Japanese Texans

The Legacy and Impact of Japanese Immigration into Texas

Japanese Immigration

From agriculture to architecture and everything in between, the Japanese have made an everlasting impact on Texan culture.

The Japanese Flag

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Push Factors

Reasons Why the Japanese Left

The Japanese left their previous home for a variety of reasons. One of these motives was the shortage of farmland in Japan, which prevented Japanese farmers from continuing their profession. Also, in the early 20th century, many Japanese became victims of discrimination along the West Coast, forcing them to leave and seek refuge somewhere else.


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Pull Factors

Reasons Why the Japanese Came to Texas

In the beginning, the Japanese were invited to farm rice along the Texas coast, near Houston. Hoping to make a profitable living, many Japanese immigrants arrived to the call and started up their own successful rice colonies in Webster and Terry. Farmers of the same mind joined these colonies, ultimately boosting the rice industry in Texas. However, the aftermath of World War I caused the economy of rice farming to crumble, forcing current colonies to move onto citrus growing and truck farming. Constant prejudice in California caused many Japanese to migrate to Texas where the situation wasn't as intense. They too farmed, but generally in the Cameron and Hidalgo counties located in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Asian persecution grew however and in the 1920's the Japanese lost land rights in Texas and the right to American citizenship. In 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor introduced another level of cruelty and many Japanese were considered aliens, to be rounded up into interrogation camps. There were three of these camps located in Seagoville, Kennedy, and Crystal City, Texas containing many Japanese people forcibly immigrated from California and others from Central and South America. Shortly after the captives were released, only to continue agriculture right after. In the Korean War, American servicemen in Japan married war brides who later traveled to the U.S. after the war. As urbanization and globalization grew in the late 20th century, many Japanese came to cities like San Antonio and Dallas to represent their home companies located in Japan.


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Significant Individuals

People Who Have Made an Impact on Japanese Immigration

Seito Saibara

Seito Saibara was a lawyer, a party politician, and the president of a Japanese university in Kyoto. He moved to the United States in search of an education in Hartford, Connecticut. However, in 1920, he moved to start rice farming in Texas. He bought land in Webster, near Houston, to start a prosperous rice colony that attracted many others.

Kichimatsu Kishi

Kichimatsu Kichi, an individual who was also well off in Japan after attending an university in Tokyo came to Texas to start his own rice colony along the coast. With the work of his family, the colony, located in Terry rose to become one of the most successful in Texas, kick starting an opportunity for farmers alike.

Taro Kishi

Son of Kichimatsu Kishi, Taro came to Texas with his mom to join his father's rice colony at the age of four. After growing up in the United States, he became well assimilated into the American culture, ultimately resulting in his years at Texas A&M where he played as halfback for the football team.

Isamu Taniguchi

Isamu Taniguchi, born in Osaka Japan in 1902 moved to California thirteen years later. However, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Isamu was sent to an internment camp in Crystal City, Texas based on the belief that all the Japanese in America were spies of the enemy. In 1945 he was released resulting in his prosperous farming years thereafter. Once Isamu retired, he designed and built Zilker Park in Austin for the enjoyment of Texan people.

Alan Taniguchi

Son of Isamu Taniguchi, Alan taught thousands of students as the dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Austin and as the director of Rice University's School of Architecture.

Japanese Culture

Traditions, Customs, and Festivities of the Japanese People

Philosophy and Society
The Japanese are centered around two aspects that determine how they behave, harmony and respect. All Japanese people live together as one cohesive race with a great sense of camaraderie. They co-operate well with each other and have a liking for peace and calm. As important as harmony is to the Japanese culture, so is respect. Everyone in society has a certain age and status that determines how much respect they should receive. All elders are given the highest amount of honor and reverence when in the presence of younger people. Regarding manners, all Japanese people have certain etiquette when it comes to meeting other people or eating food and everything in between.
There are two major religions that the Japanese follow, Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto states that all living things in nature contain gods and is concerned with the spirituality of the world. Buddhism is based on Buddha's teachings and the essence of the human soul.
The Japanese are very passionate for their food and cooking. Their cuisine is majorly based upon rice, fish, and vegetables. Rice has existed in Japan for over 2000 years and is present in most dishes. This crop is given high value and respect since it is so labor intensive and crucial to their culture. Fish is popular in Japan due to the easy access of the ocean. There are multiple methods on how to prepare it such as tempura and many others creating a distinctive array of meals.
Shogatsu- Also known as the Japanese New Year, Shogatsu is the most commonly celebrated holiday in Japan. From January 1st through 3rd, all businesses are closed, allowing people to enjoy some free time with their family. They then gaze at the morning sunrise, representing the fortune to come in the new year and often visit shrines to worship for a prosperous year.

