History of the Japanese in Seattle

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There is a population of Japanese Americans and Japanese expatriates in Greater Seattle.


In the mid-1880s a wave of immigration came from Japan to Seattle. Japanese came because Chinese were prevented from immigrating due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. A Japantown was developed, and Japanese became involved in the local economy. White businesspersons opposed to Japanese settlement formed the Anti-Japanese League in 1919.[1]

After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, ethnic Japanese in Seattle were sent to internment camps.[1]


Kip Tokuda, who served as a representative in the Washington State Government, had worked to build the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington (JCCCW; ワ州日本文化会館 Wa-shū Nihon Bunka Kaikan).[2]

Densho is a nonprofit organization based in Seattle, Washington, which collects video oral histories and documents regarding Japanese American internment in the United States during World War II.


By the 1930s farms owned by Japanese had produced about 75% of the produce generated in the Seattle area. This included farms in Bellevue and the White River Valley. The Pike Place Market was the point of sale of some of the produce.[1]

Early Japanese settlers worked in coal mines, canneries of salmon products, railroad construction areas, and sawmills.[1]

Uwajimaya has its headquarters in Seattle.


North American Post is the region's Japanese newspaper.


The Seattle Japanese School (シアトル日本語補習学校 Shiatoru Nihongo Hoshūgakkō) is a supplementary Japanese school which holds its classes in Bellevue.[3]

The Japan-America Society of the State of Washington (JASSW; ワシントン州日米協会 Washinton-shū Nichibei Kyōkai) operates the Seattle Japanese Language School (JLS) in Seattle. It was established in 1902, making it the continental United States's oldest Japanese language school.[4]


Buddhist temples include Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Ji and the Seattle Buddhist Church.


The oldest judo dojo in the United States is the Seattle Dojo.

The Seattle Japanese Garden is located in the Madison Park neighborhood. Kubota Garden is a Japanese garden in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle, Washington

The Nippon Kan Theatre was a former Japanese theater.

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Boswell, Sharon and Lorraine McConaghy. "Abundant dreams diverted" (Archive). The Seattle Times. June 23, 1996. Retrieved on December 21, 2014.
  2. ^ Matsukawa, Lori (Special to the newspaper). "Guest: Kip Tokuda’s work on Seattle’s Japanese Cultural and Community Center." The Seattle Times. July 25, 2013. Retrieved on June 15, 2014.
  3. ^ "ようこそ! シアトル日本語補習学校のホームページへ." Seattle Japanese School. Retrieved on June 15, 2014.
  4. ^ "Seattle Japanese Language School." Japan-America Society of the State of Washington. Retrieved on June 15, 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]