Lesson 203: The Rainforest Nisei: Japanese Immigrants in the Amazon

In the early 1920’s, a small group of Japanese peasants received a land grant deep in the vast forests of the Amazon. Today their descendent have become prosperous farmers, raising tropical crops and pepper, all the while protecting large tracts of primary tropical forest.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the economic and political contributions that Japanese immigrants made while living in Brazil.

Social Studies Standards

Culture B, C, D

Discussion Prompts

  • If you were going to create a new fruit from the Native Amazonian environment, what fruits mentioned in the video would you use?
  • Japanese immigrants had to endure many hardships including the war, sickness, poverty and the malaria epidemic. Discuss how they overcame these challenges.
  • Compare the cultural identity and philosophical differences regarding agriculture of Japanese immigrants with that of Brazilians.
  • Why did the farmers form a cooperative and how did this help them? Compare this to a group effort you’ve been involved in?

Lesson Activities

  • Create a chart and graphics that illustrate the relationship between companion plants. Show how this pairing improves productivity and sustainability.
  • Create an infographic or presentation about the Black Pepper Boom. Tell the story of this profitable industry in words, phrases and pictures.
  • Write a poem about the forest reserve that Japanese farmers preserved using key terms from the video.
  • Write a report about the movement of Japanese immigrants to São Paulo. Tell the story of why so many came to Brazil.


  • colony
  • deforestation
  • disheartening
  • enduring
  • enterprise
  • hydraulic
  • peasants
  • precarious
  • sustainable
  • tributary