Saturday, November 16, 2019

Welcoming the Consul General of Japan, present and past

ABOVE: California Senate Majority Leader Robert Hertzberg greeting the new Consul General of Japan Akira Muto at the assumption of post reception. Representatives for Historic Wintersburg were invited guests, along with representatives for the Huntington Beach Sister City Association. Huntington Beach has been a Sister City with Anjo, Japan, since 1992. (Photograph, October 3, 2019, M. Urashima) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    Southern California welcomed a new Consul General of Japan at a recent reception held in Los Angeles. Consul General Akira Muto has served in Washington D.C., and Boston, and was a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. The Los Angeles consulate post includes Southern California and Arizona.

LEFT: Consul General Akira Muto speaks at the Assumption of Post reception. The ever gracious consulate staff at right. (Photograph, October 3, 2019, M. Urashima)  © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   In his remarks upon the assumption of his new post, Consul General Muto stated, "I am greatly honored to be able to serve as consul general in a region with such deep ties to Japan, and look forward to wonderful new encounters that may differ from those during my time as Consul General of Japan in Boston." 

   Consul General Muto takes his position as the Emperor of Japan Naruhito ascends to the Throne in the new era of Reiwa. Japan also is readying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games in July. Surfing will make its debut in the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. The shortboard competition will take place at Tsurigasaki Beach, in Chiba

   "Once engaged in war, our nations have overcome those past troubled times to become close allies connected in deep friendship. Japan's solid relationship with Southern California and Arizona exemplifies our strong Japan-U.S. ties, " remarked Consul General Muto. "My utmost duty as Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles will be to further cultivate goodwill between Japan and the U.S."

   Wintersburg Village and Huntington Beach have a long history with Japan, with Japanese pioneers contributing significantly to regional agriculture and development. The growing communities welcomed an important consulate visit in 1912, holding a luncheon at the Huntington Inn for Consul General Matsuzo Nagai, who was stationed in San Francisco. The Consul General arrived at 8:30 a.m. for a meeting at Huntington Beach city hall with Mayor W.D. Seely and then spoke to an assembly of students at Huntington Beach High School, before the luncheon.

RIGHT: A 1917 advertisement from the Santa Ana Register for the Dragon Cafe in Santa Ana, which hosted a banquet for the Consul General of Japan Matsuzo Nagai in May 1912 (with leading Japanese and American citizens of Orange County). The Dragon Cafe hosted many important Orange County events in the 1910s. They advertised heavily for Valentine's Day, offering to deliver heart-shaped cakes, ice cream and chocolate in heart-shaped satin candy boxes. (Advertisement, Santa Ana Register, November 2, 1917)

   The Santa Ana Register reported, "In addition to leading Japanese of this section there will be present 25 American guests. Those from this City will be Mayor W. D. Seely, Principal A.E. Paine of the High School, President T.B. Talbert of the Board of Trade, Louis Paul Hart of the Huntington Beach News, and Rev. E.J. Harlow." Consul General Nagai then spoke at the Talbert Hall in what is now Fountain Valley and then enjoyed a banquet at the famous Dragon Cafe in Santa Ana.  

LEFT: Consul General Matsuzo Nagai, circa 1917, five years after his visit to Orange County. Consul General Nagai would have been enthusiastic about the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He served on the governmental committee in Japan charged with preparing for the Tokyo games in 1940 (which were cancelled) and also as a member of the International Olympic Committee until 1950. (Photograph, WikiCommons)

   An activist for the Olympic Games, Consul General Nagai would not have been introduced to surfing during his 1912 visit to "Surf City", as the sport was just beginning to take hold along the southern California coast. Irish Hawaiian George Freeth is considered the first to surf the Huntington Beach pier at its re-dedication in 1914. Delbert "Bud" Higgins, one of the first local surfers, noted that "the first use of boards was about 1912 when they used a piece of 1 by 12 board about 4 feet long and pushed off from 5 foot water. There were no surfboards on the coast except the one belonging to George Freeth of Redondo Beach and it was a very makeshift one made of several boards with cross pieces nailed to hold it together."

