John Masaru Kobata

Brick #1297   Wall Location  Column: 52   Row: 18

John Masaru Kobata was born in Kumamoto, Japan on July 15, 1903 and died May 1956. He arrived in Seattle, Washington as a young teenager and worked as a houseboy at Broadmore. Circa 1923, he married a widow, Tameno Habu, who had 6 children, Steve, Sakayeko, John, Mary, Jack and Kimi Habu, fulfilling a vow to Mr. Habu, who was very ill that he would care for his wife and children. Born from this marriage was Louise (Akizuki), George I, Frank, Rose (Harrell) and George II. In the early 1930's he started Cherryland Florist on 9th & Jackson which eventually became the entire block, and left the management of the store to his wife while working at the Seattle Tennis Club to supplement the income in order to feed all the children at home. Shortly afterwards, he quit the Seattle Tennis club and became a very successful businessman in the flower business. His dream was to open branch stores throughout Seattle and place each of the children in them to operate. He got only as far as opening a branch on 12th & Yesler. In 1942 he was arrested by the FBI and sent to an Isolation Center in Montana and released several years later to join his family in Minidoka, Idaho. During World War II, the 9th & Jackson store was razed to build Western Gear Works and is today a huge Diamond parking lot. In 1945, he returned to Seattle from camp and resumed the flower shop at 12th & Yesler . Several years later, his wife Tameno died but he continued operating the store until he was too ill from cancer and turned it over to his daughter Louise. His life was very short but personified what many Issei's endured during that time, that lack of education, personal and financial resources could not prevail over perseverance, hard work and dedication to family.

Assembly Centers
  • Puyallup
  • Minidoka
Prisons/Isolation Centers
  • Ft. Missoula
Brick Donors
  • Rose Harrell