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Blossoms and Thorns: A Community Uprooted (film)

DVD cover. Courtesy of Ken Kokka and Donna Graves
View in the Densho Encyclopedia

Documentary film that examines Japanese American cut flower growers in Richmond, California, before, during and after World War II. Written and directed by Ken Kokka, the 19-minute film was funded by the Contra Costa Japanese American Citizens League.

The core story is told through interviews with three Nisei from Richmond flower growing families: Ruby Adachi Hiramoto, Tom Oishi, and Flora Ninomiya. The three discuss prewar life in the community, the trauma of the mass roundup and incarceration, and the struggles to reestablish their farms after returning to California. Ninomiya's family farm survived the war largely intact, thanks to it being taken care of by a neighboring family, the Aebis. Two members of the Aebi family are also interviewed. By contract, Hiramoto describes returning to a farm littered with broken glass and missing most of its plants. Historian Donna Graves provides the historical context of both the prewar and wartime story lines.

Blossoms & Thorns premiered in August 2012 at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park Visitor Center in Richmond.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like Our American Family: The Furutas (2015); Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm (2015); Seed: The Life of the Rice King and His Kin (2016)

Media Details
Release Date 2012
Runtime 19 minutes
Director Ken Kokka
Producer Donna Graves (co-producer)
Writer Ken Kokka
Narrator George T. Kiriyama
Starring Donna Graves (interviewee), Ruby Adachi Hiramoto (interviewee), Tom Oishi (interviewee), Flora Ninomiya (interviewee), Francis Aebi (interviewee), Lina Aebi Hale (interviewee)
Music Christopher Wong
Cinematography Bill Basquin
Editing Ken Kokka