SAN FRANCISCO – The Japantown Merchants Association, the East and West Japan Center Malls, the Japantown community of residents, merchants and nonprofits and spiritual leaders, in partnership with SF Recreation and Park Department (SF Rec & Parks) will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Japanese Cultural and Trade Center (Japan Center) and Japantown Peace Plaza. The celebration includes remarks by city leaders, performances by SF Taiko Dojo, as well as a community blessing, will take place at Japantown Peace Plaza on Wednesday, March 28th starting at 11AM.
“We are pleased to be commemorating this special celebration in one of the most iconic neighborhoods in the City of San Francisco. We are truly grateful to those that have supported our merchants and businesses over the past fifty years and wish for another 50 years of success.” said Richard Hashimoto, President of the Japantown Merchants Association.
In addition, pioneering businesses who have been the integral partners of contributing to the preservation of the Japanese heritage in Japantown and bringing cultural diversity to the City, some for more than 100 years, will be honored. The year-long celebration will continue with the Cherry Blossom Festival in April and a 50th Anniversary Community Festival in October as well as many other cultural festivals throughout the year honoring the Japanese culture and traditions.
“We are the proud stewards of the Japantown Peace Plaza and Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, beautiful open spaces that celebrate the Japanese American community in San Francisco,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec & Parks General Manager. “And we are honored to be a partner to commemorating 50 years of history of the Japan Center and Peace Plaza. We look forward to another 50 successful years to come, and to celebrate the centennial anniversary in 2068!”
San Francisco’s Japantown was among the first Japanese American communities to settle and establish itself in the United States. Founded in 1906 at its current location, San Francisco’s Japantown (Nihonmachi) has been the center of the local Japanese American community for over 100 years. And in 1968, after San Francisco’s redevelopment of project A-1, the Japanese Cultural and Trade Center was established and opened to the public.
Today, the Japan Center is comprised of the East and West Japan Center Malls, adjacent to the Buchanan Mall and Kinokuniya Mall of Japantown. The historic Japantown Peace Plaza is centered between the East and West Malls and features the Peace Pagoda which stands where once was the heart of the old Japantown neighborhood. The Peace Pagoda – a 100ft modernist styled five-tiered bronze plated concrete structure was designed by Japanese architect Dr. Yoshiro Taniguchi. While ultra-modern, the Pagoda drew inspiration from the ancient 8th century Nara Period cylindrical Million Pagoda and Empress Koken’s who was guided by an affirmation for infinite Peace. As a gesture of goodwill between two countries, namely by the City of Osaka, San Francisco’s sister city in Japan, the Peace Pagoda was donated to “the people of the United States by the people of Japan in 1968” with plaques commemorating the gift. The historic Peace Pagoda has since become one of San Francisco’s iconic structures.
Now, the Peace Plaza, under the management of San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, in partnership with SFMTA, Japan Center Garage, SF Public Works, SF Planning, the Japantown community and businesses, hosts many annual traditions of this historic neighborhood, including the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, Nihonmachi Street Fair, the Summer Obon Festival and Fall & Year-End Festivals.