Tag Archives: Chinatown-International District

‘Hai! Japantown 2021’: Honoring the Past and Reviving the Present

by Sharon Ho Chang


There are still a couple of weeks left to enjoy the fifth annual “Hai! Japantown,” a 20-day summer festival celebrating Seattle’s historic Nihonmachi or Japantown. The festival offers a unique and important opportunity to learn about and support the revival of what was once the West Coast’s second-largest Japanese American community.

“‘Hai! Japantown’ is important because it shows that the spirit of Japantown is still alive,” said Lei Ann Shiramizu, former co-owner of Momo, a cornerstone of Seattle’s Japantown, which just closed last September after 13 years. She has been involved in “Hai! Japantown” from the start (in fact she and her husband named it) and is helping manage social media and the calendar of events for this year’s festival.

“It’s like the Japanese saying, you know, ‘Fall down seven times, get up eight.’ Even during this very, very challenging year, the businesses have managed to stay alive. And not only that, they have continued to thrive because we have some of the small businesses taken over by the next generation … that has infused these businesses or these spaces with young energy and new ideas and it’s wonderful.”

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PHOTO ESSAY: Community Gathers for Two-Day ‘Welcome Back’ Celebration at Hing Hay Park

by Ronnie Estoque


The Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) and the City of Seattle collaborated to host a celebration of local culture and food at Hing Park on Saturday, July 17, and Sunday, July 18. The weekend was also the inaugural event of “Welcome Back Weeks,” which was organized by the City of Seattle with the goal of bringing small businesses, workers, and visitors back to the downtown area after nearly a year and a half of restrictions. As part of “Welcome Back Weeks,” over $300,000 has been invested into small businesses, artists, and nonprofits , which all have experienced significant hardship during the pandemic. 

The two-day event featured live music and performances from local artists from the community, which attracted sizable crowds. The event also offered attendees the opportunity to receive either a Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which was administered by representatives from the Seattle Fire Department (SFD). The CIDBIA will be hosting another Summer CID Food Walk from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 31. Events such as this have been planned to spur more community support for locally owned restaurants and businesses that are rebounding from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

This Saturday, July 24, “Welcome Back Weeks” will continue with an event starting at 10:30 a.m. at Pioneer Square, which will be followed up the next day at Westlake starting at 11 a.m. For more information about “Welcome Back Weeks,” visit the Office of the Mayor’s “Seattle’s Equitable Recovery” webpage.

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PHOTO ESSAY: Dragon Fest Food Walk Showcases Local Asian Cuisine

by Ronnie Estoque


The smoldering heat did not deter Dragon Fest Food Walk attendees from visiting a variety of Asian restaurants on Saturday, June 26,  in Chinatown-International District. The event featured Asian cuisine deals ranging from $2 to $8, and lasted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Previous Dragon Fest events have featured restaurants with food stands and merchants lined alongside South King Street, but this year a food walk was deemed more reasonable due to COVID-19 and the heat by the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA), who organized the event. CIDBIA is planning several more food walks throughout the summer in the neighborhood to spur more community support for locally owned restaurants that are rebounding from the devastating economic impacts of the pandemic.

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Remembering Khoa Pham, Little Saigon Business Owner and Community Champion

by Chetanya Robinson

(This article was previously published at International Examiner and has been reprinted with permission.)


The City of Seattle declared April 21 Khoa Pham Day, in honor of his work as a small business owner, activist, and community leader dedicated to caring for Little Saigon and beyond.

Pham passed away at the end of March of a heart attack, said his sister Yenvy Pham. He was 35 years old. 

After he graduated from college around 2008, Pham helped his family manage the Pho Bac restaurant business. “Khoa served as the chief financial officer of the Pho Bac Cooperation and was instrumental in the growth of the business in the past 13 years,” wrote Pham’s family in a tribute for his memorial service.

Pham’s family and friends remember him as a passionate advocate for the neighborhood, its people and businesses. A person who put others first, and a warm presence who loved bringing people together.

“He was always in the neighborhood, he was always doing things, he was always hanging out, and naturally was always there to help when things came up,” said his sister Yenvy.

