Word of the Day – Monday, May 27th



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ISSEI (EE-say)

A first generation Japanese immigrant, especially in the United States
Common clues: Japanese immigrant;
First generation Japanese-American; American of Japanese heritage; Nisei's parent
Related crosswordese: NISEI
Crossword puzzle frequency: once a year
Hirakawa: A Japanese American Family History

Issei is a Japanese language term used in countries in North America, South America and Australia to specify the Japanese people first to immigrate. Their children born in the new country are referred to as Nisei (second generation), and their grandchildren are Sansei (third generation). (In Japanese counting, "one, two, three" is "ichi, ni, san.").

The first Japanese Brazilian immigrants arriving aboard the Kassato Maru in 1908.

The first members of the Issei did not migrate directly to the United States, but to Hawaii (which was at the time American-controlled but not yet part of the U.S.). These migrants—the first of whom arrived on board the steamship City of Tokio in February 1885—were common laborers escaping hard times in Japan, and their emigration was subsidized by the Hawaiian government, which needed cheap labor for its sugar plantations. A large number of Japanese eventually settled in Hawaii.

Direct migration of Japanese to the United States began a little later in 1885 with the arrival of "student-laborers". The earliest of these migrated to San Francisco, and their numbers constantly expanded in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Their purpose of moving to America was to gain advanced knowledge and experience in order to develop the modern society at home. Both students and laborers were attracted by the image of America as a country that welcomes foreigners. When they first arrived in the U.S., they had no intention of living there permanently and were merely students or laborers whose purpose was to learn from Americans and to bring knowledge back to their own country.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Issei".