Heinlenville Park opens in Japantown


Heinlenville Park acknowledges the nuanced history of the Japantown neighborhood.

Rendering courtesy of Shea Properties and City of San José PRNS

Table of Contents

Last May, the new Heinlenville Park in Japantown broke ground — 17 months later, the project is now complete.

San Jose Department of Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services + San Jose officials will host a ribbon-cutting tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 650 N. Sixth St. to officially open it to the public.

🏗️ The groundbreaking

In May 2022, a group of community members + city officials gathered on Sixth St., between Taylor + Jackson St., to watch the groundbreaking ceremony for Japantown’s Heinlenville Park.

The ceremony included remarks from Councilmember Raul Peralez, a historical account from Heinlenville descendant + author Connie Young Yu, and the awarding of a City of San José commendation to Warren Hayashi, a founding member of the Japantown Community Congress.


The site of the future Heinlenville Park.

Photo courtesy of Shea Properties and City of San José PRNS

🌳 What to expect

PRNS representatives who presented at the groundbreaking say the 0.75-acre park would be completed in the next few months.

It features:

  • Garden space including cherry blossoms
  • Intricate + creative stone work
  • A children’s playground with regular activity programming
  • A historical memory walk featuring stone medallions + signage educating visitors about the neighborhood’s history
  • A nearby rehearsal space for San Jose Taiko
  • The “Sheltering Wing” — an 18-ft tall metal sculpture representing both Chinese + Japanese culture
A GIF of San Jose officials breaking ground at the future Heinlenville Park site.

The Heinlenville Park groundbreaking marks another major moment in Japantown’s development.

Video by SJtoday staff

🌳 What’s in a name

After much debate about a name — “Heinlenville Park” was chosen to honor the vibrant Asian American community that lived in the Japantown neighborhood, even before it was Japantown.

The story began when a German immigrant farmer named John Heinlen leased property in what is now Japantown to those seeking refuge after a 1887 fire destroyed San Jose’s Market St. Chinatown, located at the present site of the Signia Hotel in Downtown.

Despite public backlash, Heinlen continued to protect San Jose’s Chinese community + made Heinlenville — as the neighborhood became known — a safe haven for the broader Asian American community.

The Chinese Historical & Cultural Project led the “Heinlenville” park name campaign to honor both the historic community + their ally. “The site stands for something,” Connie Young Yu explained. “A community that rose out of the ashes, built by a man of integrity and courage, and the brave people who would not be driven out.”