Seyemon Kusumoto, a name that echoes with resilience, determination, and the spirit of pioneering, stands as an important figure in Japanese-American history. Born on September 26, 1880, in Hiroshima, Japan, Kusumoto’s remarkable journey led him to become a prominent figure in the United States, leaving an indelible mark on the community and the country at large.
From Rory Hutton on Instagram: Today I have come outside to show you this collection of Japanese lanterns in the garden I share with my neighbours. Social distancing and the slower pace it has ushered into all our lives has given me time to enjoy this outdoor space for the first time. Designed by Japanese garden designer Seyemon Kusumoto in 1936 the garden has remained relatively unchanged. These beautiful stone lanterns are part of the original scheme together with a waterfall and a fish pond. Japanese gardens were highly fashionable during the 1920s and 30s, their manicured appearance complimenting the streamlined Art Deco buildings they fronted. I happen to be working on a Japanese inspired project at the moment and these lanterns may well make their way into a linocut soon!
Kusumoto’s story is one of perseverance and triumph over adversity. In 1897, at the age of 17, he embarked on a life-changing journey to America, seeking new opportunities and a better future. Settling in California, Kusumoto faced numerous challenges as a Japanese immigrant during a time of heightened discrimination and racial tension. Yet, undeterred by the obstacles in his path, he persevered and ultimately achieved remarkable success.
Kusumoto’s entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen led him to establish the Kusumoto Company, a successful import-export business specialising in Japanese goods. Through his enterprise, he not only contributed to the economic growth of the Japanese-American community but also played a vital role in fostering cultural exchange between Japan and the United States.
Beyond his achievements in business, Kusumoto was an influential community leader. He served as a prominent member of the Japanese Association of America and was actively involved in promoting social and cultural initiatives within the Japanese-American community. Kusumoto’s efforts helped foster a sense of unity and pride, empowering Japanese-Americans during a time when their rights and contributions were often overlooked.
Furthermore, Kusumoto’s legacy extends beyond his business and community leadership. He played an instrumental role in advocating for the rights and welfare of Japanese immigrants in the United States. His tireless efforts and advocacy during a period of discriminatory legislation, such as the Alien Land Law, helped protect the rights and dignity of Japanese-Americans.
Seyemon Kusumoto’s life is a testament to the power of determination, resilience, and the pursuit of dreams. His entrepreneurial success, community leadership, and commitment to social justice serve as an inspiration to generations to come. Kusumoto’s legacy continues to resonate, reminding us of the profound contributions made by Japanese-Americans to the fabric of American society.
As we reflect on the remarkable life and achievements of Seyemon Kusumoto, let us honour his memory by celebrating the strength of diverse communities and recognising the invaluable contributions of individuals like him in shaping the shared history of America. Seyemon Kusumoto’s story is a beacon of hope, reminding us that with unwavering determination, compassion, and a belief in the inherent worth of all individuals, we can create a brighter and more inclusive future for all. ✨🌸
There is no historical evidence or information to suggest that Seyemon Kusumoto designed the garden at Du Cane Court. The garden at Du Cane Court was likely designed by professional landscape architects or garden designers associated with the development of the building. While Seyemon Kusumoto made notable contributions as an entrepreneur and community leader, the known link between him and the design of the garden at Du Cane Court are the lanterns shown in the instagram picture above.