Japanese Immigrants



Japanese Immigrants in the news

Ma’s Bill Would List Closed Winter Roads 

AsianWeek.com - Jan 12 9:08 AM
DESCRIPTION: Multimedia exhibition documenting the experiences of 15 local Japanese American internees and their impact on the next generation. Companion exhibit features camp newspapers and historical art and photographs.
Alienated Nation 
Time Magazine - Jan 11 7:28 PM
An insider reveals how Burma went from being a cosmopolitan center to an international pariah

Scooby Doo's Saddest Day: Creator Iwao Takamoto Dies at 81 
Blogcritics.org - Jan 09 7:09 PM
Iwao Takamoto, the man who created Scooby Doo for Hanna-Barbera Productions, has died at the age of 81. His passing, less than a month after the death of Joe Barbera, marks yet another sad milestone in the annals of pop culture. The son of Japanese immigrants, Takamoto was born 1925 in Los Angeles. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he, like thousands of other Japanese-Americans, spent WWII in ...

The Secret Island 
La Prensa San Diego - 1 hour, 40 minutes ago
Bee writes a school essay about her immigrant parents. Does that have anything to do with why her papa was stopped in his cab and arrested? Now everything is inside out and upside down and Ma always says things opposite to the way Papa used to say them.

- Japanes Immigrants

Here is an article on Japanese Immigrants.

Japanese American
Total population
0.4% of the US Japanesse Immigrants population[1]
Regions Japanes Immigrants with significant populations
West Coast, Northeast, Hawaii
American English, Japanese
Mahayana Buddhism, Japanees Immigrants Shinto, Christianity.
Related ethnic groups
Asians, East Asian American, Asian American, Japanese people, Japanese Japnese Immigrants Brazilian

Japanese Americans are Americans of Japanese descent who trace their ancestry to Japan or Okinawa and are residents and/or citizens of Jappanese Immigrants the United States. Japan is a western Pacific Ocean Japanse Immigrants multi-archipelagic nation east of China in Asia. Japanese Japannese Immigrants Americans are a subgroup of East Asian Japanee Immigrants Americans, which is further a subgroup of Asian Americans. Okinawa, a former independent nation, was annexed by Apanese Immigrants Japan in the late nineteenth century. Japanese Americans have historically been among the three largest Japaese Immigrants Asian American communities, but in recent decades have become the sixth Japamese Immigrants largest (at roughly 1,148,000, including those of mixed-race or mixed-ethnicity). The largest Japanese American Japanesee Immigrants communities are in California with roughly 395,000, Hawaii Japnaese Immigrants with roughly 297,000, Washington with 56,000, and New York with 45,000, according to the 2000 Jpanese Immigrants Census. Other states with large numbers include Texas, Illinois, Oregon, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida, in that order. Each year, about 7,000 new Japanese immigrants enter United States ports, comprising about 4% of immigration from Asia; however, net immigration is closer to zero as some older Japanese Americans emigrate back to their ancestral homeland.


  • 1 Cultural Profile
    • 1.1 Generations
    • 1.2 Languages
    • 1.3 Education
    • 1.4 Economics
    • 1.5 Religion
    • 1.6 Celebrations
  • 2 History
    • 2.1 Immigration
    • 2.2 Internment
    • 2.3 Farming
  • 3 Japanese American neighborhoods and communities
  • 4 Notable Japanese Americans
  • 5 References
  • 6 See also
  • 7 External links

Cultural Profile


Japanese Americans have special names for each of its generations in the United States. The first generation born in Japan or Okinawa, is called Issei (一世). The second generation is Nisei (二世), third is Sansei (三世), fourth is Yonsei (四世) and fifth is Gosei (五世). The term Nikkei (日系) was coined by Japanese American sociologists and encompasses the entire population across generations.


