Tim Asamen

Tim Asamen is the coordinator of the Japanese American Gallery, a permanent exhibit in the Imperial Valley Pioneers Museum. His grandparents, Zentaro and Eda Asamen, emigrated from Kami Ijuin-mura, Kagoshima Prefecture, in 1919 and settled in Westmorland, California, where Tim resides. He joined the Kagoshima Heritage Club in 1994, serving as president (1999-2002) and as the club's newsletter editor (2001-2011).

Updated August 2013

community en

Coming to Terms with Tenchosetsu

On the front page of the English section of the December 24, 2016, issue of The Rafu Shimpo, there was a small photograph of the emperor and empress of Japan. The caption read in part, “Emperor Akihito, accompanied by his wife Empress Michiko, waves to the crowd at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on December 23, his 83rd birthday.” The Japanese American daily newspaper still deems the emperor’s birthday as newsworthy.

Until 1948 the reigning emperor’s birthday was a national holiday in Japan called Tenchōsetsu. Before the war, Tenchōsetsu was an important occasion in Nikkei communities as well ...

Read more

migration en

What Made Them Such Good Farmers?

During the early days of agricultural development in California’s Imperial Valley, most of the cotton farmers hailed from Texas and other southern states. They grew cotton as an annual crop. That is, the crop was planted and nurtured only until the cotton was picked. Then the bare stalks were plowed under and a new crop was planted the following season. In 1909 a prominent local pioneer named Ira Aten boasted that he discovered through experimentation that when the stalks were pruned back after the initial harvest and the same plants were allowed to sprout new growth the following season ...

Read more

community en

Inaka: Moving from Scorn to Pride

I sometimes refer to the Imperial Valley as my little inaka corner of the world. Literally translated, inaka (田舎) means “the countryside” or “one’s native village.” And in adjectival form, it means “rural,” “rustic,” or “provincial.” The Imperial Valley is definitely that; it is farm country in California’s southern desert bordering Mexico and Arizona. Approximately two hundred miles southeast of Los Angeles and one hundred twenty miles due east of San Diego, it is undeniably out in the boondocks.

The Issei pioneers played a key role in building the Imperial Valley’s agricultural industry. But after being forcibly ...

Read more

community en

Come Out First – Imperial Valley’s Winter Harvest

To create the farming oasis called the Imperial Valley, in 1901 water from the Colorado River was diverted to the middle of the desert that stretches across Imperial County in the southeastern corner of California. The region is notorious for its scorching summer heat; the temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 100 consecutive days. For a few days during the month of July, it is not uncommon for the afternoon highs to reach at least 120 degrees.

But it is the area’s warm climate that makes possible the production of fruit and vegetables during the winter season ...

Read more

community en ja es pt

Happy Holidays in the Imperial Valley

Ask any Nisei from the south end of the Imperial Valley about their childhood Christmas experiences, and their fond reminiscences inevitably take them back to the Kokubuns’ church. Reverend Jingoro Kokubun was the pastor of two non-denominational Christian churches. In 1920, he founded both the Calexico Independent Church and Union Church in El Centro.

Rev. Kokubun hailed from the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan. He was born in Fukushima Prefecture. After completing elementary school, he was introduced to Christianity by a friend and was baptized in a local river. He graduated from Seigakuin Seminary in Tokyo and was assigned to ...

Read more