A Forgotten Community 

A Tour of Portland’s Lost Japanese-American Community

presented by the Japanese American Museum of Oregon & the Architectural Heritage Center

Click here to explore the story map!

In the early 1900s, Japanese immigrants started settling into a gritty, industrial corner of NW Portland, Oregon streets around the train station. Local laws and racist sentiments of the time made it difficult to find housing anywhere else. Within a few years, those eight or so blocks were filling up with Japanese-owned shops, restaurants, hotels and services. It became known as Japantown—Nihonmachi, in Japanese—a hub for the growing population to find work and community as they navigated an unfamiliar new culture. Then, Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. Soon after, Executive Order 9066 authorized the imprisonment of all persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast in American concentration camps, including citizens born in the US. Nihonmachi disappeared almost overnight and was never revived.

This map tells the stories of people and businesses that helped build Nihonmachi, some of which still exist today. But the stories gathered here represent only a snapshot of the many who lived and ran businesses in Nihonmachi. Click the link above to begin your journey through Portland’s lost Nihonmachi.