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Issei the first generation

Between 1861 and 1940, some 275,000 Japanese people moved to Hawaii and to the U.S. mainland. Many of the first Japanese immigrants were recruited to work in the sugar cane fields of Hawaii and fruit and vegetable farms of California. The Issei, or first generation immigrants from Japan, faced the difficulty of forging a new life that included elements of their traditional culture and the culture of their newly found homes.

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Few single women emigrated from Japan to the Hawaiian Islands or the continental United States before 1907. After that date, thousands of Japanese women sailed to the islands and the U.S. mainland to join husbands or to marry men already there. Many of these were "picture brides," women married by proxy to men they had never seen. Arranged marriages between brides and grooms who had never met were not unusual in Japan at the time.

Mutsu H.: Getting Married (oral history transcript)

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"The environment and circumstances were so different from Japan and not what I had been used to. I came as an innocent girl without even knowing the role of a bride nor knowing that the objective of being here was to make a fortune. I came to America to enjoy myself and found that was not the way it was." — Mrs. Kamikawa, Picture Bride

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IMMIGRATION: Issei: First Generation | Hawaii | U.S. Mainland | Legalizing Racism

Smithsonian - National Museum of American History - Behring Center