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Reliance Hospital (#33)

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.

ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION: “To own and operate as a Commercial enterprise a general hospital for the care of the sick and, for furnishing medical and surgical attention to those requiring or desiring such aid; also to operate and conduct a nurses home and training school where persons may become practical in the art of intelligently caring for and nursing the sick and injured, and may furnish such services when requested; to receive and care for sick and injured patients, and to furnish them with medical and surgical aid and the attention of competent nurses; and as incident to said hospital to own and manage a dispensary for the maintenance and supply of proper drugs, medicines and lotions for the patients and inmates of the hospital; to erect a building, to purchase, acquire, sell, ease, own and maintain real estate and personal property necessary as convenient for the operation of the hospital; to issue its notes or obligations, and to borrow money thereon for the purposes of the hospital either secured or unsecured upon the credit of the property, real or personal, of the corporation; to purchase, acquire and hold stock or interests in other corporations or companies; and to do all other things necessary and requisite for the purpose of conducting such hospital.”

The hospital opened in 1913 as the first and only hospital in Seattle built primarily to serve Japanese immigrants. It was a full-service institution with 31 beds.

ADVERTISEMENT IN THE NORTH AMERICAN TIMES YEAR BOOK, 1914: Reliance Hospital, Telephone: Beacon 2882, 12th and King St. Seattle. A Newly Established Japanese Hospital. The facilities: This Hospital is recognized and licensed by the City of Seattle. This Hospital was newly established with the support of the Japanese Medical Society of Washington State. Patients under the primary care of member physicians as well as Caucasian doctors may be admitted. This Hospital has the same equipment and facilities as Caucasian hospitals and can provide for all manner of surgical procedures. Special Features: This Hospital offers both Japanese and Western food in accordance with the patient’s desire. This Hospital has Caucasian nurses as well as Japanese nurses to care for patients who prefer to communicate in Japanese. This Hospital charges on a weekly basis as follows: $9.00 for a double room; $14.00 for a private room; and $17.00 for an isolation room (for infectious disease cases).

The hospital changed its name to Nippon Hospital in 1917. By 1924, it hit financial trouble, with rising costs, uncompensated care, and the increased willingness of larger hospitals to see Japanese American patients, and ultimately closed that year.

ANNOUNCEMENT IN THE GREAT NORTHERN DAILY NEWS, August 20, 1924: Board of Directors Decides to Close Well-known Nippon Hospital. It was announced at a board meeting held at 8:00 PM on August 18, that the Nippon Hospital, located on 12th Avenue South, which ranks along with the Nippon Kan Hall and the Seattle Japanese Language School as major institutions built and operated by the local community, will be closed after many years of service. This is due in part to difficulties maintaining a balance between income and expenses and the fact that times have changed and there is no longer a particular need for the Nippon Hospital. The board was also persuaded that prompt closure of the hospital would prevent the shareholders from incurring heavy losses.


After the hospital closed in 1924, the building became the Moose Hotel (1926), the Calvary Pentecostal Mission (1938) and Tokyo Hotel (1964). The building was demolished and replaced by the How How Shopping Center (1992).

Washington State Archives.