Issei and many Nisei speak Japanese or Okinawan in addition to English as a second language. In general, later generations of Japanese Americans speak English as their first language, though some do learn Japanese later as a second language. In Hawaii however, where Nikkei are about one-fifth of the whole population, Japanese is a major language, spoken and studied by many of the state's residents across ethnicities. It is taught in private Japanese language schools as early as the second grade. As a courtesy to the large amount of Japanese tourists (from Japan), Japanese subtexts are provided on place signs, public transportation, and civic facilities. The Hawaii media market has a few locally produced Japanese language newspapers and magazines, however these are on the verge of dying out, due to a lack of interest on the part of the local (Hawaii born) Japanese population. Stores that cater to the tourist industry often have Japanese-speaking personnel.


Japanese American culture places great value on education. Across generations, parents tend to instill their children with a deep value for higher education, which is in line with middle class white American values. As a result of such cultural ambition, math and reading scores on standardized tests often exceeds national averages. They fill gifted classrooms and have the largest showing of any ethnic group in nationwide Advanced Placement testing each year.

Japanese Americans however face stereotyping when it comes to educational skills. The American public has tended to place unreasonably high expectations on the intellectual capacities of Japanese Americans. In reality, the ratio between gifted versus normal intellectual capacity is about the same with White Americans.

Most Japanese Americans obtain advanced college degrees. Japanese Americans once again face stereotyping as dominating the sciences in colleges and universities across the United States, while in reality, there is an equal distribution of Japanese Americans across academic disciplines in the arts and humanities in addition to the sciences.


Patsy T. Mink was the first woman of Asian descent to serve in Congress. She is celebrated as one of the most important civil rights leaders, especially for writing the Title IX Amendment which today preserves the rights of all genders in education.

As a result of Japanese American educational prowess, the Japanese American community generally tends to enjoy above average economic status. However, with the exception of Hawaii, Japanese Americans still face racial discrimination in non-government and non-medical industries.


Japanese Americans (commonly) practice a wide range of religions, including Mahayana Buddhism (Jodo Shinshu, Jodo Shu, Nichiren, and Zen forms being most prominent), Shinto, and Christianity. In many ways, due to the longstanding nature of Buddhist and Shinto practices in Japanese society, many of the cultural values and traditions commonly associated with Japanese tradition have been strongly influenced by these religious forms.

A large number of the Japanese American community continue to practice Buddhism in some form, and a number of community traditions and festivals continue to center around Buddhist institutions. For example, one of the most popular community festivals is the annual Obon Festival, which occurs in the summer, and provides an opportunity for young and old to reconnect with their customs and traditions. These kinds of festivals are most popular in communities with large populations of Japanese Americans, such as in southern California or Hawaii.

For Japanese American Christians, the church is one of the most important cultural foundations. In California, Hawaii and Washington, congregations can be comprised entirely of Japanese Americans. In the rest of the country they tend to be accepted in white dominated churches.


Japanese American celebrations tend to be more sectarian in nature and focus on the community-sharing aspects. An important annual festival for Japanese Americans is the Obon Festival, which happens in July or August of each year. Across the country, Japanese Americans gather on fair grounds and large civic parking lots and commemorate the memory of their ancestors and their families through folk dances and food. Carnival booths are usually set up so Japanese American children have the opportunity to play together.

Major Celebrations in the United States
Date Name Region
January 1 Shōgatsu New Year's Celebration nationwide
February Japanese Heritage Fair Honolulu, HI
February to March Cherry Blossom Festival Honolulu, HI
March 3 Hina Matsuri (Girls Day) nationwide
March Honolulu Festival Honolulu, HI
March Hawaii International Taiko Festival Honolulu, HI
March International Cherry Blossom Festival Macon, GA
March to April National Cherry Blossom Festival Washington, DC
April Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival San Francisco, CA
April Pasadena Cherry Blossom Festival Pasadena, CA
May 5 Tango no Sekku (Boys Day) nationwide
May Shinnyo-En Toro-Nagashi (Memorial Day Floating Lantern Ceremony) Honolulu, HI
June Pan-Pacific Festival Matsuri in Hawaii Honolulu, HI
July 7 Tanabata Festival nationwide
July-August Obon Festival nationwide
August Nihonmachi Street Fair San Francisco, CA
August Nisei Week / Tofu Festival Los Angeles, CA


Main article: Japanese American history

The history of Japanese Americans begins in the mid nineteenth century.

