South County Historical Society

Japanese American gardening

The South County Historical Society’s Arroyo Grande Project takes place on the site of old Japanese American Language School (on the right) and the still standing Cultural Hall (left).  The property is still owned by the local Japanese-American community.South County Historical Society collects and preserves the history of sourthern San Luis Obispo County which covers the towns of Avila, Pismo, Grover Beach, Oceano, Arroyo Grande, Nipomo, and geographic areas known as Edna, Huasna, Los Berros, Halcyon, and Oso Flaco.  Through it’s museums, history library, and public events, it educates the public about this region’s history.

The South County Historical Society is participating in an on-going effort to collect and preserve the oral histories of Japanese Americans in southern San Luis Obispo County.  In 2009, the Society received a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program to support this effort.  The grant supported the documentation of three workshops and a field trip to Manzanar National Historic Site in an effort to continue the legacy of Japanese American garden design.  The workshops were taught by an 89-year old distinguished Japanese landscape architect, Kodo Matsubara, and held on a historic Japanese American site in Arroyo Grande.  The field trip to Manzanar focused on the garden constructed by Japanese Americans interred there during World War II.  The project is intended to educate and inspire local and general public about the cultural values of the Japanese American experience in this region of the state.