narrated by Kichi Kagawa
It was 1904 when my husband first came to Texas as a single man. Then, eight years later, he returned to Japan to marry me. We moved to Texas in January of 1914.
I still remember vividly the first time I heard about Toyohiku Kagawa, a famous Socialist leader in the 1890's. Before that, Gumpei Yamamuro, a man with Japanese Salvation Army, came to Texas. It was the time when many Iseis-men (first-generation Japanese men) were drinking and gambling and leading destructive lives. I heard that important historic figures such as Kanzo Ichimura, a religious leader, and Ukichi Fukuzawa, a philosopher, had sent Rihei Onishi, a newspaper reporter, to Webster in 1895. At that time in Nagoya, Baron Murimura, gave Onishi two hundred thousand dollars to but a piece of land in Wharton to start a rice farm. After buying a piece of land, he diverted some water from the Colorado River for the fields. I was shocked when I saw how big the water pump was.
Onishi would sometimes come to Japan to look for young men in Ehime Prefecture who would be willing to move to America to operate his rice farms. He asked the principal of Ehime's agricultural school to introduce him to qualified candidates. At that time, my husband Kagawa had already decided to get into salt production, but after speaking to the principal, my husband and his friend, Hirosuke Nishiyama, were persuaded to go to America.
For the first few years, he worked under Onishi, but after that, he moved to California, became a Christian, learned English, and began working with a Japanese family growing strawberries in Sacramento. He decided to leave the family because the father of the family wanted him to marry his daughter.
The first anti-Japanese movement was beginning in California. On the trains, for example, conductors would ignore Asian passengers who indicated that they wished to get off at the next stop. My husband jumped from the train when this once happened to him, and when he fell roughly to the ground, the passengers remaining on the train laughed.
Wishing to escape the anti-American sentiment in California, my husband and his friend decided to move to Utah and work in the coal mines. After a time in Utah, he returned to Webster, Texas, where he resumed working for Onishi. In the beginning he kept failing.
Onishi's cousin, who worked with breweries in Japan, brought brewery workers to Texas to work the farms. At that time, French people in Louisiana grew rice. I'd heard that they ate rice just like Japanese people. Blue Rose rice, harvested in Louisiana, was the most popular brand with Japanese people. I still eat Blue Rose rice now.
Kyoto Ashi is eaten among Japanese living in Los Angeles now. Its sold as Botan Rice.