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Japanese American Remembrance Trail

  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Estimated Walking Time: 2 hours

Explore the Japanese American Remembrance Trail, an urban hike in Seattle’s original Japantown from Pioneer Square to the Chinatown-International District to the Central District. Visit Japantown past and present – from early pioneers to the World War II era to community life today. Immerse yourself in the personal stories of resilience, and explore connections to today.

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Also known as: East Kong Yick Building; Freeman Hotel We connect everyone to the dynamic history, cultures, and art of Asian Pacific Americans through vivid storytelling and inspiring experiences to advance racial and social equity.” - Wing Luke Museum As a National Park Service Affiliated Area and the first Smithsonian affiliate in the Pacific Northwest, the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience offers an authentic and unique...

Learn more about Wing Luke Museum (#1)

Mile: 0.0

Also known as: Atlas Theatre “I was mesmerized by those movies... that there had been such a time in Japanese history.” - Darrell Kitamura “We were multicultural before it was cool.” - Elaine Kitamura From “Growing Up at the Kokusai Theater,” by David Yamaguchi, North American Post, May 26, 2016 Opened in 1918 as the Atlas Theatre, it was renamed the Kokusai Theater in the 1960s. “Kokusai” means “international” in...

Learn more about Kokusai Theater (#2)

Mile: 0.13

Also known as: “Heaven, Man and Earth” George Tsutakawa was born in Seattle in 1910 and attended the University of Washington, earning both Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees. He served in the United States Army during World War II. He began teaching at the University of Washington in 1947, launching a distinguished career as Professor of Art until 1976. After experimentation with abstract forms in...

Learn more about Tsutakawa Sculpture (#3)

Mile: 0.15

The trees, plants, benches and public art that line Maynard Avenue north of Jackson Street are no ordinary sidewalk improvement project. Welcome to the Chinatown-International District’s first green street. Developed by InterIm CDA, this self-sustaining watering system captures rain from the nearby building – Nihonmachi Terrace Family Housing – to water the trees, shrubs and grasses. Runoff from the roof flows into the cistern at the top of the block....

Learn more about Maynard Ave Green Street (#4)

Mile: 0.18

Nihonmachi Alley is located on the north side of Jackson Street between 6th and Maynard Avenues. It features murals of four landmark businesses that undauntedly continued upon the families returning from incarceration: Kokusai Theatre, Maneki Restaurant, Sagamiya Confectionary and Uwajimaya Grocers. The murals in Nihonmachi Alley are a collaborative effort between Friends of Japantown Seattle and local Japanese artist Amy Nikaitani. Across the alley, artist Erin Shigaki showcases larger-than-life historic...

Learn more about Nihonmachi Alley (#5)
Points of Interest
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Kokusai Theater

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Maneki Restaurant

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Sagamiya Confectionary

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Uwajimaya Grocers

Mile: 0.22

Chiyo’s Garden honors the Murakami family’s daughter Chiyo. Born in 1915, Chiyo Murakami was the second-oldest daughter of Sanzo and Matsuyo Murakami, who originally built the adjacent Jackson Building. She died tragically young at age 22, succumbing to tuberculosis in an upstairs room in the Jackson Building on January 3, 1937. The Wing Luke Museum partnered with the Murakami family and KOBO at Higo in 2012 to transform a plot...

Learn more about Chiyo’s Garden (#6)

Mile: 0.24

Also known as: Kaname Izakaya and Shochu Bar; Takohachi Itsumono is Japanese for “regular,” a word that sums up what owners Mike Vu and Hisato Kawaminami hoped to create at their restaurant, a place for loyal clientele to connect over food and drinks in Japantown. When you come, don’t miss their saimin, put on the menu at special request for soup of some sort by the Jackson Building’s third-generation owner...

Learn more about Itsumono Izakaya (#7)

Mile: 0.26

Also known as: Higo; Higo Variety Store; Higo 10 Cents Store “They didn’t throw anything out. It was just really great. Great for all of us.” – Binko Chiong-Bisbee, co-owner of KOBO at Higo “Do you need anything?” Masako “Masa” Murakami was the youngest of the family, which owned and operated the Higo 10 Cents Store/Higo Variety Store for almost 100 years. She was known to stand by the entrance...

Learn more about KOBO at Higo (#8)

Mile: 0.27

Also known as: Momo; Jackson Loan Office The War Relocation Authority, the civilian federal agency that assumed supervision from the U.S. Army of the 10 major “relocation centers” around the country for the Japanese Americans during World War II, encouraged its charges to leave the camps by relocating away from the U.S. West Coast. College-age Nisei students went off to attend schools in the Midwest or East Coast. Entire families...

