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Influence of Japanese culture in Hawaii Research Paper

The sugar sector in Hawaii had a boom in the 1870s but this was not the case with Japan because the change that led to the modern economy in Japan was not an easy process. These resulted to massive unemployment in Japan and cases of civil disorders and bankruptcies were high. The situation in Japan led to emigrants settling in Hawaii.

Majority of the emigrants were single men who were farmers. Japanese first settled in Hawaii in 1868 as casual labourers in sugar plantations. The first hospitality they received was bad and their settlement at Hawaii was therefore regarded as failure (Takagi 1987). In 1989, an agreement was arrived at demanding all Japanese immigrants to leave Hawaii but about 40 Japanese still remained there.

The problem of poor hospitality and poor terms of service were resolved in 1885 and more Japanese were therefore willing to migrate to Hawaii. The number of the immigrants in Hawaii by 1902 had reached 30,000. When Hawaii became a territory of the United States of America, contract labour was banned and many Japanese based in Hawaii migrated to U.S because of the increased wages.

An executive order and a gentlemen’s agreement placed restriction on migration of Japanese to Hawaii in 1907 and 1908 respectively. In 1909 and 1920, there were several strikes geared towards increment of wages but they were not successful. However, they agreed to work for the common good. At least 200,000 Japanese had settled in Hawaii by 1924 to work in sugar plantations when the United States banned further migration (Takagi 1987).

How Japanese culture affected the western culture

From the census, it is clear that the culture and the cuisine Hawaii, which are known today, were created by the history of the migration of Japanese to Hawaii when they settled there to work in plantations. There are several proofs in Sushi where there is continuous evolution of the influence of Japanese.

The Japanese who settled in Hawaii continued to make dishes using ingredients and authentic flavours. The dishes are the favourites for tourist as well as natives in Sushi, which have become popular as they are simple, have variety and are delicious. The dishes are liked by Vegans, those who eat meat and also vegetarians (Pratt 2005).

Today, there is a Japanese cultural centre based at Hawaii, which has the objective of bridging the history and culture of the Japanese-American experience that is evolving in Hawaii. This organization is non-profit making and has historical and community gallery, Kenshikan martial arts and gift shops.

The centre has many programs for the exhibitions and festivals that are held every year. These activities are meant to honour the heritage of the Japanese and embrace diversity from other cultures in order to share a common future (Pratt 2005).

The vision of the centre is to have a society that connects with all people through educating of diverse heritage and understanding of oneself. This is a vibrant resource that strengthens the community of Hawaii though linking knowledge from the past to the current and future generation (Takagi 1987).

The centre has blended cultural background for the Japanese-American experience in Hawaii that has continuously evolved through community service and relevant programs as well as creating partnership (Daniel 2003). These programs promote understanding and enable the community to celebrate its heritage, identity of the land as well as its culture.

There are values embedded in Japanese-American traditions and Aloha’s spirit. Looking into the history, the idea and planning of Japanese cultural centre of Hawaii originated from the migration of Japanese to Hawaii.

This was initiated by the first and second generations that were determined to the task of national heroism, survival as well as restoring their cultural pride in the community (Daniel 2003). 125 years ago, there were celebrations by Imin that led to major Japanese set-ups getting devoted in the community to implement the concept of the cultural centre in Hawaii (Daniel 2003).

The project of the cultural centre was initiated in 1986 by the Chamber of commerce. It was aimed to consolidate related organizations in Hawaii to join effort in preserving the legacy of the immigrants from Japan in order to honour their contributions for the young generation to successfully integrate in the American culture (Bentley-Ziegler-Streets 2008).

The aim of the project was to create identity for the Japanese immigrants and trace roots for future generations. The centre also promoted relations by creating harmony and understanding among the future generations of the Japanese immigrants and the Americans in Hawaii (Takagi 1987).

The creation of the cultural centre was the effort of many communities where ad Hoc committees were created to implement the courses for the action plans from various related organizations from Japan. Other organizations involved in fundraising also came up from other communities in Hawaii.

The works of various committees were set up to establish historical research programs, planning and steering, property management and membership. These committees followed a prepared schedule because the task ahead in forming the cultural centre was tremendous (Bentley-Ziegler-Streets 2008).

In 1987, the new idea of forming the cultural centre took its first step and was incorporated in the laws of the state in Hawaii. The centre was expected to be independent and play an important task in perpetuating cultural values inherited from the forefathers into the current and future generations (Daniel 2003).

The Modern Cuisine is a blend from Japan who settled in the island. Some animals and breed plants are grown locally to supplement the Cuisine. Most of the dishes in Hawaiian restaurants contain Asian staple such as macaroni salad, fried eggs and Japanese style Tonkatsu. Hawaii locally grows a lot of fruits such as pineapple papaya as well as bananas, which are served with most dishes (Daniel 2003).

In the 1890s, the Japanese in Hawaii started setting up their schools with fear that their children would become Americanized. By 1920, only 20% of the Japanese children attended American schools while the rest attended Japanese schools (Bentley-Ziegler-Streets 2008). However, the school system has now gone through integration because the current Japanese schools are only used for supplementary education especially on weekends.

This is part of the compulsory education in the United States of America (Columbus 1987). Today, Japanese language is spoken and learned by many residents across ethnicities. Most private schools ensure that pupils start learning Japanese language in grade two. Tourists are given concern by having most public facilities bear texts written in Japanese language.

These also include some local newspapers written in the language. Some newspapers and magazines in Hawaii are also produced in Japanese language. However, there is little interest for this by the local Japanese who were born in Hawaii and therefore production of the newspapers and magazines in Japanese language is in the process of dying out (Columbus 1987).


Bentley-Ziegler-Streets. “The Traditions & Encounters.” A Brief Global History, 19-35. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2008.

Columbus, Christopher. The Discovery of the Bahamas. Maine: International Marine Publishing Company, 1987.

Daniel, Clayton. Captain Cook and the Spaces of Contact at ‘Nootka Sound in Jennifer S. H. Brown and Elizabeth Vibist, eds. Reading Beyond Words: Contexts for Native History 2nd edition. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2003.

Pratt, Mary. Arts of the Contact Zone. Edited by David Bartholomew and Tony Ways. Boston: Bedford St. Martins, 2005.

Takagi, Mariko. Moral Education in Pre-War Japanese Language Schools in Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 1987.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Influence of Japanese culture in Hawaii." April 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/influence-of-japanese-culture-in-hawaii/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Influence of Japanese culture in Hawaii'. 17 April.

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