San Diego Padres Japanese Community Night
Monday, August 13 vs Angels at 7:10pm

Tickets on Sale Now!



New JAHSSD Exhibition Opens June 26th at San Diego History Center
Let’s Eat! A Taste of History

The Japanese first came to San Diego in the late 19th century. San Diego was not San Francisco or Los Angeles with their larger immigrant populations and there was no real source of Japanese food. It was not really a problem as they had gotten used to eating at least some Chinese food on the ships that had brought them from Japan as well as in the ports of San Francisco and Los Angeles. They had also discovered American food which although it contained much more meat than they were used to in Japan, was invitingly different.

Our story could really end right there, but the Japanese immigrants and their descendants didn’t quite give up on the food of their ancestors. As we will see in our new exhibition, while food is an important part of a person’s cultural identity, immigrants will gradually absorb over time many of the eating habits of their adopted country. The Japanese American community is no exception. However, while they have embraced the vast variety of food available in America, they have also maintained traditions, family recipes and food preferences that reflect their Japanese heritage.  In addition, they have seen Japanese cuisine become a major part of mainstream food culture, something that would have been inconceivable to those first Issei in San Diego.

How did early immigrants make mochi and moreover, what is mochi?  Was sake available during Prohibition? Curious about what food was served in the internment camps? How do you make tofu?

Come and get the answers to these questions as well as see food-related artifacts from throughout our history including souvenirs from early Japanese-owned restaurants and community members’ family recipes.




Current JAHSSD Exhibition at San Diego History Center

Imagine attending school surrounded by fences and overlooked by guard towers. For those children of Japanese descent detained in internment camps during WWII, this was their reality. Did it deter them from learning? How different were their schools days to the students outside the fence? How was it even possible to get an education when they arrived to no schools, no teachers and no books?

For most of those evacuated from San Diego County, their initial destination was the Assembly Center at Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, Pasadena, 130 miles north of San Diego. As no provision had been made for the children of school age to continue their education, the detainees set about organizing something that would at least begin the process. By the end of the first week, a 40-member staff of volunteer teachers had been pulled together, many of them college graduates, and “recreational” classes were being held for over 250 children in the recreation hall.

After the evacuation of Santa Anita Assembly Center started four months later, many of the families evacuated from San Diego were sent to an internment camp in Arizona. Upon their arrival at the Poston camp near Parker, Arizona, the internees found that they had to start all over again when it came to schools and education for their children. This was a major challenge because, as was the case in Santa Anita, they had no supplies and no teachers.

However, after albeit a very challenging start, they still retained strength of will and a passion to succeed. Even though they had arrived with nothing, they still had their ability to improvise and make the best of what they had.

Come and see our new exhibition that highlights what school was like for those students and how they overcame the restrictions of their location to continue their education.