The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience aims to reactivate the Higo Garden in Japantown to create a safe, accessible, and sustainable community hub with a grant from ArtPlace. The Higo Garden was used to grow flowers for Japanese American funerals, before the Japanese American internment during World War II. Until World War II, Seattle’s Nihonmachi, or Japantown, was a thriving Japanese community. After the war, Japanese cultural practices were stigmatized in the United States, and the combined effects of suburbanization, the construction of the I-5 freeway, and urban renewal decimated the buildings that once housed the heart of the local Japanese community. Japantown’s hardships were shared with the rest of the International District, which saw 40 of its hotels closed and its population dropped from 5,000 to 1,300 people between 1950 and 1978. Since 2003, the area has seen a steady recovery with help from efforts to preserve and revitalize Japantown.
“Seattle’s Nihonmachi is the historic touchstone for a community whose liberties were stripped, cultures stigmatized, and who lived in a cloud of uncertainty for many years,” said Beth Takekawa, the Wing’s executive director.
“Bringing vitality and pride to Nihonmachi requires long-term dedication by many individuals, small businesses, and property owners and community organizations. We are elated that ArtPlace is supporting the work of this community reclaiming its future.”
The project will be integrated into part of the Wing’s neighborhood tours and cultural or artistic programing.
ArtPlace received about 2,200 letters of inquiry from organizations seeking a portion of the $15.4 million available grants in this cycle. The Wing is one of only two groups receiving repeat funding from ArtPlace from the 2011 grant period. (end)