November 19, 1928 - July 20, 2020
Born in Castroville, California
Resided in Salinas, California
Rarely in this lifetime are we given the opportunity to walk alongside a person who has impacted so many lives and devoted themselves selflessly to those around them. We find that these people bring comfort, stability, graciousness, traditions, and an abundance of happiness. Sakako “Sachi” Tanimura is one of these people. Her strength as the matriarch of her family is often viewed by others as a force separate from the natural elements because she had the power to move people. She was capable of moving generations of her family across large geographic distances on the mere basis to spend time with her. She moved people with her acts of kindness, through her dedication of giving, the willingness to provide, and the acceptance of those who lost their way. Needless to say, 91 years was not enough time to be with such an extraordinary person and she passed peacefully surrounded by family on the evening of Monday, July 20th, 2020.
Sachi was born on November 19th, 1928 to Kiyoichi and Asako Iwamuro in Castroville, California. The Iwamuros migrated from a small village in Hiroshima, Japan in the early 1900s to San Benito County based on the prospect of finding work in the United States. She was the fourth oldest of eight siblings, the second oldest daughter, and she served as a blueprint for what “a good older sister” should be. Early in life, she recalled working alongside her parents and siblings in the strawberry lined fields of San Page 1 of 3 Juan Bautista where she harvested fruits and vegetables. The readily available fruits of this region may have sparked her fondness for fresh fruit, especially strawberries and yellow peaches.
In 1942, at the young age of 13, Sachi and her family relocated to Poston, Arizona as a result of Executive Order 9066. They could only take what they could carry to the camps and Sachi recalled her mother carefully packing up a family platter in blankets and placing it in the trunk of a car in hopes they would return to find it again. She and her family would spend three years in an internment camp. Although the makeshift “blocks” of housing were poorly made and winds would often sweep sand and insects inside, she shared positive memories of her father who became a well-respected cook in the camp. When asked about her favorite dish from her father, Sachi was always prompt and excited to say that it was his udon.
After the war, the family was released and returned to Madrone/Morgan Hill, California. As her family returned to a new normal, Sachi entered her junior year of high school and participated in the G.P.A.L. Girls’ League. Despite such adversity in her early life, in 1947, she graduated from Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill. The recent celebration of her 70th High School Reunion was a notable milestone in her life.
Sachi married Johnny Tanimura in 1951 and together they had three daughters. They greatly enjoyed the family life and looked forward to Buddhist temple church events, family gatherings, holidays, and short vacations to places like Oregon, Yosemite, and Southern California. With the addition of their two grandchildren almost two decades later, their house became a second home and it was common to have weekend sleepovers and weeknight dinners that served as a ritual of sit-down meals filled with delicious, homemade Japanese food. Sachi worked tirelessly to provide for her family and maintain the balanced home life. She became the most influential figure to her grandchildren as she always found time to devotedly read to them and teach them life skills while providing structure and stability. Often, the grandchildren would watch her cook and bake, and doing so, they realized her cooking skills were undoubtedly like none other. Her recipes and techniques are still sought after today as she was famously known for futomaki and inari sushi, sukiyaki, chiffon cake, jelly rolls, and an-pan. She was actively involved in the Buddhist Women’s Association and explored her creativity through crafts that included sewing, quilting, and gardening.
With the addition of great-grandchildren, Sachi earned the new title of “Bachan” as a shorter term of endearment (translation: grandmother in Japanese) and her focus continued to be on spending as much quality time together. She traveled more and enjoyed road trips to Fresno, California, flying to Washington state, vacationing at Disneyland, attending professional sporting events, and overall celebrating major life milestones. Naturally, her great-grandchildren work hard out of admiration and respect for her and Sachi often expressed how proud she was of them and their accomplishments, relying on the same message that her father once told her as a child, to always “do your best” or gambatte.
It was a great honor and privilege to walk alongside Sachi-- her witty sense of humor and contagious laugh will be greatly missed. Her ability to light up a room will forever leave an emptiness in those who greatly admired and loved her. May we never forget the fond memories we have and her legacy that will be carried on through generations.
Sachi is survived by her daughters, Jeannie (Daniel) Ramirez, Susan and June Tanimura, grandchildren Brian Cobb, Jennifer Caro (Jim) Esqueda, and great-grandchildren Desiree and Mateo Caro, Draven Cobb, and Jake Esqueda. She is also survived by her three sisters Kisaye Iwamuro, Sumiye “Sumi” Iwamuro, Helen Yamashita, brother Hajime “Charlie” Iwamuro, sister-in-law Rose (Mas) Yuki and Hisako (Tommy) Tanimura as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Sachi was preceded by her husband Johnny Tanimura of 58 years, sisters Tsuruko Iwamuro and Fumi (Charlie) Tanimura, and brother Teruo Iwamuro.
A private memorial service will be held. The family has asked in lieu of flowers please consider honoring Sachi with a contribution in her name to the Buddhist Temple of Salinas, American Cancer Society or American Diabetes Association.
Salinas, CA US 93901
Salinas, CA 93901
San Jose, CA US 95117