in 1921, Gontaro had split the land betwen Toru and Kwanichi Sasaki (Gontaro's brother's oldest son). In 1942, during WWII, similar to the internment of Japanese in the US, all the Japanese Canadians on the island were relocated to an internment camp in New Denver, British Columbia, and their properties taken over by the Canadian Veterans’ Land Act. Rather than be interned at a Canadian Japanese concentration camp, Toru and his family took the option to leave the Hastings Park staging depot to work on a sugar beet farm in southern Alberta. After the war, due to public sentiment against people of Japanese descent, they were not welcomed back to the island. Many of the Kadonaga family resettled to other areas of British Columbia.
By 1920, Hiroyoshi, Mumeno, with their first child, Tetsuko (b. 1919, d. 2008), had settled down in Walnut Grove where Hiroyoshi, was working on a farm as a "hired" foreman. Records show that Hiroyoshi was also renting and running a small boarding house. At that time, they had three boarders (S. Tokunaga, S. Kimura, and S. Taya). The records also indicate Mumeno was working as a farm laborer, but other evidence suggest she was a housewife. According to relatives, Hiroyoshi was known to have a gregarious personality, had a lot of friends, and loved to drink.
At the time, a large population of Japanese and Chinese lived in the Sacramento Delta area, which includes Courtland, Isleton, Locke, and Walnut Grove. Up to the start of WWII, Walnut Grove was racially segregated; only whites were allowed to own homes on the west side of the river, and the east side, was separated into Japanese and Chinese sections. The two elementary schools were also segregated to an all "white" school and a Walnut Grove "oriental" school. The rural community of Walnut Grove where Hiroyoshi and Mumeno worked as farm laborers included the vast farm acreage of Grand, Andres, Tyler, Staten, and Ryer Islands. The influx of Japanese into the Delta area started in the early 1890's with a majority entering as farm laborers. By 1905, there were approximately 2,100 Japanese laborers farming 80 percent of the land in the Walnut Grove vicinity. This influx of Japanese, especially within the agriculture sector, led to a growing anti-Asian prejudice in California as well as other parts of the United States which resulted in the enactment of The California Alien Land Law, 1913-1952 and the U.S. Japanese Exclusion Act of 1924. Implicitly, the California law was primarily directed at the Japanese by prohibiting aliens from owning land, forcing Japanese farmers to work only as farm hands, tenant farmers, or sharecroppers. Designed to close "loop-holes" in the 1913 California Alien Land Law, the 1920 revision to the law had the undisguised purpose of driving Japanese farmers out of California agriculture. In response, many Japanese farmers entered into various middleman arrangements. One arrangement was that a U.S. citizen would own or lease the land then hire Japanese farmers as "hired" foremen. The landowners generally did not work the land. In Walnut Grove, out of the 10,753 acres of land cultivated by 61 Japanese farmers in 1926, 38 farmers on 8,470 acres were foremen. The rest of the acreage were managed through other "middleman" arrangements. These types of arrangements often put the Japanese farmer with little negotiating power or legal recourse if the landowner demanded higher leasing costs or chose to "fire" the farmer.
By 1925, the family had grown to five children, Tetsuko, Akiko (b. 1920, d. 2002), Kiyoshi (b. 1922, d. 1942), Susumu (b. 1923, d. 1993), and Yukiko (Jane, b. 1925 d. 1997). All five children were born in Walnut Grove. Hiroyoshi was working as a farm laborer on Tyler Island. At the direction of the grandparents, Jintaro and Bun, the four oldest siblings, Tetsuko, Akiko, Kiyoshi, and Susumu, would return to Japan for their education; Jane, being a newborn, was allowed to stay with her parents in the United States. At the end of 1925, Mumeno took her children back to Japan. The four eldest children would be raised in Sakaiminato by Minoru and Tsuyu Adachi, their uncle and aunt (Minoru was Hiroyoshi's younger brother). Children sent to Japan for education in this way were known as Kibei. At the end of 1926, Mumeno and Jane returned to Walnut Grove. Hiroyoshi and Mumeno would not see their four eldest children again, and in the years to come, the family would face numerous hardships.
