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But while San Jose Tofu Co. — the last handmade tofu maker in the Bay Area and a favorite for generations — suddenly shuttered this winter, old Japantown still thrives. Shuei-Do, a manju shop on Jackson Street, has been doling out handmade sweets for 65 years. And Kogura, the gift shop that sells vases, figurines and other items, has been around for generations. The tension is, in many ways, not unique. The story of Japantown, which runs loosely from North 1st to North 7th streets and East Hedding to East Empire streets, is one of immigration, racism, struggle and the American dream. It’s particularly relevant now, as Silicon Valley booms around it, to consider what Japantown is and where it’s headed. Locals don’t want to be overrun by the Googles and Amazons of the world, but they don’t want to be left behind, either.
“It needs to keep the integrity of the history of the area and the values of the people,” said Kathy Sakamoto, 68, executive director of the Japantown Business Association, Before World War II, Japantown buzzed with markets, restaurants, churches, pharmacies and other family-owned shops flocked to by Japanese-Americans. Then in 1942, the community was decimated as local business owners and homeowners were hustled away to internment camps, A danzcue adult full sole leather ballet slipper few people, including a local lawyer named J.B, Peckham, watched over many of the properties during that time, Many residents eventually returned to the neighborhood, But just as many also moved into other parts of San Jose and beyond..
“That’s when it really started changing,” Sakamoto said. “There was a lot of sacrifice that went into this area.”. Over the years, the area’s demographics have shifted, with more Filipinos and Vietnamese moving in and Japanese-Americans dispersing across the Bay Area. Today, San Jose is home to one of the nation’s three major Japantowns. Where the other two — in San Francisco and Los Angeles — are tourist destinations in their own right, San Jose’s Japantown is not. Hirabayashi believes that might be its saving grace because major developers have stayed away. Major chain restaurants and hotels have made their way into San Francisco and Los Angeles and that’s largely untrue for San Jose.
“We’re a destination, but for the community,” he said, “We don’t want a Starbucks.”, “People are not earning a million dollars,” echoed Sakamoto, “but they’re happy and they’re satisfied in their work.”, But sustaining mom-and-pop shops is a challenge danzcue adult full sole leather ballet slipper and rising rents aren’t the only problem, Younger generations, some of them fifth and sixth generation Americans, aren’t necessarily interested in continuing the family business, and often the work becomes too demanding for older generations..
In December, the owners of San Jose Tofu Co., Chester and Amy Nozaki, closed after 71 years in business, in part because the physical demands of making tofu by hand had become too much. “We’re just really tired. We’re physically just burned out,” Chester said at the time. The closure shocked many in Japantown and, for some, seemed like an ominous sign of a beloved neighborhood’s fragile future. “The city has gotten much better at understanding small businesses,” Sakamoto said. But “it’s still hard for some family-owned small businesses to make money.”.
Hirabayashi, for one, is concerned that the high-speed nature of the tech industry makes it hard to convince young people danzcue adult full sole leather ballet slipper to put down roots and invest in the community, The apartments slated to go up in the coming years are less likely to appeal to families than mobile young professionals, “For them, it’s like a hotel room,” he said, “That’s the unfortunate part.”, And he’s not quite sure, he said, what young people are looking for anymore, “When I was growing up ‘Made in Japan’ used to be a taunt,” Sakamoto said..
Now, it’s a boon. But that also means that Japanese products are more widely available than they used to be. Whole Foods and Trader Joes sell mochi ice cream, and the Japanese giant retailer Muji sells many of the products in its bright and airy downtown store that once might have drawn shoppers to Kogura. The clothing store Uniqlo runs a robust online business and has an outpost in the busy Westfield Valley Fair mall, four miles southwest of Japantown. But Ryan Kawamoto, the 38-year-old executive director at Yu-Ai Kai Japanese American Community Senior Service, thinks that Japantown remains relevant because it appeals to young Japanese-Americans who are increasingly “yearning for those opportunities to find that Japanese-American identity.”.
For Tamiko Rast, the 38-year-old granddaughter of the Roy of Roy’s Station who’s a member of the city’s art commission and the new president of the Japantown Business Association, young people are bringing an infusion of diversity to the area, “They are reinforcing what artistic organizations started here decades ago danzcue adult full sole leather ballet slipper by making Japantown a flourishing creative hub, and offering new ideas to keep this district from becoming too predictable — without sacrificing the historical sacredness of our community,” Rast said..
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