Japanese Immigration

Japanese immigrants arrived first on the Hawaiian Islands in the 1860s, to work in the sugarcane fields. Many moved to the U.S. mainland and settled in California, Oregon, and Washington, where they worked primarily as farmers and fishermen. Barred from participation in the country’s legal or political systems, including citizenship, Japanese immigrants developed their own communities, creating education and business opportunities for themselves.

Japanese women laboring in Hawaiian sugarcane fields, 1918
Courtesy of Bishop Museum

Japanese immigrant farmers and their families excelled in the cultivation and marketing of intertilled fruits and vegetables, which many white farmers resented.
Dorothea Lange, Courtesy of Library of Congress

Vegetable crate label, 1920s

Japanese farmers in California, 1937