By the late 1920's, Hiroyoshi was running a boarding house and working as a clerk at Hayashi general store. The boarding house was located at 1265 B Street in the Japanese section of town. The family was renting the house for $30 per month (records show the address belonging to the Shishida family; it is unclear whether Hiroyoshi was subletting or managing the boarding house from the Shishida's). Mumeno was working as a cook (presumably for the boarding house). By 1932, four additional children were born: Isamu (Sam), in 1927; Noboru (James) in 1929 (d. 1969); Eiko in 1930 (d. 2018); and the youngest, Hiroshi, in 1931, but he died shortly after birth. Their father, Hiroyoshi, died in March 1933 of pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 44, leaving Mumeno, then only 39 years old, with four young children to raise and support. Further hardships came in the 1930's as the effects of the Great Depression began to hit the Delta region. After the passing of Hiroyoshi, the family traveled by ferry from Walnut Grove to San Francisco, then boarded a ship departing San Francisco to the Port of Seattle, with the plan to temporarily stay with Mumeno's family on Mayne Island in British Columbia. Immigration documentation for that time indicates that the family was initially denied entry due to Canada's anti-immigration law, Order in Council P.C. 2115 (enacted 1930), that banned immigration of what it called "Asiatic races" except for wives or children under the age of 18 of a Canadian citizen. According to family members, Mumeno and the children were able to eventually cross the border into Canada. The family stayed at the Kadonaga homestead on Mayne Island for about a year.
After returning to Walnut Grove from Canada, with little money, the family moved into a small garage that had been reconfigured for residential use located at Grove and Lord streets behind the railroad tracks that passed through Walnut Grove. The children, Jane, Sam, and James attended Walnut Grove Oriental Elementary School; Eiko had not yet started school. Mumeno began working at a bath house in Walnut Grove's Chinatown until a fire in 1937 destroyed a majority of the buildings. Mumeno then went to work as a farm laborer in the fields removing weeds and harvesting crops. The family of 5 lived in the garage/apartment until they were displaced and relocated to the Gila Arizona internment camp in 1942 as a result of Executive Order 9066 that forced over 120,000 Japanese Americans to relocate to one of ten different internment camps. Prior to relocating to Gila, the family was interned at the Turlock Assembly Center where 3700 Japanese Americans were detained before being relocated to Gila. At Gila, the family of five was interned in Canal Camp and housed at Barrack 7-10-A in a 16'x20' room. Each barrack housed 4-5 families. While in Camp, Mumeno worked at the mess hall making $16 a month (at the time, this was 3 times less than the minimum hourly wage of $48) and the children attended school at Canal High School and Elementary. Jane graduated from Canal High School in 1945. The family remained incarcerated until after the war when the Executive Order was suspended in November 1945.
After the internment, the family returned to the house/garage in Walnut Grove that they lived at prior to internment. Mumeno found a job working again as a farm laborer. Sam and James attended Courtland High School, and Eiko attended Walnut Grove Public School then went on to attend Courtland High School. To help support the family, Jane worked at a local cannery, while both Sam and James, when not in school, worked with their mother at a farm owned by the Holland Company and managed by Frank Takeuchi, located in Clarksburg, California. Jane later temporarily moved to the Bay Area.
Mumeno continued to live in Walnut Grove until her death on December 11, 1951 at the age of 57. She died from a cerebral hemorrhage. Her funeral was held at the Walnut Grove Buddhist Church on December 15. At the time, both Sam and James were serving in the Army overseas: Sam in Germany and James in England. Although Sam was able to get emergency leave from the Army, by the time he arrived home, the funeral had already taken place. James was unable to get emergency leave.
Jane (Yukiko) Adachi Matsumoto (1925-1997)
Jane received a bookkeeping certificate from the Business Education World which she later utilized to manage her husband’s business “BM Farms” until his retirement in the mid-80’s. In November 1949, Jane married Robert (Bob) Matsumoto and settled in Walnut Grove. They had six children, Roberta (Bobbie) in 1950, Victoria (Vickie) in 1952, Raymond in 1955, Lynn in 1956, Barney in 1960, and Vivian in 1962.
When her mother, Mumeno, fell ill in 1951, Jane cared for her until her death. Jane was an active member of the community and the Walnut Grove Buddhist Church until her passing from cardiorespiratory arrest due to acute renal and hepatic failure, and lymphoma on July 10,1997 at the age of 72. Bob passed away on October 26, 2016 due to a stroke at the age of 93. As their final wishes, Bob's and Jane's ashes were released in the Pacific Ocean on November 2, 2019.
