The JACL of the Monterey Peninsula will host a free event at the JA Heritage Center

Artist Heather Seavey with her koinobori mural at the Japanese American Heritage Center.

MONTEREY – The Japanese American Citizens League of the Monterey Peninsula will be hosting a special free community event on Saturday, January 22 at the Monterey Japanese American Heritage Center and the community is invited!

There will be self-guided tours of the JACL Museum with historian Tim Thomas, who will answer questions. It is the first museum that tells the story of the Japanese on the Monterey Peninsula.

The magnificent new mural at the Japanese American Heritage Center will be unveiled and muralist Heather Seavey will discuss her work. She0 is visiting from Mexico, where she currently resides.

The new Japanese garden will be dedicated and Mitsugu Mori, owner of Hana Gardens Del Rey Oaks, will present his vision and design for the garden, which also includes two large iron fish baskets from the San Xavier Cannery. The flowering plants in the baskets are the same type of plants grown in Japan.

Shinsho-Mugen Daiko’s taiko drummers will perform outdoors at 1 p.m.

Light refreshments will be served. COVID protocols will be respected.

The event will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Japanese American Heritage Center is located at 424 Adams St. in the historic Japantown district of downtown Monterey. It sits across from Jack’s Park on Adams between Franklin and Bonafacio streets.

For more information, call (831) 648-8830, email [email protected] or visit For special tours or school visits, contact Tim Thomas at [email protected]

About Tim Thomas

Abalone diving exhibit at the Japanese American Heritage Center

A fourth-generation Monterey-area native, Thomas is a popular speaker and lively tour guide. For 16 years he was a historian and curator of the Monterey Maritime & History Museum, and he worked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California State Parks and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. He is the author of “The Abalone King of Monterey: ‘Pop’ Ernest Doelter” and “The Japanese on the Monterey Peninsula” and co-author of “Monterey’s Waterfront”. He is a member of the JACL Board of Directors and curator of the new JACL Heritage Centre/Museum.

About Heather Seavey

A world-renowned artist, born and raised in Pacific Grove, Seavey studied art at Van Der Kelen Logelain in Brussels, Belgium, who is known for teaching traditional decorative painting techniques. She settles in Mexico City. She is the daughter of the famous historian and architectural consultant Kent Seavey.

About Hana Gardens

Hana Gardens is an independent local garden center and landscaping supply source serving the greater Monterey Bay area. There are two locations in Del Rey Oaks and Seaside. For more information, visit:

About Shinsho Mugen Daiko

Founded in 1999, it is a group of drummers who are interested in studying the art of Japanese drumming. Founding director Ikuyo Conant emphasizes the cultivation of energy, self-awareness, and social and personal harmony in taiko drumming. The group presents a contemporary style of taiko with powerful movements and sounds at community, cultural and school events in Monterey County and beyond.

A taiko is a simple instrument for creating a simple yet fundamental sound. Taiko drummers appreciate this activity of absolute simplicity. After prolonged percussion, the drummer went like a marathon runner to cross the finish line. Taiko is powerful, but for those whose hearts crave depth in their lives, the sound of taiko is soothing and invigorating. This simple act of creating compelling sound is extremely difficult, yet extremely rewarding.

In the past, people lived in a world close to nature spirits and they were impressed by these powerful forces. Their symbol-based beliefs were naïve but courageous. They were linked to the basic elements of nature, and in this way their lives were in tune with the universal rhythms of nature.

About JACL

The mission of the Japanese American Citizens League is to protect the civil and human rights of all Americans and to preserve the culture and values ​​of Japanese Americans by promoting, sponsoring, and encouraging programs that develop appreciation among all groups social and ethnic.

Serve the community

In 1926, local leaders in Issei considered and initiated the construction of a Japanese Association Hall, which would serve as a center for community events, a general meeting place, and a place to provide legal and social services to immigrants. of Japan and members of the community.

The Monterey Peninsula Chapter of the JACL was founded by 18 founding members on January 25, 1932, two years after the formation of the national organization. In 1941, title to the Japanese Association Hall was transferred to the local JACL, and in 1942 the building was renamed JACL Hall. It is now recognized as a historic landmark by the city of Monterey.

Salmon and abalone by the ton

The Monterey Peninsula has drawn people to its bountiful shores for thousands of years, and the Japanese were no exception. Around 1888, Otosabura Noda immigrated to California, later finding work as a logger on the Monterey Peninsula. When the Pacific Improvement Company hired him as a labor contractor, he began bringing Japanese workers to the area.

The first of these workers arrived around 1896, many from the fishing communities of Wakayama Prefecture. It didn’t take long for Noda and his colleagues to notice the resource potential of the bay, and he soon established a small fishing colony on what is now famous Cannery Row. In 1902, he opened the very first sardine cannery on this street.

Abalone divers from Chiba Prefecture also arrived and pioneered the abalone industry in California. For the next 20 years, the Japanese dominated the fishing industry in Monterey Bay, for both salmon and abalone. In 1909, over a million pounds of king salmon were caught in just three months, the majority by Japanese-owned boats. By 1920, nine abalone companies operated off the Monterey Dock, bringing in thousands of pounds of red abalone each season.

Settle into the community

The men who originally came to Monterey Bay for seasonal work eventually sent women and families, finding the area to be like their home across the Pacific. They worked hard and built successful businesses. Prior to World War II, most businesses on the Monterey Wharf were Japanese-owned fish markets and abalone processors.

At the turn of the 20th century, a small group of farmers from Hiroshima Prefecture developed farms just south of Carmel, growing everything from artichokes to potatoes. Later, Japanese agriculture spread to the Salinas Valley

The heart of the community was just across the street at Jacks Baseball Park. JACL fielded their own team, often playing against teams made up of local Sicilians. Although baseball rivals, they were also classmates and often learned to speak each other’s language a little before mastering English.

Uprooted families

In April 1942, Japanese American residents of the Monterey Bay Area were ordered to report to the Salinas Assembly Center. Most were transferred to the Poston internment camp in Arizona.

After the war, many of these families returned to Monterey, only to find they were unwelcome. Appalled by this treatment, a small group of local women started a petition to ensure that these Japanese Americans – their own former neighbors – would be welcome home and given their full democratic rights. Learn about this unique civil rights story in Monterey and the petitions signed by John Steinbeck, “Doc” Ricketts and others.


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