Sept. 4, 2017
Archaeologist Floyd Aranyosi stood a stone’s throw from Takayoshi’s general store, where in the early 20th Century he might have stopped in for homemade ice cream, a Snappy Drinks soda or a tin of Stag chewing tobacco, along with sundry imported Japanese goods.
Olympic College in Bremerton is wrapping up a three-year archaeological dig at the Yama site, where a Japanese-American community flourished at the turn of the 20th Century. Wochit
Historical photographs document the existence of the store in the Japanese-American town of Yama on the south end of Bainbridge Island near the Port Blakely Sawmill. Now, as the third and final year of an archeological dig at Yama wraps up, Aranyosi and his team from Olympic College know exactly where the store stood.
Through painstaking measurements and analysis of artifacts, they’ve mapped the town, which was home to about 200 people at its height. Colorful plastic tape winding through the ferns demarcates the road where the town’s first Model T rumbled along a wood plank surface, the Washington Hotel — owned by the Konos, one of the earliest and most influential Yama families — the bath house, the barber shop, the ballfield and a row of homes perched on the hillside.
The dig, on a 7-acre site now owned by the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Parks District, is a three-year project the college undertook in 2015 in collaboration with the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum and the Kitsap County Historical Society and Museum. Researchers are taking a multi-disciplinary approach, combining traditional archaeology with cultural anthropology, history and various scientific fields of study to better understand the people of Yama and how they lived.
The Port Blakely Sawmill, which opened in 1864, was once the largest sawmill in the world, according to the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. The first workers were of European descent. Chinese workers who came in the 1870s were edged out by federal anti-Chinese laws. Japanese workers began arriving in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1880s, filling a labor shortage at the mill. Continue reading