Japantown History Series with Dr. Meredith Oda: Japan and San Francisco During the Early Cold War

April 22, 2021

Co-Sponsored by the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS)
Order Books Online: http://bit.ly/jtownhistorybook

The Center and the National Japanese American Historical Society are pleased to present a two-part lecture series on the history of San Francisco Japantown with historian Dr. Meredith Oda. These lectures will be based on Dr. Oda’s research and writings in her book, The Gateway to the Pacific: Japanese Americans and the Remaking of San Francisco. Join us for an enlightening lecture and audience Q&A, and uncover insights to our community’s post-WWII past.

Japantown History Series – Lecture No. 1: Japan and San Francisco During the Early Cold War

Civic leaders and ordinary people from all walks of life in San Francisco cultivated and celebrated their city’s ties with Japan almost immediately after the Pacific War ended, most notably with the construction of the Japanese Cultural and Trade Center in the Japantown neighborhood. This talk will explore the city’s many economic, civic, and cultural relations with Japan, and the ways that the recent enemy became central to postwar San Francisco’s civic identity. We’ll look at examples such as the now-defunct sister-city relationship, the precursor to the Asian Art Museum, Japanese restaurants, Japanese food imports, and the role of Japanese Americans in these transpacific relations. 

Praise for The Gateway to the Pacific: Japanese Americans and the Remaking of San Francisco


The American Historical Review:
The Gateway to the Pacific is a superb work of urban, social, Japanese American, and transpacific history. . . . It is an excellent example of how a local history serves as a window into national and global dynamics.”

California History:
“The value of this work is greatly enhanced by the author’s voluminous original research in conducting her study, including letters, newspaper and magazine articles, archival municipal evidence, records of interviews by and about major figures, and records of city missions toJapan. The vast quantity of pertinent primary materials uncovered permits the author to demonstrate the step-by-step evolution of the relationship between San Francisco and Japan and the critical role that Japanese Americans played in this process.”


About Dr. Meredith Oda:

Meredith Oda is Associate Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Reno. Originally from Philadelphia, she lived in the Bay Area for ten years, attending UC Berkeley for her undergraduate degree and working at the National Japanese American Historical Society in Japantown after college. She then received her doctorate from the University of Chicago and has had fellowships and grants from the Huntington Library, the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago, and the University of Nevada, Reno. Her research and teaching focus on Asian American history, urban history, US-East Asian relations, and the U.S. in the world. Her first book, The Gateway to the Pacific: Japanese Americans and the Remaking of San Francisco (Chicago, 2018), is a transpacific urban history of San Francisco. Her current book project looks at alienage, mobility, and Japanese American resettlement from the WWII incarceration camps until the 1952 Walter-McCarran Immigration and Nationality Act.