Fifteen years after Toyota announced it would build a manufacturing plant in the heart of the Bluegrass, Kentucky crafts are being used to help sell Camrys at car dealerships in Japan and sushi and Japanese condiments are widely stocked on grocery shelves in a number of cities across Kentucky. In early 2000, the state boasted more than 100 Japanese companies representing a total investment of more than seven billion dollars, employing more than 33,000 Kentuckians.
Japan in the Bluegrass is the first book to focus on the regional and local impact of the globalization of Japanese businesses, particularly Toyota, in the United States. Fourteen American and Japanese contributors include geographers, political scientists, sociologists, and an economist, urban planner, and environmental scientist, and their essays go beyond the traditional exploration of politics and economics to examine the social, cultural, and environmental effects of Japanese investment in Kentucky.
The authors examine the factors that brought these companies to this part of the United States, which range from a well-developed system of highways to cooperation from state and local governments to hefty incentive packages. They discuss the significant influence of Toyota and its suppliers on local communities in Kentucky as well as in Toyota City, Japan. Essays also cover the social and cultural shifts that have resulted from Japanese investment, including educational activities in public schools, the relationship between business and local media, and the integration of Japanese managers and their families into Kentucky communities.