Florida Historical Society Harry T. And Harriette V. Moore Award
Opening a window onto the little-known Japanese-American heritage of Florida, Yamato Colony is the true tale of a daring immigrant venture that left behind an important legacy. Ryusuke Kawai tells how a Japanese farming settlement came to be in south Florida, far from other Japanese communities in the United States.
Kawai's captivating story takes readers back to the early twentieth century, a time when Japanese citizens were beginning to look to possibilities for individual wealth and success overseas. Poor, unlucky in love, and dreaming of returning rich to marry his sweetheart, a young man named Sukeji Morikami boarded a passenger steamer at the port of Yokohama and set off to make his fortune.
Morikami was drawn by promises from his compatriot Jo Sakai, founder of an agricultural community called Yamato between Boca Raton and Delray Beach, Florida. Sakai extolled the prospects of raising pineapples and other crops amid the state's economic boom and exciting developments like Flagler's East Coast Railway. This book follows the experiences of Morikami and his fellow Yamato settlers through World War II, when the struggling colony closed for good. Morikami held on to his hopes for Yamato until the end, when at last, the lone survivor, he donated the land that would become the widely visited Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.
Celebrating the lives of ordinary men and women who left their homes and traveled an enormous distance to settle and raise their families in Florida, this book brings to light a unique moment in the state's history that few people know about today.