Japanese Rice Farmers

Saito Saibara, a Japanese migrant, was invited by the Houston Chamber of Commerce to trial the growing of rice in the Houston area. The initial area put to the test was Webster, it was a brilliant and very lucrative success. The work would have been labour intensive at that time, most of it done by hand including the planting and threshing. Saibaras’ first crop was in 1904.

In 1953, almost 50 years after his arrival, Saito Saibara became the first Japanese migrant to become a U.S. citizen in Houston, and probably Texas. Until 1952, an immigration law passed in 1906 prohibited Japanese from acquiring citizenship. Saibara’s outstanding record in Texas was persuasive and helped Congress change its mind. During World War II, Saibara used a short wave radio to connect with his countrymen in Japan. He wanted to explain how migrating and growing rice could bring them prosperity in the US.

KUROSAWA, Kiyoko T. 1964. ‘SEITO SAIBARA’S DIARY OF PLANTING A JAPANESE COLONY IN TEXAS’. Hitotsubashi Journal of Social Studies 2(1 (2)), 54–80.

‘Webster Is Cradle of Rice Farms Yielding $65 Million Annually’. 2017. Chron [online]. Available at: https://www.chron.com/local/history/economy-business/article/JAPANESE-IMMIGRANT-STARTED-IT-Webster-Is-Cradle-11953937.php [accessed 1 Mar 2021].

SCHULTZ, Isaac. 2020. ‘How a Japanese Family Jumpstarted Rice Farming, Deep in the Heart of Texas’. Atlas Obscura [online]. Available at: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/japanese-rice-cultivation-texas [accessed 1 Mar 2021].

SCHULTZ, Isaac. 2020. ‘How a Japanese Family Jumpstarted Rice Farming, Deep in the Heart of Texas’. Atlas Obscura [online]. Available at: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/japanese-rice-cultivation-texas [accessed 1 Mar 2021].

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