100 Years of Japanese Texans


100 Years of Japanese Texans

Family Histories

End-of-Year Report of the “100 JT Project” by Daniel Watanabe (December 2003)

At the beginning… About a year ago, I was reading through Thomas Walls' book “The Japanese Texans.” I found out that a Mr. Seito Saibara arrived in Houston in August 1903. It occurred to me that 2003 would make it one hundred years since his arrival in Texas to begin the immigration of Japanese in this part of the U.S. That called for a celebration and recognition of what these new immigrants did for Texas history. Thus began the “100 years of Japanese Texans Project” or 100 JT for short. Let's remember what happened one hundred years ago. It was the same year when the Wright Brothers made their first manned flight. It was the year when the first Ford Model A rolled off the production line. This report summarizes what has happened during 2003 to commemorate this special occasion.

The programs we had this year:

(1) In January, Mrs. Mari Saibara representing the Saibara family was invited as the honored guest for the 50 th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Texas. This first-ever society for Japanese style ikebana was organized by Mrs. “Taka” Saibara, the wife of Mr. Seito Saibara. On this occasion, Daniel Watanabe made the first public announcement of the 100 JT Project in Houston.

(2) Several descendents of the pioneer families were guests at the 10 th Annual Japan Festival Opening Ceremony held on April 4 at Hermann Park. Invited families were: George & Darlene Hirasaki, George Okabayashi, Harry & Mari Okabayashi, Mrs. Mary Hada, Mrs. Lilly Kobayashi, Mr. Herbert Kobayashi, Mr. & Mrs. Kiyoshi Sandow, Mrs. Mari Saibara, Joyce Kawahata and Charles Medlin, Ms. Sandra Tanamachi. Again, in the presence of Mayor Lee Brown and other dignitaries, Watanabe announced the 100 JT Project.

(3) Through George Hirasaki's efforts, family histories began to be listed in the new JACL-Houston website. Numerous families have been contacted to proceed in writing their family histories which will all be documented and made public.

Activities started:

  • Fairview Cemetery in League City is being researched by Watanabe. This is where Seito Saibara and his immediate relatives are buried. There are 30 other markers.
  • Forest Lawn West Cemetery in Webster is being research by Watanabe.
  • The Kishi Cemetery in Orange County is on the JACL website.
  • Sut Oishi is compiling the history of JACL-Houston.

We have contacted:

  • Thomas Walls, author of the Japanese Texans and now living in Okalahoma, has agreed to help us on our compiling histories.
  • George Hirasaki has visited the Institute For Texan Cultures in San Antonio where he has begun liaison with staff Tom Shelton who will help us in archives and resources.
  • Daniel Watanabe has contacted Irene Hirano, Executive Director & President of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, plus the Museum's Board of Directors, Trustees, and Governors.
  • George Hirasaki has contacted the Orange County Historical Society, regarding the name change issue of Jap Lane, and of the 100 JT which will recommend the name Kishi Lane to honor one of the pioneers.
  • Other people contacted include: Harry Honda, editor emeritus of the Pacific Citizen, the monthly newspaper of JACL; Southern Journal published in Houston; Dr. Takeshi Udagawa, Profession at U.T. Austin; Dr. Eiichiro Azuma, Asst.Prof. of History at Univ. of Penn.
  • Rice University professors: Dr. Fred von der Mehden, Dr. Steven Klineberg, Dr. Sarah Thal.
  • The Japanese Consulate General in Houston, and the JETRO office.
  • Members of the Japanese Association of Greater Houston, and of the Japan America Society of Houston.


We have been contacted by:

  • Steven Sano of San Antonio who is now initiating their own city's effort to celebrate the 100 JT.
  • Ms. Patricia Alderson, VP for Communications for the USA Rice Foundation would like to obtain information from our historical findings.
  • Mr. Alan Pham of the Asian American Students Assn. of Rice University would

like to disseminate information on the 100 JT.

New Resources that have become available:

  • Joyce Kawahata introduced me to the book “100 Years History of the Japanese-Americans” published in 1961 by the Shin-Nippon Shimbun of Japan. Although written entirely in Japanese, it has 1431 pages of Texas history and family history that exceeds those recorded in “The Japanese Texans.”

Japan Festival, April 5

Japanese in Texas by Steven Sano
Japanese in South Texas

Japanese Americans in the Lone Star by Irwin Tang

Family Histories

The family histories for the 100 years of Japanese Texans have gotten a start with following assignments and family names identified in the book, The Japanese Texans, by T. K. Walls.  If you know of families that should be on the list or you would like to write about your family, we would like to hear from you.  Your family does not need to be 100 years old.  We would like to eventually include every family wanting to share their family story.


Family histories with recorders
1. Hada/Oyma family: Eric Lindsey (done)
2. Kishi & Hirasaki families: George Hirasaki (done)
3. Kawahata family: Joyce Kawahata
4. Kobayashi family: Kathy Kobayashi (GJH, done)
5. Kondo family: Beverly Kondo Burns
6. Mayumi, Yoshio: George Hirasaki (done)
7. Nagai family: George Hirasaki
8. Okabayashi family: Harry Okabayashi
9. Onishi family: Sut Oishi (done)
10. Saibara family: Howard Lindsay (done)
11. Sando, Kuniemon: Sut Oishi, Mari Okabayashi
12. Tanamachi family: Sandra Tanamachi (done)
13. Taniguchi, Isamu & Alan: Keith Taniguchi (GJH)
14. Maekawa, Shinpei: George Hirasaki (done)

Project Proposals (HelpNeeded)

