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Nihonmachi (Japantown)

Photo by Mike Imwalle, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation


Finding the Past in the Trash


Sometimes the best sources of information about the past come from what people throw away. El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation have excavated sites throughout the Presidio neighborhood to learn about the many communities that have lived here over time.


Archaeologists found this bowl in a trash pit created by former Japanese-American residents of Nihonmachi, the Japanese name for this neighborhood. A family must have imported this bowl from Japan and used it extensively until it broke one day. Their loss, however, is our gain since this rediscovered and repaired bowl allows us to remember that real people have called this neighborhood home.


To learn more about Nihonmachi, visit the Nihonmachi Revisited exhibit in the Presidio or come to one of our annual programs celebrating Santa Barbara’s Asian-American heritage. 






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