  • 1841, June 27 Captain Whitfield, commanding a New England sailing vessel, rescues five shipwrecked Japanese sailors. Four disembark at Honolulu, however Manjiro Nakahama stays on board returning with Whitfield to Fairhaven, Massachusetts. After attending school in New England and adopting the name John Mung, he later became an interpreter for Commodore Matthew Perry.
  • 1850, seventeen survivors of a Japanese shipwreck were saved by the American freighter Auckland. They became the first Japanese people to reach California. In 1852, the group was sent to Macao to join Commodore Matthew Perry as a gesture to help open diplomatic relations with Japan. One of them, Joseph Heco (Hikozo Hamada) went on to become the first Japanese person to become a naturalized US citizen.
  • 1861 The utopian minister Thomas Lake Harris of the Brotherhood of the New Life visits England, where he meets Nagasawa Kanaye, who becomes a convert. Nagasawa returns to the US with Harris and follows him to Fountaingrove in Santa Rosa, California. When Harris leaves the Californian commune, Nagasawa became the leader and remained there until his death in 1932.
  • 1869, A group of Japanese people arrive at Gold Hills, California and build the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony. Okei becomes the first recorded Japanese woman to die and be buried in the US.
  • 1890, First wave of Japanese immigrants to provide labor in Hawaii sugarcane and pineapple plantations, California fruit and produce farms
  • 1893 The San Francisco Education Board attempts to introduce segregation for Japanese American children, but withdraws the measure following protests by the Japanese government.
  • 1900s, Japanese begin to lease land and sharecrop
  • 1902, Yone Noguchi publishes the The American Diary of a Japanese Girl, the first Japanese-American novel
  • 1907, Gentlemen's Agreement between United States and Japan that Japan would stop issuing passports for new laborers
  • 1908, Japanese picture brides enter the United States
  • 1913, California Alien Land Law of 1913 ban Japanese from purchasing land; whites threatened by Japanese success in independent farming ventures
  • 1924, United States Immigration Act of 1924 banned immigration from Japan
  • 1930s, Issei become economically stable for the first time in California and Hawaii
  • 1941, Japan air force attacked Honolulu; U.S. federal government arrest Japanese community leaders
  • 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 on February 19, uprooting Japanese Americans on the west coast to be sent to Internment camps.
  • 1943, Japanese American soldiers from Hawaii join the U.S. Army 100th Battalion arrive in Europe
  • 1944, U.S. Army 100th Battalion merges with the all-volunteer Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team
  • 1945, 442nd Regimental Combat team awarded 18,143 decorations including 9,486 Purple Heart decorations becoming the highest decorated military unit in United States history
  • 1959, Daniel K. Inouye becomes the first Japanese American in Congress
  • 1965, Patsy T. Mink becomes the first woman of color in Congress
  • 1971, Norman Y. Mineta elected mayor of San Jose, California; becomes first Asian American mayor of a major US city
  • 1974, George R. Ariyoshi becomes the first Japanese American governor in the State of Hawaii
  • 1978, Ellison S. Onizuka becomes the first Asian American astronaut
  • 1980, Congress creates Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians to investigate World War II unjust policies against Japanese Americans
  • 1983, Commission reports Japanese American internment was not a national security necessity
  • 1988, U.S. President Ronald Reagan signs Civil Liberties Act of 1988 apologizing for Japanese American internment and provide reparations of $20,000 to each victim
  • 1994, Mazie K. Hirono becomes the first Japanese immigrant elected state lieutenant governor
  • 1999, Gen. Eric Shinseki becomes the first Asian American U.S. military chief of staff
  • 2000, Norman Y. Mineta becomes the first Asian American appointed to the U.S. Cabinet; worked as Commerce Secretary (2000-2001), Transportation Secretary (2001-2006)


People from Japan began migrating to the U.S. in significant numbers following the political, cultural, and social changes stemming from the 1868 Meiji Restoration. Particularly after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Japanese immigrants were sought by industrialists to replace the Chinese immigrants. In 1907, the "Gentlemen's Agreement" between the governments of Japan and the U.S. ended immigration of Japanese workers (i.e., men), but permitted the immigration of spouses of Japanese immigrants already in the U.S. The Immigration Act of 1924 banned the immigration of all but a token few Japanese.