Learn more about Sairen (#9)

Mile: 0.28

Immediately after the Japanese military attack on the U.S. naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i on December 7, 1941, the FBI swooped down on Japanese American communities across the mainland U.S. and Hawai’i, arresting Issei who, according to the Bureau, were “aliens who led cultural or assistance organizations,” “slightly less suspicious aliens,” and “members of, or those who donated to, ethnic groups, Japanese language teachers and Buddhist clergy.” In Seattle,...

Learn more about Jackson Building Warehouse (#10)

Mile: 0.3

Opened in 1904, the original Maneki Restaurant stood three stories high in a building fashioned after a Japanese castle, high on the hill at 6th Avenue and Washington Street, at the core of Seattle’s then bustling Japantown. While the forced removal and incarceration of the Japanese American community during World War II and the shuttering of businesses throughout Japantown allowed the castle to be ransacked and made inoperable, the “Welcome...

Learn more about Maneki (#12)

Mile: 0.33

Also known as: H.T. Kubota Building As the Japanese immigrant population began to swell on the American mainland from 2,039 in 1890 to 72,157 in 1910, so did resentment and racial prejudice from White America, which saw the Japanese as economic competition. The U.S. and Japanese governments entered into the Gentlemen’s Agreement in 1908; Japan agreed to halt the immigration of its laborers. In the Ladies’ Agreement with the U.S....

Learn more about Main Street School Annex (#13)

Mile: 0.34

Japanese public bathhouses (known as a sento) were once more commonplace up and down the West Coast, serving Japanese immigrants living in residential SRO (single room occupancy) hotels and Japanese migrant laborers coming into the city during the off season. More than just a place to bathe, the sento was a place to socialize and find respite in community, especially through the daily trials of living with racism and discrimination...

Learn more about Panama Hotel Sento (#14)

Mile: 0.35

National Historic Landmark. National Treasure of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. These accolades are fitting to mark the stature and uniqueness of the Panama Hotel, which in community’s eyes can be summed up by the word “beloved.” The Panama Hotel was designed by architect Sabro Ozasa, the first Asian American to practice architecture in Seattle. It opened in 1910 in the heart of Japantown at 6th and Main as...

Learn more about Panama Hotel (#15)

Mile: 0.37

What do you need to have close by in a neighborhood to live there? A home you can afford. A grocery store to buy food. A school for your kids. How about a pharmacy to get the medicine you need? Tokuda Drugs provided just that for Japantown, nearby Yesler Terrace, and the Central District. The store – started in 1935 by George Tokuda and once under the name Johnson’s Drug...

Learn more about Tokuda Drugs (#16)

Mile: 0.38

Also known as: Astor Hotel “It was a cultural center. It was a place where you could see the different arts, the dance programs from Japan as well as programs that were developed in the community itself…. It was a nice place for the community to have a place to go.” - May Sasaki Built in 1909, the Nippon Kan soon became the cultural center for Seattle’s Japanese American community....

Learn more about Nippon Kan (#17)

Mile: 0.49

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Founded in 1928 by James “Jimmie” Sakamoto, second-generation Japanese Americans (Nisei) turned to the Japanese American Courier, the first English-language Japanese American newspaper in the U.S., to get the news. Whether sports news from the Courier League (also founded by Sakamoto) or global news positioning Nisei as the ideal bridge between U.S. and Japan and providing Japan’s perspective on its 1930s expansionism in Asia,...

Learn more about Japanese American Courier (#18)

Mile: 0.62

Although completed in early 2016, Hirabayashi Place is a building that merges the past to the present with a call to the future. Built by InterIm CDA, this seven-story, 96-unit affordable housing project provides a new anchor for Nihonmachi along its western edge. The building is named in honor of Gordon Hirabayashi. While many Japanese Americans during World War II demonstrated their loyalty to America by serving in the U.S....

Learn more about Hirabayashi Place (#19)

Mile: 0.7

Also known as: M. Furuya Company Masajiro Furuya founded the Furuya Company in 1892. Although it started as a tailor shop, Furuya grew the company to amass retail, import-export, labor contracting and banking businesses. Historian Gary Iwamoto describes him as “perhaps the most prominent local [Seattle] businessman of the early 20th century” and “certainly the top businessman among Japanese on the Pacific Coast” during that period. Furuya built his company...

Learn more about Furuya Company (#20)

Mile: 0.85

Tucked away in this urban streetscape is a lush garden, designed by landscape architect Maso Kinoshita. Born in California in 1925, he was a Kibei – born in the U.S. but educated in Japan – having spent his childhood in Japan, returning to the U.S. at the age of 15. During World War II, he was incarcerated in Arkansas’ Rohwer concentration camp and then served in the U.S. Military Intelligence...

