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Japantown, San Jose, California: Wikis

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The intersection of Jackson and North Fifth Streets

Japantown (also known as "Nihonmachi" (ja: 日本町) or "J Town") is the portion of San Jose, California bounded by First Street to the west, 8th street to the east, Jackson Street to the south and Taylor Street to the north; it is just north of Downtown San Jose. Japantown originally formed around the existing "Heinlenville" Chinatown settlement. During the Second World War the Japanese-American population was forcibly removed from Japantown and interned in camps. After the war many Japanese Americans resettled in the area after returning from internment camps in World War II. The expansion and growth of Silicon Valley caused many Japanese to leave the area but the culture and vitality of this community remains. Japantown is designated as an authentic ethnic neighborhood and home to many traditional Japanese restaurants as well. California State Legislation designated this area as one of the last three remaining historical Japantowns in the United States. The area has embarked upon capital improvement projects that have engaged the neighborhood and community in discussion and planning for the future of the area. New market rate housing has attracted new residents who love the neighborly feel and walkable community. Currently, awards won for work on the first phase, Historic District Reconnaissance Survey recognize the significant contributions of the Chinese (Heinlenville Chinatown) and Japanese (Japantown) legacies.

Japantown is the site of the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, San Jose Taiko, Shuei-do Manju Shop (the last visit of the Emperor of Japan saw these confections being requested specifically), Nichi Bei, hand made tofu at San Jose Tofu and a variety of restaurants, professional services, community organizations (Yu-Ai Kai Senior Center, Japanese American Citizens League for example) and small retail shops. Two churches founded by Japanese over 100 years ago thrive on the same street (Wesley United Methodist Church and San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin) which now also leads to the new City Hall of San Jose on Fifth Street. Having been written up in the New York Times, the 7 Bamboo lounge is one of the most popular karaoke bars in the Bay Area. Indeed, the Fifth & Jackson Landmark was designed to be seen from City Hall, just a few blocks away, as a beacon and reminder of the people that have helped to build the city.

Japantown is also home to a number of non-Japanese businesses, including Mexican, Hawaiian, Cuban and Korean restaurants.

A number of organizations including the Japantown Neighborhood Association have joined together to form the Japantown Community Congress of San Jose which is a community partner to the City of San Jose (represented by the San Jose Redevelopment Agency) which looks after cultural preservation of the area (begun with CA SB 307). Major festivals are Obon (every July), Nikkei Matsuri (every Spring) and Aki Matsuri (every fall)and a newer festival The Spirit of Japantown Festival (also in the fall). In addition there are events that are open to the public at Art Object Gallery and various street venues, including a year round Certified Farmers Market run by the Japantown Business Association.

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