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Is Seattle Ready for a Cultural Space Renaissance?

by Beverly Aarons


It’s 1967, and tucked inside a half-storefront in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, a tiny cultural space is born — Wing Luke Museum. Now, in 2021, that once diminutive cultural space resides in a massive 60,000 square foot building, home to over 18,000 objects, including artifacts, photographs, documents, books, and oral histories. Wing Luke is a prototype of what BIPOC cultural and artistic communities can create through Seattle’s new Cultural Space Agency PDA

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Virtual Event Sunday to Honor Donnie Chin’s Legacy as CID Advocate

by Ronnie Estoque


The recent rise in violent attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) nationally has galvanized community organizers, old and new, to take a stand for justice. History shows us that such hate-fueled violence is not new in any way, and activist legacies left by the likes of Seattle’s Chinatown-International District’s (CID) Donnie Chin continue to inspire the next generation of young AAPIs to organize and protect those most targeted and vulnerable in our neighborhoods.

Donnie Chin was a respected Seattle Asian American activist and organizer. Chin left his impact on the CID community through the establishment of the International District Emergency Center (IDEC), which started in 1968 as the Asians for Unity Emergency Squad. He was inspired by the Black Panther Party to support the CID community with a block watch patrol, free emergency medical services, de-escalation, substance-abuse and mental health check-ins that city departments failed to provide.  

“Donnie Chin was a selfless defender of this Chinatown-International District community,” said Robert Fisher, Collections Manager at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. “He spent his entire life helping others and the community. His daily presence is missed even more today.”

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Intentionalist: Your Guide to Seattle Restaurant Week

by Kristina Rivera

Intentionalist is built on one simple idea: where we spend our money matters. We make it easy to find, learn about, and support small businesses and the diverse people behind them through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop. #SpendLikeItMatters


Showing support for your favorite local restaurants has never been so delicious thanks to Seattle Restaurant Week.

Throughout the month of April, dozens of Seattle-area restaurants are offering special deals available for takeout, outdoor dining, limited dine-in, delivery, or all of the above. It’s the perfect opportunity to support your favorite restaurants, find some new favorites, or explore a different neighborhood.

OPINION: Seattle Needs to ‘Start Asian Love’ in the Face of Hate

by Glenn Nelson, contributing columnist


The first major local protest ignited by the murder of George Floyd swelled in downtown Seattle and started exhibiting elements of violence. It seemed almost predictable when the flummoxed police force began funneling the mostly white crowd of vandals south. Already in coronavirus lockdown, Lei Ann Shiramizu watched it all unfold on television.

Reports Shiramizu heard about police tactics indicated the group was being herded straight into the Chinatown-International District (C-ID). The mounting images being beamed to the public, of busted windows and other forms of vandalism, were like zaps to her psyche.

“My baby is out there,” was the urgent thought that crossed her mind.

Continue reading OPINION: Seattle Needs to ‘Start Asian Love’ in the Face of Hate

Intentionalist: Spotlight on Seattle’s Chinatown-International District

by Kristina Rivera


Intentionalist is built on one simple idea: where we spend our money matters. We make it easy to find, learn about, and support small businesses and the diverse people behind them through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop. #SpendLikeItMatters

In the midst of rising acts of violence against Asian Americans across the United States, it’s easy for us to feel more divided than ever. Reported hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased by 149% since the beginning of the pandemic, with businesses being the primary site of discrimination. Small businesses in Chinatowns nationwide have also been disproportionately affected by anti-Asian rhetoric throughout the pandemic.

But there is one thing we at Intentionalist know for certain: Food and a sense of community have the power to bridge cultural differences and bring us closer together. Chinatowns across the U.S. have historically been places for both of those things, and Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (C-ID) is no different. 

The C-ID overflows with the rich history of immigrants from across Asia. And when you ask many business owners in the C-ID what their favorite part about their neighborhood is, the overwhelming answer is the feeling of community.

Food has always been a bridge and cross-cultural unifier, and now is the perfect time to embrace that. Here are three eateries you can support in the International District.

In the Face of Hate, Asian Americans Call for Solidarity With All People of Color

by Kamna Shastri


Since the beginning of the year, Asian Americans have come increasingly under violent attack. Elders have been assaulted in Chinatowns across the country from Oakland to San Francisco to New York City. In late February, Inglemoor High School Japanese teacher Noriko Nasu and her boyfriend were walking through Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (C-ID) and were attacked without provocation. Nasu was knocked unconscious, and her boyfriend required eight stitches. Asian American community members in Seattle had already been experiencing racial slurs and aggression at increased rates since COVID-19 began in 2020. Then, last week, a 21-year-old white man murdered 8 people at massage parlors 30 miles apart in Atlanta. Six of the victims were Asian women. The businesses were Asian owned. 

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