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Our American Family: The Furutas (film)

Episode of the television series Our American Family that focuses on a Japanese American family from Southern California. The episode premiered in February 2015.

The Our American Family series tells the story of multi-generational American families of various ethnic backgrounds in different parts of the country and is produced by the Tennessee-based Legacy Filmworks. The series has been shown on public television stations across the country. The episode focusing on the Furutas was the fourth of the series. It was filmed in California starting in September 2013. [1]

The short film traces the history of the Furuta family beginning with the arrival of Issei patriarch Charles Furuta from Hiroshima in 1900. He later returned to Japan to marry and brought his wife Yukiko back to Wintersburg, California—a small agricultural community located in what is now the city of Huntington Beach—in 1912 where eight children followed. The family ran a goldfish farm. With the coming of war, Charles was arrested and interned, sent first to Tujunga, then to an internment camp in Lordsburg , New Mexico. The rest of the family was sent to Poston . Charles eventually was "released" to Poston to join the rest of the family. In 1945, most family members returned to the farm, where they grew flowers after the war.

The story is told through on-camera interviews with Nisei daughter Etsuko Furuta Fukushima and daughter-in-law Martha Furuta, along with Sansei grandchildren Norm, Ken, and Dave Furuta. Also featured are voiced excerpts (by actress Takayo Fischer ) from a 1982 interview with Yukiko Furuta, translated into English. An avid photographer, Charles Furuta's pictures are featured throughout the program, though most of the wartime incarceration imagery is general in nature and not specific to the family.

The finished documentary premiered at the 2015 Day of Remembrance in Los Angeles at the Japanese American National Museum on February 21, 2015 and was shown on Southern California PBS stations a week later. It aired on 131 PBS stations across the country on May 20, 2015. [2]

Authored by Brian Niiya

Might also like Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm (2015); From a Different Shore: An American Identity (1994); Seed: The Life of the Rice King and His Kin (2016)


  1. Our American Family website, ; Historic Wintersburg blog, Oct. 13, 2013, , both accessed on Sept. 28, 2015.
  2. "PBS to Feature the Japanese American Story of Wintersburg," AsAmNews , Feb. 15, 2015, ; "'Our American Family' to Air This Weekend," Rafu Shimpo , Feb. 25, 2015, ; "The Furutas—Coast to Coast Broadcast," Our American Family website, May 18, 2015, , all accessed on Sept. 28, 2015.
Media Details
Release Date 2014
Runtime 25 minutes
Producer Steve Young
Writer Michael Nolan
Starring Norm Furuta (interviewee), Ken Furuta (interviewee), Martha Furuta (interviewee), Dave Furuta (interviewee), Etsuko Furuta Fukushima (interviewee)
Cinematography Bradford Van Demark
Editing Bradford Van Demark
For More Information

For More Information

Our American Family website:

Official trailer: