Jerry Arai screenshot

Video Interview with Jerry Arai discussing Matsutaro Kawaguchi

In this video, Jerry Arai talks about his uncle, the artist Matsutaro Kawaguchi.

Conducted at the Japanese Cultural & Community Center Northwest Nikkei Museum.

My name is Jerry Arai. Mr Kawaguchi was my mother’s brother and he was a truck farmer in the Seattle area and then after the war he truck farmed in Spokane and he farmed until he retired.
Then what he did was, it was interesting, he turned his farm into a Japanese garden, a large Japanese garden. And his… He also during, it was the world’s fair in Spokane, and he and a bunch of other people did the Japanese garden at the world’s fair.

So he came to this country probably between 1905 and 1910. And they were from Shizuoka prefecture in the town of Numazu. Their family moved up to Bellingham, where my mother was born and she was the oldest sister, oldest of nine children.

My uncle was the oldest boy. I think he had a farm in Bryn Mawr, which is south of here, I think it’s by Burien. There were people around here that knew the family. Because he was not in Seattle, he was in south Washington, I mean Seattle they went to Tule Lake instead of Minidoka, and then I don’t know when they moved to Spokane but they had a couple farms in Spokane.

It’s a picture of the camp. And right here that’s, the white mountain, that’s Mt Shasta which is fairly close to Tule Lake. So he included that, but I’ve seen the same picture done by other artists that didn’t have the Mt Shasta. And I am not sure what this technique is, its, it might be ink or something, it’s hard to tell.

This was given to my mother. And actually it was a little larger but it got damaged but I wiped it off. It was hanging on the wall all the time at the family house; it was either in the kitchen or in the family room.

He was a very artistic man. I said he did Japanese landscaping, but what happened was that after he retired, when he was finished farming, his son lived in Magnolia, and he had a house on an arterial so he had some pine trees and my uncle Matsutaro pruned it like a Japanese garden and what happened was the other people would see it so he did a lot of pruning in the area.

He just was an amazing man. I think all his life he was just naturally talented. He could do anything. It was amazing. He came to our house once for about a week and did carpentry, made cabinets and things like that. He was just a multi-talented person.