Mary Urashima participated in a JANM panel discussion, “The Women of Tuna Canyon Detention Station,” in 2017. Pictured from left: Kyoko Oda, Frances Kuraoka, Takayo Fischer, Urashima, Maytha Alhassen, June Aochi Berk, Naomi Eta Shibata (author of “Bend with the Wind”), Yuko Chiba (wife of Consul General Akira Chiba).

The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) is deeply saddened by the passing of Mary Adams Urashima. A local history expert and preservationist, Urashima led the effort to preserve the history of Japanese Americans in Orange County, in particular Huntington Beach.

She created the blog to raise awareness and document the history of Japanese pioneers in Wintersburg Village, a community that was established by descendants of samurai clans in Huntington Beach during the 19th century. She also chaired a community effort to preserve the century-old Furuta farm and Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission complex, which was designated a National Treasure in 2015 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

JANM collaborated with Mary Urashima on several initiatives over the years. These include hosting a lecture and discussion in 2014 for her book, “Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach,” a brief history about the enterprising spirit of the unique community established by Japanese pioneers.

JANM also hosted an advance screening of “Our American Family: The Furutas of Historic Wintersburg,” an episode of the PBS documentary series “Our American Family” that first aired on Feb. 22, 2015. The episode featured the Furuta family, who raised goldfish on the Furuta Goldfish Farm prior to World War II. Upon returning to the farm after the war they found that none of the fish survived. Rather than trying to rebuild the business, the family grew flowers for the commercial market in Southern California instead.

JANM’s Discover Nikkei website also republished a number of her articles that first appeared on her blog.

“We are deeply saddened by Mary’s passing,” said Ann Burroughs, president and CEO. “She was a respected historian, author, preservationist and friend to many of us who fought for civil rights and social justice. Her work ensured that the history of Japanese Americans in Huntington Beach was not forgotten and her contributions to JANM brought awareness to the public that history itself should be inclusive and accurate.”

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