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Monday, April 28, 2014

Okei Memorial

This is a very cool spot in El Dorado County...and most people don't even know it exists....but we do.  And now you know too!

From our friends at "For a few years, Gold Hill was the site of a small Japanese settlement. Encouraged by a German soldier of fortune named John Henry Schnell and a samurai named Lord Matsudaira, up to 26 Japanese — apparently the first Japanese group to settle in California — arrived here in 1869 to establish the Wakamatsu Tea Colony. Grandly, Schnell planned for extensive production of silk and tea. However, the relatively dry climate and investor difficulties doomed these crops, and the colony faded away. Schnell ran out of money, selling his land to Francis Veerkamp. A young Japanese girl, Okei, had arrived with the Schnell family as a nursemaid. She stayed on, working for the Veerkamp family until she died at the age of 19. She is buried on a lonely hill on private Veerkamp property close to Gold Trail School. Her story became the subject of a best-selling novel in Japan. A shrine next to the school honoring Okei was dedicated years ago by Ronald Reagan, then governor of California. Today the shrine remains a favorite California destination for visitors from Japan."

If you happen to be out tasting this way, or visiting Coloma State Park, stop by here and take a moment to enjoy this peaceful spot.

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