North Central Hero: Tokumatsu Hata

The Hata Merchant Tailor Shop (Established 1901)
The first record of Japanese immigrants arriving to San Mateo County is in the 1890s. Many worked in domestic service and grounds keeping on the Peninsula estate homes. A growing number of small businesses catering to Japanese in San Mateo County emerged in the early 1900s. Tokumatsu Hata, an immigrant from Fukushima, opened his tailor shop in Downtown San Mateo on B Street in 1901. The shop offered alteration services to Japanese customers who required tailoring of ready-made suits. Many customers were bachelors who were motivated to present well to prospective brides. Discrimination against Japanese businesses eventually forced the Hata shop to relocate to a less desirable area on Ellsworth Avenue. Hata rose above these obstacles and continued operating for over 20 years. 

1872-1942: A Community Story. The San Mateo Chapter Japanese American Citizens League (1981) (Photo Credit: S. Sakuma Collection)

North Central is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the City of San Mateo and home to many trailblazers. As North Central residents we are all custodians of this rich and diverse history. HANCSM is proud to share stories of our neighborhood history and the leaders who helped shaped the community that we enjoy today. Poet Robert Penn Warren said, “History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future.” 

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