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Seattle JapanTown

2014 Seattle JapanTown Tips
Explore Historic JapanTown in Seattle
Explore Seattle Things To See & Do  Seattle JapanTown  Seattle Bainbridge Island - Memorial & Museum




Exploring Seattle’s Historic Japantown & Seattle
Background on Seattle

If you are going to Seattle and want to know more about Japanese history you will need a few days to see everything. Seattle is a beautiful city and there is much to do. The outdoor nature views are breath taking.

August weather is a beautiful time to visit, don't let any other month stop you but do your research on the weather.

We will summarize our tips for making the most of your trip in 4 areas.

1) Historic Japantown (site-seeing, shopping, eating, walking)
2) Seattle's Places to See & Food to Taste (site-seeing, shopping, eating, driving, scenery, pier, market-place)
3) International District - Japan (shopping, eating)
4) Bainbridge Island - Japanese Memorial (site-seeing, museum, eating, driving, scenery, ferry)

Keep in mine Seattle Japantown is small, you can't compare it to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. What is unique is the original buildings are still standing and you can go inside.

“The Panama Hotel and Tea House, at 605 1/2 S. Main St., anchors what was once the heart of Seattle's Nihonmachi, Japantown, It was built in 1910 by the city's first Japanese architect, and for the next three decades, the lower floors of the five-story workingman's hotel were home to a laundry, dentist, tailor, pool hall, book store, florist, sushi shop and sento, a Japanese-style public bathhouse.” – The Seattle Times

Seattle JapanTown History Prior to World War II, the Japanese-American community resided in an area 15 blocks north of Jackson Street, known as Nihonmachi (or Japantown). Their influence can be seen all the way back to the late 1800s, when Dearborn Street was named Mikado Street and Japanese-owned-and-operated businesses flourished in the area. For half a century, Japantown thrived with bathhouses, dry goods stores, tailors and barber shops. This all changed, following the attacks on Pearl Harbor, when Executive Order 9066 forced residents of Japanese descent to leave their homes, businesses and communities and enter ramshackle internment camps. More than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, including adults and children, immigrants and citizens alike, were incarcerated. This compelling history has recently caught the public’s imagination with the best-selling novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The book features the century-old Panama Hotel where, today, locals meet to sip fragrant teas.

Although Nihonmachi never returned to what it once was, its presence can still be felt today. The area is lined with other historic buildings, restored by the descendants of some of the original property owners. Together with other community-minded business owners, they have spurred a revitalization effort to continue its distinct cultural essence. Kobo has moved into the former Higo Variety Store, retaining the spirit of Nihonmachi through its shop and gallery, which features artists of the Pacific Northwest and Japan. The NP Hotel was restored and the new Nihonmachi Terrace built to house families and elders. Restaurants dot the area, featuring tatami rooms and sushi bars to enjoy traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine.

List of Stores in Japantown, Seattle 1) Maneki Japanese Restaurant, 304 6th Avenue South, Seattle WA 98104, (206) 622-2631
Maneki Restaurant is traditional Japanese cuisine and a landmark restaurant and building located in the International District, Seattle. You have to call to make reservations, leave a message of time and party size. They will call you back or page. You can order off the menu by dinner combinations or by individual items.

Established in 1904, the first sushi bar, tatami rooms (private matted rooms) and karaoke bar were created. The original Maneki was built on the hill on 6th Ave. S and Main St in the heart of Nihonmachi or Japantown. The white building was 3 stories and looked just like a Japanese castle. On weekends it served 500 plus customers in the “tatami rooms” or private matted rooms. It served the Japanese community with its many theatrical plays, weddings and funerals. When World War II broke out everyone that was Japanese were interned in camps. The beautiful castle was ransacked and became a ruin. A space in the NP Hotel was used for storage for all the internees that were forced into camps. It was after the war in 1946 and when the internees returned and claimed their belongings that the space became available. The present Maneki has been operating and serving loyal regulars for over one hundred years. We invite you to experience a little bit of Japan in a casual at home atmosphere.

