WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.
I’m here in Seattle wrapping up the last leg of my American Council for Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) interpreting trip. After recently reading Jamie Ford’s “Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”, I was compelled to visit the Panama Hotel which plays a pivotal role in the book. Located in the International District close to the Japanese supermarket Uwajima and bookstore Kinokuniya, this hotel with a rich history is still operating today.
It contains the only remaining Japanese public bathhouse (sento) intact in the U.S. In addition, the basement where the baths are located also houses the possessions of Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned in internment camps during WWII. The owner of the hotel offers tours of this basement, but they are limited so I was unfortunately unable to join one without a reservation. Instead I enjoyed catching up with a college friend in the tea house, whose walls are decorated with artifacts from pre/post WWII that tell the stories of Japantown at the time.
The Panama Hotel is a must visit for anyone looking to learn about Japanese American history, and I look forward to staying the night the next time I’m here. The beautifully decorated rooms with an Asian flair are reasonably priced and come complete with yukata to sleep in!