Remembering George Aratani
Continuing his business endeavors, in 1946, Aratani launch an international trade business in Los Angeles called All-Star Trading, named after his father's prewar company name. He later renamed his new venture American Commercial, Inc. In December 1957, Aratani was able to launch Mikasa, where it sold Japanese bargain-priced chinaware. It quickly became popular and was even sold in Macy's department store in New York City. His other endeavors included AMCO, exporter of U.S. made medical and scientific equipment. Another company that he founded was Kenwood Electronics.
Mr. Aratani, along with his wife Sakaye, established the Aratani Foundation. It is a foundation to help and support the Japanese American community, as well as many other organizations. The Aratani Foundation helped in establishing the Japanese American National Museum, gave to UCLA, and also helps to improve quality of life issues for Japanese American and Japanese senior citizens.
He and his wife Sakaye received many honors and awards for their philanthropic support to the Japanese Americans. In Los Angeles, Little Tokyo, the community center and theatre added Aratani to its name. Mrs. Aratani received the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Japanese Government, and Mr. Aratani received the honors from the Japanese Government, including the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette.
George Aratani passed away on February 19th, 2013. The American Buddhist Study Center is deeply grateful to the Aratani Foundation in helping us carry on our mission of introducing Buddhist Values and Japanese Culture to America.
George and Sakaye Aratani
George Tetsuya Aratani, philanthropist and founder of Mikasa Chinaware and Kenwoods Electronics, is known for his dedication and works for the Japanese and Japanese American community. He was born on March 22nd, 1917 in South Park near Gardena, California, from his Issei parents, Setsuko and Yoshiko. He attended Guadalupe high school and started his undergraduate studies at Stanford University. At his parent's suggestion, he moved to Japan and studied law at Keio University in Tokyo until his father died in 1940.
George was only 22 years old when he took over the leadership of Guadalupe Produce Company. Due to the outbreak of WWII, he transferred his assets to the Nisei executives. However, soon he was forced to hand over the business to trustees because all Japanese and Japanese Americans were relocated to internment camps. George and his mother were sent to the Tulare Internment Camp in Arizona. In 1944, Aratani became a civilian language instructor at the Military Intelligence Service in Minnesota. Upon leaving, he married a Nisei woman, Sakaye Inouye, on Thanksgiving Day, 1944. They had two daughters, Donna and Linda.
Setsuo Aratani, George Aratani's father
Rev. Issei Matsuura and family. Rev. Matsuura said to George "Life is full of hardship."