Document Type

Case Study

Publication Date



Manuel Cawaling; Kathy Hsieh; Bea Kiyohara; Patti West


Susan Kunimatsu


The Nippon Kan (Japanese Hall) Theatre was built in 1909, on the corner of Washington Street and Seventh Avenue, in Seattle’s Nihonmachi or Japantown. As a community owned space, the Nippon Kan became the social and arts center for the Japanese community and a significant location within the neighborhood that is now known as the Chinatown International District. Although it was closed during the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, it was later rediscovered and renovated, reopening in 1981. Although the times were different, the Nippon Kan claimed a similar place in the heart of the community once again and remained an important location until 2005 when the building was sold. Despite the community’s still high regard for the Nippon Kan and the nostalgia for its significance, the new owner was not able to find an anchor tenant to continue to operate the theater and it is now used as office space. However, the Nippon Kan lives on in the memories of community members and is commemorated at the Wing Luke Museum where the original curtain remains on display.

Organization or Event

Nippon Kan Theatre

Form of Entity

For Profit, Nonprofit

Area of Activity

Venue/Facility, Arts in Community Development

Artistic Discipline

Folk/Traditional/Heritage Arts, Theatre, Music, Dance