UWT Memorial to Japanese Community

The University of Washington Tacoma is within $8,000 of its fundraising goal to pay for a memorial to Nihongo Gakko, the Japanese Language School that once stood within the footprint of what is now the UWT campus.

A large-scale bronze sculpture will stand at the northern end of the UWT section of the Prairie Line Trail, along with a bronze plaque telling the story of the school and its community.

The sculpture commemorates the school and Tacoma’s “Japan Town,” which included a wide range of businesses, hotels, and homes located between South 11th and 21st Streets near Pacific Avenue. The wood-frame school building, built in 1922, served the thriving Japanese American community in that area, a community that did not return after Japanese internment during World War II. The school building deteriorated to the point that it was sited by the City as a hazard in 2003 and demolished in 2004.

Plans are for the memorial to be completed in early 2014. State funds can’t be used for this project, so UWT turned to the community. Enough funds have been raised for the completion of an eight-foot version of the sculpture. With additional funds it could be increased to a nine-foot sculpture. Donations for the project will be accepted through June 30 of this year.

UWT made a commitment to commemorate the history of Tacoma’s Japanese community with a permanent memorial, the sculpture, by sculptor Gerard Tsutakawa aims to be a lasting monument to the history of that community.


For generations to come, the memorial will tell the story of Nihongo Gakko through public outdoor sculpture and an interpretive plaque that will honor, celebrate and remember the school, the community that supported it and an important chapter in the history of our nation.

Now that it’s almost ready to go, is eight feet enough? Is nine?

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