PURPOSE    To create synergy and effervescence in J-Town; to augment and revitalize community during a time of transformation through art and the creative process.


Critically acclaimed San Francisco artists Brenda Wong Aoki and Mark Izu team up to produce Suite J-Town, a multidisciplinary, intercultural, intergenerational, series of events celebrating the 110–year history of San Francisco’s Japantown.

Within the next few years, the geographic heart of Japantown is slated for demolition. Through Suite J-Town, a multimedia arts incubation project, Brenda Wong Aoki and Mark Izu of First Voice, and a cadre of new culture bearers will ignite the soul of a community in transition, amidst a rapidly changing San Francisco landscape. Suite J-Town pays tribute to the 100-plus-year history of Japantown through music, dance, visual art, story, sound collage, video, and a site-specific installation.

“Creative synergy focused with the proper intent can turn turmoil into transformation. This is the art of resilience.” –Brenda Wong Aoki

Suite J-Town, seeks to deepen and expand community engagement, mentor next generation artists, and celebrate one of San Francisco’s essential historic neighborhoods. Suite J-Town will draw upon the stories of everyday people who are the heart and soul of the community.


In Japantown’s 120 year history, its people have been driven out time and again: during the tenure of the Anti-Japanese League after the Great Fire and Earthquake of 1906, the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans in 1942, redevelopment in the 1970s. Today, the geographic center of J-Town is again under threat by developers and the expansion of Silicon Valley into San Francisco. This crisis is urgent because it will devastate the physical definition of SF Japantown. As artists, we seek to reveal and strengthen the soul of a community through Suite J-Town. Our history is one of resilience. Together, we will find a way. Gambatte!!


J-Tells are emerging artists who have been selected to engage in a process of discovery, dialogue and creative synergy to develop a multimedia installation that will serve as the beacon for Suite J-Town. Keep your eyes out for them in Japantown this spring!  Read more about the J-Tells! >>