The ban on immigration produced unusually well-defined generational groups within the Japanese American community. Initially, there was an immigrant generation, the Issei, and their U.S.-born children, the Nisei. The Issei were exclusively those who had immigrated before 1924. Because no new immigrants were permitted, all Japanese Americans born after 1924 were--by definition--born in the U.S. This generation, the Nisei, became a distinct cohort from the Issei generation in terms of age, citizenship, and English language ability, in addition to the usual generational differences. Institutional and interpersonal racism led many of the Nisei to marry other Nisei, resulting in a third distinct generation of Japanese Americans, the Sansei. Significant Japanese immigration did not occur until the Immigration Act of 1965 ended 40 years of bans against immigration from Japan and other countries.

The Naturalization Act of 1790 restricted naturalized U.S. citizenship to "free white persons," which excluded the Issei from citizenship. As a result, the Issei were unable to vote, and faced additional restrictions such as the inability to own land under many state laws.

Japanese Americans were parties in two important Supreme Court decisions, Ozawa v. United States (1922) and Korematsu v. United States (1943). Korematsu is the origin of the "strict scrutiny" standard, which is applied, with great controversy, in government considerations of race since the 1989 Adarand decision.

In recent years, immigration from Japan has been more like that from Western Europe; low and usually marriages between U.S. citizens and Japanese. The number is on average 5 to 10 thousand per year, and is similar to the amount of immigration to the U.S. from Germany. This is in stark contrast to the rest of Asia, where family reunification is the primary impetus for immigration. Japanese Americans also have the oldest demographic structure of any non-white ethnic group in the U.S.; in addition, in the younger generations, due to intermarriage with whites, non-whites, and other Asian groups, part-Japanese are more common than full Japanese, and it appears as if this physical assimilation will continue at a rapid rate.


Main article: Japanese American internment

One of the darkest parts of American history were the Japanese American internment camps; an estimated 120,000 Japanese were sent to eleven different camps across the US, mostly in the west. During World War II, Japanese Americans were interned in special camps. Americans of Japanese ancestry living in the western United States, including the Nisei, were forcibly interned with their parents and children (the Sansei Japanese Americans) during World War II.

Despite this abusive treatment, many Japanese Americans served with great distinction during World War II in the American forces. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry Battalion is the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history. Composed of Japanese Americans, the 442nd/100th fought valiantly in the European Theater even as many of their families remained in the detention camps stateside. The 100th was one of the first units to liberate the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye is a veteran of the 442nd. Additionally the Military Intelligence Service consisted of Japanese Americans who served in the Pacific Front.

For the most part, the internees remained in the camps until the end of the war, when they left the camps to rebuild their lives in the West Coast. Several Japanese Americans have started cases against the U.S. government regarding their wrongful internment, which dragged on for decades.


Japanese Americans have made significant contributions to the agriculture of the western United States, particularly in California and Hawaii. Nineteenth century Japanese immigrants introduced sophisticated irrigation methods that enabled the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, and flowers on previously marginal lands. While the Issei (1st generation Japanese Americans) prospered in the early 20th century, most lost their farms during the internment. Although this was the case, Japanese Americans remain involved in these industries today, particularly in southern California.

Japanese American detainees irrigated and cultivated lands nearby the World War II internment camps, which were located in desolate spots such as Poston, in the Arizona desert, and Tule Lake, California, at a dry mountain lake bed. Due to their tenacious efforts, these farm lands remain productive today.

Japanese American neighborhoods and communities

  • Bakersfield, California
  • Fresno, California
  • Hawaii, U.S. where a quarter of the population is of Japanese descent.
  • Los Angeles, California, includes the Little Tokyo section.
  • Monterey County, California, especially Salinas, Cal.
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Sacramento, California
  • San Diego, California
  • San Francisco, California, notably the Japantown section.
  • San Jose, California
  • Santa Cruz County, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Southern California, has sporadic Japanese American communities.
  • Walnut Creek, California, located east of Oakland, Cal.

