On Friday Nov. 7, the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles will confer the Commendation of the Consul General on Shinkichi Koyama.
The commendation is conferred on individuals or organizations promoting mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and the U.S., in support of the Consulate General’s mission.
Koyama was born on Dec. 7, 1934 in Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture. After graduating from high school, he began his career helping his father’s sporting goods store. He came to the U.S. to visit his grandmother and mother, owners of a boarding house in West Los Angeles, in 1959 and returned to Japan. Shortly after returning, he was married and began working at a brokerage firm in Tokyo. With the changing of the immigration law and his mother obtaining U.S. citizenship, Koyama was able to immigrate to the U.S. with his wife and two small children.
After helping the boarding house for approximately eight months, he decided to become a gardener and began his training under landscaper and gardener Henry Ikeda before becoming independent in 1970. Ever since, he has had clients not only in Los Angeles but also in areas such as Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades, and he continues to work four days a week to this day.
In December 2009, Koyama was awarded the Green-White Achievement Award by the Agricultural Committee of Japan for his efforts in agricultural development and Japan-U.S. friendship over the years.
After immigrating to America, Koyama began his career as a gardener at 33 years old, overcoming many hardships and obstacles, all the while participating in various Japanese American organizations and greatly contributing to the development of the local Japanese American community. As an organization to which many who became gardeners after the war belonged, the Southern California Gardeners’ Federation grew to be one of the biggest Nikkei professional organizations, providing support for their members as well as contributing to community welfare. Koyama actively participated in this organization, serving as president for three years, from 2006 to 2008. As the organization currently faces a serious aging population issue, Koyama has devoted much effort in the training and recruitment of future generations.
He has also served as president of the Nanka Fukushima Kenjinkai and as chief editor, he and his wife spent a great deal of time gathering information for and editing the 100th Anniversary Memorial Book in 2008. In addition, Koyama has served as chairman of the Board of Directors at the Japanese Institute of Sawtelle and president of the Bay Cities Gardeners Association. He currently serves as president of the Showa Kai, continuing his contributions to the Japanese American community.