Issei Memorial Rock - Japantown, San Jose

Dedicated to first generation Japanese in the US - Issei Pioneers

Let us learn some Japanese! One is ichi, two is ni, three is san. Now it becomes easy to understand this memorial stone. This big uncut stone memorial is placed at the crossing of 5th Street and Taylor Street. It honors the first generation of Japanese settlers who came to the US and made it their home. They are referred to as issei, which means "first generation" in English. Issei is the term used almost exclusively for Japanese immigrants to the US between 1868 to 1924.  In 1924, immigration from Japan was banned. Children born to this generation in the US are referred to as nisei. Grandchildren to the first generation are sansei.

Now that we have mathematics behind us, we can talk about this stone. This big uncut granite stone signifies opportunity. It signifies challenge and reward. It signifies effort and pain. The first generation of Japanese settlers worked hard as farm support and subsequently as transporters and traders in the Santa Clara Valley area. They were the pioneers. Their success brought in a sizable number of Japanese immigrants to American soil. This stone honors them, the pioneers, for their effort.

This photograph has been taken as part of's "Been There Done That" project and is part of its collection of  "This is San Jose." Japantown, where this rock is situated, is a short distance from downtown San Jose. By definition, we are between Taylor Street to the north and Empire Street to the south. The 8th Street to the east and 1st Street to the west is called Japantown.

Published On: Sunday, June 2nd, 2013