ルビ付き和訳は英文の下にございます。/ The Japanese translation is below the English text and fully rubied.

Canada and the Satsuma Mandarin


1. The importers of Citrus Unshiu
2. Christmas oranges in Canada
3. The nicknames
4. The Japanese emigrants in the Meiji Era
5. The salmon fishing in Steveston
6. The emigration of the Wakayama folks
7. The “American Village”
8. Mandarins from Wakayama
9. The posterity in Steveston
10. Mr. KUNO Gihei
11. The Museums in Two Villages

The Japanese translation

References / 参考資料

1. The importers of Citrus Unshiu

Which countries do you think are the major importers of Citrus Unshiu or the Satsuma mandarin from Japan?

A view of mountains in British Columbia, Canada
[Click to enlarge / 画像をクリックすると拡大します] A view of mountains in British Columbia, Canada / カナダ・ブリティッシュ・コロンビア州の山々

According to the most recent foreign trade statistics*1, in 2019 and 2018, Hong Kong imported the most mandarins. No. 2 was Taiwan, and No. 3 was Canada. We expected another Asian country to be in the third place, so it was a small surprise to see Canada.

Actually, Canada was the constant, and by far the largest importer of Citrus Unshiu from Japan from 1988 through 2017*2. The percentage of the fruit Canada imported in these years was always well above 50% of total Japanese exports. It sometimes exceeded 90% while countries in the second and lower rankings varied depending on the year.

Why do Canadians import so many Japanese mandarins?

*1 Mandarins and tangerines are classified as one item. However, we consider it represents Citrus Unshiu because few other kinds of mandarins and few tangerines are grown in Japan.

*2 The oldest available statistics were from 1988. However, we think Canada imported even more mandarins in the earlier period. The reason is that the total number of mandarins and the number exported to Canada both kept declining from 1988.

2. The Christmas orange in Canada

In Canada, particularly in the western provinces, people often call Citrus Unshiu the Christmas orange.

By reading some blogs, we can have a glimpse of the Canadian childhood with fond memories of Christmas oranges. For example:

  • There is no fruit harvest in winter in Canada, so fresh fruits arrive from abroad by boat or railroad after the season of apples and pears. One such precious fruit was Cistrus Unshiu from Japan.
  • At the beginning of December, a Japanese ship would arrive at the Port of Vancouver. It was loaded with crates of mandarins. Until the end of the 1980’s, local newspapers would announce the arrival of the first shipment of “Japanese Oranges” on the front page. The sudden emergence of bright orange color in storefronts and in homes would liven up their Christmas spirit.
  • And on Christmas morning, they would always find a mandarin in the toe of their stocking which had been hung for the occasion.
  • They would place the boxes of mandarins in a cold part of the house such as the laundry room. They ate them reading books in a warm room, and occasionally they went to the cold storage room to bring more mandarins back.
  • The mandarins were packed in very sturdy wooden crates, so people would reuse them in many ways. Some made them into toy-boxes or toolboxes, and others footstools and small stepladders.
  • Also, each fruit came wrapped in thin green or pink paper, so children could play with it, too…

3. The nicknames

Until the mid-20th Century, one of the popular nicknames of Citrus Unshiu was “the Japanese mandarin”.

However, when World War II broke out, the ships with mandarins ceased to come from Japan, which was now the enemy of Canada. At the same time, Canadians felt like avoiding the name “Japanese mandarins.”

Today, in Canada, “Christmas oranges” or “mandarine oranges” are the nicknames for all mandarins including Citrus Unshiu, tangerines and the most popular clementine. When they need to mention Citrus Unshiu alone, they call it the Satsuma mandarin.

By the way, the first Citrus Unshiu introduced to Canada was not from the Satsuma area. It was brought from Wakayama, traditionally the most famous area for mandarin production. The Wakayama mandarins came to Canada in the following situation:

4. The Japanese emigrants in the Meiji Era

This is a story of the Japanese who went abroad to work from the end of the 19th Century.

In the Meiji Era, Japan tried to build a unified, modern nation, and aggressively adopted Western technology and culture. As a result, the society changed a lot, and the people became much more mobile.

Traditionally, there were many farmers in Japan. In a typical farming family, the oldest son inherited his parents’ farm, got married and had his own family.

