Between 1911 and 1942, a Japanese Language School known as Nihongo Gakko served a thriving Japanese community in Tacoma. The children from this community attended public schools, and after school was out each day came together at Nihongo Gakko. Here they learned the language, arts and cultural traditions of Japan, the homeland of their parents and grandparents.
After World War II, the Language School building stood mostly vacant for decades. By the time the university arrived and acquired the property toward the end of the 20th century, the building had deteriorated to a degree that it couldn't be restored with historic integrity.
The university has promised to commemorate the history of Tacoma’s Japanese community with a permanent memorial. For generations to come, the memorial will tell the story of Nihongo Gakko through public outdoor sculpture and an interpretive plaque that will honor, celebrate and remember the school, the community that supported it and an important chapter in the history of our nation.