Japantown Atlas - Northern California - San Jose

Overview Map: San Jose Japantown Japanese American Businesses of 1940

San Jose is one of California's three surviving Japantowns. In some ways it's the best-preserved. It is located about a mile north of downtown, just east of the County Civic Center complex. In the 1930s this neighborhood was the north edge of the city's suburbs, with orchards beginning a few blocks north and east. The original Southern Pacific Railroad line from Oakland/Niles to San Jose passes through the neighborhood on a diagonal, and anchored a corridor of agricultural packing sheds and fruit canneries.

A decade ago the tallest object anywhere around was the old California Packing Corp. water tower; now it is used as a cell phone antennae platform and the industrial area has been developed with large apartment complexes. The neighborhood is still adjusting to this change of neighbors, though as one of the very few pedestrian-scale neighborhood shopping/restaurant strips anywhere in San Jose, and is likely to continue to thrive.

Japanese immigrants settled here in part next to the Heinleinville Chinatown, which is visible on this map between Taylor, Jackson, 6th, and 7th. This was San Jose's third Chinatown, established 1888 and dismantled starting around 1932. Learn more from the website and publications of The Chinese Historical and Cultural Project (CHCP)

San Jose became the nucleus of a number of outlying, mostly rural areas, such as Mountain View, Berryessa, Alviso, Coyote, and Morgan Hill. The 1940 directories list many farms, but as with other areas they had RFD addresses so are not easily mapped using the tools at hand. There are very few businesses listed outside of Japantown (and the three shown on the downtown map).

Selected Photographs:

See the "modern" map of San Jose on the PCJ "explore today's Japantowns" page, which shows these places approximately.


7/26/07, reposted 1/8/08 with photos, 3/9/08 with new map (downtown map added). All photos ©2007 Ben Pease