Long Beach’s Nihonmachi was one of series of Nikkei enclaves in Los Angeles’ South Bay or Harbor District that included San Pedro, Terminal Island and Wilmington. Of these, only Terminal Island held a larger population of residents of Japanese descent. Over 440 residents and dozens of businesses, community groups and cultural organizations made up Long Beach’s Japantown in 1941.
Japanese began arriving in Long Beach in the early 20th century and by 1907 almost 200 Issei had established small businesses and farms on land they rented or worked as sharecroppers. The commercial and agricultural foundations of Long Beach’s Japantown continued to grow in the decades before WWII. By the outbreak of the war there were nearly fifty local fruit markets and produce stands and several wholesale produce companies; the Long Beach Produce Market association provided a hub for their activity. Other Nikkei owned stores and businesses that catered to Japanese and customers from outside the community. In fact, Long Beach’s favored status as a tourist destination for Midwesterners seeking sun and shoreline probably offered additional commercial opportunities for local Nikkei.
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