California Japantowns - Exploring the preservation of history, culture, and community...


Pasadena’s Japantown, concentrated in the Central Business District and South Raymond-Fair Oaks Avenue industrial-commercial district, was established in the early 1900’s. Moving from agricultural work throughout California, Japantown communities began to develop in urban centers. While some Japanese immigrants became more conversant in English, they often branched into related businesses, such as wholesale and retail produce, grocery stores, nurseries, and gardening. Also, many found work in domestic services as houseboys, laundry service, cafes, and boarding houses. In 1920, 42% of Japanese in Pasadena were gardeners, 42% were in the service fields; and 17% were small business owners. Go here to view the maps of Pasadena's Japantown businesses in 1940.

By the 1940’s, many Japanese proprietors had found their niche in the nursery business, with 17 florist and nurseries listed in Pasadena. The first Japanese-owned nursery may have been Nippon Nursery, but has since been demolished. Lincoln Nursery established in 1930 by Tokohei Matsuzawa, had been the oldest Japanese owned nursery in continuous operation in Pasadena until it was recently sold.



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