Sam (Isamu) Adachi (1927- )
After graduating from Courtland high school in 1947, Sam and five other Walnut Grove friends moved to Sacramento and lived together in an apartment on 19th Street. Sam worked at the Tower Street Bridge Garage as a mechanic until he was drafted into the Army in October 1950. He went to boot camp at Fort Ord, and eventually was stationed in Germany to the 4th Army, 12th Regiment tank command as a gunner. In 1951, when his mother passed away, Sam was able to get an emergency leave, but by the time he made it back to Walnut Grove, his mother's funeral had already been held. Afterwards, Sam rejoined his regiment in Germany. Sam was honorably discharged from the Army on November 4, 1952 at the rank of Corporal - Technician.
After the army, Sam went to Chicago to attend mechanic trade school on the G.I. Bill, and worked at the Chicago Yellow Cab company as a mechanic. While in Chicago, Sam stayed with the Shishida family, originally from Walnut Grove, and who relocated to Chicago from Rohwer, Arkansas where they were interned during WWII. Sam returned to Sacramento in 1954, where he again worked at the Tower Street Bridge Garage. In 1955, Sam, and a work friend, Roy Kawasaki, left the Tower Street Garage to take over a Mobile station on 5th and Q in Sacramento. It was around this time when Sam's best friend, Ted Oto, introduced Sam to Gladys Itaya. Ted was dating Gladys' older sister Mollie. By 1956, Sam had ventured on his own running a Flying A station on 3rd and P (1956-1964). At the time, Sam and his brother, James, were living together in an apartment at 505 T street, until both their marriages in 1957. After work, the two brothers and their friends would often hangout at Southside park eating snacks and drinking beer. In 1964, Sam moved to a Richfield station on Broadway (1964-1967) before taking over a Richfield station on Irvin and Freeport in 1967. In 1957, Sam married Gladys Itaya. Their first apartment was at 2121 10th Street until they bought their home in 1959. They had two children, Jeff (b. 1959, d. 2019) and Stan (b. 1962). Sam was able to purchase the Freeport station in 1974, and continued to work there until he retired at the age of 67.
Sam loved to garden and both him and Gladys enjoyed helping at the Sacramento Buddhist Church. They and several friends started the Courtyard Kitchen at the Buddhist Church, and for 35 years, on every church Sunday, cooked and served the congregation and Sunday school children free meals using donations of vegetables and other ingredients from local farmers and stores. Sam was a long time church board member and a Boy Scout and Explorer Scout leader. After retiring, he split his time between gardening and volunteering at the church as their maintenance man. He continued to do this until he lost some of his vision and mobility due to a stroke when he was 86.
James (Noboru) Adachi (1929-1969)
Upon returning to Walnut Grove following the family's release from the Gila Internment Camp in 1945, James attended and graduated from Courtland High School in 1948. He was an active member of the Student Body and played on the school’s basketball and baseball teams. To his family and his closet friends, James was better known and referred to by his nickname “Jamoose”, a novel derivative of his first name based on how the predominantly Japanese speaking “Issei” or first generation Japanese American immigrants, including his mother, would pronounce his name (in Japanese, James would be ジェームズ, "je-muzu"). Besides English, James himself, was fluent in Japanese language. He could converse, read and write in Japanese. In fact, the “kanji” characters engraved on the original concrete headstone for his infant brother Hiroshi at the Franklin Cemetery where he was laid to rest were written by James. Additionally, having worked as a farm laborer for many seasons during both his childhood and young adult life, James became proficient in conversational Spanish as well.
In January 1951 during the Korean War, James was inducted into the US Army. He was sent to Fort Bliss, TX to complete his basic training; after which he was assigned to Battery D, 3rd Battalion with the rank of Private 1st Class. Upon learning of his mother’s untimely death later that year, James had requested, but was denied an emergency leave to see her one last time. Deeply saddened over the loss of his beloved mother, he went out drinking one night and ended up getting a tattoo in her memory. In July 1952, he received orders to ship overseas to Langham, a military base located near the Town of Sheringham, in Norfolk County, England. He would remain in England for most of his tour of duty; often utilizing weekend leave passes to explore other parts of Europe, including Belgium and France with his platoon buddies.
