Japantown is a small area just north of downtown San Jose. There are Japanese markets, restaurants, gift shops, museums, and professional services up and down Jackson Street. The beautiful Japanese building on our featured photo is the Buddhist Church Betsuin which is located at 640 N Fifth Street. You’ll also find a vibrant farmer’s market every Sunday from 8:30am until noon on Jackson St between Sixth and Seventh St, where you can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a rich cultural history in Japantown that goes back over a hundred and fifty years.Japantown history goes back to the Chinese settlers in 1860-1870’s. Chinese were laborers and worked in the mines. They also worked on the railroads to build the transcontinental railroad especially the Central Pacific Railroad. In the late 1880’s a farmer businessman by the name of John Heinlan developed a six block area into a Chinatown. The area was known as “Heinlanville” named after John Heinlan by locals. This area attracted many Chinese businesses (merchants, barbers, workers, food service) in this area including the Ng Shing Gung temple.
In the 1920s the number of Chinese people dwindled down due to political reasons. There was the Chinese Exclusion Act that made it difficult for Chinese immigrants to receive US citizenship. However, there was a steady Japanese American population growth into this area because of cultural similarities.
Nevertheless, during World War II when Japanese Americans were targeted as the enemy, many Japanese Americans lost their businesses and were forced to stay in internment camps.
After the war, many resettled back in this area. Japantown is the site of the Japanese American Museum of San Jose. Japantown in San Jose has been designated by the California legislature as one of the last three remaining authentic Japantowns in the United States.
It’s a great place to have sushi at Minato or go have fun with friends at the 7 Bamboo karaoke bar. Japantown’s official entrance is at Jackson and Fifth Street.
Norman Mineta – From Internment Camps to the White House
When Norm Mineta was a young boy, he was forced to stay in an internment camp. This camp was in Cody, Wyoming. After he returned he went to UC Berkley and joined the army. He came back to San Jose and worked with his father in the insurance business.
In 1967 he was appointed to the San Jose city council to fill a vacant seat. In 1969 he won re-election. He became the Mayor of San Jose in 1971. He served in the US House of Representatives in Congress from 1971 to 1995. During the 1992 to 1994 he served in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. President Clinton appointed Norm Mineta Secretary of Commerce in 2000. The following year he became Secretary of Transportation under President George Bush. He served in the president’s cabinet until 2006 when he retired. In 2001, the San Jose Airport was renamed Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in honor of his service to our country.