The Lost Japanese Community of Winters

Apricot School Students c.1930.

The Lost Japanese Community

The Winters Museum features the story of Japanese community in its new exhibit entitled "The Lost Japanese Community of Winters." The exhibit is open now!

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This photo is included. Here is the caption that goes with it: The Apricot School District was formed in 1881 and was located 3 miles west of town, on the southeast corner of what is now State Highway 128 and County Road 87. A new Apricot School was built in 1904 a little west of the old school. The school was so named because the apricot was the most valuable orchard crop in that region. Due to declining enrollment in the rural areas and because of its proximity to the town, the Apricot School closed in 1945. This picture is c. 1930 and includes many Japanese and Spanish immigrant children.

FRONT ROW: John Young (WHS 1935, became Woodland lawyer); Arthur Ish (WHS Class of 1938); Frank Kawamoto (family returned to Japan in 1935); Bert Coman; Dick Rubio; Billie Ish; Pedro Rubio; Frank Rubio.

SECOND ROW: unknown boy; unknown boy; Bobby Kohara; Fred Kawamoto (family returned to Japan in 1935); Henry Nishioka; unknown Japanese girl (maybe Sumilo Horibe?); Grace Asai; unknown girl.

THIRD ROW: unknown girl; unknown girl; unknown girl; Saki Yamamoto (WHS Class of 1940); unknown girl; Susie Asai (WHS Class of 1938); Ben Shimomura (WHS Class of 1939); May (Nobuko) Asai (taller girl leaning in; WHS Class of 1935; Harry Kohama.

FOURTH ROW: unknown Japanese girl (related to Dote family and lived on McGarr ranch); Dorothy Martin; unknown girl; Margaret Ish (WHS Class of 1940); unknown girl; unknown girl; unknown girl; unknown girl; unknown girl; Jane Youn (WHS Class of 1939); Anna C. Gregory (teacher); Isomura (Yura’s sister; family returned to Japan.)

Winters Museum in the News

Turlock Assembly Center 1942

Columnist Gerald Taylor writes in the 09/15/2021 Winters Express: "'The Lost Japanese Community of Winters' exhibit now on display at the Winters Museum is informative, thought-provoking and insightful, and embodies the best of what a historical museum can offer to a community. Untold hours of research and preparation were wisely spent on this project. It’s best if you go and see for yourself, for I cannot do it justice in the few words of this column."

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Photo shows members of the Kato, Kozen, and Esaki families who were sent to the Turlock Assembly Center in 1942 and are awaiting placement in an internment camp at Gila River, Arizona. They are, from left to right, (first row) Jim and Bobby Kozen (second row) Bud Kato, Tony Kozen, holding son Roy; Henry Kato, Masako (Kato) Kozen, Mike Kato, George Esaki; and his mother Fusano, (third row) Yoneko Kato, Harry Kato, and Utae Kato.

The Kato and Kozen families were from Winters. The Esaki family was from Monterey. Jim Kozen was 6 years old; Bobby Kozen was 4 years old. Harry and Utae Kato were first generation or Issei as was Fusano Esaki. All the other Kato members (Bud, Henry, Mike, and Yoneko) along with Tony and Masako Kozen were second generation or Nisei as was George Esaki. The three Kozen boys (Jim, Bobby, and Roy were third generation or Sansei. (Identified by a family member, May 2020).

.Both Bud and Mike Kato later joined the Army. Mike served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and received a purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Photo is a Dorothea Lange reprint. The original currently is in the Dorothea Lange Collection at UC Berkeley Bancroft Library Collection.

The Winters Museum and the Winters History Mural had very special visitors recently. Jim Kozen and Family came to visit the Museum and the Mural on Sunday, February 6th.

Jim Kozen is the older of the two young boys standing in the front row of Dorothea Lange's photo taken at the Turlock Assembly Center almost 80 years ago.

Preserving Perseverance

Preserving Perseverance

Japanese American Community of Winters

Learn about the perseverance of the Japanese American community of Winters and how that history is being preserved.

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As part of the 2021 Sacramento Archives Crawl, and in partnership with the Yolo County Archives, Floyd Shimomura presented on his research into the Japanese American community of Winters, California. He was joined by Emily Masuda who discussed her efforts to preserve this history as a teacher and creative writer. Their presentation explored findings from archives, museums, and online databases to reveal information about the Winters Japanese School, genealogy, wonderful treasures from family collections, and the redress movement. The presentation was facilitated and moderated by Yolo County Archives Coordinator Heather Lanctot. It was recorded on Friday, October 8th.

Floyd and Emily played vital roles in assembling the Lost Japanese Community of Winters exhibit currently at the Winters Museum. Heather and the Yolo County Archives were valuable resources.

Photos and Videos

Lost Japanese Community Video.mp4

Shimomura Family Visits the Museum

Ben Shimomura & Family in 2021

Ben Shimomura Family

The Winters Museum was so very fortunate to have the Shimomura Family visit to help open our Lost Japanese Community of Winters Exhibit. And Ben is 100!

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Back row (adults standing): Mark Shimomura, Floyd Shimomura, Brian Shimomura, Lisa Shimomura Quon, Reina Shimomura, Susan (Shimomura) Shimizu, Grant Shimizu, Craig Shimizu, Linda (Shimomura) Don, Tim Shimizu.

Front row (adults kneeling and kids standing): Malcolm Quon, Ruth Shimomura, Russell Quon, Ben Shimomura (wheel chair), Ben Quon, Jamie Shimomura, Ryan Shimomura, Ali Nakaji (Brian’s fiancé).

Philanthropy Day 2021

Yolo County Foundation's National Philanthropy Day Celebration - Winters Museum Honorees Floyd Shimomura and Gloria Lopez with Winters Museum Board Member Rob Coman

Watch Woody:

The Winters Museum Board selected the Museum Exhibit Committee, led by Floyd Shimomura and Gloria Lopez, as our National Philanthropy Day Volunteers of the Year.

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The current exhibit at the Winters Museum is “The Lost Japanese Community of Winters.” The exhibit showcases the Japanese families and businesses, an integral part of the Winters community before World War II, and what happened to them during and after. Included are photographs of happier times, pre-war weddings, photos and artifacts of dismal internment camp-life, and signs depicting anti-Japanese sentiments. It is poignant and thought provoking.

The members of the Winters Museum Exhibit Committee spent the year of the pandemic researching, curating, and arranging the presentation. Their commitment and time makes the history of this dark period come alive. Therefore, the Winters Museum Board has selected the Museum Exhibit Committee, led by Floyd Shimomura and Gloria Lopez, as our Volunteers of the Year. Floyd was the inspiration. Gloria was the determination. Floyd researched and shared his family stories, gathered and donated many items for display including photographs and a trunk full of artifacts. Gloria chaired monthly meetings, oversaw the printing of photos and captions, arranged displays, and planned events.

Many of the Japanese families that had roots in Winters came to an opening reception and reconnected with Winters friends. We have the Museum Exhibit Committee to thank for that.