A Japantown remembered


High-rises, parking lots and anonymous corporate buildings inhabit the stretch of Fourth Street between L and O streets formerly known as Japantown, a once-thriving neighborhood all but erased by wartime orders and wrecking-ball ambitions.

A special workshop at the California Museum  paid tribute to the area, featuring a presentation from Kevin Wildie, author of the recently released book “Sacramento’s Historic Japantown: Legacy of a Lost Neighborhood.” The workshop, which focuses on “citizenship, constitutionality and the concept of redress,” will also include tours of “Uprooted! Japanese Americans During WWII,” the museum’s longest-running exhibit, led by formerly interned docents, as well as other activities.

Before the start of Japanese American internment in 1941, Sacramento housed the fourth-largest Japanese population in California and a thriving “J Town” rich with flavor and color, said Wildie, a history professor at Cosumnes River College.

Hundreds of businesses – produce and fish markets, restaurants, drug stores, photo studios, laundries, bathhouses – lined the streets, while sumo wrestling and Kabuki theater entertained denizens and visitors.

All of this detail and more came to light as Wildie pored through primary-source documents and interviewed old-timers who lived in the neighborhood.

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