KASHITANI, JUNRO AMOS
Junro Kashitani was born in Kochi-ken, Japan, on January 30, 1899. When he was ten years old, his father left for the United States, leaving behind the entire family in Kochi. As a gang leader in school, he was eventually dismissed from the junior high school after four years. His father returned to Japan after seven years, primarily to take Junro back with him to the United States.

Prior to their departure in May 15, 1916, his mother, who was physically weak, died. Junro settled in Sierra Madre, California and began working there. His new life in California was difficult and not to his liking, especially when he encountered strong anti-Japanese feelings. At times he felt like dying. However, while attending night school, he met a lady who was to change his life. A Mrs. Kinley invited him to her house in Pasadena and that very night on November 14, 1919, Junro accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. The following month on December 21, 1919, he was baptized by Sadataro Tsuji of the Pasadena Union Presbyterian Church.

In 1920, he graduated from Wilson Elementary School and then enrolled at the Uuntington Park Training School for Christian Workers (Now Azusa Pacific University). He taught Sunday school at a Christian church on Wall Street in Los Angeles and attended worship services at the Friends church in Huntington Park. In the afternoons, he attended the Holiness Church on West 36th Street, while in the evenings, he went to the Free Methodist Church in Japanese town.

Two years later, Kashitani graduated from the training school, and the following year, he received a bachelor of theology degree from California Bible College. On Easter of 1923, he and Akio Akutagawa became members of the Holiness church. That year, as a ministerial student, while vacationing in the El Cajon Valley near San Diego, he visited Japanese families in the area. On December 18, 1923, the first of these families, Tasaburo and Fui Mukai, made its decision to accept Jesus Christ. In October 1924, Kashitani was assigned to the San Diego Holiness Group and served until the summer of 1925. During that time, six families were saved and they became the nucleus of the San Diego Holiness Church.

In 1925, Kashitani began to study education at Pasadena College, a Nazarene school, where he earned both his bachelor and master of arts degrees. In the summer of 1928, he transferred to a Free Methodist church and served that Conference until 1959.

Kashitani married Dawn Asako Iwata in San Francisco in 1929. Her parents, Yasujiro and Tatsue Iwata, had been among the first members of the San Fernando Holiness Church. Two children, Paul and Joanne, were born to Junro and Dawn.

Kashitani’s first ministry with the Free Methodist church was a pioneer work at Phoenix, Arizona in 1932. After four years, the Phoenix Free Methodist Church was founded. His second mission was the Santa Monica Free Methodist Church in 1936, where he served until 1939. His third church was the Anaheim Free Methodist Church, where he served for a year, before going to the Redondo Beach Free Methodist Church.

With the outbreak of World War II, Kashitani was arrested by the FBI and sent to the Santa Fe Internment Camp. One reason for his internment was that he had gone to Japan in 1939 as a Japanese Language teacher. After four months, he was released and sent to the Manzanar Relocation Center where he was able to rejoin his family. While interned, he served as a chairman of the camp Christian church.

After leaving Manzanar, Kashitani taught Japanese to military personnel at the University of Pennsylvania, while ministering to the Japanese people in Seabrook, New Jersey. He was again assigned to the Phoenix Church for four years, and also served the Santa Monica Free Methodist Church (presently the Venice Santa Monica Free Methodist Church) for a second time from 1949 to 1959. His last charge was the Makiki Christian Church in Hawaii, which he served until his death on August 4, 1962.

Junro Kashitani published four books during his lifetime: Ebenezer, Our Citizenship is in Heaven, Gospel in the Barbed Wire, A Note of an Evacuee. His wife, Asako, is still an active member of the Venice Santa Monica Free Methodist Church English Department.

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