Japantown (日本人街, Nihonjin-gai) is a common name for official Japanese communities in cities and towns outside Japan. Alternatively, a Japantown may be called J-town, Little Tokyo or Nihonmachi (日本町), the first two being common names for the Japanese communities in San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles, respectively.
Historically, Japantowns represented the Japanese diaspora and its individual members known as nikkei (日系), who are Japanese emigrants from Japan and their descendants that reside in a foreign country. Emigration from Japan first happened and was recorded as early as the 12th century to the Philippines, but did not become a mass phenomenon until the Meiji Era, when Japanese began to go to the Philippines, North America, and beginning in 1897 with 35 emigrants to Mexico; and later to Peru, beginning in 1899 with 790 emigrants. There was also significant emigration to the territories of the Empire of Japan during the colonial period; however, most such emigrants repatriated to Japan after the end of World War II in Asia.
For a brief period in the 16th-17th centuries, Japanese overseas activity and presence in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the region boomed. Sizeable Japanese communities, known as Nihonmachi, could be found in many of the major ports and political centers of the region, where they exerted significant political and economic influence.
The Japanese had been active on the seas and across the region for centuries, traveling for commercial, political, religious and other reasons. The 16th century, however, saw a dramatic increase in such travel and activity. The internal strife of the Sengoku period caused a great many people, primarily samurai, commoner merchants, and Christian refugees to seek their fortunes across the seas. Many of the samurai who fled Japan around this time were those who stood on the losing sides of various major conflicts; some were rōnin, some veterans of the Japanese invasions of Korea or of various other major conflicts. As Toyotomi Hideyoshi and later the Tokugawa shōguns issued repeated bans on Christianity, many fled the country; a significant portion of those settled in Catholic Manila.
In western countries such as Canada and the United States, the Japanese tended to integrate with society so that many if not all Japantowns are in danger of completely disappearing, with the remaining only existing in San Francisco and San Jose, California.
The features described below are characteristic of many modern Japantowns.
Japanese architectural styles
Many historical Japantowns will exhibit architectural styles that reflect the Japanese culture. Japanese architecture has traditionally been typified by wooden structures, elevated slightly off the ground, with tiled or thatched roofs. Sliding doors (fusuma) were used in place of walls, allowing the internal configuration of a space to be customized for different occasions. People usually sat on cushions or otherwise on the floor, traditionally; chairs and high tables were not widely used until the 20th century. Since the 19th century, however, Japan has incorporated much of Western, modern, and post-modern architecture into construction and design, and is today a leader in cutting-edge architectural design and technology.
Many Japantowns will exhibit the use of the Japanese language in signage existing on road signs and on buildings as Japanese is the official and primary language of Japan. Japanese has a lexically distinct pitch-accent system. Early Japanese is known largely on the basis of its state in the 8th century, when the three major works of Old Japanese were compiled. The earliest attestation of the Japanese language is in a Chinese document from 252 AD.
Japanese is written with a combination of three scripts: hiragana, derived from the Chinese cursive script, katakana, derived as a shorthand from Chinese characters, and kanji, imported from China. The Latin alphabet, rōmaji, is also often used in modern Japanese, especially for company names and logos, advertising, and when inputting Japanese into a computer. The Hindu-Arabic numerals are generally used for numbers, but traditional Sino-Japanese numerals are also common.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Russian Federation||1,700|
|Related ethnic groups|
^ note: The population of naturalized Japanese people and their descendants is unknown. Only the number of the permanent residents with Japanese nationality is shown, except for the United States, where ancestral origin is recorded independent of nationality.
Japantowns were created because of the widespread immigration of Japanese to America in the Meiji period (1868–1912). At that time, many Japanese were poor and sought economic opportunities in the United States. Japanese immigrants initially settled in Western parts of the US and Canada.
At one time, there were 43 different Japantowns in California, ranging from several square blocks of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, to one in the small farming community of Marysville in Yuba County. Besides typical businesses, these communities usually had Japanese language schools for the immigrants' children, Japanese language newspapers, Buddhist and Christian churches, and sometimes Japanese hospitals. After the World War II internment of the Japanese, most of those communities declined significantly or disappeared altogether.
- Colonia Urquiza is the Japanese district in La Plata, Argentina. Colonia Urquiza is the largest Japanese district in Argentina, and concentrates many institutions such as schools, restaurants and training centers.
- Liberdade is the Japanese district in São Paulo, Brazil. São Paulo metropolitan area is the city that has the largest Japanese population outside Japan and the largest population of people that have Japanese descent.
