The year is 1942 and the world is caught in the turmoil of war. Tension rises within the Japanese American community in Seattle as white Americans have more reason to be prejudiced against people of color as a result of Pearl Harbor. Henry Lee is a Chinese American, often bullied by his peers for being Asian. While he would much rather be at the Chinese school, his parents tell him that he must learn and speak like an American in order to be one. Because his parents are first generation immigrants, they don’t understand English as well as Henry, but they discourage him from speaking Chinese.
Not being able to interact with his family and not having any friends at school has left Henry alone yet compliant to the constraints that he has found himself in. That is, until he meets Keiko, a new transfer student who has found herself in the same situation as Henry. Their friendship starts off great, but Henry must keep it a secret from his parents, especially his father who holds a heavy prejudice against the Japanese. As time passes, Henry begins to realize his feelings for Keiko, but it is cut short as she must leave Seattle as a result of Executive Order 9066 which has granted the government permission to relocate all Japanese and Japanese Americans residing in the United States.
Henry is entrusted with Keiko’s valuable belongings which hold information about her family’s history.
Henry, now 46 has lost his way again after the death of his wife and being a single father paying for his son’s college tuition. He strolls down what’s left of Nihonmachi, or Japan Town and witnesses the reopening of the once Japanese owned Panama Hotel.
The stage adaptation of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweets takes the audience through time and back to 1950′s Seattle, with the incorporation of large photograph banners of places around Japan Town such as the Panama Hotel