Hey all - got myself involved in Japanese language and culture almost 9 years ago. Wow! It's been a long time! I love watching and listening to Japanese entertainment and music. Lately I've been trying to get better at translating and teaching so I decided to work on this site. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!
This past weekend was Japan Family Day at the Santa Anita Park (near Pasadena, CA), home of the Tokyo City Cup for horse racing. The event is held annually in March, and offers free admission, all kinds of activities to do, as well as tasty Japanese food to eat. Lots of major Japanese businesses including Kirin Beer, Curry House, Yamazaki Bakery, Singapore Airlines and DoCoMo come out and show their support.
I had myself some Japanese okonomiyaki (sometimes known as Japanese pizza or Japanese pancakes), courtesy of Otakufu Sauce company. My friends, Yohei Omamoto and Masako Sumida can be seen making the okonomiyaki in the picture below. While okonomiyaki is sure flavorful and very delicious, I had to limit the amount I consumed — *can get very fattening otherwise* haha.
As I went around the booths, I met up with members of the Japanese Redondo Beach Meetup group, who if you remember from last time, are pretty active in the area in terms of going out and meeting up to do Japanese activities. I highly recommend looking them up on Meetup.com.
Together, we watched demonstrations for Japanese martial arts including Aikido, fencing (Samurai Style), participated in Caligraphy, Japanese tea ceremony, and various raffles & games. While the event wasn’t major scale in terms of people, I would say it had its own quaint charm being something local, especially for the Japanese people here in LA (Torrance, Redondo Beach, Pasadena). It is worth checking out, and of course if you are wondering about Japanese Horse Racing (Keiba) and Tokyo City Cup– you should learn more on their website.
Today, there is a screening for HIKOBAE, which is playing at the Japan America (JACCC) Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo, which was advertised at Japan Family Day. The advertisement describes the movie as “A story of courage and sacrifice that focuses on the medical personnel of Soma City, Fukushima, on March 11, 2011″. I will try to run by Little Tokyo (time permit) to see if I can still get a ticket to watch, since this movie is dedicated to the people that gave their lives to help with the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster that occurred when a major tsunami hit Japan in 2011. I will also try to find out if there will be future screenings as well, or a way to see the movie on Netflix/DVD.
Last night, I hung out with the Redondo Beach Japanese Language Exchange Group, which meets up every Monday at the Catalina Coffee Company located near the pier of Redondo Beach. As many 25-30 people were in attendance, a mixture of Japanese individuals working in South Bay / Torrance looking to practice English, and Americans looking to practice their Japanese. If you’re interested in joining this group, you can check out more information about here at their Meetup.com website: http://www.meetup.com/nihonLA/events/dxdgmcyrfbgb/.
The Redondo Beach Japanese Language Cultural Exchange – Every Monday at Catalina Coffee Shop Redondo Beach @ 6:30PM
The Japanese Student Organizations at USC, UCLA, and Santa Monica College also seem to be busy with activity for their members; as of this past weekend, the Japanese Student Association (JSA) at USC held their annual ‘Red & White’ themed Valentine’s Day party for members of their organization. More than 780 people were on the invitation list. This weekend UCLA will be hosting a party called ‘Sweetship’ (https://www.facebook.com/events/240166429451442/), in honor of ‘White Day’, (Wiki). In Japan, women give men ‘chocolate’ as a way of confessing their love or interest on Valentine’s Day. On White Day, men give women ‘white chocolate’ as a way of returning the favor. Entry to the party is $15 girls, $20 guys.
Finally, Santa Monica College (SMC)’s Japanese English Language Association (JELA) (http://www.smcjela.com/) just finished their annual staff elections, and are gearing up to have activity of their own — JELA meets every Tuesday from 11:15am to 12:30pm at HSS 106 at SMC.
JELA (Japanese English Language Association) meets 11:15am to 12:30pm at HSS 106 at SMC, every Tuesday
If you’re not a student, and maybe a little too ‘old’ to go partying; and perhaps want something more outdoors, every month on the first Sunday, a group called Los Angeles Broadcast (LA JOHO), gets together to have a barbecue at the Ryan Community Park in Rancho Palos Verdes (losangelesjoho.com). While the scene is more ‘native speaker’, don’t be intimidated, the people are pretty friendly and you can definitely get by on survival Japanese / English. It’s also probably a good idea to bring something, like a pack of beer or some food so that you can contribute to the BBQ; you’ll be much more of a hit and probably make some cool new friends. I love going to this event because it’s a very good way for me to make some serious conversation.
