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Seed: The Life of the Rice King and His Kin (film)

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DVD cover. Courtesy of Nitto Tire U.S.A., Inc.
View in the Densho Encyclopedia

Japanese produced documentary film on Issei rice farming pioneer Keisaburo Koda and the family business he founded in Dos Palos, California.

Seed tells parallel stories about Koda Farms and its Sansei head Ross Koda in the present and on the life and achievements of Ross's grandfather, Keisaburo Koda, the founder of the business and the so-called "Rice King." After introducing Ross and his sister Robin, the story turns toward Keisaburo's story, going back to his hometown in Japan and interviewing relatives—his family had had a rice milling business in Iwaki City, Fukushima prefecture—and others in the town. Determined to come to the U.S., which he viewed as a land of opportunity, Keisaburo rose from a farm laborer to a profitable rice farmer before World War II. But like all West Coast Japanese Americans, he was forcibly removed, and spent the war years in the Amache , Colorado, concentration camp. Former Amache inmates Minoru Tonai, Jack Muro, and Nob Hashimoto recall the camp and their memories of Koda. Returning to Dos Palos after the war, he and his son Ed rebuilt the business. The video also notes Keisaburo's community leadership, noting his role in fighting for Issei citizenship and his first return trip to Japan after the war where he was given a hero's welcome in his hometown. (The video does not mention Koda's decades long fight to recoup wartime losses through the Japanese American Evacuation Claims Act .) The story then turns to Ross and the current operation of the farm, noting their turn to producing organic products and the problems brought on by California's continued drought through interviews with many employees and associates. We also meet Ross's Japan-born wife and his two young daughters.

Seed is one of several films on Japanese American topics produced by Nitto Tire, U.S.A. The feature-length film was produced and directed by Masanori Baba.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm (2015); Our American Family: The Furutas (2015); Chrysanthemums and Salt (1994)

Media Details
Release Date 2016
Runtime 88 minutes
Director Masanori Baba
Producer Masanori Baba
Writer Masanori Baba
Starring Ross Koda, Robin Koda, Mike Hillhouse (interviewee), Ricardo Camarena (interviewee), Gary Wallace (interviewee), Bob Yonkers (interviewee), Hideo Ide (interviewee), Shinichi Koda (interviewee), Eiji Koda (interviewee), Shunichi Manome (interviewee), Shuko Matsuzaki (interviewee), Haruo Shirato (interviewee), Shinkichi Koyama, Masakiyo Watanabe (interviewee), Bonnie J. Clark (interviewee), Minoru Tonai (interviewee), Jack Muro (interviewee), Nob Hashimoto (interviewee), Tama Koda, Alejandro Camarena (interviewee), John Bennett (interviewee), Makoto Sasajima (interviewee), Jennifer Morgan (interviewee), Dennis Falaschi (interviewee), Karen Crutcher (interviewee), Benjamin Stuart Thompson (interviewee), Toshikazu Tateiwa (interviewee), Yuko Kaifu (interviewee), Masa Matsuzaki (interviewee), Mihoko Matsuzaki (interviewee), Yuta Tsunoda (interviewee), Kaoru Kawata (interviewee), Grace Koda, Maxine Koda, Lisa Koda, Brian Kito (interviewee), Paul Chamberlin (interviewee), Saya Okano, Steven Doi (interviewee), Mary Wakatsuki (interviewee), Jun Enkoji (interviewee), Paul Tao (interviewee), Dick Kubota (interviewee), Laura Avery (interviewee), Nicole Gordon (interviewee), David Karp (interviewee)
Music William Ryan Fritch
Cinematography Daniel Cotroneo
Editing Masanori Baba
Studio Nitto Tire U.S.A., Inc.
For More Information

For More Information

Official website: http://www.seedfilm.life/ .

Seed streaming as part of the Culture Unplugged Online Film Festival, 2016: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/storyteller/Masanori_Baba#/myFilms .