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San Jose Japantown II LbNA #54925

Owner:Little My Contact
Plant date:Jul 11, 2010
County:Santa Clara
Found by: Mik3l
Last found: Nov 5, 2022
Hike distance:Unknown
Last edited:Jul 11, 2010
My first box went missing, so I've placed a new one. I apologize that the stamp is not handcarved like the first. I'm carving a new one and will send it up to a friend to swap out. But I think you'll like this one even if it is commercially made. It represents one of the main reasons Japantown thrives today, and the reason this particular letterboxer returns each year to dance.

Located at 640 N. 5th St., the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuinis the heart of one of the few remaining original Japantowns in North America. The history and development of the temple is deeply connected with those of the Japanese-American community that settled in the Santa Clara Valley at the end of the nineteenth century.

In America the term Betsuin refers to a special status accorded to certain temples of particular historic or geographical importance. This status was accorded to the San Jose Buddhist Church in 1966.The temple served as a religious and cultural center in the lives of those early pioneers, the Issei.

The Betsuin belongs to the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha (The sect of the True Essence of the Pure Land tradition (Shinshu) in Kyoto, Japan. Its doctrinal founder is Shinran Shonin (1173-1262), who lived during the Kamakura Period of Japan. He was given the posthumous title of Kenshin Daishi (the Master who saw the Truth) by Emperor Meiji. A statue of Shinran Shonin is located at the front of the temple. The lovely garden is a delight to sit and contemplate in.

Across the street, you'll find the Dharma school, where religious education is offered for pre-school and school-aged children from the ages of 3 through 18. The children are introduced to and taught about Buddhism through sermon, lecture, crafts, music, and activities. The beautifully carved symbol on the side of the Dharma school is a mon, or crest, featuring the stylized image of wisteria.

Heading south, you'll find informational signs at the intersection of Jackson and 5th, depicting scenes of old Japantown. And slightly further south, at 565 N. 5th, is the Issei Memorial Building.

Built in 1910 as the Kuwabara Hospital, this building was originally named for its first resident physician. Now designated a San Jose Historic Landmark, it currently houses the San Jose Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), San Jose Taiko offices, and the Contemporary Asian Theater Scene. In 2005, the first Ikoi no Ba (a restful place to rest, reflect and appreciate) was installed at the building. The California Japantown Landmark, a permanent outdoor historic exhibit that unifies and tells the history of Japanese American communities in each of the three remaining historic Japantowns in the State of California (San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles), is also installed here. Panels on the three-sided nine-foot tall sculptural pillar capture the hopes and struggles of the Japanese American community, and provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about and gain a better understanding of the history and challenges of the Japanese American community in California.

Take a moment to sit quietly and contemplate the sculptural pillar. The concrete benches bear the names of the camps where Japanese-American citizens were interned. Heart Mountain has the best view. As you gaze past the pillar to the left, you'll see three large rocks--one in the foreground and a pair behind that meet edge to edge, with a large bush behind. The one on the left has a curiously perfect, round hole in the middle. The original letterbox was located behind that, but, as one might guess, it met an early demise, probably due to the fastidious gardening. I realized this would probably be the case with the re-planted box as well..., so I thought of something different.

To find the new box, you'll need to backtrack slightly up 5th, just before Jackson. On the east side of 5th, you'll find the lush grassy mounds and mini bamboo grove of the Kubota Restaurant and Bar ( Walk into the parking lot and count 10 spaces. Need a bit of light? Sticky fingers at the base will help, and a bit of a lift.