For more than 100 years, people young and old have returned to Maneki for traditional family-style Japanese food served in a welcoming, neighborhood atmosphere. We invite you to discover the magic for yourself, located in the heart of Japantown

It may be one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods, with roots stretching back to the late 1800s, but Japantown is quickly becoming the city’s newest art destination. The vibrant, diverse spirit of the ’hood (which is anchored by the historic Panama Hotel and runs along Fifth and Sixth Streets between S Jackson and Main) is the perfect inspiration for a host of new galleries, shops and restaurants.

2) Hotel NP, Location: Building on the right of Minakei Resturant.
Currently the building is for low-income rentals. If you can get into the building lobby, you can see pictures and glass cases of the building from the past.

3) Panama Hotel, 605 1/2 S Main St., Seattle, WA 98104 (Downtown)
The Panama Hotel in Seattle, Washington's International District was built in 1910. The hotel was built by the first Japanese-American architect in Seattle, Sabro Ozasa, and contains the last remaining Japanese bathhouse in the United States.

The Panama Hotel and Tea House, anchors what was once the heart of Seattle's Nihonmachi, Japantown, one of the most thriving communities of its kind in the country. It was built in 1910 by the city's first Japanese architect, and for the next three decades, the lower floors of the five-story workingman's hotel were home to a laundry, dentist, tailor, pool hall, book store, florist, sushi shop and sento, a Japanese-style public bathhouse.

Of hundreds of such communal bathhouses in Japantowns across the country, this is the only one preserved intact, in place.

Maintaining the high standards set by previous owners Takashi and Lily Hori, Johnson is fastidious about the cleanliness of the white linens and comforters in the hotel rooms. She is active in every aspect of running the hotel, from fixing plaster to making beds.

4) Panama Hotel Tea & Coffee House, 607 S Main St., (between S 6th Ave & S Maynard Ave), Seattle, WA 98104, (206) 515-4000

I appreciate this place. It is a nice, classy tea and coffee house in the International District in Japantown. The prices aren't low but the quality of tea and coffee is good.

In the Tea & Coffee House, see historic photos of Japantown before the internment are framed on the wall of the tea house. Some of the old-timers from the neighborhood check them closely for recognizable faces during a recent open house at the hotel.
Look for a glass panel that is installed in the floor of the Panama Hotel Tea House, you can see some of the items left in the basement. To schedule a tour of the hotel basement and baths, call the hotel at 206-223-9242.

5) Momo, International District, 600 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104 (206) 329-4736
Momo means peach in Japanese, a symbol of a long, healthy and happy life. At Momo boutique in Seattle's heart of the ID/ Japantown, is a hip & friendly 'hapa shop' with Asian and European.

6) Kobo Shop & Gallery - Higo, 604 S Jackson St, Seattle WA, 98104

7) Kobo Shop & Gallery - Capitol Hill, 814 E. Roy, Seattle WA, 98102
Kobo which translates from Japanese as 'artist's workspace,' is an artisan gallery featuring Japanese and Northwest fine crafts. KOBO specializes in both traditional and contemporary works, offering a selection of objects and functional forms in clay, fiber, metal, wood, bamboo, textile, and paper. KOBO also exhibits the work of small studio artisans from the U.S. and abroad who share a similar affinity with Japanese folk arts and contemporary design.

8) Fuji Bakery, 526 S King St, (206) 623-4050, fujibakeryinc.com
Gracious service augments bites of perfection at East-meets-West.

9) Kaname Izakaya, 610 S Jackson St, (206) 682-1828, kaname-izakaya.com
For a sho-chu screwdriver and Japanese pub grub at one of Seattle’s best happy hours.

10) Tsukushinbo, Tsukushinbo, 515 S Main St, (206) 467-4004
Local sushi stop and neighborhood favorite Tsukushinbo only cooks up their famous, steaming hot ramen noodles on Fridays.

11) Dirk Park, 523 S Main St, (206) 399-5506, proledrift.com.

12) 519 Art Studios, 519 S Main St, (206) 245-8598, 519artstudios.com.
Bryan Ohno’s Northwest art haven urban art concept (pictured, 519 S Main St.; 205.459.6857; urbanartconcept.com) also roosts.