Coming of Age Day- This holiday celebrates the passage of one young person into adulthood. Three day are set aside for this festival, filled with rituals, speeches and gifts as women and men wear traditional dresses called kimono.

Hina Matsuri- On the third of March, families put on an elaborate display of dolls to wish their daughters a happy life. The dolls are meant to ward off evil spirits and ensure the livelihood of girls across the nation.

Valentine's Day- Valentine's Day is celebrated differently in Japan, as the females are the ones who often distribute the chocolates. Women give 'giri choco' or obligatory chocolate to male co-workers, while men give chocolates a month later on White Day.

Japanese Tea Ceremony- This ritual is basically the serving and preparing of Japanese green tea to the host's guests. The tea is prepared with extreme caution, care and heart since the importance of the ceremony lies in preparation. Even utensil placement is considered as guests enjoy their tea.

Cherry Blossom Festivals- These celebrations are held throughout the year, especially in the spring to welcome the new season. People gather around cherry blossom trees to celebrate a time of relaxing, peace and tranquility. Picnics are often held as people gaze at the wonderful flowers.

Did You Know?

Fun Facts and Trivia on Japanese Immigration and Culture

  • The first generation of Japanese colonists were called the issei, the second, the nisei and the third the sansei.
  • The world's largest wholesale fish and seafood market, the Ksukiji fish market, is located in Japan.
  • Rice was once used as currency in Japan.
  • The first novel called the Tale of Genji was written by a Japanese author.
  • 70% of Japan is covered with mountains along with 200 volcanoes.

Impact of Japanese Texans

The Effect of Japanese Immigration onto Texan Soil and Evidence of Their Contribution

When the Japanese arrived in Texas in the early 1900's, there was a destiny laid out in front of them, waiting to be fulfilled. Rice colonies soon sprung up from the midst, nearly doubling the production rate of rice harvest in Texas. This increase in productivity led to a better and stronger rice economy which boosted agricultural income in Texas. However, when the market for rice collapsed, Japanese farmers did not give up, but rather continued other occupations such as citrus growing, truck farming, and businesses that ever increased profit. As the second and third generation of Japanese colonists came to be, they took on more modern professions, such as teaching architecture and making advances through the fields of science. As the Japanese spread and grew in Texas, so did their culture. This group brought in a wonderful cuisine that is served still to this day, not only in Texas, but across the nation. One piece of evidence that proves the presence of the Japanese in Texas is Zilker Park. Located in Austin and built by Isamu Taniguchi, this serene garden is one of many present in urban centers. All together, from the first to the last generation, the Japanese have given all their hard-work, soul and vigor for the good of Texas and the fulfillment of its destiny.

Impact of Texas Immigration

What Immigration Has Done for Texas

Texas is a land like no other, filled with prosperity, hope and success. The state tells a story of hardships and victories, but more importantly the contribution of culture. Ever since the Spanish claimed Texas as their own, Texas became a part of their territory and ultimately their culture. As other nations took control over Texas, there lifestyle was added to the mix, creating a variety of cultures that shaped Texas into what it is now. As new settlers and colonists came along, they not only brought their families but their traditions, their life and their soul. The Japanese, when immigrated, brought along years of content rice harvest and successful farming, boosting Texas' agricultural economy for the good. Others such as Isamu and Alan Taniguchi gave Texas the feeling of Japanese serenity and advanced architecture. Their hard-work did much for Texas, but not as greatly as what their culture did: giving a different perspective on how to live life. And the Japanese were just one group of immigrants out of the many that came to Texas in search of a better life. The total combination of traditions, cuisines, sports, and festivals from around the world is what Texas should be most grateful for, for without it the state will have no uniqueness, no flavor, just one plain stretch of land. From El Paso to Houtson and the majestic land in between, Texas is a land shaped by culture, the culture of its people.


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Created By Sahil P. GT Texas History 7 5th Period