Starting in 1890, Issei (first generation) came to the Santa Clara Valley in search of work. In 1900, Japanese Americans established Japantown, a place for them to meet their social, cultural and economic needs in a society hostile to their presence.
535 North Fifth Street
San Jose, California 95112
Phone (408) 294-3138
FAX (408) 294-1657
The Japanese American Museum of San Jose showcases a unique collection of permanent and rotating exhibits chronicling more than a century of Japanese American history. Visitors will learn about early immigration of Japanese to America, their leadership in the agricultural community, their incarceration during World War II and the challenges they faced, while adapting and contributing to West Coast communities.
JAMsj provides a historical forum that stimulates present day discussions on civil liberties, race relations, discrimination, and American identity.
The mission of the Japanese American Museum of San Jose is to collect, preserve and share Japanese American history, culture and art with a focus on the Greater Bay Area.
Established in November of 1987, JAMsj grew out of a 1984-86 research project on Japanese American farmers in the Santa Clara Valley. The farming project collected family histories, historical photographs, private memoirs and other unpublished documents and led to the development of a curriculum package on Japanese American history, which was adopted for use by the San Jose Unified and Eastside Union High School Districts. JAMsj's workshop on developing family histories provided documentary materials and photos included in the award-winning book Japanese Legacy: Farming and Community Life in California's Santa Clara Valley (1985) co-authored by Timothy J. Lukes, Ph.D. and Gary Y. Okihiro, Ph.D.
The museum started in an upstairs room of the historic Issei Memorial Building, formerly the Kuwabara Hospital. In 2002, the name changed from Japanese American Resource Center/Museum (JARC/M) to Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj) to better reflect the museum's archival focus. JAMsj now occupies the former residence of Tokio Ishikawa, M.D. two doors south on North Fifth Street.
In October, 2010, the museum reopened after an ambitious remodeling and expansion project. The museum now occupies over 6400 square feet and allows JAMsj to display many more exhibit artifacts from its extensive collection and to present educational programs to the public.