Japanese Americans of Spokane

Japanese-Americans have a long history in Spokane. From their arrival with the railroad to their struggles in WWII, the city contains many remnants reminding us of our strong ties with the Japanese-American community.

Here you will find a tour highlighting historic sites related to the history of Spokane's Japanese-American community.

Welcome to the Japanese Americans of Spokane Tour

The Japanese have a long history in Spokane. Arriving in the 1890s as railroad workers, many decided to settle Spokane in hope of new opportunities in the city. Men set up farms and small businesses. As their success grew, families were sent for, and…

Spokane Buddhist Temple

Early Spokane had more ethnic and religious diversity than we often realize. Many Japanese immigrants were drawn to Eastern Washington's railroad and mining jobs in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some returned to Japan when employment ran out,…

Highland Park United Methodist Church

Like any immigrant, settling in a new land, cultural connectivity and education were important to a thriving immigrant community. For many, churches were the center of immigrant communities. Established in 1902, the Japanese Methodist Church, known…

The Hillyard Hand Laundry

Being Japanese in Hillyard was not always easy. Home to a large community of railroad workers of every nationality, conflicts between the Japanese and other laborers were frequent, sometimes resulting in riots. This small laundry is one of the few…

Spokane Japanese Farms

In the first half of the twentieth century small Japanese farms peppered the outskirts of the city. The produce from their farms in Bigelow Gulch, Nine Mile Falls, Spokane Valley, and Latah Creek Valley prompted the formation of the Spokane Vegetable…

A Japanese Quaker Wedding in Spokane, WA

On a warm August day, Japanese-American pacifist and civil rights activist Gordon Hirabayashi made headlines, marrying his college sweetheart, Esther Schmoe, in a simple Quaker ceremony at Spokane’s Lidgerwood Evangelical Church. While the happy…

Spokane's Chinatown

In the late 1800s, the fast-growing city of Spokane attracted immigrants from all over the world, including China and Japan. As in other American cities, a combination of anti-Asian prejudice and personal preference caused Chinese and Japanese…

Arrests at the Desert Hotel

Sumi Yoshida and Joe Okamoto thought that December 7, 1941 was supposed a day that would live forever—in celebration. It was on that day the Japanese-American couple planned their wedding at the Desert Hotel, now the site of the Davenport Towers.…

Greenwood Memorial Terrace Japanese Cemetery

Organized on May 11, 1888, Greenwood Memorial Terrace is the oldest of the community cemeteries in Spokane. It is also the most extensive, encompassing one hundred and sixty acres divided into three levels called "terraces", the Japanese…