tv American Artifacts Little Tokyo CSPAN April 11, 2021 6:26pm-6:57pm EDT
declared a national historic landmark district in 1995 little tokyo near downtown los angeles has been the center of japanese culture in southern california since the early 1900s american history tv toured little tokyo with bill shishima a docent at the japanese american national museum. mr. shashima was born in a little tokyo in 1930 and spent three years at heart mountain relocation center during world war ii. good morning. we'll have a short leisure walking tour of little tokyo right here is our largest artifact. after world war ii. and our local businessmen wanted a place to tell ours japanese american story. what happened during world war ii? and coincidentally. japanese veteran of world war ii
also wanted a place to exhibit their story of world war ii. and this buddhist temple first built way back in 1925 was vacant and they got in contact with the city and were able to lease it out for 50 years for one dollar a year. so the little tokyo businessman and the veterans. incorporated 1985 and they were able to open up the japanese american national museum in 1992 in this old buddhist temple. this temple is a replica from a temple and kyoto japan, but the canopy is made original ones made of wood here. it's made of concrete and the architect. mcclellan was first time builder buddhist temple, he was a
specialist in making public schools, so we're not sure how and why he had this northern wall that's not japanese that's middle easterners, but way back in 1925, maybe that's when the king tut's tomb was recovered and also in hollywood. we had the egyptian theater built then so maybe in theme with the egyptian theme that he made the egyptian wall here. this is the gateway to little tokyo home his little tokyo and this depict what happened here in the japanese american community in the center right here. we see three people right there with a dedication of the candles and then this young girl with a mallet. actually, she was supposed to be making japanese crushed rice or we call it more chi however is depicting.
1942 guard tower with this symbol executive order 9066. so she's actually demolishing the memories of world war ii up here it depicts some of the activities going on in the japanese american community such as basketball martial art dancing and then some of the businesses that the japanese people were involved in is farming and produce marketing and go to business. so about 70% of all the produce issued in the southern california area was done by japanese american way up there on the upper right hand corner. we see where the third and fourth generation is taking care of the first generation japanese americans people that came from japan to america first came here. we call them essay or first generation. my parents were east days. i was born here.
i'm japanese-american and called nisse the second generation and then my children would be sansay say or third generation and etc. up here you see? a black musician that's depict. that during world war ii little tokyo was vacated because of executive order 9066 is this was the ghost town all people japanese ancestry were removed from the west coast meaning, washington, oregon, california and the southern part of arizona. so this was a ghost town and because the close proximity to the union station about four blocks north of here people came from the south to work in the war industries such as the aircraft industry the shipping industry, but they had no place to live and conveniently little tokyo was vacated population about 30,000 at that time, but
we had close to 42 as much as 70,000 come from the south to work in the war industries during world war ii and this was renamed bronzeville like old bronze so the blacks from the south incorporated here and then this was the jazz center during world war ii and the nightclubs were called breakfast clubs because the nightclubs were open to the wee hours in the morning. and this is where charlie parker and many of the black jazz artists started here in little tokyo. this photo mirror right here right there. it's unique in that they have. name tags on them. this is to show that during world war ii people of japanese ancestors who were incarcerated
into the america's concentration camp. there are 10 of them during world war ii. and so atoms and dorothea lang professional photographers during world war ii were commissioned to go into men's in our camp one of the ten camps here in california. but and so adams and dorothea lang were prohibited to take pictures of the guard tower. or prohibited to take pictures of the armed soldier and prohibited to take pictures of the barbed wire fence. they could take the barbed wire fence from a distance but not toasting up that you could see the barbs. so obviously these pictures were not taken by the professional photographers to show america what america's can't look like during world war ii right here. his hot steamed rice is put it in large vat and then with a mallet master down make it a
rice paste. so we've just before new year's new year's been the biggest holiday in japan and still big holiday over here for the japanese american they make these more cheap. and the season the mochi would soy sauce or soy sauce and sugar and then they start putting in sweet beans in this mochi. now, we have a japanese american concoction called mochi ice cream that started right here in the japanese village plaza right here is a scene of the heart of little tokyo way back in 1905. that's before the automobiles. and then some of the industries that the japanese were involved in was railroading citrus farming also right here. that's a picture bride. during early 1900s japanese came from japan to america to get rich and go back to japan, but
that didn't happen, but it was basically a male population about 20 to one japanese men versus a female. so there's no social life. so some of them wanted to settle down so they start the picture bride system the picture bright system probably predecessor to eharmony. person here would send a picture of themself back to japan usually family or friend and then the family or friend was solicit a bride for them at that time every family had a family registry. all they had to do was register the female's name in the family males family register and their officially married. so now with picture in hand they come to america easily port of entry was san francisco. so now they say wow. here's a handsome young man a 20 years old, but they find out that the groom is looks like 30 years old. so they're misled the picture was about 10 years old, but then it really got out of hand some
people start sending handsome dudes picture back to japan and when the prospective bride came to america, they're really misled. so america as japan to outlaw picture, right? so it's outlawed in 1920, but basically served it's purpose because now the population was about six to one male versus female. okay. behind me. is a japanese lookout tower a fire lookout tower. and we call it yagura yagura. so that's just the lookout tower way back in the late 1960s early 1970s little tokyo start to deteriorate so they wanted to rebuild little tokyo. so this was just an alleyway, but we had a chinese developer even though this is called japanese village plaza a chinese developer improved this place.
