Japantown Business Association

Feb 2019

Letter from the JBA

Here’s a breakdown of recent news with the neighborhood and JBA.

BusinesS Closures

Wing’s Chinese has closed after almost 100 years in business in Japantown. There are plans underway to make sure the neon sign is preserved. Article by KCBS regarding the closure: article link.

Japantown Farmer’s Market

The Japantown Farmer’s Market may potentially reopen in May. The San Jose Planning Department is putting forth a recommendation on Feb. 27 allowing Certified Farmer’s Markets to operate on industrially-zoned properties like Gordon Biersch — this has been the hold-up. The Planning Department has been working on this rezoning measure since early December 2018. The San Jose City Council will be voting on this measure March 12. From that point, the City requires 6 weeks to get the code implemented, and we may be able to reopen in May — if all goes according to plan and there are no additional hiccups. Please refrain from sharing dates, as we do not have ANY formal agreements signed as of yet.

Corporation Yard / Japantown Square Blessing

Duane Kubo of J-Town TV recorded the Shinto blessing of the Corporation Yard/Japantown Square, and it can be seen here. Held on Monday, Feb. 18 by Reverend Byron Ishiwata, Reverend Masato Kawahatsu and Alice Kawahatsu, it was attended by representatives of many Japantown organizations, businesses and residents.


  1. Street Trees: We have preliminary confirmation that Our City Forest will work with the San Jose City Arborist to move forward with replacement of the dying/dead street trees in Japantown. It is our understanding that OCF has a grant to replace the trees and will take care of maintenance/watering for 3 years. This would complete the work started almost a decade ago when New Bradford Pear trees were chosen to replace the diseased Chinese hackberry trees on Jackson Street.

  2. Storefront Improvement Grant: The City of San Jose has Storefront Assistance Grants available for businesses with at least 3 years remaining on their lease on ground floor space. This is an offer for small businesses. Grant information can be seen here.


  1. Ryan Kawamoto, the Executive Director of Yu-Ai Kai, submitted his resignation from the organization in February. He was a phenomenal advocate for the organization and said he would not feel confident leaving Yu-Ai Kai unless it was in a strong position. Upon his departure, he secured finances above their fiscal year’s budget, built a strong cash reserve, and coordinated with Santa Clara County to allow renovation of their kitchen for rental purposes.

  2. Burnett Middle School is researching a name change, since Governor Peter Burnett was known to be openly racist. You can suggest name changes here. The JBA has voted to support John Heinlen as a replacement name (after our neighborhood’s history of Chinatown and Heinlenville).

Events & Recognition

  1. Former Executive Director of the Japantown Business Association, Kathy Sakamoto, will receive a City of San Jose Commendation for her work in Japantown at City Hall Council Chambers on Tuesday, March 26 at 1:30pm.

  2. Lotus Preschool will be holding a benefit to help raise funds for the Generations Phase II Education Building. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available here.

Crime in Japantown

Recent reported incidents are below.

  1. Mon, Feb. 18: Car break-in around 8:40pm in front of Nijiya Market. Theft of laptop through car’s back window took only a minute (getaway car was parked two spots away but still running); it looks like the victim may have been followed due to the very fast theft.

  2. Week of Feb. 18: Counterfeit bills were passed at two businesses on Jackson Street; one a $50 and the other a $20, both by the same female. I have shared her image on the JBA Facebook account and reposted on Nextdoor. I have also purchased several dozen counterfeit pen markers and will be distributing to neighborhood businesses next week.

  3. Sun, Feb. 24: Edible Arrangements had a river rock thrown through its front window around 5:30-6am; attempted theft of cash register.

Gold Star Project Offer

Marissa Shoji, a Girl Scout from Betsuin Troop 61303, wrote to the JBA offering assistance to Japantown businesses as part of her training:

”Hello to the businesses of Japantown, my name is Marissa Shoji, and I am a Girl Scout from Troop 61303 from the Betsuin Girl Scouts. For my gold award, I would like to help the businesses of Japantown. For the award, I will need to work a minimum of 80 hours, and the project needs to be long lasting. It would be great if you could send me any problems you’ve been noticing in relation to your businesses, such as lack of youth interest, or something similar. Your help would be greatly appreciated, and I look forward to working with you all! You can contact me at meisa.elephant@gmail.com.”

Please contact me if you have any questions about recent news. Thank you!


Tamiko Rast
President, JBA