   Consul General Nagai undoubtedly would have been delighted that 107 years after his visit to Orange County, surfers from Japan are training near the Huntington Beach pier as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Huntington Beach's Kanoa Igarashi--a two time champion of the U.S. Open of Surfing competition near the Huntington Beach pier--has qualified for the 2020 surfing competition and will join them in Japan.

More about Huntington Beach's long history with Japan: Read about the 1935 reception for Japanese Consul General Tomokazu Hori, Cherry blossoms and poppies: A 1935 banquet with the Japanese Consul in Huntington Beach.

ABOVE: Consul General Matsuzo Nagai, to the left of Mayor W.D. Seely, standing center front, on the steps of the Huntington Inn in Huntington Beach in May 1912 with representatives of the Smeltzer Japanese Association and City leaders. Consul General Nagai's post was in San Francisco. The Smeltzer Japanese Association provided the first fireworks in 1905 for Huntington Beach July 4th celebrations and also supported fundraising for the rebuilding of the Huntington Beach pier in 1912. Charles Furuta, owner of the Furuta farm at Historic Wintersburg, is standing in the front row, second from left. Reverend Barnabus Hisayoshi Teresawa, a founder of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission, to the right of Mayor W.D. Seely. Huntington Beach's first mayor, Ed Manning, is second row, far right in light-color suit.  Another Huntington Beach mayor, Orange County supervisor, and pioneer realtor, Thomas Talbert, is in the second row (on step), fourth from left with hat in hand.  (Photograph courtesy of Wintersburg Church, May 31, 1912) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Wintersburg / Furuta Courtyard: Art honoring local history

ABOVE: Nancy Teramura Hayata performs classical Japanese dance to Nada Sōsō in the Wintersburg / Furuta Courtyard. The song speaks of turning the pages and looking at old photographs, "however far your memories may fade, traces of you I hope to find." (Photograph courtesy of Jason Kusagaya) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED   

  The Wintersburg / Furuta Courtyard is open to the public from dawn to dusk, at the residential community of LUCE at the intersection of Gothard Street and Edinger Avenue.  Enter through the pedestrian gate on the north side of LUCE--facing Edinger Avenue and nearest to Gothard Street--and walk through two public art courtyards inspired by local history.

ABOVE: Artist Michael Davis speaks at the dedication of the Wintersburg / Furuta Courtyard, in front of the work "Fish Pond". (Photograph courtesy of Mark Bixby) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   The artist, Michael Davis, was selected several years ago for the artworks by the developers of LUCE. He took inspiration from the early history of Huntington Beach, particularly the history of the Japanese American farmers. During his research, he found Historic Wintersburg and was further inspired by the goldfish and flower farming history of the Furuta family.

   "The book, 'Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach' by Mary F. Adams Urashima was a valuable resource for my research into the Furuta farm and the legacy of the early Japanese community," noted Davis, in a brochure explaining the artwork (below). Davis is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work is in museums and galleries, with public art installations in public parks and civic buildings across the United States and in Japan. At the dedication of the Wintersburg / Furuta Courtyard, Michael Davis was presented with a proclamation by Mayor Pro Tem Lyn Semeta, recognizing his contribution to local history and public art.

   Water, one of the elements that sustained local farmers, meanders through the first courtyard reminding of the Colorado River. In the Wintersburg / Furuta Courtyard, water takes the form of a goldfish pond, with art glass water lilies and the shimmering gold of the living jewels that once swam at the Furuta Gold Fish Farm.

