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Sansei (三世, literally, "third generation") is a Japanese language term used in countries in North America and South America to name the children born to Japanese people who immigrated. The emigrants or immigrants who were born in Japan are called Issei; and their children born in the new country are called Nisei (second generation). The grandchildren of Issei are called Sansei (third generation).

The character and uniqueness of the Sansei is recognized in its social history.


Japanese Immigrants disembarkment in Brazil 1937
The grandchildren of these Japanese-Brazilian (Nipo-brasileiros) immigrants would be called Sansei.

The earliest organized group of Japanese emigrants settled in Mexico in 1897.

Imigration to Brazil began in 1908. Today, the community which grew from the immigrant children and grandchildren has become the largest Japanese emigrant population outside of Japan, including approximately 1.5 million Brazilians. Other communities of Sansei grew up in the United States,

The use of the term Sansei was modeled after an Issei pattern or template. In the 1930s, the term Issei came into common use. The word replaced the term "immigrant" (ijusha). This change in usage mirrored an evolution in the way the Issei looked at themselves. The label Issei also included the idea of belonging to the new country.

Cultural profile

The term Nikkei (日系) was created by sociologists in the late 20th century. The Nikkei include all of the world's Japanese immigrants and their descendants.

The Issei were born in Japan, and their cultural perspective was primarily Japanese; but they were in America by choice. Their Sansei grandsons and granddaughters grew up with a national and cultural point-of-view that was different from their grandparents.

Although the Issei kept an emotional connection with Japan, they created homes in a country far from Japan. The Sansei had never known a country other than the one into which they were born.

Generation Cohort description
Issei (一世) The generation of people born in Japan who immigrated to another country.
Nisei (二世) The generation of people born in North America, Latin America, Australia, Hawaii, or any country outside of Japan either to at least one Issei parent.
Sansei (三世) The generation of people born to at least one Nisei parent.
Yonsei (四世) The generation of people born to at least one Sansei parent
Gosei (五世) The generation of people born to at least one Yonsei parent

The Issei, Nisei and Sansei generations reflect distinctly different attitudes to authority, gender, non-Japanese involvement, and religious practice, and other matters.

Select list of notable Sansei

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