Honorably discharged in December 1952, James returned to Walnut Grove and later relocated to Sacramento where he worked at a variety of jobs, including a ranch hand, service station attendant helping his brother Sam, and warehouse worker for North American Food Distributing Company (Inaba Brothers). While working, James used his G.I. Bill benefits to attend Sacramento City College (formerly Sacramento Junior College) where he studied commercial art. Prior to receiving his AA degree in June 1959, James met the love of his life and married the former April Ikuma in March 1957. In 1960, James obtained a VA loan to purchase a house in the South Land Park Terrace area of Sacramento right next door to one of his closest childhood friends from Walnut Grove, Louie Watanabe. The house would become one of the prime gathering spots for both family and friends.
James and April had three children: Derrick (b.1957), Tracie (b. 1960) and Ronald (b.1963). To support his family, James put aside his dream of pursuing a career as commercial artist and began working in the grocery/produce business. He initially undertook temporary jobs such as a weekly ad poster maker for The Garden Basket Market on 16th & Broadway and truck driver for General Produce in Sacramento before landing a job as the produce manager for a local neighborhood grocery store in Davis, CA. Unfortunately, his tenure there was abruptly cut short due to the owners selling off the store in the mid-1960’s. Undeterred, James quickly got back on his feet and found steady work as a produce clerk with the locally owned Jumbo and Farmers Market grocery store chains. He was a member of the Retail Clerks Union, Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and Sacramento Buddhist Church. He was also an Assistant Boy Scout Troop Leader and Nursery School Parent Volunteer.
James passed away suddenly on January 24, 1969 due to complications from pneumonia viral encephalitis that set in as a consequence of him twice contracting the influenza virus from the so-called “Hong Kong Flu” pandemic that struck the US in late1968 through1969. His unexpected passing shocked his family and many friends. He was only 39 years old.
Eiko Adachi (1930-2018)
After graduating from high school in 1948, Eiko was a live-in housekeeper and nanny for a family that lived on the West side of Walnut Grove until she was diagnosed with Alzheimer in 1996. Prior to being admitted into a memory care unit in 2010, Eiko was an active member of the Walnut Grove Buddhist Church as a Sunday School teacher and helping at the annual bazaar. Eiko passed away in November 2018 at the age of 87 years.
Itaya Family History
(The following narrative was written by Sam Itaya, one of my grandfather's brothers, in 1980. Updates shown in [ ].)
The Itaya family is a close knit clan that encompasses over one hundred members of [six] generations [deleted].
The genesis of the Itaya ancestry was briefly left in the reminiscences of the patriarch, Yasutaro, in 1958, when he was 80 years old. He remembered his father, Yasuemon, passed away at the age of 61, and his mother, Setsu, died of typhoid at the age of 50, but his grandfather, Seisuke, lived to be 74 years old. On his wife's, Tsune, side of the family, her mother, Omatsu, passed away at the age of 96 and her father, Kiyoshiro, died at the age of 61. Her grandfather, Jiyokei, lived to be 91 years old.
It is not until 1976, in Hiroshima, Japan, that the geneological odyssey began again. Tsune's youger brother, Yoshitaro Kubo, was the repository of the Itaya inheritence. His home in the Danbara district of Hiroshima City was the only remaining block that survived the atomic holocaust on August 5, 1945, when the city was completely leveled by the atomic bomb. Yoshitaro passed on a 200 year old heirloom plate from the generation of Seisuke for safe keeping in the United States, and at the same time, began a painstaking correlation of the Christian calendar with the era of the Japanese Imperial dynasties to trace the chronological past of the Itaya family. In 1978, [Yoshitaro] was able to trace the family past to 1796.
"Ojichan" [grandfather] Yasutaro Itaya was born on September 10, 1878 in Hiroshima-ken, Asa Gun, Sato-cho, Kawamichi, Aza Nukui. He was later adopted by a childless couple. "Obachan" [grandmother] Tsune Komoto was born April 1, 1884. After Yasutaro immigrated to the Territory of Hawaii in September 1899, she was entered in the Itaya "koseki" [family registry] in July 1904. Together they worked on the sugar plantations on the leeward side of Oahu at Ewa.
