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Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California



World War II Incarceration

current topic Historic Sites
Selected References


A History of Japanese Americans in California:

Underlined sites are links to more detailed reports.

1. Alameda Buddhist Temple, Alameda County
2. Alvarado Japanese Association Building, Alameda County
3. Angel Island Detention Barracks, Marin County
4. Arroyo Grande Japanese School, San Luis Obispo County
5. Asahi Market, Ventura County
6. Bacon Island, San Joaquin County
7. Bakersfield Buddhist Church, Kern County
8. Bakersfield Japanese Methodist Church, Kern County
9. Biggs Rice Experiment Station, Butte County
10. Bowles, Fresno County

11. California Flower Market, Inc., San Francisco
12. Centerville Japanese Language School, Alameda County
13. City Market, Los Angeles County
14. Colma Japanese Cemetery, San Mateo County
15. Concord Nippongo Gakko, Contra Costa County
16. Courtland Bates Oriental School Site, Sacramento County
17. Delano Nihonmachi, Kern County
18. Durst Ranch Site, Yuba County
19. Enmanji, Sonoma County
20. Euclid Hall, Alameda County

21. Florin Buddhist Church, Sacramento County
22. Florin East Grammar School, Sacramento County
23. Fountain Grove, Sonoma County
24. Fresno Buddhist Church, Fresno County
25. Fresno Nihonmachi, Fresno County
26. Fukui Mortuary, Los Angeles County
27. Gardena Valley Japanese Community Center, Los Angeles County
28. George Shima's Office, San Joaquin County
29. Gilroy Japanese Community Hall, Santa Clara County
30. Gilroy Japanese Language School, Santa Clara County

31. Gospel Society/Fukuin Kai Site, San Francisco
32. Guadalupe Buddhist Church, Santa Barbara County
33. H. Sumida Company, Fresno County
34. Harada House, Riverside County
35. Harbor District Japanese Community Center, Los Angeles County
36. Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, Los Angeles County
37. Iseki Labor Camp, Fresno County
38. Isleton Oriental School Site, Sacramento County
39. Ivanhoe Gakuen, Tulare County
40. Iwata Store Site, Stanislaus County

41. Japanese American News Building, San Francisco
42. Japanese Salvation Army Building, San Francisco
43. Japanese Union Church of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County
44. K. Shinoda, Tulare County
45. Kamikawa Brothers, Fresno County
46. Kawasaki Labor Camp, Sierra Vista Ranch, Tulare County
47. Kimochi, San Francisco
48. Kings Hand Laundry, Kings County
49. Kinmon Gakuen, San Francisco
50. Kuwabara Hospital, Santa Clara County

51. Leslie Salt Company, Alameda County
52. Little Tokyo, Los Angeles County
53. Manzanar, Inyo County
54. Marysville Nihonmachi, Yuba County
55. Miyajima Hotel, San Joaquin County
56. Monterey Nihonjinkai, Monterey County
57. Morioka's Orange Processing Shed, Tulare County
58. Morning Star School, San Francisco
59. Naturipe, Santa Cruz County
60. Nihon Byoin-Hashiba Sanitarium, Fresno County

61. Nippon Hospital, San Joaquin County
62. Okonogi Hospital Site, Fresno County
63. Orange County Civic Center Plaza Japanese Garden, Orange County
64. Oxnard Buddhist Church, Ventura County
65. Oxnard Japanese Cemetery, Ventura County
66. Oyama Property, San Diego County
67. Point Lobos Canning Company Site, Monterey County
68. Reedley Kyogi-Kai Hall, Fresno County
69. Richmond Japanese Camp, Contra Costa County
70. Rockville School House, Solano County

71. Sacramento Parkview Presbyterian Church, Sacramento County
72. Sacramento Produce Company, Sacramento County
73. San Diego Buddhist Temple, San Diego County
74. San Francisco Japan Town/Nihonmachi, San Francisco
75. San Francisco Japanese YMCA, San Francisco
76. San Jose Japanese Methodist Episcopal Church, Santa Clara County
77. San Jose Japanese Theatre, Santa Clara County
78. San Jose Midwifery, Santa Clara County
79. San Jose Nihonmachi, Santa Clara County
80. San Luis Obispo Japanese Town, San Luis Obispo County

81. Sei Fujii Property, Los Angeles County
82. Selma Japanese Mission Church, Fresno County
83. Shonien, Los Angeles County
84. Sierra Madre Gakuen, Los Angeles County
85. Southeast Japanese Community Center, Los Angeles County
86. Southern California Flower Market, Los Angeles County
87. Terminal Island, Los Angeles County
88. Terminal School, Los Angeles County
89. Tsuda's Store, Placer County
90. Tule Lake, Modoc County

91. Turlock Social Hall, Stanislaus County
92. U.S. Kaneko Family Plot, Riverside County
93. Vacaville Elmira Cemetery, Solano County
94. Visalia Nihonmachi, Tulare County
95. Visalia Public Cemetery, Tulare County
96. Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony Site, El Dorado County
97. Walnut Grove, Sacramento County
98. Walnut Grove Filipino Section, Sacramento County
99. Walnut Grove Oriental School Site, Sacramento County
100. Watsonville Japanese Town, Santa Cruz County

