Portland's Japantown Community Analysis

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From its formation in the late nineteenth century to its downfall in the 1940s, Portland’s Japantown, or Nihonmachi, has served as a safe haven for many Japanese immigrants searching for opportunities in the Pacific Northwest (Katagiri). Because Oregon was a common place for the Japanese to enter the United States, many of the immigrants chose to stay in Portland (Sakamoto). Portland’s Japantown was characterized by flourishing business, schools, and a strong sense of community. Furthermore, although Japantown was originally predominantly male community similar to Portland’s Chinatown, the Japanese started families, which gave them an advantage over other minority groups and helped ease their assimilation into American society. A strong sense of community characterized Portland’s Japantown before World War II. Because multiple families lived in the same neighborhood, there were many …show more content…
As a result, the Japanese could “book hotel rooms” and “hold banquets” in Portland (Toll, 24), luxuries that the Chinese could not enjoy. In contrast, Americans believed that the Chinese “could not be assimilated into the white community” (Wong, 19) because of discrimination at the federal, state and local levels: respectively, the Chinese Exclusion Acts, the Oregon Constitution, and Portland ordinances.
Japantown and Chinatown both served as safe places for immigrants to live, work, and socialize. Although both had businesses, Japantown was able to set itself apart from Chinatown by stressing a family culture. Because the Japanese created families, they were seen as wanting to stay in America permanently and contribute to the community. Even though Japantown dissolved as World War II began, these characteristics ultimately gave the Japanese benefits over the other minority groups in

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