His younger brothers also wanted to have their own families, but they couldn’t easily obtain farmland. So, they went to big cities to find work in other businesses.

Their supposed dream was to save up money, return to their hometown to buy a property and run a farm like their big brother.

Most of them found jobs in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, but some went abroad with the same dream.

5. The salmon fishing in Steveston

Thus, in Vancouver, Canada, a small number of Japanese began working in the late 19th Century. They worked in such industries as lumber, fishery and agriculture.

Steveston, British Columbia, pinned on Google map / ブリティッシュ・コロンビア州スティーブストンの所在を指す Image by: Google Map

One day in 1888, a newcomer at a lumber mill in Vancouver asked his senior workers:

I am a carpenter from Mio, Wakayama. My fellow villagers are fishermen, but these days they can’t make enough money. My cousin is a sailor, and he told me that there might be fishing jobs in Sutebusuton near Vancouver. Actually, I came over to see if that’s true. Do you know anything about that place?

Steveston, that he called Sutebusuton, was a small fishing village located about ten miles south of Vancouver. Like Vancouver, it belonged to the province of British Columbia, and it was where the Fraser River flowed into the Pacific Ocean.

When he visited Steveston, he saw a breathtaking sight; innumerable sockeye salmon were running up the estuary. It was right in the season of the salmon run.  

An image of sockeye salmon in breeding color
Sockeye salmon in breeding color / 繁殖期の紅鮭

This was exactly what he had looked for. He wrote to his village: Salmon run up one after another as if they welled from the sea. This must be the place where all of us could have a job.

Back in his home village, some opposed the idea of sending many men all the way to Canada. However, people needed a job. Also, this man was a well-known master carpenter in the area. Maybe people could trust his integrity and judgment.

Groups of men began to sail to Steveston from the next year.

6. The emigration of the Wakayama folks

An image of people in front of the hospital in Steveston built by Japanese Fishermen's Benevolent Society.
The Japanese Hospital, the first hospital in Richmond, was founded by the Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society in Steveston. / リッチモンド最初の病院は、Japanese Fishermen’ Benevolent Society によってスティーブストンに建てられました。 Photo by: Vancouver is Awesome, https://

History tells us this emigration was a great success for the folks from Wakayama. Steveston bustled with fishery and cannery operations, and the Japanese laborers were able to send money generously to their families in Mio and other hometowns.

In 1900, two thousand Japanese workers had already moved in. The sudden increase in the number of Japanese immigrants in Steveston and other parts of the province of British Columbia was such that it even caused anti-Japanese sentiments among local Canadians. They exploded in a riot in Vancouver in 1907.

In order to keep peace in British Columbian society, Canada and Japan made a “gentlemen’s agreement” the next year. Under its terms, basically, the Japanese government agreed to voluntarily limit the number of Japanese immigrants to Canada to four hundred men per year. Fortunately, however, people from Mio were treated as an exception and not included in this number. Maybe salmon fishing was a very important business for British Columbia and they needed a hand.

Before long, some immigrants wanted to have a family in Steveston. Since this agreement didn’t put a restriction on the wives of immigrants, a lot of women began migrating to Canada. An immigrant could ask his relatives in Japan to send a photo of a single woman and make a decision to marry her. The “wife” prepared documents to prove their marriage before leaving Japan, and the man greeted his “picture bride” in Vancouver.

When their kids were six years old or so, many parents sent them alone to Japan to live with their parents. This way they could go to and advance in the Japanese schools.

An image of photo brides sailing for Canada
Photo brides sailing for Canada, ca. 1905 / 1905年頃カナダへ向かう写真花嫁 Photo by: 全加日系人博物館所蔵 [97/200a-b]

Others chose to raise children and stay permanently in Canada. It was not easy either since for some period, not everyone, particularly immigrants, were able to have education in Canada.

The presence of the laborers from Wakayama continued until World War II broke out. In 1940, two thousand workers were in Steveston and it was more than the population in Mio.

7. The “American Village”

Some Japanese got used to the Canadian way of living and felt very comfortable.

Therefore, when they retired and returned to Mio, they built houses according to their preferred style of living. Besides traditional Japanese houses, some were houses in an eclectic Western-Japanese style. Others in a more Western style with real glass panes for windows.

An image of a bus stop sign at "American Village”, Wakayama
A bus stop at “America Mura” in Mio area / 三尾地区の「アメリカ村」バス停, Photo by: LINEトラベルjp https://www.

