In the corner of the Hachiman Shrine in the Arai district of the city of Fukushima, there stands a tall and unusual red-brick tower. It is a monument with the names of those who emigrated overseas about a century ago, mainly from the western part of the city.

Yoshiko Sato, 82, from the Sabara district of the city, has a grandfather who emigrated to Hawaii. The grandfather’s name, as well as the names of Sato's other relatives who went to Brazil, are inscribed on the monument. “They must have left their hometown with a strong sense of determination," Sato said, thinking about how her ancestors had had to make difficult choices when their farming business failed.

During the Meiji and Taisho eras, which spanned from 1868 to 1926, many people in the Arai district lost their farmland due to flooding from the Arakawa river and bad harvests. Damage from cold weather and other factors also made life difficult.