Japantown is the name for official Japanese communities in the United States, which developed with the widespread immigration of the Japanese population beginning in the late 19th century. As such, it has a great deal of history. Today, there are three recognized Japantowns left in the United States, all in California: in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose.
I’m quite familiar with the one in LA which is also known as Little Tokyo, but I must admit that I didn’t know about the Japantown in San Jose. (There is a interesting discussion on this topic at this blog site)
Recently I had a chance to visit Japantown San Jose during its Spirit of Japantown festival. My first impression is that it is less touristy that Japantown Los Angeles. It has a more cozy feel, and has some unique shops including a ukulele shop.
The vendor stalls, many selling Japanese and Japanese inspired crafts and goods, beckoned with their colors. Some young people got into the spirit of the festival, dressed in eye-catching styles, like they do in Sunday gatherings in Tokyo.
Away from the hot day, I walked into a bonsai exhibition and a studio/gallery, Art Object Gallery owned by artist Ken Matsumoto who creates abstract stone sculptures. He explained that one of the focus of his gallery is to promote the works of artists in the San Francisco Bay area, and he hopes that his gallery will be an asset to Japantown.
I like the atmosphere here, and I think I’ll be back for a visit and a stroll.