Saturday, May 3, 2014

powell less

Their world never coagulated again after the war. They were interned and then scattered, losing all that they once had in a vibrant community that was 50 years in the making across the wide ocean from their island home. They came to log and fish and cultivate and build, and within a few tumultuous months in 1942, they were all gone.

Walking along Powell Street today, there is not much to indicate that this was the main street of a once bustling Japanese community. A few buildings with Japanese names of long forgotten owners leave a faded memory of more enterprising and prosperous days. The Japanese Hall on Alexander Street was the only property redeemed by the few Japanese who returned in the 1950's and it still operates as a language school and cultural centre to this day.

The Maikawa family built their dream department store with an au courant art deco facade to house the newest and the latest - it was the largest and most modern department store in Japantown when it opened in 1936, but would all too soon be forfeited to the government. Now it sits neglected and slightly decrepit in silent resignation to its fate.

These buildings bearing the weathered and damaged signs of "Lion Hotel" and  "King Rooms" were once rooming houses above storefronts that included a traditional Japanese bath house, an archery club, an athletic club, a restaurant and even a rifle gallery. The name of "MORIMOTO" set in tiles in front of the main door has remained as a humble legacy of the mysterious namesake now long gone.


The header image for savage states above is a detail of the entrance wall to the "Hotel World" built in 1912 by S. Tamura, a merchant and speculator.

No comments:

Post a Comment