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The Past, Present and Future of Salt Lake City’s Japantown

Japantown Businessmen
Henry Y. Kasai Photograph Collection, P0149n01_06_044
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.
Japantown Businessmen

Almost 60 years ago, Salt Lake City’s Japantown was condemned to make way for the Salt Palace. Now, new plans for a big development have put what’s left of the Japanese American enclave in the crosshairs of urban development.

Japantown was once home to a vibrant Japanese American community in the heart of downtown Salt Lake. Dozens of businesses — shops, restaurants, laundries, markets, cafes, newspapers and more — were owned and operated by people of Japanese ancestry, many of whom also lived in the neighborhood. It all came to an end in 1966. A pair of churches on a forlorn street are all that remains of the once bustling enclave. But supporters hope that plans for a major facelift to the area could breathe new life into Salt Lake’s Japantown. We’ll talk about the history of the community and what the future may hold for it.


Benjamin Bombard | Producer, “RadioWest” on KUER

Sean Higgins | Politics reporter at KUER

Floyd Mori | Politician, educator and author. His books include “The Japanese American Story” [Amazon | Bookshop].

Paul Iwasaki | Former Juvenile Court Justice for the Utah Second Judicial District. He grew up in Japantown.

Air date: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 9 a.m. and Saturday, June 29, at 11 a.m.