Nikkei began to settle in San Diego in the late 1880s, and built a community with economic foundations in vegetable farming, small businesses and fishing. Japanese American residents of San Diego numbered over 1,500 at the onset of WWII. By about 1920, Japanese Americans dominated the local tuna fishing industry, which led non-Nikkei to copy techniques imported from Japan at the same time competitors worked to restrict fishing licenses for Japanese immigrants.
Services for San Diego Nikkei and those in outlying areas were concentrated in several blocks around the main intersection of Fifth and Island. The commercial heart of San Diego’s Nihonmachi overlaps with its historic Chinatown, and with the contemporary "Gaslamp District," a popular destination for tourism and nightlife.
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