    One of Wintersburg Village's most unique business enterprises were the goldfish farms, all owned by Issei (Japanese immigrants), including the Furuta, Akiyama and Asari families.  Evidence of the first goldfish pond on the Furuta farm is noted in 1917. Charles M. Furuta and his brother-in-law, Henry Kiyomi Akiyama, put in a pond and found the fish multiplied quickly. By the 1920s, goldfish ponds covered most of the Furuta farm, each species in its own little pool, including Comets, Black Moors, Fantails, Shubunkin, and Nymphs. To this day, goldfish and Nishikigoi (koi) ponds are found in landscapes around Orange County. 

ABOVE: Members of the extended Furuta family, descendants of pioneers of Orange County, at the dedication of the Wintersburg / Furuta Courtyard in March. (Photograph courtesy of Jason Kusagaya) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED  

   The Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force hosted the dedication of the Wintersburg / Furuta Courtyard, joined by the extended Furuta family, Consul Shigeru Kikuma, Consulate of Japan; Mayor Pro Tem Lyn Semeta, City of Huntington Beach; the artist, Michael Davis; representatives of the Huntington Beach Sister City Association, Little Tokyo Historical Society, Huntington Beach Historical Society, and supporters of endangered National Treasure Historic Wintersburg.

   We extend our thanks to artist Michael Davis for his beautiful representation of the history and contributions of Japanese American pioneers in Orange County, and for the permanent tribute to the Furuta Gold Fish Farm and National Treasure Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach.

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Public art installation: Wintersburg / Furuta Fountain & Courtyard

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Orange County's 1888 Center podcast: Chapters

   Listen to a discussion on stories surrounding the exclusion, forced removal, and incarceration of Japanese-Americans, as part of the podcast series, Chapters, with the 1888 Center.

  The discussion with Historic Wintersburg chair and author Mary Adams Urashima is at:  Mary Adams Urashima

   The full five-part series, including Sam Mihara, Dr. Stephanie Takaragawa, Naomi Hirahara, Dr. Kristine Dennehey, Dr. Ester E. Hernandez, and Louis Gomez is at: Chapters

   Chapters was supported by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program administered by the California State Library. Our thanks to the 1888 Center for including us in the series.

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Join us for Holidays in Huntington Beach!

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Friday, November 2, 2018

California Preservation Foundation: President's Award 2018 presented to Historic Wintersburg

ABOVE: A page from the program for the California Preservation Awards, held at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on October 19. One of the three President's Awards was presented to Historic Wintersburg author and preservation chair, Mary Adams Urashima. (October 19, 2018) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   The California Preservation Awards are a statewide hallmark, showcasing the best in historic preservation. The awards ceremony includes the presentation of the Preservation Design Awards and the President’s Awards, bringing together hundreds of people each year to share and celebrate excellence in preservation.

RIGHT: An historical overview on the century of Japanese American history and the present-day community effort to save and preserve National Treasure Historic Wintersburg was presented at the annual California Preservation Awards 2018. (Photo, Barbara Haynes, October 19, 2018) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   The The California Preservation Foundation’s mandate not only focuses on educating and advocating for the protection of California's architectural icons and transcendental cultural landscapes, the Foundation honors and celebrates "the places that matter most to Californians".

   For over four decades, the California Preservation Foundation has advocated for California's unique heritage sites and assisted community preservation efforts.  The Foundation now represents a network of over 15,000 preservation professionals, advocates, and supporters of heritage preservation.  The Foundation's annual conference is annual conference is the West Coast’s largest and most respected, drawing upwards of 500 attendees collaborating on innovative preservation programs and projects.

   The fulled printed magazine for the California Preservation Awards highlights the 2018 award winners for the President's Award and the Preservation Design Award Winners.

LEFT: Author, historian, and preservationist, Mary Adams Urashima receives the California Preservation Foundation President's Award for the multi-year advocacy for preservation of National Treasure Historic Wintersburg as a permanent heritage site. Watch a short video of Mary's remarks on the Historic Wintersburg Facebook page (courtesy of Nancy Oda).  Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach, California, is one of the last remaining Japanese-owned properties from early 20th Century pioneer era and remains an endangered California heritage site threatened with demolition and development.  (Photo, Barbara Haynes, October 19, 2018) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   Our thanks to the California Preservation Foundation for their recognition of the historic significance and community-based effort to save the unique and inspiring history embodied by the Furuta Gold Fish Farm and Wintersburg Japanese Mission at Historic Wintersburg.