101. White Point, Los Angeles County
102. Yamato Cemetery, Monterey County
103. Yamato Colony, Merced County
104. Yamato Hall/Tokyo Club Site, Los Angeles County
105. Yamaguchi Labor Camp, Tulare County


In several parts of California, entire communities of Japanese emerged. These communities focused on a common economic pursuit, generally agriculture or fishing. Some communities, such as Bowles and Yamato Colony, did not have the usual businesses or commercial activities of nihonmachi. Community members therefore had to travel to other nihonmachi, or do business with White merchants in nearby towns. These communities have similarities, but each is unique in some respects.

Facilities for Children

Several institutions emerged in the Japanese community expressly to meet the needs of children. By the 1930s, Japanese-language schools could be found in almost any community in California where Japanese lived. Often, they were operated through churches or the Japanese Association. A revival of Japanese language schools occurred during the 1950s and 1960s, and a few survive today. One of these is the Concord Nippongo Cakko in Contra Costa County.

Facilities providing care for children who were orphaned, or whose parents could not otherwise provide for them, also emerged. One of these was the Shonien in Los Angeles.


A need by agricultural interests for laborers in Hawaii and on the American mainland provided the impetus for early Japanese immigration to the United States. Recruitment and enticement resulted in large numbers of immigrants from Japan in the early part of the 20th century.

Once in the United States, immigrants traveled throughout California, working in various occupations — agriculture, fishing, land reclamation, domestic services, commercial enterprises, railroads, and oil fields. Many of the earliest immigrants proceeded to establish their own businesses, farms, cooperatives, and other enterprises. A large minority of these single men, however, continued to work as laborers, and constituted the backbone of agricultural workers through the mid-1900s, along with Chicanos and Filipinos.


Churches, both Buddhist and Christian, were the centers of Japanese communities for many years. They provided not only religious services but also social activities, athletic organizations, and Japanese language classes for the community. Churches were established in almost every Japanese community in the state. Two are included as examples. The Buddhist Church of Bakersfield is the oldest Japanese Buddhist church building constructed by its congre gation still used for religious services. The Union Church of Los Angeles played a particularly significant role for the Japanese community of Southern California.

Health Care

Facilities to provide health care became a priority for Japanese Americans in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Babies were being born, occasional epidemics affected large segments of the community, and the working and living conditions of the times required midwives, doctors, and nurses. In addition, medical practitioners needed structures where they could provide medical service.

Japanese hospitals were constructed in several locations where large numbers of issei settled. The Okonogi Byoin in the City of Fresno was probably the first Japanese hospital in the state. Established by Dr. Bunkuro Okonogi, the Okonogi Byoin was in operation by about 1901, and grew progressively larger and more modern until Dr. Okonogi's death in 1950. The San Jose Kumamoto Kenjkinkai organized its community hospital, Kuwabara Hospital, in 1910; the structure is still used by the community today. The Nihon Byoin in Fresno was organized around 1913, and currently houses several businesses. The Nippon Hospital in Stockton was established in 1919.


Little is written about recreational facilities and opportunities for Japanese immigrants. Because of the responsibilities of work, family, and community priorities, relatively small amounts of time were spent in recreational pursuits. Recitals, plays, singing, and special programs were often performed at churches and community centers. Casual recreational activities included pool, baseball, and gambling. The San Jose Japanese Theater and White Point were developed specifically as recreational sites for the Japanese community.

Discriminatory Practices

Japanese Americans have suffered discriminatory practices resulting from official legislative actions such as the Alien Land Laws, and from informal regulations such as restrictive housing covenants. The most publicized discriminatory action was internment of approximately 120,000 West Coast Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II.

Alien Land Law

From 1909 onward, the California legislature considered bills designed to control leasing and ownership of land by Asians. These laws were directed toward Japanese, the primary "aliens ineligible for U.S. citizenship" who were buying property at this time. Agricultural interests wanted to maintain them as a labor force. White supremacist and patriotic groups were determined to prevent nonwhite groups from becoming permanent and participating members of California society.

On May 19, 1913, Governor Hiram Johnson signed the Webb-Hartley Law (more popularly known as the Alien Land Law of 1913). It prevented "aliens ineligible to citizenship" from owning or acquiring land, and placed limitations on leasing and collective ownership of property. The laws of 1919 and 1920 more stringently restricted ownership and leasing of land. Although the California Supreme Court declared the Alien Land Law unconstitutional in 1952, the legislation remained on the books until November 4, 1956 when California voters repealed the law.

The following examples are just three of the many cases in which Japanese Americans incurred legal fees and harassment by government officials as a result of being prosecuted for violations of the Alien Land Law.

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Last Modified: Wed, Nov 17 2004 10:00:00 pm PDT

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