Friday, January 31, 2014
Imperial Friends of Texas: Japan
Nagashino is the Alamo of Japan;
The Alamo is the Nagashino of America.
Whoever knows the heroes of the Battle of Nagashino
Knows the heroes of the Alamo
But their fame, like the blossom’s fragrance, is still in the air.
The custom of the West does not necessarily condemn surrender…
In other fields, although the Japanese presence in Texas has never been a large one, it has had a tremendous impact on Texas, particularly in areas such as agriculture and architecture. Rice cultivation has been common in East Texas ever since it was brought over from Louisiana but it was greatly improved thanks to the efforts of some of the first Japanese-Texans who were interested in finding more efficient ways to grow more rice to benefit both Texas and Japan. In 1903 Seito Saibara and 30 other Japanese colonists arrived in Webster in southern Harris County. Rice seed was sent as a special gift from HM the Emperor of Japan and within three years the rice harvest had almost doubled. Seito Saibara, along with his family, among the first Japanese-Texans, have been credited with establishing the Gulf Coast rice industry in Texas. Today, thanks to those early efforts, Texas is one of the largest rice producers in the United States. Later, other Japanese colonists arrived and joined the rice farming industry in various parts of Texas such as Port Lavaca, Fannett, Terry, Mackay, El Campo and Alvin, Texas. Many Japanese also settled in Mission, San Juan and San Benito in the Rio Grande Valley to grow vegetables and citrus orchards. Later, other Japanese families migrated from California to Texas due to racial bigotry being prevalent in California. Texas, the “Friendship” State, was more welcoming.
There are also, of course, numerous Japanese restaurants, tea houses and art galleries in most every major city in Texas. One area in which Japan and Texas have grown quite close in recent years may be overlooked. Texas is known for cattle ranches and oil wells, space exploration and computer development but few probably know that it is a major center for Japanese anime in the United States. Today there are centers in New York and Los Angeles but Texas is still home to the biggest adaptors and distributors of this widely loved area of Japanese pop-culture. The cities of Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth are where much of Japanese anime is sent to be dubbed into English and shared with the American public. Anime Network, Funimation Entertainment, Sentai Filmworks and many other of the biggest names in the industry are based in Texas and they largely employ local talent for their dubbing work so that a great many fans will by now by very used to watching Japanese animation performed by Texan voice-actors. With this industry of rather recent years, combined with the earliest Japanese colonists to East Texas to make rice cultivation a major industry, it is no surprise that Houston, Texas has probably the largest Japanese population in the state. Texas shares many values and interests with Japan and the Japanese have made quite an impact on Texas in business, agriculture, medicine, architecture and even the landscape and in food and entertainment. With great mutual respect and long-lasting ties of friendship, Texas and Japan will certainly only continue to grow stronger in the future.