13) Beth Cullom’s Cullom Gallery, 603 S Main St, (206) 919-8278, cullomgallery.com
Traditional and contemporary Japanese woodblock and paper prints abound.


Bainbridge Island, Seattle Bainbridge is an island of 20,000 population and the only way is by scenic 35-min ferry boat. Once you are on the ferry you can get out and check out the scenic views.

1) Seattle Waterfront / Bainbridge Island Ferry, 801 Alaskan Way Pier 52, Seattle, WA 98104
Once you arrive in Bainbridge, you will drive right off the ferry boat and you will enter onto Main street where most of the shops and restaurants are. You can park on the side of the street and walk the streets.

2) Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, 215 Ericksen Ave NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, (206) 842-2773
There is a small viewing area of chairs to watch the video “Manzanar for you if you haven’t seen it.” Location behind the ice cream shop. You have to ask for directions. There is history of the interment of Japanese.

3) Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, 4192 Eagle Harbor Drive, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, located on the south shore of Eagle harbor.
Originally the memorial was going to be a small plaque. Once they formed a committee the memorial grew from a small dedication to an incredible tribute to the Japanese that were take from Bainbridge Island. Over 50 thousands dollars of cedar wood was donated to create the structure of this beautiful memorial. They have the names and their ages of the Japanese that were taken with quotes on the wall. This is a must see.

Memorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Odj6XNMay5w
Resource: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bainbridge_Island_Japanese_American_Exclusion_Memorial

4) Blackbird Bakery, 210 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, (206) 780-1322, blackbirdbakery.com

5) Mora Iced Creamery, 139 Madrone Ln, Ste 1100 Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, (206) 855-8822, moraicedcreamery.com

Seattle Downtown - Things to Do Seattle Things To Do - Japanese Culture with Non-Japanese Musts

1) Seattle Space Needle, 400 Broad St, Seattle WA 98109, (206) 905-2100
51 stories high. There may be a long wait so bring something to do in line. You will see a 360 degree view of the city and harbor. Avoid the pricey restaurant but the viewing area has a clam chowder bread bowl that is delicious. There is parking around the area.

2) Seattle Pier 57 Ferris Wheel/Waterfront, 1301 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101, (206) 623-8600
Seattle Pier. Ferris wheel, arcade games for the kids, horse carousel, and plenty of shops and restaurants.

3) Pikes Market Place, 1916 Pike Place, Seattle WA 9801
Above the downtown pier. There is the famous flying fish you have to see. If you go early in the morning or late at night you can avoid the tourist that come in from the incoming boat cruises.

4) World Famous Flying Fish Market, Pike Place, Seattle WA 9801
World famous fresh fish company in Seattle's Pike Place Market where fishmongers throw fish and visitors have fun.

5) Mee Sum Pastry, 1526 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101, (206) 682-6780, meesum.com
Chinese pork buns and sesame balls are a must. Inexpensive.

6) Le Panier Very French Bakery, 1902 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101, (206) 441-3669
Croissants and coffee. Long lines but worth the wait. Inexpensive.

7) Starbucks - Store Number 1, 1912 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101, (206) 448-8762
This the original Starbucks store number 1. Everything started here. If you saw the long line out the door you may ve just walked by it. If there is a long line, you can go when they open or come right before they close you can avoid the wait. During August they open at 7:30 am and close t 8:00 pm at night. If you love coffee you will love this.

8) Pikes Clam Chowder, 1530 Post Alley Seattle, WA 98101, (206) 267-2537
Ranked number 1 on yelp and winner of many awards. Get the clam chowder sampler – 4 small cups of clam chowder and bread. Inexpensive.

9) Seattle Mariners Game, 1250 1st Ave S, Seattle WA, 98134
For $10 you can enter a beautiful stadium to see the home team place. Food here is typical of ball parks. You can park next to the stadium on a 6 story parking structure if it isn’t sold out or go early. Ask for seats out of the sun.

10) Seattle Pier 57 - Waterfront, 301 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121, (206) 623-8600
Seattle Pier that has sea food resturants, shopping, Ferris wheel, arcade for the kids, flying horses carousel and also where the Ferry Boat leave for Bainsbridge Island. Parking lots all around.

