Elaine Ikoma Ko

Elaine Ikoma Ko is the former Executive Director of the Hokubei Hochi Foundation, a nonprofit that helps The North American Post, Seattle’s Japanese community newspaper, where this article was first published. She is a member of the U.S.-Japan Council, an alumnus of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) to Japan, and leads spring and autumn group tours to Japan.

Updated April 2021

community en

Jan Johnson of Japantown's Panama Hotel: "Saving History Saves the Future" - Part 2

Read Part 1 >> Q: How did you come to buy the Panama Hotel? One day, Mr. Hori informed me that he was planning to sell the hotel. My immediate reaction was sadness when thinking about how those trunks could be lost and recalling how the old Japantown at one time had everything one needed within just a few blocks. History was being lost. So I asked him, “How much are you selling the building for?”  He looked at me and stated, “I already have several offers.” I replied, “I don’t care!” And then he laughed. But from that point on, I…

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Jan Johnson of Japantown's Panama Hotel: "Saving History Saves the Future" - Part 1

Jan Johnson is a well-known name, not just in Seattle but throughout the world. She has welcomed thousands of visitors to the historic Panama Hotel and Tea House in Seattle’s Nihonmachi (Japantown) over the past nearly four decades. On any given day, you can see Jan fixing something in the boiler room, putting a new washer in a sink faucet, running up and down the stairs with a huge bundle of keys jangling from her waist (she knows exactly which ones go to each of the 102 rooms), checking in customers, conducting tours, and saying hello to her customers. But little is known about the …

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food en

Terry Takeuchi of Terry’s Kitchen: For the Love of Food and Community - Part 2

Read Part 1 >> How has your restaurant become more than just a place to eat? How has the location in Bellevue been a plus? From the beginning, we had great support from the local Asian community, family, and friends. Strong neighborhood support soon followed. Being located in the south Bellevue Newport Hills neighborhood has been an advantage for us since we are easily accessible via the I-90 and I-405 freeways, with a customer base from Seattle, Renton and the Eastside. A pleasant surprise was seeing many acquaintances I hadn’t seen for a long time. Customers would also bump i…

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Terry Takeuchi of Terry’s Kitchen: For the Love of Food and Community - Part 1

Terry Takeuchi is the owner and self-described “homeboy cook” at one of the most beloved Bellevue restaurants, Terry’s Kitchen. While he is the nightly chef in the kitchen, he never misses the opportunity to personally welcome guests at his restaurant, which is a second home for many. Having weathered the pandemic for the past two years, thanks to tremendous community love for him and his “home comfort food,” he hopes to be with us for a very long time. * * * * * Tell us about your family growing up “in the hood” throughout Central and South Seattle…

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Karen Maeda Allman: Connecting Community Through Books - Part 2

Read part 1 >> Let’s talk about your literary life. Did you always have a keen appreciation for books growing up? I actually started out as a psychiatric nurse and nurse educator for 20 years. Psychiatric nursing was something that interested me but I learned that nursing is quite conservative as a profession and if you are trying to study something that is unconventional, you will face challenges. Both my parents were avid readers. My mom read books and magazines in Japanese and bought me copies of English translations of Japanese classics like The River Ki and The Makioka S…

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