Considered the birthplace of Japanese contributions to California agriculture, Vacaville and the surrounding area were home to thousands of permanent residents and migrant Japanese laborers who worked in local orchards around the turn of the twentieth century. By 1906, a core business district had developed near Vacaville’s Chinatown to serve the needs of Japanese immigrants throughout the Vaca Valley. For several decades Vacaville served as the commercial, cultural and social hub for Japanese immigrants in Solano County, whose numbers climbed to several thousand during peak harvest season. Wartime relocation and patterns of hostility by white residents — 1500 locals signed a petition to prohibit post-war return of Nikkei — meant that Vacaville’s Japantown was not revived after World War II. A portion of the community cemetery and two small downtown markers are the only evidence of the Japanese community that once thrived here.
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