HomeCommunity IssuesEpoch Times: SF Japantown Struggles to Retain Cultural Identity

Epoch Times: SF Japantown Struggles to Retain Cultural Identity


Japantown Cherry Blossom Festival
Photo by Kishisaka

Japanese Americans concerned about the future of San Francisco’s Japantown fear it will turn into a tourist mecca and lose its cultural identity, reports the Epoch Times

“We’re this small community that’s kind of old and funky,” Karen Kai said. “There’s so much history, but it’s all very personal. As some of the residents said, we don’t want to be Grant Street,” referring to a street in Chinatown lined with souvenir shops.

The city’s Japantown is one of only three in the entire United States. It dates back to just after the 1906 earthquake when Japanese Americans began migrating into the neighborhood. Japantown has survived the 1924 Immigration Act which barred immigrants from owning property. It survived the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. And so far it has resisted efforts to gentrify the neighborhood.

The community has worked with the mayor’s office to come up with a plan for the future.

The Japantown Cultural Heritage and Economic Sustainability Strategy (JCHESS) is the first cultural heritage-focused neighborhood plan in the city of San Francisco.

“You’re taking this cultural tradition and you’re making it available to everybody,” Joyce Oishi said. “We’re sort of this hub that sort of opens the world.”

But some wonder if such a plan is feasible as economic pressures intensify. You can read more about the strategic plan and the concerns for Japantown’s future in the Epoch Times.





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