Daily Archives: October 22, 2008

Hands at work under a father’s watch

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Junkoh Harui a few months before his death. One subject that came up time after time was his father, Zenhichi.

It seemed that much of what Junkoh created with Bainbridge Gardens was done with his father in mind (the photo to the left shows Zenhichi and his family, with Junkoh at the center wearing a bow tie).

“He came from a farm. He didn’t speak English. He was a man who was uneducated, but he had these two beautiful tools,” Junkoh said, holding up his own 75-year-old hands.

With little more than his hands, Zenhichi came to Bainbridge in 1908. He labored in the sawmills and scraping together enough money to buy 20 acres on Miller Road. While raising five children, he cleared the land, planted crops and eventually built Island Center’s community hub, with a gas station, general store and nursery. He also created an immaculately-groomed landscape of sunken ponds and sculpted Japanese plants. It must have been striking and surreal to the island’s pioneers.

Junkoh put his own hands to work rebuilding what his father had lost after the family was forced off the island during World War II. While it is today one of the island’s most treasured places, Junkoh said his revival of Bainbridge Gardens never could match the beauty and grandeur Zenhichi created. Still, Junkoh thought his father, and his mother Shiki, would be proud of what he’d accomplished.

“I’ve been under the weather now with this situation with cancer,” Junkoh said in July. “But it gives me courage that I have enjoyed life and rebuilt Bainbridge Gardens. I’ve kept it going because I know I’ll see mom and dad in the big sky.

“I think they will be happy to see me, with what I’ve done here, and that I carried it on as far as I could go.”

Below is a column Junkoh wrote in 1986 for his nursery’s newsletter.

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