In Dos Palos, a small town with big farm lands, in the San Joaquin Valley in Central California, there is the oldest family-owned and operated rice farm, called the “Koda Farms.” The founder of the Koda Farms is originally from Iwaki city, Fukushima, Japan, born in 1882. His name is Keisaburo Koda, who was widely known amongst Japanese Americans as the “Rice King” whose throne has been carried on by his grandchildren, Ross and Robin. This documentary is about perseverance, persistance, and passion of the Koda Farms through various hardships since the 1920’s and also a tribute to Keisaburo, the original seed of the Koda Farms.
” Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” by Harriet Tubman
At the age of 15, Keisaburo was inspired to go to America to pursue his American dreams, which came true in the early 1900’s, when he was 25 years old. On arriving to the dreamland, Keisaburo experienced numerous ventures and failures, and eventually embarked on rice farming, his familial roots in Japan. His innovative and pioneering spirit conceived a unique rice growing technique, sowing seed from the sky with airplanes, and his blood, sweat, and tears gave birth to an abundant crop of rice with the complete quality control from seeding to selling. Due to his success, Keisaburo became the Rice King.
However, the outbreak of World War II turned the glory of the king upside down. Due to President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, Americans of Japanese descent were forced to relocate to internment camps, where they faced unimaginable challenges for many years.
Keisaburo’s operation encompassed 10,000 acres with a rice drier and mill when they were relocated to Amache, Colorado. When the war ended, the Koda family immediately headed back to Dos Palos from Amache, to find no drier, no mill, some junky equipment and very little land….
However, it was not the end of the Koda Farms. In fact, it was just the beginning of the new Koda Farms. Keisaburo, with his “Tohoku” spirit, did not give up bringing back his once-fulfilled American dream. While he assigned the reconstruction of the rice business(just about a mile away from the old farms) to his sons, Edward and William, Keisaburo focused his tremendous time and energy on improving the welfare of Japanese Americans against discriminatory sanctions such as The California Alien Land Laws, and ultimately the relationship between America and Japan.
Keisaburo’s passion and perseverance survived adversities and kept his rice farm alive. Now, Ross and Robin, Keisaburo’s grandchildren, boldly yet calmly challenging the greatest water crisis in the history, not only have continued to grow their predecessors’ heirloom rices, but also gave birth to organic brown rice, which Keisaburo, a health extraordinaire, had always dreamed to introduce for everyone’s health.
As the only surviver of a Japanese American rice farm, will the Koda Farms continue to bloom for successive generations? What does rice really mean to the Koda family? How has Keisaburo’s efforts to society been passed on?
Although Keisaburo passed away in 1964, his legacy will live forever at the Koda Farms in Dos Palos.
Director, Producer, Co-Writer, Co-Editor: Masanori Baba
Producer: Tomo Mizutani , Ai Tokuno, Shinichiro Okano
Cast: Keisaburo Koda, Ross Koda, Robin Koda, Tama Koda, Hideo Ide, Eiji Koda, Shinichi Koda,
88min Documentary (C)seed
May 7（Sun）3:15 pm YAMAHA Music Center (Irvine)