Japanese Tea and Silk Colony Celebrates 150th Anniversary

PLACERVILLE, Calif.

The American River Conservancy is internet hosting the 150th Anniversary celebration of the primary Japanese colony in America—the Wakamatsu Tea & Silk Farm Colony in Placerville, California.

Wakamatsu is the one recognized settlement of samurai outdoors Japan. The legacy of those 22 warriors lives on as descendants of Japanese settlers and within the fashionable cultivation of tea crops from an historical line.

Wakamatsu Taiko Drummers (Photograph courtesy of American River Conservancy)

The occasion runs June 6-9, from
10 a.m. to four p.m. on the Wakamatsu Farm, 941
Chilly Springs Street, Placerville.

Friday, June 7, the theme
of the day is tea and Japanese tradition.

On Saturday June eight, there
can be particular occasions from four:30 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $15, and discounted
passes obtainable. Click on right here to register.

The Wakamatsu farm
sesquicentennial options dancers, taiko drummers, sushi and different Asian meals
and a number of other audio system.

The play, Gold Hill Samurai, can be a day by day
spotlight. Tour guides and docents in costume will share tales of the early
days of the settlement.

Historical past

Wakamatsu Costumed Docents (Photograph courtesy of American River Conservancy)

Settlers arrived on the
website June eight, 1869 with four.eight tons of tea seeds, sufficient to develop six million bushes.
In addition they crated for his or her journey throughout the Pacific, hundreds of mulberry
bushes, fruit tree seedlings, crops to supply paper and oil in addition to rice
and bamboo.

Japan was in a state of
civil warfare with samurai amassing armies to defeat westerners arriving at what
was till then an insular and remoted archipelago. The primary islands had been beneath
the management of Tokugawa shogunates that prohibited Japanese residents from
touring overseas.

The lord of Aizu Wakamatsu
Province named Matsudaira Katamori (1835-1893) opposed the Tokugawa ban. Anticipating
reprisal, Matsudaira skilled his samurai in the usage of firearms with the assistance
of John Henry Schnell, an early member of the Prussian embassy in Japan (who
offered European weapons). Schnell was made samurai and married a Japanese lady.
In 1868 his military of four,000 was defeated by 20,000 of the emperor’s troopers.
Fearing for his security, Matsudaira agreed to fund the colony in April 1869,
reserving passage on the PMSS China, a
side-wheel steamer rigged for sail. He despatched Schnell, his spouse, their 19-year-old
nursemaid and a cadre of farmers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and fellow samurai to
San Francisco, arriving in Could.

Schnell used Lord Matsudaira’s
funds to buy 200 acres of land close to Placerville generally known as the Gold Hill
Ranch. Colonists then planted 50,000 three-year-old kuwa (mulberry) and
terraces of tea at what turned generally known as the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm.

The next yr on the
California State Agricultural Honest in Sacramento, the colony displayed silk
cocoons, tea and different foodstuffs. The same show in 1870 in San Francisco
attests to the preliminary success of the industrious farmers.

The next yr a
drought that lasted for a lot of months compelled the development of irrigation
community however tailings from gold mining operations close by had contaminated the
water with iron sulfate that killed a lot of the younger crops. Their benefactor
in Japan was captured and have become a Shinto priest, surrendering his wealth. The
first Japanese-American was born on the colony.

Centennial celebration with Gov. Ronald Reagan (Photograph courtesy of American River Conservancy)

The land was largely
deserted by 1873 when it was bought by the Francis Veerkamp household who
farmed the property for 140 years. Little is thought in regards to the colonists. Some
returned to Japan. Colonist Matsunosuke
Sakurai, believed to be a samurai, labored for the rest of his lengthy life
for the Veerkamp household. Those that
stayed had been barred by regulation from turning into residents however established a era
of farmers, who by 1900 produced 10% of California’s crops.

In 1969 Ichiro Matsudaira, the grandson of the lord who
initiated the daimyo, after which Gov. Ronald Regan, celebrated the farm’s centennial.
In 2010 the American River Conservancy bought the property and restored it
as a working Registered Historic Landmark. The farm is open to the general public
a number of instances a yr and operates a local plant nursery, meals gardens, a 1.5-mile
wheelchair accessible path round a lake; with dairy herds and merchandise, lamb
and wool merchandise and eggs.

Wakamatsu Tea

Wakamatsu Tea & Silk Farm aerial photograph (Courtesy of the American River Conservancy)

In 2010 horticulturalist
Mike Fritts at Golden Feather Tea
obtained some crops believed to be from the unique Wakamatsu inventory.

He
launched a GoFundMe
marketing campaign to finance business plantings.

“This
distinctive cultivar is wild in character and believed to have arrived within the U.S.
with the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony in 1869,” in line with Fritts, who
recounted the fascinating journey of the unique tea that was rediscovered in
2010.

David
Hammer at Purple Cloud Tea Home mentioned he
despatched a pattern from Golden Feather to a pal and tea scholar, a professor
at South China Agriculture College in Guangzhou, who mentioned he “might style
the wild within the tea.”

“I
agree,” wrote Hammer. “The terroir of Mike’s tea was current in his tea and
complimented his processing strategies, leading to a scrumptious cup, described
as advanced, juicy, spicy, and candy with a beautiful lasting after-taste,” mentioned
Hammer. In 2015 an oolong from the backyard gained second place within the Tea of the
United States (TOTUS) competitors in Volcano, Hawaii. 

In a
unhappy post-script, a lot of the tea Fritts planted was burned in large wildfires
that destroyed his Concow farm and the close by metropolis of Paradise, California.

Fortuitously,
a lot of the tea crops are simply singed and the basis inventory continues to be going
robust. We simply must get again and do the work we have to do to revive the
tea farm,” mentioned Fritts.

Supply: World
Tea Information. GoFundMe

Be taught extra: Wakamatsu
Fest 150 or electronic mail: wakamatsu@ARConservancy.org

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