On April 13, 1905, Yasutaro, with his sole possessions of ambition, enthusiasm, hope, and a new bride and in joint tenancy, Tsune, with her perserverance, patience, and pride, arrived in San Francisco to establish their first home. This was the Itaya first generation in the United States.
Yasutaro worked as a cook, and Tsune worked as a housemaid in San Francisco. The Great San Francisco earthquake in 1906 changed the course of their lives as they joined the countless other Issei's [1st generation Japanese Americans] who escaped to the San Joaquin-Sacramento delta farmlands. Yasutaro farmed 600 acres of potatoes on Jersey Island, but their farmland was inundated by flood waters. They moved to the Old River Farm Company, and again, in 1912, were forced to move to Union Point Island where they farmed onions, potatoes, and celery.
In 1915, now with a growing family and as aliens in a foreign land, they realized the [importance] of formal education. Yasutaro left the island peat farms and moved nearer the City of Stockton, first to Waterloo Road and then to Rough and Ready Island, but all within the radius of five miles of Stockton, where schools were available for his children.
In 1922, the family made its next move with the acquisition of a 19 acre truck garden farm on Yettner lane in French Camp in San Joaquin County. The U.S. laws prohibited Japanese aliens from buying or owning land, so the family farmed under the guardianship of an attorney, LeRoy Johnson, who, in later years, became a Congressman. This arrangement ended when Yasutaro's oldest son, Harry, became of age, at which time, the transfer of ownership was made. Yasutaro's dream of a lifetime - land ownership - was fulfilled. The permanent home of the Itaya's was established. [In 1925, the family consisted of 5 sons (Harry (Toshio) b. 1906; George, b. 1908; Mikie, b. 1910; Tomo, b. 1914; and Minoru, b. 1918) and 4 daughters (Fuji (Mildred), b. 1915; Toyoko, b. 1921; Yoshiko (Pat), b. 1923; and Shizuko, b. 1924), ranging in age from 1 to 19 years of age. This was the second generation (Nisei's) of the Itaya family.]
At the time of the Great Depression in the late 1920's and early 1930's, the farmers of the French Camp area suffered severe hardships. The need to find a market for their products and credit to feed their families were imperative. Yasutaro, as a community leader, met the challenge by finding the market in the East Bay [area east of San Francisco, including Oakland, Hayward, Fremont, and Walnut Creek] area stores and transporting the farm products. He also opened a small grocery store in French Camp and a tofu shop on his farm. The financially depressed farmers could then buy groceries on credit and pay for them whenever they were paid for their products. This arrangement lasted until the mid-1930's when the farmers were again self-supportive.
As heirs to the depression years and with the added limitations that often accompany the kindred of minority races, the children were early taught the efficacy of education, the relevancy of denial, and the necessity of labor as a discipline for self-sufficiency. The entire family worked on the farm. They, along with the many Issei families who settled in French Camp, pioneered the raising of crops in the San Joaquin Valley. During these years, Yasutaro serves as President of the Stockton Nihonjin-kai [Stockton Japanese Association], Hiroshima Kenjinkai [Hiroshima Prefecture Association], and the Stockton Japanese Growers Association. He and his son, Harry, were instrumental in organizing the French Camp Growers Cooperative Association.
In early part of 1941, Yasutaro and Tsune visited Japan, but because of the impending danger of war, they returned to the United States.
