In John Okada’s story about Japanese-Americans struggling with racial discrimination and the internal conflict between loyalty to one’s nation of birth and to one’s current country of citizenship, the location of the illegal gambling dens is a neighborhood near Seattle’s Chinatown that has undergone demographic transformations. In Chapter One of No-No Boy, Okada describes the location of this destination:
“Jackson Street started at the waterfront and stretched past two train depots and up the hill all the way to the lake. . .For Ichiro Jackson Street signified that section of the city immediately beyond the railroad tracks between Fifth and Twelfth Avenues. That was the section which used to be pretty much Japanese town. It was adjacent to Chinatown and most of the gambling and prostitution and drinking seemed to favor the area.”
Later, in Chapter Four, Okada returns the theme of gambling and its location in and around Chinatown. It is in this chapter that the author provides more detailed descriptions of the prevalence of gambling dens hidden among and within the myriad businesses that populate the neighborhood.
“. . . this is Chinatown and, when the town is wide open, one simply walks into the Wing’s Hand Laundry, or Trans-Asia Exporting, Inc., or Canton Recreation Society . . . Inside the second door are the tables and stacks of silver dollars.”
It is to this location that Kenji and Ichiro come to engage in this forbidden but potentially lucrative activity. Illegal gambling parlors were ubiquitous in Chinatowns across the nation, especially in those along the coasts where immigrant populations were greater, such as in San Francisco and New York.