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how to care for the soil, so that a farm worked by him for a few years becomes practically worthless. This is a calumny pure and simple. The Japanese, instead of ruining good soil, enriches poor soil, redeems waste land, and renovates impoverished farms. Back in his old country he never heard of such a thing as abandoned farms, and he is bewildered to learn that in our Eastern States there are countless farms whose soils have been so impoverished that nobody cares to cultivate them. No, the Japanese cannot afford to abandon any farm, once he settles upon it. If he migrated from one section to another, deserting the old farm and taking up the new, as do many of our farmers, he would soon have to stand upon the brink of the ocean—so small is his country. The habit of intensive cultivation, which he must perforce acquire in such a country, he naturally brings with him to the new country whither he emigrates. It is, therefore, but natural that the Japanese farmers in California should show unique skill and fastidiousness in cultivating their lands. Because of the care which they lavish on the soil, the farm rented to a Japanese commands an unusually high price. This fact is unreservedly recognized in the special report on the Japanese prepared a few years ago by the commissioner of labour of California, Mr. J. D. Mackenzie. The charge that the Japanese abuse the soil finds no endorsement either in the annual report of the Bureau of Labour of California or in the voluminous reports of the United States Immigration Commission, of which Senator Dillingham was chairman.
Where the Japanese goes into farming on a rather small scale, utilizing the skill which he had acquired in his native country, he is generally successful. Not a few of them, however, have caught the "get-rich-quick" spirit of the strenuous West, and have embarked upon agricultural enterprises of a speculative nature for which he has neither experience nor means. Such undertakings, except in a few cases, resulted in failure. True, there is George Shima, the Japanese “ Potato King," who cultivates at Stockton, California, six thousand to ten thousand acres of potatoes. But Shima is a solitary figure. Such bonanza farming as was common in the earlier days of California is abnormal, and it seems desirable that the Japanese should adopt more conservative methods and practise farming on a modest scale.
It has been contended that when a Japanese settles on a farm it always results in the lowering of price of the adjoining farms, because the Caucasian farmers do not desire to live in his neighbourhood. Facts do not countenance such contentions. In the first place, the Japanese have in most cases settled or worked on undeveloped lands, whose fertility was problematical and whose price was naturally very low. They clear such lands and convert them into highly productive farms. The land about Fresno is of sandy soil and was long regarded as unproductive. Moreover, in the interior of California the winters are rigorous and the summers intensely hot, and the people who were accustomed to the milder climate of its coast territory did not care to settle in the neighbourhood of Fresno. But the Japanese were induced to come, and the country soon became rich with raisins and wines. To Japanese, Fresno is indebted for its general prosperity and for the high price which its farmland now commands.
At Florin, not far from Sacramento, it was also the Japanese who utilized the poorest lands in the vicinity and converted them into profitable strawberry gardens. The lowlands in the Sacramento Valley are damp and
unhealthy, and in consequence remained long undeveloped. Again the Japanese were brought in, and the section now virtually flows with milk and honey.
In Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Texas, and in almost every State where the Japanese is engaged in agriculture, it is much the same story. He often creates the value of land as he develops it. Where he enters into farming in a country already well developed, he is usually on friendly terms with his Caucasian neighbours. Whatever the sentiment of urban communities towards their Japanese population, in the countryside there is little ill-feeling between the Japanese and American farmers.
At the same time, it must be admitted that most Japanese farmers, like their compatriots in the city, are not yet in position to cultivate refined taste. Their dwellings are not yet what they can be proud of, and their modes of living show little refinement, though they are fastidious and even extravagant both as to food and clothing. But no Japanese will admit that this is to be their ultimate condition. So far from it, they are ambitious not only to acquire wealth but to elevate their social standing. Eager to learn English, they are even more anxious to utilize the knowledge of the language they acquired in their efforts to understand our institutions and customs. When the hardships and trials inevitable in the initial stage of their undertakings are passed, there is no doubt that they will emerge from their present state of life. Time is not yet far back when even the Irish, among whom there are to-day talents and geniuses America may well be proud of, lived in an infelicitous condition which their American neighbours made an object of ridicule and sarcasm. We used to sing :
“There is a pig in the parlour,
The pig has made an exit from the parlour of the Irishman, and in his place has appeared a piano, a “talking machine," and a set of tasteful furniture. There is no reason why the Japanese should not go through similar stages of evolution. It is only some fifteen years since the Japanese started farming in this country, and it is unreasonable to expect them to live as the older settlers of other races live.
The anti-Japanese agitators argue that the Japanese can live almost on nothing. The fact is that it costs the Japanese just as much to live as it costs any other people in the corresponding class. The trouble with the Japanese is that he is, in a sense, a poor manager of household economy. Most Japanese are not satisfied with American diet alone, and to cater to their whimsical palates they loosen the purse strings for exotic edibles imported from their native country. Including duties and the cost of transportation, the price of such food-stuffs is exorbitant. When they marry their wives demand flowing Japanese gowns as well as close-fitting American dresses. What is more serious, neither they nor their helpmeets know how to utilize for table such materials as can be easily obtained from the farm. When the Japanese farmer suppresses his peculiar craving for imported food-stuffs and learns to satisfy his palate with common American dishes; when his wife, like the wives of American farmers, learns how to cure ham, churn butter, convert sour milk into breads and cakes, and cook eggs in a hundred and one wonderful ways, his cost of living will be greatly reduced. Then the money thus saved will go a long way towards the improvement of his dwelling.
I have purposely referred to the unsatisfactory condition of the houses occupied by Japanese farmers, because during my trip through the farming districts of the Sac
ramento Valley I was greatly disappointed with such houses. They are not houses, but huts. In such places as Walnut Grove, Isleton, Grand Island, and Courtland I found the condition especially bad. In these places, as in many another section, the Chinese preceded the Japanese as farmhands or tenants. To quarter them the landlords put up camps, the cheapest possible structures that lumber and nails could build. Never painted and invariably of unplaned lumber, these structures are far less attractive than the corn cribs or hay barns which are commonly seen in the farm country of the Middle West. When the Japanese came to take the place of Chinese, they were naturally given the same camps which their predecessors had vacated. Upon entering these dreary camps one still finds mementoes of their former tenants in the numerous pieces of red paper, containing monotonous Chinese characters signifying “wealth, good luck, and longevity," and pasted at random on the walls, on the doors, and even on the ceilings.
"Why don't you scrape off these hideous symbols of Mammon, and paint the walls and make the house look a bit more decent?" I said to many of the Japanese farmers I talked with.
“Oh, it's no use!” they would always reply. “It's impossible to paint those rough boards. We won't live in such miserable shacks for ever; we expect to build some day somewhere."
“Somewhere?” I queried. “Why not build here at once? You have been here long enough to save enough to put up a modest farmhouse."
“Because the place doesn't belong to us. We are just tenants and our term of lease is never longer than a year or two. And, besides, you know what the labour unions at San Francisco and the politicians at Sacramento are