Thus, Mio became a village with wealthy retirees from Canada, and people enjoyed life with nice bits of Western culture. For example, they sat on a chair and ate at a dining table. They put on a coat and a hat when going out. They listened to music on a gramophone when they relaxed, and slept in a bed. English words and expressions were often heard in conversation.

Mio had such an exotic, fashionable atmosphere that people in the vicinity dubbed it “Amerika-mura” (the American Village). Of course, it came from Canada, but people thought on the other side of the Pacific was the American Continent.

8. The Mandarins from Wakayama

In winter, the Japanese in Steveston had their families in Japan send mandarins to them from Wakayama. Then they enjoyed eating mandarins and decorating rice cakes, and celebrated the New Year as they used to do in Japan.

A map of Japan to show Wakayama Prefecture
The red part is Wakayama Prefecture. / 赤いところが和歌山県です。Image by: 国土交通省 国土数値情報(行政区域)

Another name for Wakayama was Kishu in Edo Era. The area was very famous for producing small, sweet mandarins called “Kishu mikan” (Citrus Kishu). However, in the late 19th Century, they produced more and more seedless Citrus Unshiu along with Citrus Kishu (Please refer to “What is “Satsuma” mandarin?”).

So, in Steveston, they happily and proudly shared their mandarins with their friends. This blended into the Canadian custom of Christmas oranges.

As early as 1891, a Canadian trading company began importing the Japanese mandarins. It continued each year except during WWII and several subsequent years. And this is how Canadians came to be accustomed to seeing a Japanese ship in the Port of Vancouver every December and feel it like the harbinger of Christmas.

9. The posterity in Steveston

The early Japanese workers in Steveston had a hard time learning English. So did their children when they went to Canadian schools. On the contrary, exactly because they were fluent in Japanese, they frequently exchanged letters and gifts with their families in Mio and other areas. Not only did they visit Mio but also they received visits from Japan.

As the grandchildren of the first-generation immigrants grew up, they spoke English as their mother tongue and they considered themselves Canadians. It took time for Canada to embrace Asian immigrants in its society, but after WWII, Japanese Canadians were given the full Canadian citizenship including the suffrage, and the Canadian government issued formal apology and redress to Japanese Canadians for what they endured during WWII.

More recent generations know their root is in Mio or another village in Japan, and occasionally take a trip there. But it seems there are few personal relationships between them and their family in Japan. They come against the language barriers.

10. Mr. Gihei KUNO

The name of the master carpenter who invited his fellow villagers in Mio to Steveston was Gihei KUNO.

Called the Father of the Japanese immigrants to Canada, Gihei is remembered for his achievement of making arrangements so that the folks from Wakayama could live and work in Steveston. He himself ran a Japanese grocery store and an inn and took care of the immigrants for nearly twenty years.

Gihei was the first emigrant to Steveston from Mio, but he left his wife and children in Mio. He worked so hard to help men in Steveston that one day he briefly visited his home in Japan to find his wife had left home and been married to another man.

Winters in Canada are severe, and Gihei suffered from rheumatism.

As his conditions got worse, he handed his business to his relatives and returned to Japan. He was 57. Six years later, he passed away in Wakayama. They say he wished to visit Steveston again to his last day.

11. Museums in Two Villages

A Canadian man visited Mio in 2009 and wrote about his trip on a website. His grandfather emigrated from Mio to Steveston in the late 19th Century.

A view of Mio from Hinomisaki Park, Wakayama
A view of Mio from Hinomisaki Park, Wakayama / 日ノ岬より三尾地区を望む

In Mio, the lush forested mountains closely surrounded the small bay and reminded him of the British Columbia mountains on the Pacific. He imagined the folks from Wakayama felt affinity for Steveston for its view.

One of the places he visited in Mio was “Canada Shiryo-kan” (the Canadian Museum). On display were various artifacts brought back from Canada. Old steamer trunks, a lumberjack shirt, kitchen tools, old photos, children’s essays and clothes given to the Japanese immigrants when they were put into the internment camp during WWII and such tell their lives, and someone even brought back some coastal First Nations pieces such as a totem pole. The purpose of the display was to tell people the ordeals of the Japanese immigrants, and it seemed there was no or very little explanations on each item in English.

