California Japantowns - Exploring the preservation of history, culture, and community...    


Project Goals

  • Reclaim the stories of buildings and landscapes of California’s historic Japantowns, including the majority of Nihonmachi that were transformed following WWII internment.
  • Identify and evaluate the significance and physical condition of historic buildings and landscapes associated with Nihonmachi across California.
  • Gather Nisei memories of California’s Japantowns that have not yet been well documented.
  • Capture the diverse historical experiences of the state’s Nikkei, from residents of urban Japantowns that featured a wide range of community institutions and services to those who worked and lived in smaller communities across the state’s rural and suburban landscapes.


Identifying and documenting historic places associated with California’s Nihonmachi will aid a number of important efforts to preserve community heritage. The findings from Preserving California’s Japantowns can be used to support local and statewide planning efforts, programs to designate and protect historical and cultural buildings and other significant sites, and cultural tourism projects.

Project research will be compiled and submitted to the California State Library and shared with community leaders in each Japantown to support local efforts in planning and preservation. The research findings from Preserving California’s Japantowns will provide a powerful tool for local communities, and advocates for Japanese American heritage statewide, to plan for the protection of places where historic buildings and landscape still exist, and in locations where community fabric has been demolished, to ensure that the community’s history is not erased as well.

San Diego businesses on "C" Street,
San Diego Historical Society
West Fresno Drug Company, Bancroft Library
Bay Area Flower Grower, Library of Congress