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Male, born 1880-02-27, died 1973-02-06

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Kubota Gardening Company

Professional History


Principal, Kubota Gardening Company, Seattle, WA, 1923-1960s. In the 1950s and 1960s, Fujitaro operated the Kubota Gardening Company from his home office at 9715 Renton Avenue with his sons, Takeshi and Tom.) (The 1951 Seattle City Directory [p.717] indicated that the Kubota Landscaping Company was located at 9717 South 55th Avenue; the 1960 Seattle City Directory [p. 926] stated that the office was located at 9727 Renton Avenue, while Fujitaro lived at 9715 Renton Avenue.)



Kubota graduated from high school in Japan, and did not attend college. He was largely self-trained as a gardener.



Born in Kōchi Prefecture on the Island of Shikoku, Japan, Fujitaro Kubota migrated to Hawaii in 1907 and then to San Francisco, CA. He entered San Francisco on 04/12/1907 aboard the Pacific Mail Steamship Company's S.S. Korea (Korea maru). Kubota arrived just before the "Gentleman's Agreement" between President Theodore Roosevelt and the Empire of Japan, whereby the US would not pass legislation that singled out the Japanese for exclusion from immigration (as had been done to the Chinese in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882) and would allow direct family members of current residents to immigrate to the US mainland; Japan, for its part, would not issue any more passports for its citizens seeking to work in the US.

Roosevelt did, however, issue Executive Order #589 on 03/14/1907, in which he said: " ...I am satisfied that passports issued by the Government of Japan to citizens of that country or Korea and who are laborers, skilled or unskilled, to go to Mexico, to Canada and to Hawaii, are being used for the purpose of enabling the holders thereof to come to the continental territory of the United States to the detriment of labor conditions therein; I hereby order that such citizens of Japan or Korea, to-wit: Japanese or Korean laborers, skilled and unskilled, who have received passports to go to Mexico, Canada or Hawaii, and come therefrom, be refused permission to enter the continental territory of the United States. It is further ordered that the Secretary of Commerce and Labor be, and he hereby is, directed to take, thru the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, such measures and to make and enforce such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry this order into effect." While the Japanese government had ample justificiation to be affronted by American racism and immigration exclusions, it did feel that a more surreptititious Executive Order was not as insulting as a law passed by both houses of Congress.

He arrived in Seattle, WA, from San Francisco, c. 1910, The US Census of that year placed him living in a Japanese apartment hotel at 506 1/2 Jackson Street and noted his occupation as laborer in a saw mill. (See Year: 1910; Census Place: Seattle Ward 1, King, Washington; Roll: T624_1658; Page: 21B; Enumeration District: 0062; FHL microfilm: 1375671.) He worked in the logging town of Selleck, WA, from at least 1912 to before 1917, at the Pacific States Lumber Company Mill, that opened about 1908 and operated until the company's bankruptcy in 1939. Selleck was a company town, like Puget Mills' Port Gamble founded 60 years earlier. According to historian David Wilma, about 3,000 Japanese laborers, like Kubota, worked in WA lumber mills at this time. At Selleck, he saved enough money to enable his wife to join him in Seattle from Hawaii. According to his World War I Draft Registration Card of 09/12/1918, he lived and worked in a hotel at 114 11th Avenue South. (See Registration State: Washington; Registration County: King; Roll: 1991929; Draft Board: 10.)He later worked as a property manager in Seattle's International District, the area of town segregated for Asian immigrants, and, despite prohibitions barring Asian-Americans from owning WA land, he managed to purchase several apartment buildings, although he lost them in the serious recession that hit the US in 1920-1923.

