The rooms of the Panama Hotel are modest (ergo the modest price), though filled with antique furniture and brightly lit by windows. But the building in its entirety is worth your trip. Recently the focus of the best-selling book "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet," the Panama Hotel was long the focus of Seattle's old Japantown...until the forced internments of the area's Japanese citizens during WWII.
Many of those people left their belongings in trunks they stored in the hotel's basement. for decades, since many never returned...until discovered by the new owner, Jan Johnson, in the 1990s. Eclectic, bohemian, big-hearted Jan has handled these artifacts with reverence, She set about returning as many as possible to families she tracked down; others were curated by a UW professor and became a traveling museum exhibit around the U.S.
Finally, she created a lovely teahouse on the ground floor, and carved a hole in the boards covered by glass, so visitors can have a look at the trunks themselves. The walls are covered with historical photos of the old Nihonmachi, and an old, stunningly preserved Japanese bathhouse is also attached to the structure (though not publicly accessible, unless Jan gives you a tour)l.
It is charming, beautiful and moving. Worth a visit even if you don't spend the night!
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- Also Known As:
- Panama Hotel Seattle