6 Biggest Japanese Communities Outside Japan – Japan Talk

6 Biggest Japanese Communities Outside Japan – Japan Talk.

posted by John Spacey, Japan Talk, September 05, 2012 
It’s a lot easier to find a Chinatown in most countries than a Japantown. 

There are more than 50 million people of Chinese descent‎ living outside China. There only 2.6 million people of Japanese descent‎ living outside Japan. 

Like immigrants everywhere, the Japanese left their homeland in search of a better life for their families. Much of this immigration happened from 1868 ~ 1912

Most Japanese immigrants ran into great hardships as a result of WWII. In many cases, they had their property confiscated and were interred in camps for the duration of the war(e.g. United States, Canada and Peru). 
Despite these great challenges Japanese communities have survived and thrived — building goodwill within their respective countries over the years (e.g. with Japanese cultural and friendship festivals). 

These 6 countries have the largest Japanese populations (outside Japan). 

1. Brazil ~ 1,500,000

Japan and Brazil have a long history of cultural and economic exchange. Today, Brazil has the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. 


japan in brazil 

There are also many Brazilians living in Japan. In fact, Brazilians represent the biggest non-Asian ethnic group inside Japan (312,582 people). 

Japanese immigration to Brazil began in 1908. At first, Japanese immigrants were resigned to low paid farming jobs. With each generation, the Japanese have improved their lives in Brazil. 

In recent years, Japanese culture is wildly popular in Brazil. Each year, there are dozens of Japanese festivals held all over Brazil (e.g. Bon Festival in São Paulo). 

Tanabata Matsuri in Brazil 

Brazilian culture is equally popular in Japan. The Asakusa Samba Carnival is one ofTokyo’s biggest summer festivals

samba in tokyo 

2. United States ~ 1,204,205

About 1/3 of the population of Hawaii identifies themselves as having Japanese heritage. Japanese culture has had a great influence in Hawaii. Japanese food, festivals and customs are easy to see in everyday life in Hawaii. 

Hawaiian and Japanese culture have fused together in interesting ways. Spam musubi is a Hawaiian food that uses a popular local ingredient (spam) prepared as a onigiri (Japanese rice ball). 

SPAM musubi 

There are also large Japanese populations in California, Washington and Oregon. 

northern california cherry blossom festival 

northern california sakura matsuri 

northern california cherry blossom festival dance 

3. Philippines ~ 120,000

The Philippines was the first country to experience Japanese immigration (as early as the 12th century). Many Japanese Catholics fled to the Philippines in the 17th century to avoid religious persecution. 

Red Seal Ship 

4. United Kingdom ~ 100,000

As early as 1867, Japanese students studied at Cambridge University and Oxford university. Japanese have immigrated to the UK for studies or business reasons ever since. 

Several Japanese cultural and friendship festivals are held each year in London (e.g. London Japan Matsuri). 

london takoyaki 

london japan matsuri 

5. Peru ~ 90,000

Peru was the first South American country to establish ties to Japan. It was also the first South American country to accept Japanese immigration (1899). 

In WWII, Japanese-Peruvians were sent to internment camps in the United States en mass (their property was confiscated). Very few of these internees ever returned to Peru. 

Despite these hardships, the community has survived. Alberto Fujimori was the son of Japanese immigrants to Peru. He served as the controversial president of the country from 1990 – 2000. 

Alberto Fujimori 

6. Canada ~ 81,300

Japanese immigration to Canada is focused on the West Coast (mostly Vancouver). A great number of second and third generation Japanese-Canadians have chosen to marry non-Japanese. Canada is a multi-cultural country that is accepting of interracial marriage. 

toronto sakura 

vancouver sakura

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