Institute of Texan Cultures' Texans Series
Japan is a string of volcanic islands bordered on one side by the China Sea and on the other by the Pacific Ocean. Because of the mountainous topography, people live mostly along the coastlines. In 1903, Japan had a population of approximately 45 million living and farming a land area approximately the size of Illinois. Overpopulation and limited resources forced many Japanese to look for new places to live.
Many of the early Japanese settlers who came to Texas were educated and successful businessmen in Japan. When invited to start rice farms near Houston, they found people with money to invest and came because there was so little farm land available in Japan. These farmers settled near Webster between Houston and Galveston. Others later settled along the coast and in the Rio Grande Valley.
Nisei and sansei (second- and third-generation Japanese) still live in the Houston area and along the coast. Others, along with more recent Japanese Texans, may now be found in communities throughout the state.