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Building a Japanese rock garden inside an internment camp

No, he (Mr. Nishizaki) had no idea, he was not a gardener. He had to go and ask people how to, how to put in the flowers, and which flower. He had to, people had to teach him. In fact, he went to, he happened to go to the village of New Denver and saw some nice gardens there that people had put in there, and so he talked to these people about what he should do, and they gave him plants to put in his place. They told him where, what he should do, he went along the riverbed and picked up rocks. And he would carry rocks daily, bringing rocks into this rock garden, and eventually, it got so big and so many big rocks that he, friends built him a wheelbarrow so he could bring it in, and then that was even too big, too much, so they even used to go out in the truck, and truck in huge boulders for him so that he could build this rock garden. And he kept building this for, for, like I say, for five years. And it became quite a huge, it became an attraction because (...) so big. I don't know how many acres it was, but it went up about twenty feet high, but it was not a Japanese garden. But like I say, people came from all over to see this place. They came from Nelson, B.C., and they looked at it, and some guy, some photographer there decided, "Hey, this is something," so he took a picture of it and then he started making postcards of this Japanese rock garden. But when you look at it, it's not a Japanese rock garden.

British Columbia Canada Hastings Park temporary detention center rock gardens temporary detention centers Vancouver (B.C.) World War II camps

Date: July 25 & 26, 2006

Location: Washington, US

Interviewer: Tom Ikeda

Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Interviewee Bio

Henry Shimizu was born in Prince Rupert, B.C. in 1928 and was interned in New Denver during the war. After leaving the internment camp, he moved to Edmonton where he still resides. As a medical graduate, Dr. Henry Shimizu specialized in plastic surgery and has been active in the medical community by serving in numerous leadership positions. From 1989 to 2002, he served as chairperson of JCRF. He is an artist and has painted a number of scenes from his internment days. His works were exhibited in several communities. For his outstanding contribution to the community, he has received several awards including the NAJC National Award 1999, the University of Alberta Distinguished Alumni Award 2004 and the Order of Canada 2004. (July 26, 2006)

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