Historic Higo Garden Hub

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

Funding Received: 2012
Seattle, WA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
June 15, 2013

Funding from ArtPlace supports the reactivation of a hidden, historic outdoor space in Seattle’s Nihonmachi (Japantown) as a safe, accessible and sustainable community hub that will serve as a new cultural destination for The Wing’s walking tours and an economic driver for the entire neighborhood.

ArtPlace spoke with Cassie Chinn, Deputy Executive Director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (The Wing), about some of the people involved in this new project.

Chinn: We’re in the middle of permitting now. Being in a historic district, for us, that means not only regular construction and building permits, but also review by our International Special Review District. We’ve already gone before the board twice for briefings and are working towards our final review, culminating in over a 3 month process. Undoubtedly, each project faces an administrative maze to reach the goal of project completion. With the turn of each corner, we’ve found it helpful to remember the PEOPLE…

Remember Sanzo and Matsuyo Murakami, first generation immigrants who in 1929 began construction on the Jackson Building and established the garden we are working to revitalize now. Remember Chiyo Murakami, their daughter who played with her dog Skippy in the garden and tragically died of tuberculosis in 1937, a life cut too short. Remember property owners Paul and Craig Murakami, who have stuck true to their vision to revitalize Nihonmachi by investing in the Jackson Building and carefully selecting building tenants to contribute to the culture and livelihood of the neighborhood. Remember the current business owners in the Jackson Building, including boutique store MOMO, artisan gallery KOBO at Higo, and restaurant Kaname, who have experienced a 20-30% decline in revenues since streetcar construction began in our neighborhood in spring 2013 and will continue on for another year. Remember Rumi Koshino, our project artist who also lives in the neighborhood and, as a first generation immigrant, connects with Nihonmachi as her roots too. Remember the volunteers who serve on our International Special Review District board who passionately labor month after month to uplift our historic roots and maintain the unique culture of our neighborhood.

At our last briefing, the International Special Review District board proclaimed that they have “MUCH LOVE” for our project. And we too have much love for all the PEOPLE who give our project meaning and will keep it going long after permitting and construction are complete.