11:19 | Cañete (Lima region), Apr. 3.
Peru and Japan commemorate today, April 3, the 120th anniversary of Japanese immigration to the South American nation. The first 790 immigrants arrived in 1899.
Most immigrants were farmers destined for large sugar plantations —one of the principal economic activities at that time located along the Peruvian coast from Lambayeque to Cañete.
Since then until 1923, some 18,727 Japanese immigrants arrived in Peru, all with four-year contracts.
As the years went by, most immigrants left the sugar plantations for another job or to start their own business.
One of the most emblematic cases was that of Nikumatsu Okada, who arrived in 1899 aboard the Sakura Maru steamship to work at Palpa plantation. After that, he made it on his own to become an important entrepreneur in Chancay Valley, north of Lima city.
Between 1923 and 1936, Okada rented six plantations: La Huaca, Caqui, Jesus del Valle, Miraflores, Jecuan, and Laure, which altogether cover 4,000 hectares, accounting for about 26% of Chancay's arable lands.
Presence in Cañete
Sakura Maru's first arrival point was the Port of Callao. The vessel stopped in several Peruvian cities; one of them was Cerro Azul, located in Cañete province.
According to researcher Erick Sarmiento, some 226 Japanese immigrants got off in Cerro Azul (a monument at the first wharf marks this event).
176 men out of this group came to work at Santa Barbara plantation and the remaining 50 at Casa Blanca.
The largest number of Japanese immigrants remained in Cañete.
According to Sarmiento, the second group brought Taian Ueno, a religious man who built a Japanese temple at Santa Barbara plantation back in 1908.
Said building was also used as a school —the first Japanese school in the Inca country, with nine students and one teacher.
Afterward, other 49 educational institutions opened in Lima, Callao, Ica, Pisco, Jauja, Chiclayo, Chancay, Huaral, Chincha, Supe, Chimbote, Trujillo, Huacho, Huancayo, Arequipa, and Puerto Maldonado.