This museum closed in 2015 and another organization opened “Canada Museum” in 2018. It is actually a renovated, small, elegant, Western-style house built by a retiree from Steveston. We couldn’t find any English page on their website (in May 2021).

In Steveston, the historic small “Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society Building” still stands. Their exhibits, websites of Canadian Government, Canadian Museum of Immigrants, All Canadian Japanese Association, local media and Japanese media tell the stories of Gihei KUNO and the workers from Japan. Much is available in English and some in Japanese.

There were a lot of interesting stories about the Japanese immigrants to Canada. One day we would like to visit Mio and Steveston, and look for some more.

[End of the English post]



1. うんしゅうみかんのしゅつさき
2. カナダのクリスマス・オレンジ
3. みかんの
4. めい日系にっけいみん
5. スティーブストンのさけりょう
6. やまびとのしゅうだんかせぎ
7. アメリカむら
8. やまのみかん
9. カナダまれのまごたち


1. うんしゅうみかんのしゅつさき





*1 マンダリン・タンジェリンとあわせてひとつの品目ひんもくになっていますが、ほんではタンジェリンはほとんど栽培さいばいされていないので、ここではうんしゅうみかんとかんがえます。

*2 1988せんきゅうひゃくはちじゅうはちねんぜん統計結とうけいけっにゅうしゅできませんが、これぜんはもっとおおくがカナダににゅうされていたとおもいます。しゅつそうすうも、カナダへのしゅつすうも、1988せんきゅうひゃくはちじゅうはちねんから一貫いっかんしてつづけているからです。




  • カナダはふゆ果物くだものれないので、リンゴやなしせつあと果物くだものふね鉄道てつどう外国がいこくからるものにかぎられる。そのちょうなひとつがほんからふねはこばれてるみかんだった。
  • 12じゅうにがつはじめになると、バンクーバーこうにみかんのばこ満載まんさいしたほんふねく。1980せんきゅうひゃくはちじゅう年代末頃ねんだいすえごろまでは、みかんとうちゃくもと新聞しんぶん第一面だいいちめん報道ほうどうされたものだ。はなやかなオレンジいろのみかんが店先みせさきしょくたくにいっせいにあらわれ、クリスマスぶんがった。
  • そして、クリスマスのあさは、るしておいた靴下くつしたのつまさきかならずみかんがはいっていた。
  • 洗濯せんたくなどさむところにみかんばこいてあった。あたたかいでみかんをべながらほんんで、なくなるとさむからってきて、またべた。
  • むかしがんじょうばこはいってきたので、ばこさいようして、おもちゃばこどうばこひくだいつくったりした。
  • みかんがみどりやピンクの薄紙うすがみつつまれていたので、その薄紙うすがみあそんだりもした、などなど……

















おとこがすてぶすとんとんだのは スティーブストン(“Steveston”)むら。バンクーバーとおなじくブリティッシュ・コロンビアしゅうにあり、バンクーバーのみなみやく15じゅうごキロ、フレーザーがわ太平洋たいへいようそそてんちいさな漁村ぎょそんでした。


















8. やまのみかん




















一方、スティーブトンにも、ちいさなれき的建造物てきけんぞうぶつ Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society Buildingがのこっています。また、カナダせい、カナダ民博物館みんはくぶつかんぜんカナダ日系人にっけいじんきょうかい、カナダのほんメディア、ローカルメディアなど、えいおおいですが、ほんでも、日系にっけいカナダみんれきかたいでいます。