11) Seattle Pier 52 - Ferry Boat to Bainsbridge Island, 801 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121, (888) 808-7977
This is where you drive your car on to a Ferry and enjoy a 35 minute scneice view of Seattle. See Bainbridge section for things to see.


Japantown International District, Seattle, WA Address: 600 5th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98104

Tips at the International Uwajimaya Market Building
The location of the Japantown International District is not far from JapanTown
Parking: you can park in the larrge lot and validate for $7.00
Looking for Japanese food places? At the Japanese market, pick up the local Japanese newspapers ideas in the area.

In 1928, with a dream of bringing traditional Japanese food to fellow Asians in the community, Fujimatsu Moriguchi began making specialty Japanese fare and selling it out of the back of his truck to Japanese fishermen and loggers in Tacoma, Washington. Word spread as the popularity of his food grew and soon Fujimatsu needed more space. He and his wife, Sadako, decided to open a small market in Tacoma to serve the growing Asian population. The Moriguchis named their store Uwajimaya - "Uwajima" being the name of the area in Japan that Fujimatsu had learned his trade, and "ya" meaning store.

At the outbreak of World War II in 1942, the store closed its doors as the Moriguchis along with their children were sent to a Japanese internment camp. Upon release in 1945, the Moriguchis returned to the Pacific Northwest to reopen Uwajimaya in the historic Asian neighborhood of Seattle known today as the International District. The Moriguchis also made another important change to their store at this time: they expanded their offerings by importing food items and wares directly from Japan, and later, from other Asian countries.

1) Seattle Uwajimaya, 600 5th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98104, (206) 624-6248
A large Japanese market in the international district. There is a food court with international foods.
I visit Uwajimaya whenever I'm in Seattle (or Portland). It's like an entire Japantown under one roof - Kinokuniya bookstore, supermarket, gift store, and restaurants. And the fish department

2) Kinokuniya Bookstore, 525 S Weller St, Seattle, WA 98104 (206) 587-2477
This one is like the one in San Francisco's Japantown, just smaller, with both the stationery and the bookstore in one place. It's still a great place though, with its Japanese fashion

3) Daiso, 710 6th Ave S, (between Cherry St & Lane St), Seattle, WA 98104, (206) 355-4084
Inexpensive Japanese items, like kitchen gadgets, etc.

4) Tsukushinbo, 515 S Main St, Seattle, WA 98104, (206) 467-4004
I came by just after opening for dinner and right then felt like this was a nice getaway off the main street and in Seattle's old Japantown. It's a moderate, calm and welcoming space

5) Maekawa Bar, 601 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104, (206) 622-0634
I would come here just because it reminds me of restaurants in the SF Japantown. The food is ok. I ordered the beef tongue, the maguro mini-don, and the takoyaki. They were all fine

6) Fuji Sushi, 520 S Main St, Seattle, WA 98104, (206) 624-1201
A solid longtime player in Japantown. FS does classic Japanese cuisine; don't look for anything fusion/derivative/­interpretive or any of that trendy jive. What they do they do reliably

7) JCCCW, Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington, 1414 South Weller Street, Seattle, WA 98144, (206) 568-7114.
Established in 2003, the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington is dedicated to preserving, promoting and sharing Japanese and Japanese American history, heritage and culture. Founded by a group of longtime community leaders, we are a true community based organization with staff, board members, volunteers and supporters from throughout the Seattle area Japanese and Japanese American communities.


Japanese Culture - More Things To See 1) Japanese Gardens – Kubota Garden, Renton Ave S & 55th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118
Japanese Gardens Seattle Japanese Garden 2.5 – Kubota Garden acres, http://kubotagardens.com

2) Wing Luck Asian Museum, 719 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104
Tour of Japan town, japantown history.

3) Seattle Japanese Garden, 1075 Lake Washington Blvd E, Seattle WA 98112, (206) 684-4725
Japanese Gardens Seattle Japanese Garden 2.5 – Kubota Garden acres, http://kubotagardens.com

Japanese Information Sources Sources: Jean Nakayama from Minakei Resturant
Tour of the JP Building next to Minakei Resturant.


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