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Maneki (#12)

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 Cat” (the meaning of Maneki) lived on, reopening just a block south at 6th and Main.

The first sushi bar in Seattle and Japantown’s only restaurant to survive the fierce anti-Japanese racism and discrimination of World War II, Maneki has rightly now become one of “America’s Classics,” celebrated in 2008 as such by the James Beard Foundation, equivalent to the “Oscars” of the food world.


The restaurant includes a bar, dining room, sushi bar and tatami rooms.

Alabastro Photography. Courtesy of Wing Luke Museum.

Tokuji Sato, original owner of the Maneki Restaurant, stands in the garden near the entrance to the original restaurant.

Wing Luke Museum Collection.

Banquet at the first Maneki Restaurant in 1941.

Wing Luke Museum Collection.

Owner Jean Nakayama receives the James Beard Award in New York City.

Courtesy of the James Beard Foundation.