Seeking Opportunity in America

    ‘One day in 1906 Kishi announced to his father that he was immigrating to the United States to farm rice.   His father gave his full personal support, and although he himself was unable to invest in the project, he knew others who could.  After obtaining several promises of financial backing, Kishi left for the U.S. to investigate potential sites for his proposed farm project.  His traveling companion and agricultural adviser on this trip was a Japanese man named Gentaro Hagiya.’[1]

    ‘Kishi and Hagiya visited California first, but Kishi did not like the hilly country they found there.  He wanted level land, which would be easier to irrigate.  They stopped in Texas next and visited farms near Houston.  This included Erin, Webster, and Eagle Lake.  Erin is now called now Mykawa, in memory of Shimpei Maekawa, Kishi’s classmate at the Tokyo High School of Commerce (now Hitotsubashi University).  Maekawa had died in a farming accident and Kishi visited the farm at the request of the widow.  At Eagle Lake, he met Saburo Arai with whom Kishi later joined in starting a nursery business in Alvin.  Kishi and Hagiya went to southern Louisiana, where they found considerable land ideal for farming rice.  But Kishi did not like the restrictive state laws placed on foreign investments in Louisiana, so the two traveled on.’[1]

    ‘Kishi and Hagiya eventually reached the Carolinas, where rice farming in the United States had its beginnings in the late 17th century.  The two Japanese then returned the way they had come, checking promising sites a second time.  They had been particularly interested in a piece of land adjacent to railroad tracks in Jackson, Mississippi.  Upon their return, however, they noticed that a large warehouse across the tracks was missing.  When told a recent tornado had destroyed it, Kishi quickly decided that Mississippi was not a place he wanted to live.’[1]

    ‘Traveling west across Louisiana, the two Japanese stopped just across the border in Texas.  There, in the center of Orange County, was the relatively flat land they were looking for.  Cow Bayou, a nearby water source, could provide irrigation.  Kishi checked local records to make sure the area received ample rainfall, which it did, and he even talked with people in the community to gauge their reactions to having Japanese as neighbors. Most were enthusiastic, since a rice colony of even moderate size would bring business and jobs to the area.’[1,3]

    ‘Situated on the land Kishi wanted was a beautiful forest of pines.  Perhaps he felt this was a good omen since his first name, Kichimatsu, means "Fortunate Pine" in Japanese.  Whatever the reason, Kishi decided to settle his colony in Terry, Texas.’[1]