Food & Agriculture


For references on Landscaping and Gardening as professions, see Business & Work -- Landscaping & Gardening
For references on Landscape Architecture and Gardens as art forms, see Arts & Design -- Art Forms -- Landscape Architecture & Gardens
Links to a series of articles about Japanese Agricultural Communication in Nikkei societies in Latin America.

United States

"On November 13, 2005 Project Kokoro (Orange County Buddhist Church) held an event called "Strawberry Fields Forever." It was two years in the making and took a dedicated group of volunteers to make it happen. Their goal was to host a tribute to the pioneer Orange County Japanese American Strawberry Farmers. Project Kokoro has since donated all of the data they have collected regarding these pioneer Japanese American strawberry farmers to the Miyawaki Legacy Project. The page includes the twenty-five strawberry farmers who participated in this historic event."
  • "Harvest". Nikkei Heritage XIV, no. 4 (Fall 2002). (PDF)
Issue devoted to agriculture, food, and foodways. Includes "Spam I Am" by Lisa Masai; "On the Trail of the Wild Mushroom" by Homer Yasui; "The Exotic Produce of Hawaii" by Grace Wada Miyamoto; "Culture is a Bento Box" by Eleanor Park; "History from the Sea" by Kenji Murase; "The Woman who Makes Swell Doughnuts" by Toshio Mori; "Manju: Handmade Perfection" by Ryan Kim; and "In Their Own Words: Lettuce Grower George Higashi" by Ken Kaji.
"Dedicated to preserving and presenting the history and heritage of Maui's sugar industry, the 1,800-square-foot Museum not only charts the establishment and growth of the industry, but looks at sugar's influence on the development of Maui's water resources and rich multi-ethnic make-up, and features intriguing displays on the inner workings of a sugar mill."
  • Thomas K. Walls, "The Rice Farms". In: The Japanese Texans (University of Texas at San Antonio, Institute of Texan Cultures, 2002)
  • Thomas K. Walls, "The Truck Farmers". In: The Japanese Texans (University of Texas at San Antonio, Institute of Texan Cultures, 2002)
"Among the most hidden histories of Texas are the stories of the Japanese who initiated rice plantations along the Gulf Coast in the early 1900s. The men who created the plantations were wealthy, educated, and influential in the government of Japan. Welcomed by the business leaders of Houston, they brought their families to Texas and encouraged other Japanese to come and work for them as tenants with the expectation that they too would eventually own land. Their colonies were the first successful attempts to grow rice in Texas. Droughts and a drop in market prices, however, hurt initial profits. Then state legislation in 1921 stopped Japanese from buying additional land in Texas. National legislation in 1924 ended their immigration to the United States and signaled the end of the Japanese rice colonies. Japanese immigration to Texas halted until after World War II."
History of the oldest, continuously family-owned and -operated rice farm and mill in California, and its founder Keisaburo Koda. Includes the history and iconography of the company's corporate trademarks.
  • Yamato Colony, Livingston, CA (California Department of Parks and Recreation, Office of Historic Preservation, Five Views: An Ethnic History Site Survey for California, December 1988)
"The Seattle Japanese American Citizen League (JACL), along with a consortium of organizations and individuals, ... commissioned a public artwork commemmorating Japanese American farmers, to be installed in Seattle's historic Pike Place Market."
"The changing lifestyles of Kona (at one time the largest community in Hawai'i outside of the sugar plantation system, and the only area in the United States to grow coffee commercially for over 100 years) are documented. June 1981, 1727 pages, 2 volumes, photographs. Slide/tape show on videotape available."
  • "Japanese Farming" ( - The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History)
Denichiro Mukai established a strawberry processing plant on Vashon Island and pioneered technologies to ship berries to distant markets. His son, Masahiro (Masa) Mukai , was also involved in strawberry agriculture before World War II, but later turned to engineering and construction.
"The Mukai Cold Process Fruit Barrelling Plant, centrally located on Vashon Island in King County, Washington, retains historic importance as a rare, intact example of a property associated with the history of Japanese American settlement in Washington. Covering 4.8 acres with the surrounding Mukai residence, buildings, and landscape features, the Mukai Cold Processing Fruit Barrelling Plant stands as a testament to the Mukai family's dream of owning and operating a successful strawberry processing and packing business."
Photo from the Oregonian (1943) showing a Japanese-American topping sugar beets at a farm near Nyssa, OR. Because of an acute agricultural labor shortage, Malheur County was the only place in Oregon where Japanese were allowed to live outside of internment camps.
Brief profile, with photograph, of the labor alliance formed in 1903 by sugarbeet farm laborers in Oxnard, California, in response to wage cuts by mill owners and bankers.
Michiko Tamura, "Nikkei Heritage Museum opens at Cal State Fullerton". Rafu Shimpo, April 10, 2006. Article describes the opening of the new Orange County Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum, at the Fullerton Arboretum on the campus of California State University, Fullerton. The museum displays historical photographs, documents, and agricultural tools from the early period of Japanese American agriculture in Orange County.
Eric Carpenter, "Fullerton Arboretum opens Agricultural Museum". The Orange County Register, March 20, 2006. Article includes a "Q & A" with agricultural pioneers, and a timeline of the Japanese American community in Orange County.
Gail Matsunaga, "Family legacy to support building of OC Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum". California State University, Fullerton, Dateline, May 8, 2003.
  • Renata Blumberg (et al.), "Hoshigaki: Preserving the Art of Japanese Hand Dried Persimmons". Davis, CA: University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, 2004. Executive Summary | Full text (both PDF)
"The Japanese hand-dried persimmon, also known in Japan as “hoshigaki,” is a traditional Asian high quality dried fruit food product. Japanese immigrants brought the Oriental persimmon and the traditional drying technique to California in the late 1800s, but today only a handful of artisans in California, most of whom reside in Placer County, still practice the drying method. Producers peel each persimmon by hand, hang the fruits in the sun, and periodically massage each fruit by hand for several weeks to ensure even drying. Because the drying technique is both time and labor intensive, both the product and traditional processing method have become endangered not only in California, but throughout the world.
"Hoshigaki has a long history in Placer County and is intimately associated with Japanese immigrants, their culture, and values. Because the drying process is deeply influenced by Japanese values of hard work, perfection, and dedication, the resulting product is distinct from dehydrated and oven-dried fruit products."
  • Tanigura & Antle Produce is a major agricultural producer in California's Salinas Valley. The history of the Taniguchi family in California begins with the immigration of Kichigoro Tanimura in the late 1800's, and continues through the family's incarceration at Poston during World War II, to their business partnership with the Antle family from 1982.
"[T]races a lifetime of challenges faced by a man who, bolstered by his early training and values, not only triumphed over tremendous personal adversity, including forced internment during WWII, but rose to become an international leader in the California floriculture industry."