References / 参考さんこうりょう

  1. 財務省貿易統計, customs.go.jp
  2. 平間俊行,「クリスマス・オレンジ」, カナダシアター, https://www.canada.jp/stories/post-3275/
  3. ‘Here’s why Canadians eat mandarin oranges during the holiday season’, Vancouver Is Awesome, https://www.vancouverisawesome.com/sponsored/christmas-orange-history-canada-1969152
  4. ‘Christmas oranges: Local history advent calendar 2018-Day 24, Mandarin oranges’, Vanalogue, Dec. 24, 2008, https://vanalogue.wordpress.com/tag/christmas-oranges/
  5. ‘Japanese Canadian History’, National Association of Japanese Canadians, http://najc.ca/japanese-canadian-history/
  6. 「日系カナダ人の歴史」, 全カナダ日系人協会, http://najc.ca/日系カナダ人の歴史/
  7. ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement, 1908’ (Hayashi-Lemieux Agreement), Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, https://pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/gentlemens-agreement-1908
  8. Akemi Kikumura Yano, ‘Canada-Migration Historical Overview’, Discover Nikkei, 28 Mar 2014, http://www.discovernikkei.org/en/journal/2014/3/28/canada/
  9. アケミ・キクムラ・ヤノ,「日経カナダ移民略史」, ディスカバー・ニッケイ, 2014年3月28日, http://www.discovernikkei.org/ja/journal/2014/3/28/canada/
  10. ‘How BC’s Multicultural Fishing Industry Shaped the Province (Photos)’, Vancouver Is Awesome, May 18, 2017, https://www.vancouverisawesome.com/history/how-bcs-multicultural-fishing-industry-shaped-the-province-photos-1933780
  11. 「日本人初移住から140年。カナダ・スティーブストンの魅力」, テレビジャパン, 2017年10月20日, https://tvjapan.net/post/カナダ-日系人ゆかりの街、バンクーバーの郊外/
  12. 「アメリカ村 (美浜町)」, https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/アメリカ村_(美浜町)
  13. 河原典史,「日系カナダ移民のライフヒストリーをめぐる調査法の再考」, http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/acd/re/k-rsc/lcs/kiyou/17-4/RitsIILCS_17.4pp.3-20Kawahara.pdf
  14. 椿真智子,「多文化社会カナダにおける日系人社会の変容と文化継承」, https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/15917179.pdf
  15. 在バンクーバー日本国総領事館開館125周年記念フォーラム「二つの歩み」日本外交と日系人の遺産第2回「家族移民と日系コミュニティーの拡大:20世紀初頭~戦前」,『バンクーバー新報』, http://www.v-shinpo.com/special/1306-2014-01-24-20-14-54-36425785
  16. 在バンクーバー日本国総領事館開館125周年記念フォーラム「二つの歩み」日本外交と日系人の遺産第3回「第二次世界大戦時代」, 『バンクーバー新報』, http://www.v-shinpo.com/special/1346-2014-01-24-20-14-54-36425796
  17. 在バンクーバー日本国総領事館開館125周年記念フォーラム「二つの歩み」日本外交と日系人の遺産第4回「戦後復興時代」, 『バンクーバー新報』, http://www.v-shinpo.com/special/1349-2014-01-24-20-14-54-3642579718
  18. 在バンクーバー日本国総領事館開館125周年記念フォーラム「二つの歩み」日本外交と日系人の遺産総括バンクーバー日本人学校創立と時代背景, 『バンクーバー新報』, http://www.v-shinpo.com/special/1544-2014-01-24-20-14-54-36425831
  19. 在バンクーバー日本国総領事館開館125周年山田千佳子記念講演会, 『日系カナダ人の歴史~海を渡った日本の村、三世代の変遷の物語~』講演要約, 『バンクーバー新報』, http://v-shinpo.com/special/1367-2014-01-24-20-14-54-36425801
  20. Gerry Shikatani, ‘Easts Meets West; Why Japanese fishing village proudly flies a Canadian flag’, Winnipeg Free Press, May 16, 2009, https://www.vancouverisawesome.com/sponsored/christmas-orange-history-canada-1969152
  21. ‘The Steveston Museum’, Tourism Richmond BC, https://www.visitrichmondbc.com/listing/the-steveston-museum/50/
  22. ‘Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society Building Exhibit’, Steveston Historical Society, 6 June 2015, http://historicsteveston.ca/japanese-fishermens-benevolent-society-building-exhibit/
  23. 「和歌山・美浜にカナダミュージアム カナダ移民の功績を紹介」, 和歌山経済新聞, 2018年8月28日, https://wakayama.keizai.biz/headline/1182/
  24. 「工野儀兵衛のひ孫髙井さん、母の肖像画を移民資料館に寄贈」, 日高新報, 2020年7月4日, https://www.hidakashimpo.co.jp/news1/2020/07/工野儀兵衛のひ孫髙井さん%E3%80%80母の肖像画を移民資.html
  25. 「アメリカ村資料館(日ノ岬パーク)」, 癒しの和歌山, 2011年8月22日, https://ameblo.jp/968-910/entry-10995992178.html
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