Walk Tacoma series begins – explore Tacoma's Japantown

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

Did you know that Tacoma once held a dynamic Japanese community and business district downtown?

From the 1880s to the early 1940s, Japanese immigrants created a vibrant commercial and social hub which extended from South 17th (Union Station) to South 11th, between Pacific Avenue and Market Street.  It included a hotel, shops, restaurants,  a huge public market (1),  places of worship, and a Japanese Language School.

Many of these buildings still stand, some have been remodeled while others have been replaced by newer buildings.

Seattle still holds an extensive, thriving International District - both Japanese and Chinese.     Photo by Morf Morford
Seattle still holds an extensive, thriving International District – both Japanese and Chinese. Photo by Morf Morford

On May 2 you can walk the historic neighborhood and learn about the significance of these historic downtown locations. Tour guides Michael Sullivan and Tamiko Nimura have done deep research on this historic neighborhood and community.

Besides the tour, they have created a free phone app of the walking tour for iPhones http://apple.co/2zrNb8M and for Android http://bit.ly/2yLbpxq.

The free, one-mile walk will be held on Wednesday, May 2 from 5:15 – 6:30 p.m.  It will start at the top of the UWT stairs at South 19th and Jefferson Ave, and end with a social at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma hosted by the museum and the Mad Hat Tea Company.

And yes, this activity is suitable for children.

Beginning this year, the Children’s Museum of Tacoma will be partnering with Downtown On the Go to provide an activity for children at all of the Walk Tacoma events to encourage families to participate.  Along this particular route, children will have the opportunity to complete a Japantown Walk photo Bingo card.

The Walk Tacoma Series, sponsored by MultiCare and the Puyallup Watershed Initiative Active Transportation Community of Interest, is a six event walking series held on the first Wednesday of the month, from April through September.  The fun, themed walks, now in their ninth year, encourage people to enjoy downtown on foot by introducing new walking routes and sharing information about the community and its history through the guided tours. Register for the walk series on the DOTG website (http://www.downtownonthego.com/go/walking/walk-2017-pre-registration) or sign in at the beginning of each walk.

For more information on the full Walk Tacoma Series visit www.downtownonthego.org


(1) You can see our article (written by Michael Sullivan) on the wonders of the 11th Street Market here – http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/blog/the-11th-street-market-one-of-tacomas-lost-treasures/2441808/.

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