Walking Tour

3-Japantown Monument
and Ikoi no Ba

The 3-Japantown monument and
the first Ikoi no Ba (rest space)!
By JCCsj and JACL.
on Fifth Street mid-block between Jackson and Empire Streets
in front of the
Issei Memorial Building - benches commemorating internment camps & actual sign EXEC Order 9066
< others
on Fifth - 'Festivals' - in front of Lotus Preschool mid-block between Taylor and Jackson Street
'Heritage' -grey granite in front of San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin
'Community' - in front of Wesley United Methodist Church, 100th Anniversary logo, hand-rounded wooden benches
The Large Rock by the Nikkei Lantern at Fifth & Jackson Street on the SE corner is called the Issei Memorial Stone. This was donated by San Jose's Sister City, Okayama, Japan to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Sister City relationship in 2007. Donations from Jimi Yamaichi made the transport from Japan and installation in Japantown possible.
The Nikkei Lantern is a symbol of the history and future of the Nikkei (Japanese American) community. The bend in the lantern symbolized the internment during WWII. As the lantern reaches towards the sky, the symbolism is meant to say that the hopes and dreams of the first generations and all those thereafter have no limitations.

The granite benches seen around Japantown and the Issei Voices Wall at 5th & Jackson are a timeline back to the origins of the town. Quotes and etched photos from the past give the visitor a glimpse into life and times of Japantown San Jose.

Yamato Bath House-1911
(Minato Bath House - 1920's-1941)
(no longer standing, this bathhouse was on the SW corner of the Corporation Yard. Artifacts from the old Japantown and Chinatown - next door to each other - Chinatown was first! - can be seen in an exhibit at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose popularly known as JAMsj, on 5th Street.

Photo courtesy: W. Kanemoto Collection

All of Japantown was evacuated of persons of Japanese and Japanese American descent. Italian Americans lived and worked side by side with the Japanese before and after WWII. The area became known as Manila town as properties were rented, leased or bought by the Filipino Community. The City of San Jose took the corporation yard as the main City Maintenance Yard during WWII and all remnants of Chinatown and Japantown were erased from view on that site. The site is currently cleared and archeological work completed in preparation for the next best development. The Japantown community and the City of San Jose are working together having worked out guiding principles for development over a multiple year process. Collaboration between Little Tokyo (Los Angeles) and Nihonmachi San Francisco are also very evident in the completion of Senate Bill 307 which gave the impetus for the historical markers and corp yard movement.

Please enjoy your walk! Hope you come back again soon!

1. "Ken Ing Low" restaurant building, a remembrance of the Chinese community in the area, retains its architectural character. It was also the site of the Cuban International Restaurant and for 50 years, the site of the Puerto Rican Club at 625 N Sixth Street.


2. This wood frame building, formerly the home of live Japanese theatre, was later used to show films. It was also the rehearsal studios for premiere Japantown performance company, San Jose Taiko. When they were forced to move because of the sale of the building, they relocated rehearsals to a space at 150 S. Montgomery Street n San Jose. Their offices are still in the Issei Memorial Building on 5th Street in Japantown. The Orthodox Ethiopian Church bought Okida Hall, renovated in 2010 and have become a very active presence in Japantown.

3. One of the early boarding houses where single Japanese males stayed while working on farms in the valley. 205 Jackson Street is Hank's Rod and Reel. The building is now occupied by 'Headliners' and Kumako Ramen. Both new urban culture and ramen - something that has become a staple in the normal Japanese diet, both businesses continue to contribute to Japantown San Jose culture.

4. The Issei Memorial Buiding served as a hospital from 1910 to 1933. It is currently the home of the San Jose Chapter of the JACL and Contemporary Asian Theater Scene
 565 N Fifth Street and offices of San Jose Taiko. Many events and meetings are held in the historic building. Recently (2012) the Consul General of Japan, San Francisco, Hon. Hiroshi Inomata, donated and planted a cherry tree in the front garden to commemorate the friendship between Japan and the USA on the 100th anniversary year of the donation of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the City of Washington DC. P
hoto of Issei Memorial Building: Curtis Fujita

5. Across the street from the hospital, this building was a midwifery. 580 N Fifth Street. It has been a boarding house and apartments for many years. In 2007 a huge fire engulfed the building, took one life and threatened everything around it. Luckily, San Jose Firefighters were able to contain the blaze and minimize damage to the buildings next to and behind the building. It is currently, once again, in use as apartments.

6. The 1988 addition to the Wesley United Methodist Church was designed to incorporate the original structure, built in 1941. 566 N Fifth Street. Fifth Street is sometimes referred to as 'institutional row' because, Fuji Towers (started by the community for mobile elderly housing) the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin is on Fifth, the Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj) is on Fifth, the Issei Memorial Building is on fifth and Wesley United Methodist Church. In front of The church is another Ikoi no Ba - 'Community' - the circle is made of two semi-circles of wood, cut from one tree. Photo of Issei Memorial Building: Curtis Fujita

7. The San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin was designed by architect George Shimamoto, and built by the Nishiura brothers in 1937. One of the largest Obon Festivals in the USA takes place here every summer with over 1300 dancers participating in one night in 2012. The community is always welcome! An Ikoi no Ba (off-white granite) with the phrase 'Ichi go Ichi e' (famous saying by Tea Master Sen no Rikyu meaning - "one time, one life")  is under one of the small cherry trees in front of the Betsuin.  Across the street, cared for by Lotus Preschool is the 'Festivals' Ikoi no Ba. Children from Lotus Preschool, the Northside Boys & Girls Club, the Wesley United Methodist Sunday School and the San Jose Buddhist Church Dharma School decorated tiles with images that they associated with Japantown. These were placed in concrete blocks with help from artist Ken Matsumoto and architect Peter Geraghty from the San Jose Redevelopment Agency to symbolize youth and the joy and future of the Japantown community.  640 N Fifth Street. Photo of San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin Courtesy of: Gerald Sakamoto.