Pearl Harbor and the vicissitudes of its ensuing war with Japan on December 7, 1941, uprooted and separated the family to Gila Relocation Center in Arizona and to Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas in 1942 [see Executive Order 9066]. On February 19, 1942, the United States Government ordered all persons of Japanese extraction, citizens, and aliens alike, removed from the West Coast, solely on the basis of race, and relocated to inland areas [over 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated at 10 different internment camps located in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Arkansas, Idaho, and the eastern side of California]. In 1943, when the government relaxed the restrictions and allowed the internees to relocate to other parts of the United States, many of the Japanese decided to move to eastern United States. This began the migration of the Japanese to other parts of the United States; previous to the war, there was little influx of Japanese into the inner parts of the country. Requests for farm laborers and other common labor employment were directed to the relocation camps through the government; thus many internees migrated where employment was available. Tom and Miki Itaya, two of Yasutaro's sons, ventured to Benton Harbor, Michigan where work on the fruit-growing farms was available. Tom and his family were joined by Yasutaro and Tsune and their unmarried children. They lived in a large house, which gave them the opportunity to give free lodging and aid to other internees trying to relocate in that part of the country. Harry and his family and the family of George, who was serving in the 442nd Combat Infantry Regiment, joined the parents and moved to Benton Harbor. [George was inducted on July 1, 1944, to the 442nd, 2nd Battalion F-company as a rifleman (for more information, 442infantry). George fought in both the North Apennines (Sep 10, 1944 - Apr 4, 1945) and Po Valley (Apr 5 - May 8, 1945) Campaigns; he was injured in combat and departed from Naples, Italy in Nov 1945, and released from the army in Dec 1945. He was awarded a purple heart]. With one son, Sam, already in the army [(inducted, June 1, 1941, 81st Infantry Training Battalion, C Company)] and George, serving overseas, Yasutaro decided to be a part of the growing need for workers in the defense factories. [As a side note, while in the army, Sam was given a citation for serving as a "test participant" for chemical warfare testing of gas (most likely mustard gas) on "oriental" skin - Chemical Warfare Division, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Baltimore, MD]. In 1944, Yasutaro [and his daughters, Toyo, Shizuko, and Pat] moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he joined Mikio and his other daughter, Mildred (Fujie), and their families. Harry, Tom, and their families, along with George's family, remained in Benton Harbor.
With the lifting of the Pacific Coast Exclusion Act against people of Japanese ancestry in 1945, like many Japanese, the Itaya family, now including the third generation [Sansei's] returned to the farm in French Camp which had been left in the care of tenants [during their internment]. For several years following the end of the war, Yasutaro, with the help of his sons, farmed. In later years, he leased the farm; members of the family remained on the farm. As was the Japanese custom, the oldest son was given the responsibility of staying with the parents and taking over the business. Harry, his wife, Florence, and their six children lived and worked on the family French Camp homestead. Harry and his brothers, started a soda fountain shop near the Stockton Buddhist Church. Florence operated the shop. They wanted to have a place where people who lived near the church could come and eat. Yasutaro worked with his son, Harry, at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds until his retirement. The soda fountain shop operated until Harry unexpectedly passed away in June 1957 from complications after a surgery.
Throughout the remaining years, Yasutaro, was active with the Stockton Buddhist Church. He served as the Board President for many years. Yasutaro passed away on January 3, 1965 at the age of 87. Tsune continued to live on the farm until her death 5 years later on November 16, 1970, at the age of 86.
[Itaya Nisei Generation:]
Harry Toshio Itaya (Sep 9, 1906 - Jun 20, 1957), m. Florence Muraki (Apr 23, 1915 - Apr 7, 2011); children: Ray, Yoshio, Mollie, Gladys, Joan, and Richard
George Itaya (Jan 10, 1908 - Nov 22, 1996), m. Miyoko Kamimura (Dec. 2, 1916 - Mar. 15, 2017); children: Robert, Roland, Marjie, and Chizu
Mikio Itaya (Mar 27, 1909 - Feb 2, 1999); m. Pauline Shikakihara (Feb 16, 1917 - ??); children Barbara and Connie
Tom Tomo Itaya (Aug 2, 1912 - Sep 12, 1985)l m. Yukiko Florence Shimasaki (Oct 3, 1916 - ?? ); children Jeanne and Arlene
Mildred Fujie Hamamoto (Jun 1, 1914 - Nov 23, 2004); m. Takuzo Hamamoto (Jun 12, 1897 - Apr. 18, 1977); children: Al, Jim, and Mitchell.
Sam Minoru Itaya (Oct 31, 1918 - Dec 1, 2010); m. Sachie (Sep 26, 1924 - Jun 6, 2015); children: Steve and Sharon
Toyoko Foundation (June 9, 1920 - Oct 31, 2002); m. Tom Foundation (Aug 10, 1918 - Jan 11, 1987)
Pat Yoshiko Ota (Nov 29, 1921 - Aug 4, 2016); m. Kurt Ota (Sep 24, 1923 - Nov 16, 2002); children: Marshall, Curtis, and Karen
Peggy Shizuko Ohata (Jan 6, 1924 - Jul 22, 1984); m. Kiyoto Ohata (Jan 19, 1924 - Jan 4, 1997); children: Linda, Kiyoji, and Junie.