  • Exhibition: "Farming" (San Jose, Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 2002)
Exhibition: The Kona Coffee Story
Exhibition: The Kona Coffee Story
"The Kona Coffee Story tells the story of the coffee growing industry of Kona on the Big Island of Hawai'i, from the arrival of the first coffee plants in 1828 to the poignant stories of the Japanese American coffee pioneers living today."


"This project focuses on the personal experiences and historical events recalled by five individuals of disparate backgrounds. The interviewees range in age from sixty-four to ninety-three and talk about their lives in Big Island plantation communities; Kula, Maui; Leeward O'ahu; central Honolulu; and Ka'a'awa, O'ahu."
A memoir-style account of one man's life as a strawberry farmer.
  • Harry Iwamoto immigrated to California in 1958, working first as a gardener, then switching to agriculture, becoming a major supplier of strawberries and other produce to California's farmers' markets.
  • David Mas Masumoto is a farmer, author, and philosopher who writes eloquently about the role of food and agriculture in connecting us to our memories.
  • Kanaye Nagasawa (1852-1934), California's first Japanese American winemaker.
  • Seito Saibara (1861-1939) was instrumental in developing the cultivation of rice in Texas. (Texas State Handbook Online)
  • Eiichi Edward Sakauye (1912-2005) was a Nisei farmer in California's Santa Clara Valley. While incarcerated at Heart Mountain, Sakauye was the first internee permitted to photograph and film camp life.
  • George Shima (Potato King) / 牛島謹爾(うしじまきんじ)


