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


Berkeley's Japanese American community numbered over 1,300 at the start of WWII, with over 70 Nikkei-owned businesses scattered throughout the city. Japanese American residences were mostly restricted to Berkeley’s Southwest neighborhoods, where a mix of African Americans and recent European immigrants lived alongside other working-class families. In addition to many small businesses and cultural organizations, Berkeley’s Nihonmachi featured a variety of places associated with the University of California, including several student dormitories and rooming houses, and a Japanese Students Club that was active by 1910.

The three East Bay communities in the Preserving California's Japantowns survey— Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda — have a remarkably high number of extant historic structures. More than half of the 100+ listings in Berkeley we surveyed are still in place, although many have been altered.


Free Methodist Church - 1521 Derby Street

UC Students Club - 1777 Euclid Avenue

Obata Studio - 2525 Telegraph Avenue

University Laundry - 2530 Shattuck Avenue

Berkeley Methodist United Church - 1705 Carleton Street

Japanese Women's Herald - 2811 Grant Street

San Pablo Florist - 1806 San Pablo Avenue

Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple - 1524 Oregon Street




Berkeley | Florin | Fresno | Guadalupe
Lodi | Long Beach | Marysville | Monterey
Oakland | Orange County | Oxnard
Pasadena | Petaluma | Placer County
Riverside | Santa Barbara | San Diego
Sawtelle | Terminal Island | Vacaville
Walnut Grove | Watsonville