Notable Japanese Americans

See also: List of Japanese Americans

After Territory of Hawaii's statehood in 1959, Japanese American political empowerment took a step forward with the election of Daniel K. Inouye to Congress. Inouye's success led to the gradual acceptance of Japanese American leadership on the national stage, culminating in the appointments of Eric Shinseki and Norman Y. Mineta, the first Japanese American military chief of staff and federal cabinet secretary, respectively.

Many Japanese Americans have also gained prominence in the arts and sciences. These include Minoru Yamasaki, architect of the World Trade Center, and Ellison Onizuka, the first Asian American astronaut and the mission specialist aboard Challenger at the time of its explosion. Poet laureate of San Francisco Janice Mirikitani has published three volumes of poems. Artist Sueo Serisawa helped establish the California Impressionist style of painting.

Japanese Americans first made an impact in Olympic sports in the late 1940s and in the 1950s. Harold Sakata won a weightlifting silver medal in the 1948 Olympics, while Japanese Americans Tommy Kono (weightlifting), Yoshinobu Oyakawa (100-meter backstroke), and Ford Konno (1500-meter freestyle) each won gold and set Olympic records in the 1952 Olympics. Konno won another gold and silver swimming medal at the same Olympics and added a silver medal in 1956, while Kono set another Olympic weightlifting record in 1956. Also at the 1952 Olympics, Evelyn Kawamoto won two bronze medals in swimming.

More recently, Eric Sato won gold (1988) and bronze (1992) medals in volleyball, while his sister Liane Sato won bronze in the same sport in 1992. Hapa Bryan Clay won the silver medal in the 2004 decathlon and was the sport's 2005 world champion. Apolo Anton Ohno won five Olympic medals in short-track speed skating (two gold) in 2002 and 2006, as well as a world cup championship.

In figure skating, Kristi Yamaguchi won three national championships (one individual, two in pairs), two world titles, and the 1992 Olympic Gold medal. Rena Inoue took first place in the 2004 and 2006 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Pairs competition.

In distance running, Miki (Michiko) Gorman won the Boston and New York City marathons twice in the 1970s. A former American record holder at the distance, she is the only woman to win both races twice, and is the only woman to win both marathons in the same year.

In professional sports, Wataru Misaka broke the NBA color barrier in the 1947-48 season, when he played for the New York Knicks. Misaka also played a key role in Utah's NCAA and NIT basketball championships in 1944 and 1947.

Hikaru Nakamura became the youngest American ever to earn the titles of National Master (age 10) and International Grandmaster (age 15) in chess. In 2004, at the age of 16, he won the U.S. Chess Championship.

George Takei (of Star Trek fame) and Pat Morita (Happy Days) helped pioneer acting roles for Asian Americans while playing secondary roles on the small screen during the 1960s and 1970s. Today, Masi Oka plays a prominent role in the NBC series Heroes.


  • Lai, Eric, and Dennis Arguelles, eds. "The New Face of Asian Pacific America: Numbers, Diversity, and Change in the 21st Century." San Francisco, CA: Asian Week, 2003.
  • Kikumura-Yano, Akemi, ed. "Encyclopedia of Japanese Descendants in the Americas." Walnut Creek, CA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002.

See also

  • Asian American
  • Asian Canadian
  • Japanese American Citizens League
  • Japanese Canadian
  • Japanese people
  • Pacific Movement of the Eastern World

External links

  • Japanese American National Museum
  • Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC
  • Japanese American Citizens League
  • Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern California
  • Japanese American Community and Cultural Center of Southern California
  • Japanese American Historical Society
  • Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project
  • Japanese American Museum of San Jose
  • Japanese American Network
  • Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives
  • Photo Exhibit of Japanese American community in Florida
  • The Asians in America Project - Japanese American Organizations Directory
  • Nikkei Federation
  • Discover Nikkei
  • Summary of a panel discussion on changing Japanese American identities

Search Term: "Japanese_American"