   Learn more about Historic Wintersburg on our National Treasure web page with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Named one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2014 by the National Trust, Historic Wintersburg also was named one of Orange County's Most Endangered by Preserve Orange County in 2017.

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Historic Wintersburg historian and chair Mary Urashima to receive President's Award

ABOVE: Photographs taken a century apart, with a group from the California Preservation Foundation in 2013 contemplating the monumental history at Historic Wintersburg as Yukiko Yajima Furuta and Charles Mitsuji Furuta look back at them from 1913. (Historical photograph courtesy of the Furuta family. Present-day photograph courtesy of Chris Jepsen. Technical mash up courtesy of Ken Hayashida.) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   The California Preservation Awards are a statewide hallmark, showcasing the best in historic preservation. The awards ceremony includes the presentation of the Preservation Design Awards and the President’s Awards, bringing together more than 300 people each year to share and celebrate excellence in preservation.

   This October, Historic Wintersburg historian and preservation task force chair Mary Urashima will receive the President's Award.

   "Mary Urashima is a tireless – and effective – advocate for the preservation of the historic Wintersburg and the historic Furuta Farm and Wintersburg Presbyterian Mission Complex. This site was listed on the National Trusts “11 Most Endangered Places” and was designated a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation." Read more at Mary Adams Urashima on the California Preservation Foundation website.

RIGHT: Historian and chair of the Historic Wintersburg preservation task force, Mary Adams Urashima. Her book, Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach, was published in 2014 (History Press) and she is researching for a second book relating to Historic Wintersburg. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   Since 1983, over 500 projects have been recognized with a Preservation Design Award. Winning projects are selected by a jury of top professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, planning, and history, as well as renowned architecture critics and journalists. The jury selects projects that have furthered, to a notable degree, the purposes of the profession, consistent with the California Preservation Foundation’s mission.

   The President’s Awards honor people deserving of special recognition for their outstanding preservation efforts. Since its inception in 1991, this program has recognized individuals and organizations whose work allows others to gain a deeper appreciation of historic resources and their value to California’s economy, environment and quality of life. All proceeds from this event support the California Preservation Foundation’s statewide education and advocacy programs.

   Also receiving a President's Award this year are Milford Wayne Donaldson, Janet Hansen and KFA Santa Monica.

   Milford Wayne Donaldson is a former President of the California Preservation Foundation, Chair of the State Historical Building Safety Board, State Historic Preservation Officer and appointed by President Obama to serve as the Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

   Janet Hansen’s career has been devoted to expanding understanding of the built environment, most notably as the coordinator of the groundbreaking SurveyLALos Angeles’ first-ever comprehensive program to identify significant historic resources throughout the city.

   In the late 1990’s, KFA helped to spark the resurgence of the historic core in downtown Los Angeles under the City's Adaptive Reuse Ordinance. The firm designed the first three buildings under this landmark ordinance in the Old Bank District, and have since rehabilitated over 40 historic buildings throughout the City. This award recognizes KFA’s critical role in the renaissance of downtown Los Angeles

LEFT: The lobby of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, an early home to the Oscars. (Courtesy of Millennium Biltmore,

   The California Preservation Awards will be held Friday, October 19, at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel, built in 1923 and designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1969. The Millennium Biltmore was an early home to the Academy Awards Ceremony.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded in the Crystal Ballroom in May 1927, with a legend that the design for the Oscar was sketched on a Biltmore linen napkin.

   Support the preservation of California's unique history in an award-winning historic setting.  More about the California Preservation Awards and ticket information at California Preservation Foundation  Proceeds support the statewide education and advocacy programs of the California Preservation Foundation.

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.