Oregon Nikkei History

Sharing and preserving Japanese American history and culture

On this site we highlight photos from our historical collection housed at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland's Old Town neighborhood, as well as other information about history and Japanese Americans in Oregon. Please visit www.oregonnikkei.org to learn more about the Oregon Nikkei Endowment and its programs.
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Posts tagged "1930s"

Rose Festival junior parade

These Nisei girls (and a few boys in the back row) are gathered to march in the Junior Rose Festival parade, circa 1938. The donor of this photo is the girl on the far left.

Nisei field trip

The date and occasion of this outing are unknown, but it is probably in Portland. The image donor’s family lived in Portland, and one of his brothers is in the group of children. Circa 1931.

The Mikado baseball team of Portland, Oregon, circa 1936. Players include George Somekawa, George Marumoto, John Murakami, George Azumano, Art Somekawa, Hood Shiogi, and Salem Yagawa.

Portland Sumo Club, circa 1930

1930 Japanese community Portland Rose Festival parade float

Portland’s Japanese community used to participate annually in the Rose Festival’s floral parade, particularly in the 1920s and ’30s as their families grew (and grew up). This float from 1930 features a torii at the front and a large Buddha (Kamakura Daibutsu) at the back. The girls on the float are all dressed formally and are wearing tiaras, so this was probably the 1930 Japanese American community queen and princesses.

Japanese community parade float, Portland Rose Festival

Japanese Association float for the Rose Festival floral parade, circa mid-to-late 1930s. The Japanese community voted for their own Rose Queen for a time in the ’30s. Queen Mary Marumoto is standing towards the front of the float, and most of the men in the back are wearing costumes and masks.

1931 Rose Festival float and Japanese Queens Court

These girls are the Japanese Community Queens Court for the 1931 Portland Rose Festival. From left: Emi Somekawa, Frances Maeda, Fumie Marumoto (queen), Chizuko Inouye, and Takako Saito. The queen and princesses rode on the Japanese community’s float in the Rose Festival floral parade.

Queen Fumie’s kimono was red silk with hand-painted white and yellow chrysanthemums on the front and sleeves. The mon (family crest) was painted on the back of the sleeves, front shoulder and back. This kimono was specially made and designed by Mr. Yatagai for the 1931 Japanese community queen, as selected by popular vote of the Japanese community.

Bill’s Market Farm Stand, Portland

Produce stand operated by the Shoji family in North Portland, Oregon, circa 1935. From left: mother Mitsuru, Orga (17), Mabel (15), May (20), George (19). Bill’s Market was just one of the hundreds of Portland-area grocery stores and farm stands run by Japanese Americans that were supplied with produce from regional family farms.

Hood River baseball team, 1934

The championship baseball team from 1934, probably taken in Hood River, Oregon. The Nikkei community of Hood River was one of the largest and earliest established Japanese communities in the state of Oregon.

Sho Endow (the donor’s father) is in the back row, second from left, with writing near his face. This is one of the only photos of a mixed-race team in our collection.

Jimmy’s Clothes Shop, Portland’s Nihonmachi

Portland, Oregon, was a hub from which Issei found work in the surrounding areas, or stayed and started businesses. In the early part of the 20th century, the area of Portland by the Willamette River north of W. Burnside Street became known as Nihonmachi (Japantown).

Portland’s Japantown grew to become a thriving heart of the Nikkei community, a central business district that was home to many families, schools, sports, and social activities. By 1940, there was a concentration of over 100 businesses located within an eight block area.

This photo shows Jimmy’s Clothes Shop, 311 W. Burnside Street in Portland, with owner Masaaki Usuda. The sign in the window on the left shows Mr. Usuda’s support of FDR’s National Recovery Administration (part of the New Deal), enacted in 1933 and overturned in 1935.

Learn more about Portland’s Japantown at Discover Nikkei.

Members of the Portland chapter of the JACL (Japanese American Citizens League) visiting Seaside, Oregon, on August 20, 1939.