we have about 50 shops here and also many of the shop owners are not japanese anymore. maybe we have some vietnamese or korean business people. so they all look asian yet, but this is called japanese village plaza right? here. we call this maneki cat. this is a little cultural learning in america if i go like this, what does that mean? that means come here. but in japan they go this way so little difference in america we go come here this way and japan they go come here this way. so this cat is telling you to come in here and you see at the base right here a gold piece. so the cat is telling you come into our shop and make money for us. i'm not sure why he had eight ball eyes. that's it. and japanese community has many superstitious thing sometime. they said the right hand means something the left hand means
something else whether it's so white cat a gold cat or black cat and means various things, but i'm not sure i can't keep up with all the myth that goes with the monarchy cat. you look at the rooftop. at the building behind me. what do you see there? he's seen gold fish like this is to ward off evil spirit the fish in order to spit water. so that's for fire protection. so if you go to nagoya japan at the castle, you see a similar fish there. that's the ward off evil spirit or for fire protection. right here is one of three remaining grocery stores in the little tokyo area and the peak population in the 1930s and 40s. we had dozens of mama and papa type stores and the population about 30,000.
population about 30,000 people japanese ancestry within a three mile radius of little tokyo today. this only remains three grocery stores in little tokyo where the residential population of about a thousand who can tell me about japanese poetry? what do we call the poetry? tanka and haiku by the way, here we have it. haiku and tanka poetry haiku has three lines and 17 syllables and five seven five syllables. and it does not have to rhyme and it's about nature or feeling. and the expanded form of haiku is tanka tanka has five seven five seven seven syllables and five lines and it has talked about nature or feelings
tunisugihara tuna sugihara was a diplomat representing japan in lithuania way back in 1938, and he defied the government's order to lead lithuania because he wanted to help the jewish people there in lithuania to flee from the nazi coming to lithuania. so it's recorded that he saved about 6,000 jews from the nazis during world war ii and lithuania. but when he came back to japan, he was an outcast because he defied the japanese government not leaving lithuania when they told him to lead lutherania now. so they shipped them off to mongolia, but the owner of the property over there is a jewish descent and he wanted to honor tunisiahara so and about 10 years ago. he had tunisugihara's son come here for the education of the
tunisugihara statue right here is the restaurant called cookie coco. does that mean anything to anyone? that's the japanese version of kakadoodle. so the japanese chickens cry out coco coco not cockadoodledoo. so this is a chicken house. this is one of five buddhist temple here in little tokyo and like the christian church this first established here in 1904, but then this one went to the east side and then in the late 1970 1975 it came back here. and like to point out a little bit about the buddhist religion when the japanese came from japan to america, they they had to compete against christianity. i say compete. hate to say it. but religion is also business if
you don't have a congregation no need for church or temple so when they came here, they found out that christianity has church services every sunday. so now the buddha is here in america has church services every sunday in japan. they only go to the temple for weddings funerals and special occasions, but now in america we have it every day. plus they got westernized in japan. they do not have pews. go sit on the floor. whereas here we have pews now and then a little bit the difference about christianity and buddhism buddhist temples are basically are flat and built to the ground. whereas the christian churches go up and the church steeples go toward the heavens or the skies. so those are two basic difference christianity goes up and the buddhist goes down to earth. i like to stop here to show you
what little toka used to be way back in the late 1800s. this was a commercial industrial area. so people didn't want to be here so many of the minority groups established here in little tokyo area first there was a jewish population a black population filipino population and the japanese american community started way back in 1885. so this is remnants the railroads track siding that first served industrial area of little tokyo area. so in the early 1900s, they had a real estate. covenants that they cannot sell to the asians, so we were restricted and living throughout los angeles or even working in various places of los angeles. we could not do that. okay. we have these four holes there.