Learn more about Waterfall Garden Park (#21)

Mile: 0.87

Also known as: Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Before World War II, Japanese Americans owned and managed as many as 2/3 of all of Seattle’s hotels. The Cadillac Hotel was no exception. It was run by Kamekichi and Haruko Tokita from 1913 until World War II forced their removal and incarceration. Today, the site is the location of the NPS Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park where you can...

Learn more about Cadillac Hotel (#22)

Mile: 0.93

As tensions heightened leading up to WWII, Japanese American porters working at King Street Station were replaced by Filipino Americans who wore large “Filipino” identification buttons. Japanese community leaders – rounded up and detained immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 – left by train at King Street Station for imprisonment by the U.S. On March 20, 1942, family and friends gathered to see 150 men...

Learn more about King Street Station (#23)

Mile: 1.03

Also known as: Old Uwajimaya Although the tenants may have changed over the years, the blue iconic tile roof has been a mainstay of the neighborhood since the building first opened as home to Uwajimaya in 1970. It is often still referred to as “Old Uwajimaya” by long-time Seattle residents. The site served as cultural and community gathering space, Nagomi Tea House, with its own traditional Japanese Chashitsu tea house,...

Learn more about Nagomi Tea House (#24)

Mile: 1.27

Originally called the Hokubei Hochi/North American Times, the North American Post was founded in 1902. Like other Japanese community newspapers, it shut down operations in 1942 due to the World War II forced removal and incarceration. On June 5, 1946, it resumed operations and is now the largest and oldest Japanese-language newspaper published in the Pacific Northwest.`

Learn more about North American Post (#25)

Mile: 1.28

Also known as: Waji’s Japanese immigrant Fujimatsu Moriguchi started Uwajimaya as a small Tacoma fish market in 1928. He named the store after his place of birth. Today, Uwajimaya has become the largest Asian grocery and gift store in the Pacific Northwest. The store also houses the Kinokuniya bookstore, the largest Japanese bookstore in the region. Head back to the Nagomi Tea House (waypoint #24) to see Uwajimaya’s previous location.

Learn more about Uwajimaya (#26)

Mile: 1.38

Also known as: Inscape Arts Completed in 1932, this building served as the region’s immigration detention station until 2004. Private owners purchased the building in 2008 and by 2010 it was transformed into artist workspaces. And what happened to the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the region? It outgrew one building and became two – with administrative services moved to Tukwila and a new detention center opened in Tacoma. With...

Learn more about INS Building (#27)

Mile: 1.38

Massive is an apt-word to describe the Puget Sound Hotel. With an impressive 444 rooms, it was once the second largest hotel in town. Before World War II, the hotel was owned by the Nishimura family. Ritoji Nishimura emigrated from Ehime-ken on Shikoku Island, Japan to work as a farm hand in Seattle. In 1911 Ritoji’s request for a picture bride was answered. He married Kiku in a Christian ceremony...

Learn more about Puget Sound Hotel (#28)

Mile: 1.38

One of the many stories along the Japanese American Remembrance Trail is of Hiroyuki “Hiro” Nishimura, former resident of assisted living facility Nikkei Manor. Even in his late 90s, Hiro walked around the neighborhood every day. “Hiro’s Walk” is a shortened version of the walk he once took in his younger years, a comfortable half-mile loop in the very center of the Japanese American Remembrance Trail. It connects Nikkei Manor...

Learn more about Nikkei Manor (#29)

Mile: 1.4

Also known as: Bush; The Bush Spirits and beer can create a unique ambience, where people come together in the most unrestrained ways. This might be best embodied in the raucous karaoke bar and there’s none more famous in Seattle than Bush Garden, started by the Seko family in 1953. Along with drinks like sake martinis that bring together East and West, Bush Garden’s legendary karaoke nights have also been...

Learn more about Bush Garden (#30)

Mile: 1.48

Walking the sidewalks now with the I-5 freeway towering overhead, it’s hard to imagine the business once here – Cherry Land Florist. Opened in 1932 by Tamano and J.M. Kobata, Cherry Land Florist started as a small grocery store and grew into a large retail flower shop. What images does the name Cherry Land evoke for you? Glance up Jackson Street on a spring day and if you are lucky,...

Learn more about Cherry Land Florist (#31)

Mile: 1.82

Approximately 300 people attended the elaborate 2-day inaugural ceremony for the Nichiren Buddhist Church on May 10-11, 1929. The building itself was designed by Kichio Allen Arai in 1928. Arai was one of Seattle’s earliest Asian American architects. Arai was born in Port Blakely, Washington, in 1901. His family moved to Seattle in 1909. Arai began his architecture studies at the University of Washington in 1919 and graduated six years...

