Kinmon Gakuen is one of the oldest structures and cultural organizations in San Francisco’s Japantown. In the late 1800s, a core group of San Francisco Japanese associations gathered to address the need for a Japanese educational system, motivated largely by an 1895 school exclusion law passed by the San Francisco Board of Education, which made it difficult for children of Japanese ancestry to attend public schools. Through fundraising and donations, Kinmon Gakuen (“Golden Gate School”) was officially opened on Jan. 18, 1911.
The building design was approved and the building was completed on April 11, 1926. The site served as the gathering place for one of the main contingents of forced relocatees to the Tanforan Assembly Center en route to wartime concentration camps. For several decades Kinmon Gakuen served not only as a school, but as a cultural educational center and as a movie house on Saturdays, showing Japanese films, plays and other community events. The school currently operates a weekly Japanese language education program.