Some municipalities with Japanese populations higher than the national average (0.3%) include:
- Richmond, British Columbia (2%)
- Lethbridge, Alberta (1.9%) - this city also has a Chinatown.
- Burnaby, British Columbia (1.7%)
- Vancouver, British Columbia (1.7%) - this city also has a Chinatown, a Little India, and a Little Italy.
- North Vancouver, British Columbia (1.6%)
- North Vancouver (district municipality), British Columbia (1.5%)
- Port Coquitlam, British Columbia (1.4%)
- West Vancouver, British Columbia (1.2%)
- Coquitlam, British Columbia (1%)
- Kamloops, British Columbia (1%)
- Port Moody, British Columbia (1%)
- Calgary, Alberta (0.6%) - 29 Street SW - this city also has a Chinatown.
- Richmond Hill, Ontario (0.5%)
- Toronto, Ontario (0.5%) - a Little Tokyo has been emerging in the Bay and Dundas area, particularly on Dundas between Yonge Street and University Avenue. This city also has at least two Chinatowns, a Koreatown, a Little India and a Little Tibet.
- Markham, Ontario (0.4%) - this city also has a Little India.
- Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California
- Sawtelle Japantown, Los Angeles, California
- Japantown, San Francisco, California
- Japantown, San Jose, California
- International District in Seattle, Washington
Concentrated and historical Japanese populations in the United States
Northern California: In addition to Japantown districts in San Francisco and San Jose, suburbs and neighborhoods with significant Japanese American populations and/or histories include:
- Alameda, California (1.1%)
- Berkeley, California (1.6%)
- Hayward, California (0.5%)
- Livingston, California
- Lower Haight, San Francisco, California
- Mountain View, California (2.1%)
- Oakland, California (0.5%)
- Palo Alto, California (2.0%)
- Sacramento, California - this city also has a Chinatown, also Japanese presence in Florin, California.
- San Mateo, California (2.2%)
- Salinas, California
- Santa Clara, California (1.5%)
- South San Francisco, California
- Sunnyvale, California
- Walnut Creek, California
- Watsonville, California (0.8%)
- Duarte, California
- Fontana, California
- Gardena, California
- Long Beach, California (0.6%)
- Orange County, California
- Oxnard, California
- Palm Desert, California (Coachella-Imperial valleys).
- San Bernardino, California (Inland Empire and Riverside area).
- Torrance, California
- Sawtelle Boulevard, West Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
- Vista, California (North county-San Diego area)
- Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach, California
Elsewhere in western U.S.:
- Sakura Square, Denver, Colorado - this city also has a Chinatown
- Portland, Oregon - this city also has a Chinatown
- Ontario, Oregon (1.6%)
- Japantown Street, Salt Lake City, Utah - this city also has a Chinatown
- North Side, Chicago and Northwestern Chicago metro area, Illinois
- Porter Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Seabrook, New Jersey
- Novi, Michigan near Detroit
- St. Mark's Place, East Village, New York City (there are 150,000 Japanese in NYC).
- Westchester County, New York (i.e. Scarsdale - largest Asian-American town in New York state).
- Dublin, Ohio
- Gubei, Shanghai, a residential area which has many expatriates from Japan. It is informally referred to as a "Little Tokyo." There is a Takashimaya department store in Gubei.
- Eastern District, Hong Kong is the home to the largest Japanese community in Hong Kong, where it is widely distributed in district such as Taikoo Shing, with nearly a quarter of total Japanese in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Japanese School is also settled their headquarter in Eastern district.
- More than 50 percent of Kowloon Japanese residents live in Hung Hom in Kowloon City District, as one of the most popular area in Hong Kong for Japanese, it is called as "Little Japan" or Hong Kong's "Shitamachi (Japanese: 下町) when there is great concentration with Japanese restaurants with traditional style.
- Furthermore, there is also a Japanese school campus in Tai Po area in the New Territories.
- Sataku, Haldia
In the late 2000s, Malaysia began to become a popular destination for Japanese retirees. Malaysia My Second Home retirement programme received 513 Japanese applicants from 2002 until 2006. Motivations for choosing Malaysia include the low cost of real-estate and of hiring home care workers. Such retirees sometimes refer to themselves ironically as economic migrants or even economic refugees, referring to the fact that they could not afford as high a quality of life in retirement, or indeed to retire at all, were they still living in Japan.
- Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur
- Little Japan, Taman Molek, Johor Bahru
- Jalan Bendahara, Ipoh
- Jalan Air Itam, Penang
- Japantown, Paco, Manila, Philippines
- Japantown, Iloilo City, Philippines
- Japantown, Cebu City, Philippines
- Japantown, Mandaue City, Philippines
- Japantown, Davao City, Philippines
- Little Tokyo, Davao City, Philippines
- Little Tokyo, Makati City, Philippines
- Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Concentrated and historical Japanese populations in Asia
- Parts of Jakarta's shopping district of Blok M has been developed into the formation of Japanese-oriented facilities, including clusters of restaurants, spas, and cafés; earning the nickname "Little Tokyo", as it is also coupled with the high density of Japanese expats living around the area. 
- There is an active Japanese presence (including multinational companies and expatriates) in industrial areas of Karachi, such as Port Qasim. During the 1980s and 1990s, there were over 2,000 Japanese living in Karachi, making them one of the significant expatriate communities in the country. Now, the community has shrunk to a few hundred. There is also a Karachi Japanese School.
- In Bangkok a Japanese population lives in and around Sukhumvit Road, and Phrompong. Many of the apartment complexes are rented solely to Japanese people (although they are owned by Thais), and there are Japanese grocery shops, restaurants, bars, dry cleaning, clubs, etc. in and around Phrompong.
- In Si Racha a Japanese population lives in and around the city center as the second largest Japanese community outside Bangkok.
- In Chiangmai a Japanese population lives around the city center as the popular place for Japanese retirees with good weather and less crowded city.
- In Ayutthaya a growing number of Japanese population returns and lives in and around Rojana Road close to many Japanese companies, the city also well known place of the first Japanese quarter in Thailand dated back to 16th century.
- Düsseldorf (especially the district Oberkassel) has one of the larger concentrations of Japanese population in Germany. It has the biggest Buddhist temple of Europe as well. The towns surrounding Düsseldorf (e.g. Meerbusch in the west of Düsseldorf) have significant Japanese population as well.
- London is home to the largest Japanese community in the United Kingdom, with Acton and Finchley having the higher concentrations of Japanese residents. North London is a popular area in London for Japanese residents to live.
- Paris has a Japanese community. Its Japanese restaurants and shops are concentrated near the Opéra Garnier (especially on Rue Sainte-Anne) and the city's Japanese population is largely concentrated in 15th arrondissement and 16th arrondissement.
- Since the late 1970s-early 1980s many Japanese companies chose Catalonia, Spain, for their industrial branches in Europe. The largest Japanese community is located in the Barcelona Metropolitan Region, especially Sant Cugat and Gavà. Increasing numbers of Japanese citizens unrelated with Japanese companies have chosen Central Barcelona for their residence and professional activities, following a great wave of tourists that started in the mid-1980s after a Suntory Whisky TV commercial shot in various Gaudinian locations.
- Little Tokyo, Adelaide
- Japantown, Darwin
- Artarmon, Sydney has a small Japantown by the railway station, containing Japanese restaurants, Japanese grocery stores and a Japanese bookshop. Nearby suburbs such as Northbridge and St Leonards also have a number of Japanese businesses. - this city also has a Chinatown
- Gold Coast, Australia has a big Japanese population which is still rising. - this city also has a Chinatown
- Little Saigon
- Little Manila
- Little India
- List of named ethnic enclaves in North American cities
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- See also Japanese people in India
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"A History of Japanese Americans in California: HISTORIC SITES". National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2011-01-04. Retrieved August 2010. Check date values in:
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- 2011年统计用区划代码和城乡划分代码：虹桥镇 (in Chinese). National Bureau of Statistics of the People's Republic of China. Retrieved 2012-08-09.[permanent dead link]
- 2011年按區議會分區、國籍及在港居住年期劃分的人口 (A208)
- 香港淺草 日本人愛紅磡 下町飲食街
- Blok M: Jakarta's Little Tokyo
- Karachi: Enclave for Japanese investors at Port Qasim[permanent dead link]
- Karachi Japanese School
- "Born abroad - an immigration map of Britain: Japan". BBC News.
- Japantown Atlas The Japantown Atlas maps nearly two dozen communities in California where Japanese Americans lived and worked prior to World War II.
- California Japantowns
- Sawtelle Blvd. (West L.A.)
- Nijiya Market Locations (may give a hint as to the locations of Japanese populations in California)
- Arnold, Bruce Makoto. "The Japanese Ethnopole as Determinant: The Effects of the Japantowns on Second-Generation Japanese-Americans."