Castroville in Monterey County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
The Castroville Japanese Schoolhouse
For the Sake of the Children
óKodomo No Tame Ni - Para El Bien De Los Ninos - Per Il Bene De Ragazzi ó
Japanese immigrants wanted their children to value the traditions of their home country. In 1935 they built this school as a place to teach Japanese-American youth to appreciate the rich customs and heritage of the Japanese culture.
Recent immigrants share the hope that their children will have pride both in the culture of their parents as well as America. The phrase used by the Japanese parents – kodomo no tame ni - “for the sake of the children” – guides the spirit and functions of the building today and into the future.
Meet Your Guides
Iím writing my first entry in my journal. Writing every day will help me remember all that happens in my life. (Japanese wife, left panels)
Hello new diary! It will be fun to tell stories here. Stories about new places and new friends.(young Japanese boy, right panels)
Arriving at a New Home (1920s)
By the 1920s, about a dozen Japanese families lived in the Castroville area. Most were farmers who leased land, though some purchased land in the name of their American-born children
May 12, 1927
I like it here – there are other Japanese families with young children. But life is hard, just trying to make ends meet with what my husband makes farming.
Most children were Nisei, second generation. Often families moved from farm to farm. Some settled in towns like Castroville where the Japanese community slowly grew.
May 12, 1927
Itís fun here. There are Japanese kids like me living here. I can make new friends now that we live in this town. And I help out on the farm sometimes.
Building a New School (1930s)
Funds were collected through the Salinas Buddhist Temple to raise money to buy the land to build a new Japanese language school. The school opened in 1936. In time one Italian girl enrolled.
November 4, 1936
We built a beautiful new school! It was hard work for all of us. We have religious services and weddings and funerals there. I hope that my children will learn some of the traditions and the language of my country.
The children of the Japanese community walked across the street from the public school to the Japanese school in the afternoon. They studied Japanese language and culture.
November 4, 1936
I donít understand why we have to go to Japanese school after
Life in Castroville (1930s)
There was a small Japanese business district in Castroville. People in the town mixed to some degree. But there was intolerance and state laws against those born in Japan owning land.
July 8, 1938
I want my children to fit in and learn English and understand American ways. There are people here who donít like us. I also do not want my children to lose family traditions – my family is still in Japan.
(right panel) Immigrants from all over the world lived in Castroville. The Japanese had a big role in farming in the region, often succeeding where other had failed.
July 8, 1938
In my school kidsí parents come from all over. They come from Italy, Mexico and Portugal, and, of course, America. We all play together and speak English. But my family does a lot with other Japanese.
Forced from Home (1940s)
In February 1942, armed with President Rooseveltís Executive Order #9066, the U.S. Military excluded Japanese, Italian and German aliens from the coast. In April 1942, with 24-hour notice, all those of Japanese ancestry in Monterey County were ordered to go to the detention center at the Salinas Rodeo Grounds.
Iím afraid. I donít understand whatís happening. We didnít do anything wrong. Now we have to leave our home and we can only take what we can carry. How do I decide what to take? What will happen to our house, our crops, our belongings?
With the Exclusion Order of April 1942, the Japanese in Castroville had to leave their homes. They didnít know where they would go, or for how long. Everyone – women and children, citizens and non-citizens – had to go.
April 30, 1942
I donít want to anywhere! Iím sad about leaving my friends who arenít Japanese. They can stay home. Why do I have to leave my pet? Itís unfair! I canít take most of my toys and books.
The Salinas Rodeo Grounds (1942)
The government forced 3500 people of Japanese ancestry from the Monterey Bay region to go to the temporary detention center at the Salinas Rodeo Grounds. It became a prison with barbed wire and guards.
June 1, 1942
They gave me tags for my bags and my children – as if my children were baggage! Itís awful here. Dirty, no privacy anywhere and itís dangerous. I cleaned and made our barracks a “home” the best I could. We wait in long lines for everything like food, laundry, ad to use the toilets and baths.
Some people at the Rodeo Grounds
June 1, 1942
Iím hungry a lot here. I donít like the food and eating with all those people. My mother is so sad here. But we donít have school and I get to play with new friends. What will happen tow us next?
Life in Camp (1942-1943)
On July 4th, 1942, the Japanese-Americans at the Rodeo Grounds were loaded onto trains and shipped to the Poston, Arizona prison camp. They lived behind barbed wire in the hot desert for most of the war years. Theyíd lost everything of their former lives.
January 18, 1945
We lived for three years in the dusty desert, in the middle of nowhere with thousands of others far from home. We did nothing wrong. They put us in concentration camps because we had Japanese blood, even if we were citizens.
Some men left camp and fought and died in the war in the all Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Others were allowed to go work in the fields in the Midwest and elsewhere. When the camps closed, the detainees didnít know what would happen to them.
January 18, 1945
Iím glad to be getting out of that empty desert place – so dusty and full of rattlesnakes! The war made some people think
Moving On (1945)
After the war, people had to start their lives all over again. Most had lost everything and had no money. Finding jobs and housing was a big challenge for most families.
April 19, 1952
We didnít know where to go. Salinas was hard: some people wouldnít sell us gas or food, or give us a place to live or work. Some went to Monterey where people were friendlier. They worked in canneries or as gardeners. Weíre making a new life.
The returning Japanese community met prejudice wherever they went. It was hard to find work and they did any work they could get. Some people offered help and things slowly got easier.
April 19, 1952
Itís hard being back in school. Everything and everyone has changed. Some kids are mean and call us names. Some are nice though. And it gets better. Now I like being with all kinds of different people.
The Order to Leave Home Came in April, 1942
Four months after the Japanese military bombed Pearl Harbor, the Exclusion Order came. The U.S. government told all those of Japanese ancestry living in Monterey County to leave their homes.
Families made hard decisions about what to take and what to leave behind. They went to the detention
Dedicated as a tribute to the enduring struggle of all immigrants to see their children achieve a better life, have more opportunities and be treated with dignity and respect.
Erected by California State Parks.
Location. 36° 45.899′ N, 121° 45.079′ W. Marker is in Castroville, California, in Monterey County. Marker is on Geil Street near Pajaro Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 11191 Geil Street, Castroville CA 95012, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. For the Sake of the Children (here, next to this marker); Juan B. Castro (approx. 0.4 miles away); Josť Eusebio Boronda Adobe Casa (approx. 6 miles away); Company C 194th Tank Battalion (approx. 6 miles away); Eugene Sherwood (approx. 7.4 miles away); The First and Second Filipino Infantry Regiments U.S. Army (approx. 7.5 miles away); Salinas Temporary Detention Center (approx. 7.6 miles away); The Salinas Railway Station (approx. 7.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Castroville.
More about this marker. There are several panels that make up this marker. The main panels is located in
Regarding The Castroville Japanese Schoolhouse. What is a school for but to educate. Even in 'retirement' this schoolhouse continues to teach us; this time about one of the darker incidents of World War II.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Salinas Temporary Detention Center Marker
Also see . . . Japanese American internment - Wikipedia. Japanese American internment was the relocation and internment by the United States government in 1942 of about 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast of the United States to camps called "War Relocation Camps," in the wake of Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. (Submitted on March 11, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.)
Categories. • Asian Americans • Education • War, World II •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 11, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 503 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. submitted on March 11, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.