"The fonds consists of correspondence, financial records, receipts, invoices, printed material, and related items pertaining to the activities of the Pitt Meadows Japanese Farmers' Association (1937-1942) and the Canadian Japanese Association in Vancouver."
  • "VI. The Japanese: 1940s". In: Ethnic Agricultural Labour in the Okanagan Valley: 1880s to 1960s (Royal British Columbia Museum)
Profiles the Japanese immigrant labor community in the agricultural district of British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. Includes discussion of the incarceration of Japanese Canadians during World War II.


Available only in Japanese. Tokyo Nodai (Agricultural University) association in Brazil. Many Tokyo Nodai alumni migrated into Brazil and had important role to develop the Japanese colonies in Brazil.
Entire magazine is accessible from this site, but available only in Japanese and PDF format. This volume featured "Nikkei and agriculture" in South America, and the achievements of Japanese agricultural immigrants in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.


Home page of the Agricultural Cooperatives in Iguazu.


see also Media & Entertainment -- Festivals & Celebrations for food-related celebrations
see also Business & Work -- Restaurants for citations on restaurants and food service work.
"With ancestral roots in Oroku, Okinawa, first-, second-, and third-generation participants/observers of family-run restaurants talk about their lives in the restaurant business. February 2004, 429 pages, 1 volume, photographs."
Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, who produce radio under the collaborative name The Kitchen Sisters, explore the foodways of Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. Their report discusses the abrupt shift away from traditional Japanese foods as internees were fed Army surplus rations; the absorption of non-traditional foods like hot dogs into Japanese-American cuisine, and the clandestine production of sake from leftover rice. Includes extensive links to oral histories, web sites, and recipes.

Japanese American Cuisine

In the early 20th century, Japanese Americans took it upon themselves to produce traditional Japanese ingredients and foods that could not be readily found in the United States. These items included rice, soy sauce, sake, miso, kamaboko, sushi, tofu, and confections such as manju. Historically, these food items distinguished the ethnic food community and reinforced a sense group identity. In addition to everyday cooking, food played a central role in traditional rituals such as New Years celebrations, "obon" festivals, and girls' day and boys' day activities. As the Japanese American community grew, food also became important in evens such as "kenjinkai" picnics and church gatherings.

  • Food in the Concentration Camps
    • From the University of Washington Library, the "Camp Harmony Exhibit" documents camp life based on materials found in the Library, including newspapers, photographs, correspondence, and books.
A brief history of the Sawtelle Blvd. district as seen through the foodways, restaurants, and other businesses of this Japanese American community.
The Conversion of the Japanese Cuisine Finalized in the Edo Era to Japanese-style Western and Chinese Cuisine.
  • Fortune cookies are increasingly recognized as a Japanese American adaptation of a traditional Japanese sweet, the tsujiura senbei ("fortune cracker").
  • Tsukemono as a Japanese American food tradition.
Basic instructions on drying persimmons in the traditional Japanese manner.
Directions for making hoshigaki.
Reporter Laura Avery interviews David Karp ("The Fruit Detective") about his research into hoshigaki. (00:47-05:48)
Slow Food USA has added hoshigaki to its "ark" of endangered foods.

Japanese Brazilian Cuisine

"Com a proliferação de restaurantes japoneses em São Paulo, ficou mais fácil fazer uma festa com pratos orientais. Surgiram vários buffets que preparam pratos especiais para todas as ocasiões, como casamentos, aniversários, missas, datas típicas japonesas, além de eventos jurídicos, como inaugurações e congressos. Espalhados por toda a cidade e alguns municípios, muitos já atendem em domicílio, onde disponibilizam sushiman, yatai (balcão de sushi), etc."

Nikkei in Japan

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