Fujitaro Kubota worked for much of his life as a nurseryman and landscape designer in Seattle, WA. In 1927, with the assistance of a Caucasian realtor, From at least 1922 until 1940, Fujitaro and Kumae Kubota lived in a multi-family dwelling at 723 Alder Street in Seattle. Three of their children lived at home in 1930, as did two Japanese-born lodgers who worked as salesmen. Fujitaro was listed as the owner of his residence, worth an estimated $13,000, a reasonable sum for the time. (See, "1930 and 1940 United States Federal Census for Fujitaro Kubota," accessed 05/05/2015. Source: Year: 1930; Census Place: Seattle, King, Washington; Roll: 2499; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0144; Image: 524.0; FHL microfilm: 2342233. Source: Year: 1940; Census Place: Seattle, King, Washington; Roll: T627_4381; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 40-236) Kubota purchased a five-acre parcel of logged land on Renton Avenue South in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. The land had stumps and swamps, but this did not deter Kubota from renovating it over the course of the next fifty years. The land also served as a nursery for plants he sold to garden design customers. Kubota relocated to the site in 1940 after he had bought 15 more acres. Following the Pearl Harbor attack, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, dated 02/19/1942, that called for all West Coast citizens of Japanese descent to report to internment camps away from critical military installations. Roosevelt and others feared that most Issei and Nisei would feel loyalty first to the Emperor Hirohito and not to the US Constitution. This policy proved misguided and racist, but intense public outrage and fear followed the suprise attack of 12/07/1941.

The Seattle City Directory of 1941 recorded Fugitaro's first name as "Frank," and that he lived at 9817 55th Avenue South. Tensions with Japan were high even before Pearl Harbor, and Kubota may have anglicized his first name to avoid appearing "too foreign." This was the first time he and his wife were recorded as living at 9817 55th Avenue South, what would become Kubota Gardens.

Kubota and his family were relocated, like other Japanese-Americans from WA State, to the Minidoka Internment facility in Minidoka, ID. They were initially processed in Puyallup, WA, before being moved to ID on 09/01/1942. While he was interned, Kubota managed to rent out his 20-acres of land, but many others lost their businesses and property permanently. He and his family returned to Seattle after being released on 03/23/1945. (See U.S., Final Accountability Rosters of Evacuees at Relocation Centers, 1942-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.)

He died in Seattle in 1973. His sons, Takeshi (1912-1996), Thomas (1917-2004), and later his grandson, Allan, continued his gardening business that still existed in 2015..


Fujitaro married Kumae Kubota (06/16/1882-04/12/1949) in 03/1900 in Kochi, Japan. Both Fujitaro and Kumae were from the same area in Kochi, Japan. Six years after Kumae's death, Fujitaro married Ko Komata on 11/18/1955 in CA. (See California, Marriage Index, 1949-1959 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.)


He and Kumae had four children, three sons--Tsuyomi (born in Kochi, Japan, 04/15/1902), Takeshi (born in Selleck, WA, 10/19/1912), Tom (born 06/10/1917 in Seattle), and a daughter, May (born 07/29/1919 in Seattle).

Biographical Notes

Kubota never received formal training in traditional Japanese gardening techniques. To gain expertise, he made three trips back to Japan (two were in 1931 and 1939) to learn the basic design precepts, but he found most of the familiies involved in the field reluctant to teach him their trade secrets. He did find one gardener--Ryotaro Nishikawa (1887-1964), a Seattle gardener--willing to open up about traditional gardening techniques, and Kubota toured some landmark gardens in Kyoto where he sharpened his eye for detail. (See David Wilma,, "Kubota Garden (Seattle)," accessed 05/05/2015.) Kubota sailed from Yokohama aboard the Manila Maru arriving in Seattle on 03/31/1931. A second trip was made to Japan in early 1939, with Kubota returning from Yokohama on 04/15/1939, arriving in Seattle 04/27/1939 aboard the Hie Maru. (See Washington, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1961 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.)

Many sources, including David Wilma's article "Kubota Garden (Seattle)," indicated that he was born in 1879. The State of Washington's Social Security Death Index placed it in 1880, as did paperwork done for Kubota's US Naturalization in 1955. Kubota began the application for American citizenship in 03/1945 and the process was completed on 11/22/1955. (See, "Washington, Naturalization Records, 1904-1991 for Fujitaro Kubota," accessed 05/05/2015. Documents available atThe National Archives at Seattle; Seattle, Washington; RG 21 United States District Courts; Volume: Petitions for Naturalization.)SSN: 533-32-8174

Acknowledging the dislocation of being interned, his Minidoka relocation paperwork indicated other occupations that Fujitaro could pursue after returning from the camp. Choice 1 was "Library Assistants and Attendants," Choice 2, "Actors and Actresses." (See Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.)

Kubota flew to Tokyo from Seattle aboard Northwest Airlines on 12/24/1955, about a month after receiving US citizenship. (See Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, Passenger and Crew Lists of Airplane Departures, 1947-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:, 2011.)

PCAD id: 5033