More than forty years after its creation, the block is undergoing a resurgence of cultural significance while reinvigorating its residential and commercial assets. Since its dedication in May 1973, Sakura Square has been a multigenerational, multi-cultural community and a destination for those seeking Japanese goods and services. Sakura Square is an example of a truly successful multi-use project in the heart of downtown Denver.
In the early 1970s, when Denver Urban Renewal Authority began transforming what is now known as LoDo, Denver’s Japanese community was forced to change. Without the efforts of the Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple, the businesses that had been part of the approximately 9-square block community would have been forced to divide and relocate. Instead, they were given the opportunity to move into the one-block area that already housed the Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple, preserving the Japanese-American heritage of the area.
A small garden plaza on the site provides a respite from the surrounding city and tells the history of the site through statuary of key historical figures: Governor Ralph L. Carr, Minoru Yasui and Reverend Yoshitaka Tamai. Carr was governor of Colorado from 1939 to 1943. He welcomed Japanese-Americans to settle in Colorado after they were released from internment camps at the end of World War II, and urged racial tolerance and the protection of basic rights for Japanese-Americans in spite of popular anti-Japanese sentiment. Minoru Yasui was a Japanese-American attorney who fought laws that targeted discrimination against Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants. Reverend Yoshitaka Tamai was responsible for the survival of the Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple in the early years. The apartment tower is named in his honor.
While there are already many reasons to visit and shop year-round at Sakura Square and attend weekly services at the Temple, Sakura Square will be expanding its events and activities in the years to come. This is an exciting time for the gateway to downtown Denver.