Subject Guide: Chicago’s Japanese American Neighborhoods

Subject Guide: Chicago’s Japanese American Neighborhoods

For anyone curious about Chicago’s former Japanese American neighborhoods on the north and south sides of the city, the following resources (all free, all online) are great ways to start expanding your knowledge.  For a deeper dive, see the bibliography included in the “Resettlement in Chicago” article in the Densho Encyclopedia (linked below).  For the richest collections of primary source materials documenting this history, look to the JASC Legacy Center’s archives and the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society.  Need help with your research?  Contact the Legacy Center Director by email or phone (773-275-0097, x222) for assistance.

What happened to Chicago’s Japanese neighborhood?
Kat Nagasawa, Curious City, WBEZ
This is an episode of the Curious City series and an accompanying interactive digital experience produced by Kat Nagasawa of Chicago’s NPR-affiliate station WBEZ.

Preserving the memory of Lakeview’s Japanese community
Afternoon Shift, WBEZ
On this episode of WBEZ’s Afternoon Shift, local writers Erik Matsunaga and Fred Sasaki speak about their families’ experiences, share their knowledge of Chicago’s Japanese American neighborhoods, and discuss what inspired them to launch the Nikkei Chicago website.

Japanese Americans on Chicago’s South Side
Japanese Americans on Chicago’s Near North Side
30 Years of Lakeview: Chicago’s Japanese American Community
Erik Matsunaga, Discover Nikkei

These three series by Discover Nikkei contributor Erik Matsunaga provide historical context, images, quotes from former residents, and maps that plot the businesses, food and drink establishments, religious organizations, medical services, and residential properties that once existed in Chicago’s Japanese American neighborhoods on the north and south sides of the city.

Windy City Nikkei
Erik Matsunaga
Another project of writer and local historian Erik Matsunaga, Windy City Nikkei provides “bite-sized glimpses of Japanese American Chicago” on both Instagram and Facebook.  See this piece on Discover Nikkei to read about Erik’s creation process for the Windy City Nikkei content.

Resettlement in Chicago
Ellen D. Wu, Indiana University/Densho Encyclopedia
This entry in the Densho Encyclopedia provides an excellent historical overview of the postwar resettlement of Japanese Americans in the Chicago area.  It includes a bibliography of additional resources well worth investigating.

Legacy Center Highlights

Explore the archives!

Our searchable database of finding aids provides background information and an inventory for each collection.

Explore the library! 

Use LibraryThing to check our holdings.  All are welcome to use our books on-site, and JASC members can check out books if we hold more than one copy.

Enjoy our digital exhibits! 

Engaging, image-rich exhibits to help illuminate the Japanese American experience in Chicago.

Listen to your elders! 

Our oral history collection features interviews with community members reflecting on a wide variety of topics from incarceration to contemporary activism.

Watch and learn! 

Check out a documentary film on incarceration and resettlement and a series of four films from 1975 featuring Issei voices.


Looking for your next great read?  Searching for the perfect gift?  The JASC Bookshop has titles suitable for children, young adults, and adults on a wide range of topics.  Find books about Japanese American history, books by Japanese American authors, books celebrating diversity, books about food and cooking, books about arts and culture, and more!

When you order any title through our shop, your purchase supports both JASC and local, independent bookstores.  You get the convenience of online shopping and shipping to your home, with the knowledge that your consumer dollars are making a difference.

Search for a title using the bar below, or visit the shop to browse our lists of carefully selected titles for readers of all ages!