The Japanese gardener–once a fixture in American culture–is slowly dying away with the passing generations. The LA Times recently profiled the cultural phenomenon spurred by Japanese American families taking over the horticultural industry after World War II: “At one time historians estimated that one in every four Japanese American men was a gardener. It was menial work that required weekends, but it allowed them to buy homes, send their kids to college. Some women joined their husbands or took over routes when widowed.” But with the incoming generations focusing on other careers, the once iconic Japanese gardener is soon becoming a thing of the past. My grandfather and his siblings grew up as migrant farmhands before being sent off to the internment camps and my local nursery is owned by a Japanese American family, so I could relate to how this article describes one of the many changes the JA community is experiencing. Let’s hope the history that these gardeners leave behind will be remembered in some way.
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