what do you think those four holes were oh that's where the brass signage was. this is the james irvine foundation japanese garden. oh about 9 10 years ago little tokyo was rated and people took all the brass signage from little tokyo to recycle and sell it. again, right here is where a brass sign used to be. this is for sight of a time capsule way back in 1980. they buried in the time capsule activities and things going on here in southern california. so it's supposed to be open and 2080, but i hope to get to sign back up because in 2018, no one will know what this signage is here for. right here is about the spaceship challenger as many of
know the chartered lasted about 70 sack seconds in the air. and we had the classroom teacher christy mccullough on there. we had the black scientists. mcnair on there. we had judy resnick the observer we had the jet first japanese american astronaut allison s onizuka on there. so this is to memorialize the challenger that first after about 70 seconds in the air. we have the oldest and largest japanese american a newspaper outside of japan the rafushimbo the first started way back in 1903 as a memography and twice a week and about 1921 it became a bilingual newspaper at japanese and english today. during its peak it had over
25,000 subscribers, but today i understand there are down to about 10,000 subscription of the raw fishing pole. we had right here this dedicated this block national historic landmark. there happened to be 13 properties here on this one block. ironically. here's a christian church that was here built way back in 1922 and the other end is the buddhist temple. there's a timeline here you see this charcoal area this charcoal area symbolizes the 1940s and then the 1930s 19 20s 1910 1900 so tells you what was there during that period so you see in 1942 it says families waiting for detention in to gathered here. so this is where my family had to gather. a cart because of executive
order 9066 president roosevelt issued and then general john d witt commander of the western forces issued 108 of this exclusion orders, and we were over here by all very sweet where los angeles was born way back in 1850s, so i was born there 80 years later in 1930. we got this exclusion order 33 dated made the third 1942 we had to report to this church on may the 9th. so we had one weeks official notice to leave our home and report to the government. here we're supposed to come we could only take what we could carry basically two or three suitcases. we were prohibited to have a radio weapons cameras where to turn that into the government then we boarded buses. we bought the buses went to
arcadia, california, arcadia, california the home of the santa anita horse race track. my family is fortunate we lived on the parking lot of santa anita horse race track. i say fortunate because my grandparents live in the horse stables and as much as i love my grandparents, i hate it to go visit them because of the stench of the prior tenants the horses. today, this is the home of the east-west players about a 200 seat theater. here. we have visual communication center here and the arts. so this is three businesses in one since it's a national historic landmark. they cannot remove the cross up on the church building. so this is not a church anymore, but this is originally a christian church. that started in 1917 and built
this church in 1922. okay, this sculptures dedicated to japanese town today. there's about three japan town or japanese town left in the united states prior to world war ii we had over 40 japan towns throughout the west coast, but during world war ii the war relocation authorities suggested that the japanese do not congregate into little tokyo's or japan towns, but there's three remaining one here in los angeles one in san jose, california and the other in san francisco, california. so this is a monument dedicated to the three remaining japan towns in the united states. on this historic landmark, we have quotes quotes from people that live in the little tokier area and their comment about little tokyo area. so right here, they said that
people from the countryside as far away as santa maria used to come to little tokyo get their japanese ingredients such as soy sauce and sake or tofu because they couldn't get those items throughout southern california. they had to come to japan japanese town to get those ingredients right here is by haru hashimoto. she's a essay or first generation japanese and she started the mikawaya food chain here in little tokyo. this was a center of little tokyo and it speaked years in the 1930s 1940s and within a three mile radius. there was 35,000 people of japanese ancestry living within little tokyo today. there's only about a thousand left.
