A Piece of Japanese-American History

This past month, my wife and kids were in Japan longer than I was. I still had to work and take care of many other things before I left for Japa , but I did have a little free time.

One morning, I was in the International District, and I stopped by a lovely cafe beside the Panama Hotel.  The Panama Hotel sits in the historically “Japanese” part¹ of the International District and includes a little museum of personal items left behind after the internment of Japanese immigrations in World War II.

Of particular interest is this old newspaper:


This is the North American Times, a Japanese-American newspaper. In fact, if you look closely, it is the last issue published:


Besides this was another newspaper in Japanese:


I like the contrast of the 1940’s style and fashion with Japanese script.


And finally there is more serious commentary on politics and such. The main article here is talking about Gandhi, India2 and the British Empire:


Anyhow, just something interesting I wanted to share. The International District in Seattle as a whole isn’t very large, and has some sketchy parts, but underneath there are some pretty interesting layers of history there, too.

¹ The naming of Seattle’s Chinatown or International District is … complicated.  Originally it was one of many Chinatown neighborhoods on the West Coast, but after Chinese immigrants were forced out of the US, other Asian groups took up residence instead and the name changed.  The ID in Seattle can roughly be divided in three areas: the Chinese area from South Jackson Street southward, the Japanese area just north of South Jackson Street, and the Vietnamese area further to the east.  People still argue over the name now due to its overwhelming Chinese roots, but at the same time due to the residence of other Asian groups as well.  You can see maps now in the ID that confirm this:

Personally, as John Q. Whiteguy, I don’t have a strong opinion one way or another and leave that for other people to work out.

2 Interestingly, the name here is written in Chinese characters 印度 (lit. “Indo”) rather than using Katakana. I noticed that it was more common in older Japanese publications to use Chinese characters for country names rather than Katakana script. Still, even now in serious news publications you can still see Chinese characters used (欧 for Europe, 法 for France, 米 for America, etc).


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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