Japantown, Vancouver

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Coordinates: 49°16′59″N 123°05′48″W / 49.283146°N 123.096545°W / 49.283146; -123.096545 (Japantown)

Kids at play in 1927

Japantown, Little Yokohama,[citation needed] or Little Tokyo[1] is an old neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, north of Chinatown, that once had a concentration of Japanese immigrants. It was attacked on 7 September 1907 by the Asiatic Exclusion League, which smashed many windows in parts of Chinatown, and then moved on to Japantown. Japantown received warning of the attacks, and though residents resisted the Asiatic Exclusion League members, considerable damage was done.

Vancouver Japanese Language School building on Alexander Street was seized by the government during World War II. Although half of the original property was sold off by the Canadian government, it is the only property in Canada where the ownership has been returned to Japanese Canadians.

The centenary of these attacks was marked by a Riot Walk through Chinatown and Japantown on 7 September 2007.[2][3]

During World War II when Japanese Canadians had their property confiscated and were interned (see Japanese Canadian internment), Japantown ceased to be a distinct Japanese ethnic area. Although some Japanese returned after the war, the community never revived. The area is now part of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Along Powell Street, a few remnants of the former Japanese neighbourhood still exist. The Vancouver Buddhist Church, formerly the Japanese Methodist Church, still exists at 220 Jackson Avenue (at Powell),[4] as does the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall at 475 and 487 Alexander Street (at Jackson), which was established in 1906.[5] Until the boom in Japanese restaurants in the 1980s, two restaurants on Powell Street were among the only Japanese dining establishments in the city.

Oppenheimer Park in this area is the site for the annual two day Powell Street Festival which began in 1977.[6] It is held every August, in the first weekend of the month, and is a community celebration of Japanese heritage as well as the alternative and street culture of the Downtown Eastside.

Little Ginza[edit]

An upscale enclave of ethnic Japanese retailers and restaurants known as the Little Ginza - has developed on Alberni Street near Burrard Street in the slim boundary area between the West End and the Financial District in Downtown Vancouver.

The new enclave has been gaining momentum over the course of the last forty years with an increasing number of high-end restaurants, dance clubs, karaoke bars, shops, and upscale boutiques. These venues are largely geared to the usual tourists that frequent the city as well as the travelling Japanese in search of "bargain"-priced designer goods (relative to prices in Tokyo or Osaka), and for omiyage (obligatory gifts to be given on return to Japan).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Powell Street (Japantown), Historical Review, report prepared for the City of Vancouver by Birmingham & Wood et al., pp. 21, 28]
  2. ^ 100th Anniversary of Anti-Asian Riots, 2007 Anniversaries of Change.
  3. ^ 7 September 2007 Riot Walk, 2007 Anniversaries of Change.
  4. ^ Vancouver Buddhist Church.
  5. ^ Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall.
  6. ^ Powell Street Festival, Powell Street Festival Society.

External links[edit]