Learn more about Nichiren Buddhist Church (#32)

Mile: 2.08

Also known as: Nippon Hospital What does a community do when local hospitals are unable to care for its sick due to language, cultural, financial and racial barriers? Like others, Seattle’s Japanese American community decided to build a hospital of its own. Members of the Seattle Buddhist Church, under the direction of Rev. Hoshin Fujii, organized to raise funds and create what would first be known as the Reliance Hospital....

Learn more about Reliance Hospital (#33)

Mile: 2.19

Also known as: Nisei Vets; NVC; NVC Hall; NVC Clubhouse Approximately 14,000 Nisei or second-generation Japanese Americans fought as members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II against Germany and Italy. In the Pacific, Japanese Americans served in the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) as translators and intercepted Japanese messages in support of U.S. troops. Nisei volunteered from Hawai`i and the mainland. Most mainland Nisei volunteered from American...

Learn more about Nisei Veterans Committee Hall (#34)

Mile: 2.19

Also known as: The J; JCCCW Shikata ga nai. You take whatever you are given and work with it. Minidoka, the Japanese concentration camp near Hunt, Idaho, was closing. After living there for three years during the War, families now had to quickly make arrangements to leave the camp. But they couldn’t leave until they had arranged a place to go. And that was no easy task. People had left...

Learn more about Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington (#35)

Mile: 2.54

Sidetrip: East Trail Hill Climb Challenge Intensive

Just two blocks long, but it’s a doozy. Get your heart pumping up this hill climb challenge through a quiet residential street. End the climb with a view to Site #37 Washington State Labor Council. (The Trail turns west at S Jackson St towards Rainier Ave S. There is no crosswalk at 16th Ave S & S Jackson St, so beware of cross traffic at this intersection.) 

Take the East Trail Hill Climb Challenge Intensive side trip

Also known as: St. Peter’s What started in houses in the late 19th c. by a small group of Japanese Anglicans and formed as the Japanese Mission of the Episcopal Church in Seattle in 1908, eventually grew to this church property, built in 1932. While the church would close during World War II as members of the congregation were forcibly incarcerated in U.S. concentration camps, church members returned after the...

Learn more about St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (#36)

Mile: 2.62

Look up along the roofline of the building to see the exterior mural with scenes from Washington State’s labor history, including the Japanese American World War II incarceration shown on the building’s south side. The “Jackson Street Workers Mural” was unveiled in April 2017. After three years of research, artists Katherine Chilcote and Devon Midori celebrate and hold up Seattle’s working class in vivid color across 72 panels, chronicling local...

Learn more about Washington State Labor Council (#37)

Mile: 2.69

Also known as: Seattle Buddhist Church While the history of the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple dates back to 1901, the present temple was dedicated in 1941, a mere two months before the start of World War II. Temple reverends were among the Japanese and Japanese American community leaders who were arrested and incarcerated following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The temple was closed and leased to the US Maritime Commission...

Learn more about Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple (#38)

Mile: 2.84

Also known as: Collins Fieldhouse The Collins Playfield and its nearby Fieldhouse used to be a place where Seattle kids from different communities would come to play. Developed in 1907 (with the Fieldhouse run from 1913-1971), the entire play area took up three acres across Washington and Main Streets and 14th and 16th Avenues. Picture the sights and sounds that once filled the area. The lower level was dedicated to...

Learn more about Collin’s Playfield (#39)

Mile: 3.01

Also known as: Keiro Traces of the skilled nursing facility started by 7 Nisei (second generation) to meet cultural, social, language and dietary needs of elderly Nikkei remain on the site. A central main entry to welcome visitors. A large building to the north for resident care. A soothing garden to the south for respite and healing. What did it take to get here? Community members first opened a skilled...

Learn more about Keiro Rehabilitation & Care Center (#40)

Mile: 3.01

The Seattle Koyasan Buddhist Temple is in the Shingon-shu (Shingon Sect) of Japanese Buddhism and traces its origins to the lineage founder, Kobo Dashi, who brought esoteric Buddhism to Japan from China in the 9th century CE. Moon Meditation classes are offered in its meditation dojo. Monthly Goma Fire Rituals take place here at the temple. Shugen meditation walks extend the experience to various trails around Washington.

Learn more about Seattle Koyasan Buddhist Temple (#41)

Mile: 3.03

Behind the double doors lies a wealth of history. Home to the oldest judo dojo in the United States, established in the early 1900s. Located in Japantown hotel basements until it moved here in 1934. Visited by Professor Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, in 1936 and 1938. Host to judo tournaments, first in 1903 and then from 1907 to 1941, held at the Nippon Kan (see waypoint #17). Forced...

Learn more about Seattle Dojo (#42)

Mile: 3.05

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