San Francisco, CA

Pilgrimage to Wakamatsu: A Japanese Colony in CA

S. F. Mori
Wakamatsu Tea and Silk FarmPhoto byNichi Bei

The third biennial pilgrimage to the site of the first large settlement of Japanese in America, the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm established 154 years ago, will be held on Saturday, October 7, 2023. It will be from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm to the gold country of California.

The Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony is believed to be the first permanent Japanese settlement in North America and the only settlement by samurai outside of Japan. The group was made up of 22 people from samurai families during the Boshin Civil War (1868–69) in Japan preceding the Meiji Restoration.
The group purchased land from Charles Graner family in the Gold Hill region after coming to San Francisco in 1869. Though the group was able to successfully show their produce during the 1869 California State Agricultural Fair in Sacramento and the 1870 Horticultural Fair in San Francisco, the farm as a Japanese colony only existed between 1869 and 1871. [Wikipedia]

The Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm is the location of the grave of the first Japanese person known to be buried in the United States.

The Veerkamp Family purchased the farm in 1969. Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California, proclaimed the colony to be California Historical Landmark No. 815. The Veerkamp Family preserved the heritage of the farm until the American River Conservancy purchased the land in November 2010. They offer private and public tours of the property.

This year’s pilgrimage is a rare opportunity to learn about the storied history of this colony led by John Schnell and former samurai from Aizu-Wakamatsu, present-day Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Participants can trace their own roots through family history consultations with volunteers from the California Genealogical Society. [Nichi Bei]

Buses will pick up at the following places:

San Francisco Japantown • San Jose Japantown

J-Sei in Emeryville • Tenrikyo High Sacramento Church

Space is limited. Must register by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023.

Anyone interested in this Pilgrimage should check out the promotional video at the link below for more information and to sign up.


[Information from The Nichi Bei Foundation and Wikipedia]

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I am a retired President/CEO of civil rights organizations. I have been a Mayor and California State Assemblyman as well as a College Instructor of Economics. I have also been an entrepreneur and international business consultant. I will be sharing articles mostly about life, politics, racism, travel, health, and relationships.

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