this is a coban. koban in japan are police substations. why should we have a police substation here on the police headquarters across the street well in the early 1960s and 70s little tokens start to deteriorate we had lots of people handling around the little first street breaking into the cars so our tourists start to die down. so now we have this coban here. there's office here for the police to be able to make the reports here. so they have black and white parked out here. so i have a police presence and little tokyo today. this is a visitor center you have literature here and we have japanese speaking volunteers that helped the tourists here in southern, california. this building here is very interesting. i didn't know it at that time, but my boy scout buddy owned this building when he was three
years old. this is the kawasaki building. why did he have this building when he was three years old? well, it was the circumvent the law 1913 california passed the alien land law, which stated that if you're in asable to citizenship then you cannot own property in california. so to circumvent the law the kawasaki family put this into his japanese american born citizen. so although he was only three years old to circumvent the law that he couldn't put it in his own name because his japanese alien, so they put it into akita kawasaki's name. so today, this is one of the oldest japanese own buildings in little tokyo. way back in 1980 say chiquito opened up a sweet shop or manju shop as the fugetsudo shop and his claim to fame is that he
invented the fortune cookie all of you heard of fortune cookie. well, he invented the fortune cookie, but there's discrepancy. this is oh another japanese family here in southern california invented it and if you go to northern california, they said no a chinese invent the fortune cookie, but about 10 years ago a chinese archivist from boston, massachusetts got in contact with brian keto the grandson today that's operating the shop. he said indeed his grandfather was the originator of the fortune cookie. however, when say chiquito did the fortune cookie he put haiku poetry into the fortune cookie. whereas the chinese put the fortune in there and then commercialize it by giving it out. the local restaurants this is a sparrow building built way back
in 1882. what do you think they had here? this is before the automobile. this was a blacksmith shop. so the sparrow building had blacksmith shop here and historically this is where the pentecostal movement first had their meetings upstairs in the rooms up here the pentecostal movement way back in 1906. down this driveway again. it's one of the buddhist temples. this was built way back in 1940. and both the temple was built as a community center also, so in the sanctuary they do not have permanent seating so they could have maybe a dance hall during the evenings or on weekends. toyo miitake was a local professional photographer here in laura tokyo.
when he was ordered to go into the camps. he wanted to take pictures wherever he goes, but we had to turn in our cameras into the government. so toyota mitaka kept his shutters and lens it took it into men's and our camp, which is about to earn the miles north of here. and then he had a carpenter make a box camera for him. this box camera is three times larger than the original camera because today we're using it as a slide projector. so this slight projector shows activities going on in the japanese american community took these in he had a carpenter make him a box camera and he was taking pictures in men's and our camp. and then he got caught but fortunate for us we had a sympathetic camp director camp director assigned a caucasian lady with toiletake toyo. miyataka being a professional with composed the picture set
the shutters and then the caucasian lady who come and click the camera. so technically toiletake stop taking pictures in the camps during world war ii, but because of the cap director i believe we have the most documented pictures of manzan art camp because the sympathetic camp director. right here is the national center for the preservation of democracy. basically, it tells the democratic story of america of the various multi-ethnic groups during world war ii like the all black. tuskegee airmen, or maybe the prejudice against the filipino soldiers during world war ii or the hispanic soldiers or the jewish soldiers. so this tells about democracy during world war ii. you can learn more about little tokyo and the history of the japanese in the united states at
the japanese american national museum website. 60 years ago on april 17 1961 a force of some 1500 cia train cuban exiles launched an invasion at the bay of pigs on the southern coast of cuba their goal was the overthrow of communist leader fidel castro who had taken power only two years earlier in the cuban revolution. next saturday at 9 am eastern american history tv and washington journal will be live to look back at the failed invasion and its consequences joining us as former cia historian nicholas dumovich who will take viewer calls and tweets. the c-span cities tour travels the country exploring the american story since 2011. we've been to more than 200 communities across the nation like many americans our staff is staying close to home due to the coronavirus. next a look at one of our city's tour visits.