The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii in 1885.

Painting by Joseph Dwight Strong, 

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    On February 8, 1885, about 900 Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii. The Japanese would quickly become one of the island kingdom’s largest ethnic groups. Today, about 14% of Hawaii’s population has Japanese ancestry.
     
    Most of the immigrants aboard the City of Tokio were single men. They came looking for greater financial opportunities, and quickly found work in Hawaii’s enormous sugar cane plantations. Japanese immigrants performed backbreaking labor weeding and cutting sugar cane. Japanese women often arrived as “picture brides,” having only seen pictures of their future husbands (and their husbands of them) before leaving Japan.
     
    Japanese immigrants were able to maintain strong cultural traditions in Hawaii, including establishing Buddhist temples and the first Japanese schools in what would be the United States. (Hawaii became a territory in 1898 and a state in 1959.) 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    ancestry Noun

    family (genealogical) or historical background.

    Buddhist Noun

    person who follows the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha).

    crop Noun

    agricultural produce.

    Encyclopedic Entry: crop
    enormous Adjective

    very large.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    ethnic Adjective

    having to do with characteristics of a group of people linked by shared culture, language, national origin, or other marker.

    financial Adjective

    having to do with money.

    harvest Noun

    the gathering and collection of crops, including both plants and animals.

    immigrant Noun

    person who moves to a new country or region.

    kingdom Noun

    type of government with a king or queen as its leader, or the land ruled by that king or queen.

    Encyclopedic Entry: kingdom
    labor Noun

    work or employment.

    plantation Noun

    large estate or farm involving large landholdings and many workers.

    temple Noun

    building used for worship.

    tradition Noun

    beliefs, customs, and cultural characteristics handed down from one generation to the next.