Japan Town – Nihonmachi
Around 1890, the Japanese came to the Santa Clara Valley because of the abundant farm work. Without an established community of their own, these Issei (first generation) pioneers found refuge in San Jose’s Chinatown (called “Heinlenville” by locals after John Heinlen, the man who built it) located north of the downtown area. As an Asian town center, Chinatown offered familiar lodging, entertainment, restaurants and shops providing comfort and safety from prevailing anti-Asian racism.
By the early 20th century, the Japanese established their own community that flourished alongside Chinatown. Now, they could find cultural support, employment, goods, shelter and a social life that were uniquely Japanese. At first, Nihonmachi mostly served the bachelor migrant workers and Japanese farmers who came into town for supplies. But as more Japanese women settled in the United States (thanks to the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907), there was an emergence of family life in the community as the earliest Nisei (children of the Issei) were born. Nihonmachi flourished as more Japanese made the Valley their permanent home. It was during this time that some of the most famous neighborhood buildings, such as the Kuwabara Hospital (Issei Memorial Building), the Taihei Hotel and Okida Hall, were constructed..."
the portion of San Jose, California, United States bounded by First Street to the west, 8th Street to the east, Empire Street to the south and Taylor Street to the north; it is just north of Downtown San Jose. Japantown originally formed as a site for boardinghouses for Japanese men, just west of the 1887 "Heinlenville" Chinatown settlement, which was the block bounded by Sixth, Seventh, Taylor, and Jackson Streets.
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