Wakamatsu Farm – Placerville, California - Atlas Obscura

Wakamatsu Farm

This short-lived tea and silk farm is believed to be the first permanent Japanese settlement in North America. 

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In 1869, the first permanent Japanese settlement in North America was founded at this site in California. During the Boshin Civil War, a group of 22 people from samurai families left Japan and bought this parcel of land not far from San Francisco, where they established Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm.

They brought mulberry trees, silkworm cocoons, tea plants, and bamboo shoots, among other goods. Sadly, the colony collapsed within two years due to hate from nearby miners and farmers and environmental factors. One of the young women who came to the Wakamatsu colony, Okei Ito, died two years after arriving in the United States. She is believed to be the first Japanese woman buried on American soil, and her grave can be found on a hill near the former farm.

Guided tours and nature walks are available. Any visitor may stop at the corner of the property (park at the nearby Gold Trail School) and see the centennial historic marker placed by the Japanese Citizens League and dedicated by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1969.

Know Before You Go

The roadside historical marker is available for all visitors. At this time there is no museum or on-site building that is open to the general public. Facilities and programs are available for special events, more facilities are under development for visits by the general public.

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