  1. JACL history
    1.1 Founder: Sut Onishi
    1.2 Past presidents
    1.3 Past major programs
  2. The Pioneers
    2.1 Really early history of first arrivals. "Who were they?"
          2.1.1 Names
          2.1.2 Locations

          2.1.3 Occupations
          2.1.4 Where did they come from? (The "kenjin-kai")
  3. Later arrivals
    3.1 Who and when? The later isseis.
    3.2 The "new" isseis
  4. The Internment Camps of Texas
    4.1 History and record of the four camps
    4.2 Name of internees
    4.3 Reunion of internees
    4.4 "The War Years": reminiscent
  5. Nikkei organizations through history
    5.1 Church groups
    5.2 Social groups
    5.3 Professional groups
  6. The 442nd/100th and the Texas 36th Division
    6.1 Texans who were in the 442nd/100th/MIS
    6.2 Contact with the 36th Division
    6.3 Former GIs from Texas in WWII
  7. Recognition of nikkeis through the years
    7.1 First among the nikkeis, e.g., 1st graduate of Texas A&M, Rice, UT, ect.
    7.2 Award-winning nikkeis
    7.3 Recognized scholars, community leaders
  8. Events planning for the 100 JT
    8.1 Program chair
    8.2 Program planning
    8.3 Program execution
    8.4 Commemorative publication or public event (e.g. planting tree, commemorative plaque)
    8.5 Invitation to VIPs
    8.6 Joint project with the JANM, Institute of Texas Cultures
    8.7 Fund-raising

    8.8 Addressing/mail-out

Families mentioned in The Japanese Texans:
Akagi family
Akagi, Beatrice (Reyes)
Akagi, Fukumoto
Akagi, Joe
Akagi, Ju
Akagi, Torata
Ando, Kumahachi
Arai family
Arai, Kyoko
Arai, Saburo
Asai, Matsutaro
Fujino, Junzo
Furugochi, Dr. Sadakazu
Hashimoto, Junzo
Hiramatsu, Kenjiro
Imai, Shigeru
Imai, Tonia (see Kitamura, Tonia)
Inoue, Hoso
Inoue, Kaname
Iwasaki, Seikichi
Jingu family
Jingu, Alice
Jingu, Kimi
Kagawa,, Fumoi
Kagawa, Kichi (Murakomi)
Kagawa, Ruth
Kagawa, Thomas
Kagawa, Yonekichi
Kataoka, Mitsukiyo
Kataoka, Reo
Kataoka, Ruth (Kagawa)
Katayama, Sen
Kato, Keiji
Katsuro, Paul Shuhei
Kawamura, Mutsuo
Kawamura, Tanjiro
Kitamura, Alice
Kitamura, George
Kitamura, Jewel
Kitamura, Saburo
Kitamura, Tonia (Imai)
Konishi, Yoshimatsu
Kosaka, Roy
Kosaka, Sue (Otsuki)
Kurabayashi, S.
Maekawa, Shinpei
Maizumi, Fred Chiutaro
Masuda, Shikao
Mtsumoto, Otsukichi
Matsuoka, Goro
Matsuoka, Teri
Mayumi, Yoshio
Miyakawa, John
Miyamoot, Heishiro
Murakami, Raimo
Murata, Sachihiko
Muta, Hideo
Nagatori, Herbert
Nagatori, Mildred
Nakahara, Hiroo
Nishimura, Shotaro
Ogata, Harry
Ogata, Benjamin
Okasaki, Tsunekichi
Otani, Fusayo
Otsuka, George
Otsuki, Frank Sentaro
Sakato, George Joe
Sako, Sydney
Sako, Tow
Sando, Kuniemon
Sasaki, Monsaburo
Sawamura family
Sawamura, Hachiro
Shiga, Dr.Shigetaka
Shima, George
Shimotsu family
Shimotsu, Amy
Shimotsu, Dorothy
Shimotsu, Harry
Shimotsu, Kenneth
Shimotsu, Takako (Tsuji)
Shimotsu, Uichi “Hugh”
Susuki, Kaname
Takayama, Oshimaru
Takeda, Teisho
Toba, Tomihachi
Tsukahara, Kinta
Tsukahara, Kinya
Uchida, Sadatsuchi
Uno, Edison
Uyeshima, Tai
Uyeyama, Terry
Wada family
Yagi, Ehigeru
Yasui, Tadao
Yoshida, Kojiro
Yoshimura, Daijiro

Bulletin #4: October 7,2002

1. Proposal to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Japanese immigrants into Texas.

August 2003 will mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Seito Saibara to Houston. Although there are a few Japanese immigrants who had already arrived earlier, we are proposing to use this occasion to mark "100 years of Japanese Texans" to commemorate and honor the early immigrants. Plans for this project was announced at the August 24 JACL meeting. The occasion will include various programs that will include: historical documentation of families, activities in the community, recognition of early pioneers and contemporary personalities; collection of resource materials/memorabilia; celebration get togethers. Details to be announced.

2. Officers of the Japanese-American National Museum hear of the "100 years of Japanese Texans." On Sept. 21, at the Board of Trustees and Governors Meeting of the JANM, held in Washington D.C., Daniel Watanabe was given the opportunity to announce our endeavor to hold this celebration. In attendance of this meeting were: Secretary Norman Mineta, Senator Daniel Inouye (Chairman, Board of Trustees), George Takei (Chairman, Board of Governors), and about 60 trustees/governors (from all over the U.S.).

Bulletins on the "100 years of Japanese Texans" will be forthcoming.
Daniel Watanabe