The following is an abbreviated timeline of Yama and Nagaya village on Bainbridge Island, which existed from the 1880s-1920s. If you visit the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community’s website, you can learn more about the history of Japanese Americans on Bainbridge (not only about Yama), including WWII and post WWII. http://www.bijac.org/
Yama and Nagaya Timeline:
1863-1864: William Renton establishes Port Blakely Mill. The mill is built in 1863 and opens in spring 1864.
1868: Meiji Restoration begins in Japan. (Edo period ends).
1880: The Hall Brothers Shipyard moves to Port Blakely. (In 1902, it will move to Winslow).
1882: Chinese Exclusion Act. Due to the expulsion of Chinese from the region, Japanese laborers were probably recruited to work in the mill.
1883: First Japanese (single men) arrive at Port Blakely and work at the mill.
1888: Port Blakely Mill burns down and is rebuilt within 5 months. This new “double” mill is called the world’s largest. Approximately 35 Japanese men are in Port Blakely according to census data.
1889: Washington becomes a state.
1890: Kihachi Hirakawa arrives in Port Blakely and lives in Nagaya, the bachelors’ quarters, Nagaya. He will be influential in helping start the Baptist Church in Yama.
1890: Masajiro Furuya arrives in Seattle. Furuya developed a labor brokerage relationship with the mill. Furuya’s merchandise salesmen visit Yama regularly. Furuya later establishes “Furuya Gardens” at Crystal Springs, 3 miles from Port Blakely.
1890-1892: The Konos, Hanijiro and Fuji, arrive in Yama. They settle south of Nagaya, on the hill, “Yama”. By 1900, they will open the Washington Hotel. They have 4 children, all born while they lived in Yama. Due to their influence, more families will come to Yama. Gambling and other illicit activities that were occurring among the bachelors in Nagaya will stop.
1891: Secretary Yoshio Fujita visits Port Blakely. He represents the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco. At the time of his visit, there are approximately 80 Japanese workers at the mill.
1891: William Renton dies. This same year his nephews, John and James Campbell, take over management of the mill.
1897: Kihachi Hirakawa travels to Japan, marries, and returns to Yama.
1898-1899: Tamegoro and Tamao Takayoshi arrive in Yama. They have 8 children, all born while they lived in Yama. They will run several businesses at Yama, including a store, tea garden, ice cream parlor, and photography studio. Many people on Bainbridge Island visit the businesses. The ice cream is very popular.
1900: Seinosuke Takayoshi (Tamegoro’s brother) arrives in Yama.
1900 (or near then): Torazo and Kuma Nakao arrive. They raise 8 children in Yama. Torazo works at the mill and was given the name “Slab Harry”. He and other men hauled wood to homes around the harbor. He acts as a liaison between the company and the Japanese community.
1900: Estimates ae that Yama and Nagaya had over 200 residents.
1901: The Baptist church in Yama is dedicated in spring. The church has close ties with the Seattle Japanese Baptist Church. Ministers from Seattle visit and preach weekly.
1901: Kihachi Hirakawa’s wife, Hiya, come from Japan to Yama.
1903: The Campbell brothers sell the mill, and mill ownership changes to David (Ned) Skinner and John W. Eddy.
1903: The Buddhist temple in Yama is dedicated. Reverend Gendo Nakai and Reverend Hoshin Fujii from the Seattle Buddhist Mission were regularly visitors to Yama.
1904: The Konos sell the Washington Hotel to Sohichi and Miki Shigemura. The Shigemura family (as of 1910 they were raising 4 children in Yama) continues to run the hotel for many years. The restaurant is popular with mill workers. Records show that the Reverend Fukumatsu Okazaki from the Seattle Japanese Baptist Church, and a local doctor, Dr. Tatsumaro Uyematsu stayed at the hotel.
1904: Russo-Japanese War begins. Some of the men at Yama return to Japan to serve in the military.
1905: The Konos move to a mill at Campton (near present day Redmond).
1905: The Hirakawas leave Yama and move to Seattle. Kihachi will later leave Seattle and go to the Moody Bible Institute. He will return to Bainbridge in the 1920s and start a Japanese Baptist Church in Winslow.
1905: Seinosuke Takayoshi and Raku Haneda are married.
1907: April. The mill burns down. The owners, David Skinner and John W. Eddy, replace it with a smaller mill, leasing it and closing it down for periods.
1907: The Gentlemen’s Agreement begins, impacting Japanese immigration to the U.S. Wives and children could immigrant. A number of picture brides immigrant. http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Gentlemen%27s_Agreement/
1908: There is a fire in Yama. The Everett Daily Herald (July 20th, p. 4) reports that approximately 20 houses were destroyed.
1911: April 8,9,10, the Taihoku Nippo (Great Northern Daily) runs a series of stories about Yama, Fife, and Vashon.
1913: Alien Land laws being to pass. http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Alien_land_laws/
1915: Seinosuke and Raku Takayoshi start operating greenhouses owned by Otto Peterson. The land and greenhouses are near Yama and Port Blakely. Cucumbers, tomatoes, other vegetables, and flowers are grown. Seinosuke and Raku and their family live at the east end of the property. They have 3 children while living in Yama, and Seinosuke’s son from his first marriage will come from Japan. 1915-1916: Sukezo (Henry) Takayoshi, Seinosuke’s first son from his first marriage in Japan, comes to Port Blakely to help with Seinosuke and Raku’s growing family. Henry is later known as an accomplished and influential photographer.
1915: With WWI, the sawmill will once again start full operation.
1918: WWI ends November. 11, 1918.
1919: During the latter part of 1919, employment in the mill starts falling off.
1920: Tamegoro Takayoshi dies. His family stays in Yama, running the various family businesses.
1920: The Tsunehara family returns to Japan and their vegetable and flower gardens are taken over and run by the Nagatani family in Yama.
1921: Editorial by Tama Arai, who was born in Yama in 1901. Her editorial is published in the English version of the Great Northern Daily News. Editorial is titled “My Conception of America”. In her editorial, she challenges racial prejudice and discrimination.
1922: The mill closes down.
1922: U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Japanese could not become naturalized citizens.
1924: Immigration Act. This act replaces the Gentlemen’s Agreement, impacting immigration. http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Immigration_Act_of_1924/
1924: The mill is torn down.
1924: Kihachi Hirakawa returns to the Puget Sound region. He describes salvaging wood from different building at Yama to build a church in Winslow in the mid to late 1920s.
1928: Seinosuke and Raku and their family move to Dr. Kellam’s property at Lynwwod near Pleasant Beach on Bainbridge to run greenhouses there. Seinosuke dies in 1935.
1929: The Takayoshis’ (Tamao and family) phone is disconnected. They move to Seattle.
While records have not indicated when Yama was officially abandoned, the disconnection of the Takayoshis’ phone is symbolic of the end of the village.
The above is an abbreviated timeline of Yama and Nagaya village on Bainbridge Island, which existed from the 1880s-1920s. If you visit the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community’s website, you can learn more about the history of Japanese Americans on Bainbridge (not only about Yama), including WWII and post WWII. http://www.bijac.org/
If you have inquiries, more information about Yama and the families who lived there, or find errors in the timeline, please contact Caroline Hartse at email@example.com