HomeJapanese AmericanJapanese Americans reclaim Sacramento Japantown

Japanese Americans reclaim Sacramento Japantown

A new mural unveiled this week in Sacramento, California resurrected memories of a Japantown that was.

The art piece by Karen Tsugawa features a cherry blossom tree along with eight different panels depicting Japanese American businesses lost when redevelopment destroyed the community in the 1950’s, reported the Sacramento Bee.

As David Hosley reported for AsAmNews’s ongoing Lost Kinjo project, Sacramento’s Japantown once spanned eight blocks from 3rd and 5th between L and O Streets in Sacramento almost a century ago.

RELATED: State hearing on reclaiming Sacramento’s Japantown

Shortly after Japanese Americans began returning from incarceration camps, the city proposed the Capitol Mall project. By 1953, there was a plan sketched out showing a mix of blocks devoted to commercial space, private and public housing where Japantown once stood.

The community unsuccessfully fought the project.

“We opposed it on the basis that we went through evacuation or relocation once, and we know the hardship more than anybody else,” said Henry Taketa to AsAmNews. He expressed special concern about the Issei, the pioneers who came in the first wave of Japanese immigration. “Once they moved, once they had given up what they had, they would be too old to start all over again. So it would be a demise of what we called Japantown.”

Some of those who attended the mural unveiling still have fond memories of their once vibrant community.

“It was fabulous because the grocers, the dentist (were) all trusted individuals in the community,” said Stan Umeda who grew up in Sacramento’s Japantown to CBS. “Everybody knows each other, so it was a great community at the time.”

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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