The Los Angeles Broadcast (LAJoho) Group meets up every month on the first Sunday to have a BBQ in Rancho Palos Verdes – Photo Credit: Masa Endo
Sawtelle Blvd sure has some yummy Japanese food open late at night
Hungry? Looking for places to eat at late night — kinda like you would in Tokyo? I suggest visiting Sawtelle Blvd, cross street Olympic Blvd (think close to Beverly Hills). Some people refer to this place as ‘Little Osaka’, but I don’t really feel an ‘Osaka’ vibe here– it’s more like a little ‘Tokyo’. Even though we already have a Little Tokyo officially in the Alameda part of Los Angeles on 1st & 2nd streets, I think Sawtelle Blvd is like Little Tokyo Part II. Maybe the ‘cooler part’, as there seem to be more authentic places to eat, for one — you can get Okonomiyaki and some really good beer here. There’s also Shabu Shabu, a Beard Papa, several amazing ramen places, a Curry House, and of course a Karaoke bar. Additionally, there’s a Nijiya market that’s open pretty late, so if you have cravings for melon pan or want to stock up on Otafuku sauce, there’s always sales going on. In fact I just made friends with an official rep from Otafuku Sauce and he informed me of a sale this weekend. Let him know you heard it first off Ganbare, I heard him say something about free bottles..
As much as one would think, it would seem the city of Torrance should be the main hot-bed for all things Japanese. And in some cases, that’s mainly right– but I feelTorrance is really a sleeper town. If you’re spoiled like me and like to be able to hang out way past 3am in places like K-Town, you’ll be pretty disappointed with Torrance. Even though they have some good Japanese food places like Mitsuwa market, places tend to close early, as early as around 9pm! Additionally, many of the restaurants are closed on Mondays! Hanging out with the South Bay Japanese group last night, we were certainly suprised to find out that a really fun Okonomiyaki place, Gaja (http://www.yelp.com/biz/gaja-japanese-restaurant-lomita), was closed — so we instead bounced over to a late night Ramen place called Umenoya (http://www.yelp.com/biz/umenoya-torrance)’, off Lomita and Crenshaw.
This place is prob the main attraction of the Torrance area during the day lol
Umenoya off Crenshaw / Lomita – open til 3AM!
Umenoya was pretty chill, they have a $10 credit card minimum, and as far as the ramen, we could add all kinds of sides like extra pork and red ginger, which was cool. My only complaint would be I wish the ramen had more levels of spicy, but I guess that’s just because I’m Indian, and spice is just in my blood. (*Forgive Vijay’s offbeat humor*). But hey, the place is open til 3AM! How’s that for a sleeper town like Torrance?
What I was up last night doing.. lol
I plan to keep researching and checking out things happening in Los Angeles in participation with the Japanese communities here; and of course I’ll do my best to report more often here. Perhaps a video would be more interesting next time? Something tells me you might just get what you wish for *hint of things to come*.. .
Also if you know of any cool places or events I should check out, be sure to comment or send in your emails (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Things to come! We’re coming up with new ideas all the time, and video is one of them. It makes for a better immersive experience, and we’ll be doing a lot more street-style videos, interviews, lessons and more. Stay tuned!
The official Youtube channel for AKB48(Japanese music & idol mega-group) uploaded today the election results for this year’s top idols among the AKB48, SKE48, NMB48 and other ’48′ member families (Senbatsu). For those of you who are unfamiliar with this competition — each year, fans of AKB48, SKE48 and so on — vote in for their favorite ‘idol’ from any one of the groups online.
Last year, Maeda Atsuko was the darling ‘ace’ of AKB48, who beat out long time rival, Oshima Yuko to reclaim her position at #1. With Maeda’s recent graduation, it was no surprise that Oshima went on to take the new #1 position. Additionally, top idols like Kashiwagi Yuki, Takahashi Minami, and Shinoda Mariko continued to hold onto their previous year’s rank for this year.
The show’s biggest surprise was Watanabe Mayu at #2, (who was #5 last year). From watching the videos up to her announcement, you could tell Mayu-san was shocked and almost in disbelief (as she later told the audience on stage) that she had jumped up so high. She told the audience she was very thankful and looked to earn ‘#1′ for next year. Do you think she will make it? In the words of Miyazawa Sae (#11), who re-used a quote from Oshima last year, “We think of the votes we receive from fans as an expression of how much they love us…for that I am extremely grateful.” (The number of votes you give your favorite idol determines how much she will appear in promotion and videos for the next year). Who will you share your love with?
As you may know, people usually commute to their work or school by trains in stead of driving their own car in Japan. Since that, people are packed like sardines at rush hour on the way to work or school every morning, especially it happens in the big city like Osaka or Tokyo.
Today, i went to Osaka from Kyoto to see my old friends by train at 7 am.
The station was jammed with workers and students and i never expected to be able to take the train comfortably, but eventually i could have a seat and enjoy short travel by the train to Osaka. Why could i have such a nice riding at the time of commuter’s hell? It’s because i took a Women-only car.
Since Chikan ( the Japanese word for ‘pervert who touches girls (or men) on trains) crimes often happen in Japan, many trains have Women-only cars these days.
Women-only cars have received positive reaction from some men and some women.
Anyway, as long as Women- only passenger cars are provided in trains, i will never need to worry about be packed like sandwich in rush hour:D