Immigration to the melting pot

Hawai’i has frequently been described as the melting pot of the Pacific and this is evident in our daily lives when we see every nationality known driving on the streets, shopping, at the beach or working in the shops in town and at the mall. One of the most successful groups to immigrate are the Japanese. In the late 1800’s Japan was trying to modernize, but unemployment was common, working and living conditions were brutal. So, when looking for opportunities outside of Japan about half of all Japanese immigrants came to Hawai’i. Between 1870 and 1880 about 28,000 single men came to work on the sugar plantations which were in need of labor. By 1893 70% of plantation workers were Japanese. Most were unskilled workers who followed in the wake of Chinese men.  Japanese men worked making less money than their counter part Caucasians, and they bought small farms for more money then Caucasians until with very hard work, they eventually overtook the pay scale of white workers. As farmers, they were successful and went into other businesses–restaurants, small grocery stores, barber shops. Then, in 1941 and the war with Japan, local Japanese were put into interment camps and lost everything. Slowly, after the war, they had to start over opening new businesses, once again becoming successful. Today, the Japanese comprise about 40% of population of Hawai’i. Many continue as successful business owners. And, some still work as in the old days in the fields of farms or work on land belonging to someone else.

Workers at a local store keeping the grounds beautiful.

Workers at a local store keeping the grounds beautiful.

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5 thoughts on “Immigration to the melting pot

  1. Wow. I did not realize the percentage of Japanese population was so high in Hawaii. It is great hearing comeback stories like this. Hard work and perseverance pay off!

  2. Pingback: Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 | kjmhoffman

  3. Carol, good writing. I write articles like this for “Ezine Articles”. You might look them up, they’re lots of fun. I guess we might say that San Diego is a melting pot also, with Filipino’s, Samoan’s, Hawaiian’s, Chaldeans (Arabic language), met some students from Kuwait yeaterday, Mexican (San Diego is at least half Mexican), African American, Somalian, Ethiopian

  4. African American, Central Americans and I could go on. I enjoy meeting them when I do and it adds to the flavor of our culture, not to speak of the cuisine. Love, Donna Gordon

  5. Whoo-hoo, the cuisine! That’s what I love most about living in a multi-cultural town. I would’ve never thought SD would be a melting pot having grown up in a “white bread” neighborhood. I don’t we had any black students, a handful of Mexican and Oriental races, but mostly Caucasian. I remember when I first moved to Hawaii and was driving, how odd it was to see so many Japanese faces in the other cars. Now it just looks normal.

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