tv American Artifacts Little Tokyo CSPAN August 12, 2021 2:15pm-2:51pm EDT
player. i 19, there is all of this absolutely. when you dig into the young lives of these later famous women, the kind of conflict they feel. the way sexuality plays into this era. it is fascinating. the it has many phases. >> watch this program and thousands more any time at c-spann.org/history. 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. shishima was born in little tokyo in 1930 and spent three years at hart mountain relocation center during world
war ii. >> good morning. we'll have a short leisure walk. right here's our largest artifact. after world war ii and our local businessmen wanted a place to tell our japanese-american story, what happened during world war ii. and coincidentally, the 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 $1 a year. so, the -- this little tokyo businessmen 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 in kyoto, japan, but the canopy is made -- the original one is made of wood. here it's made of concrete. and the architect, mccline, was the first-time builder of a 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 tomb was recovered, and also in hollywood we had the egyptian theater built then, so maybe in theme, was the egyptian theme that he made the egyptian wall here. this is the gateway to little tokyo, and this depicts what happened here in the japanese-american community.
in the center right here we see three people right there with the dedication of the candles. and then this young girl with a mallet. actually she's supposed to be making japanese crushed rice, what we call it mochi. however, it's depicting 1942 guard tower with the 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 arts, dancing. and then some of the businesses that the japanese people were involved in, farming and produce, marketing and grocery business. so, it's about 70% of all the produce issued in the southern
california area was done by japanese-americans. way up there on the upper right-hand corner we see where the third and fourth generations are taking care of the first generation japanese-americans. people that came from japan to america first came here. we call them the isei or first generation. my parent were issei. i was born here, i'm japanese-american and called nisei, the second generation. and my children would be sansei and third generation, et cetera. up here you see a black musician. that depicts during world war ii little tokyo was vacated because of executive order 9066. this was a 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 40,000 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 the metal bronze, so the blacks from the south incorporated here. and then this was the jazz center during world war ii. and the nightclubs with called breakfast clubs, because the nightclubs were open into the wee hours of the morning and
this is where charlie parker and many other black jazz artists started here in little tokyo. this photo mural right here, right there is unique in that they have named tags on them. this is to show that during world war ii people of japanese ancestry were incarcerated into america's concentration camp. there were ten of them during world war ii. ansel adam and dorthea lang were commissioned to go into one of the ten camps here in california. but ansel adams and dorthea lang were prohibited to take pictures of the guard tower. they were prohibited to take pictures of the armed soldier, and they were prohibited to take
pictures of the barbed wire fence. they could take the barbed wire fence from a distance, but not close enough that you could see the barbs. and so obviously these pictures were not taken by the professional photographers to show america what america's camp looked like during world war ii. right here is hot steamed rice. it's put in a large vat, and then with a mallet, mashed it down make it a rice paste. so, just before new year's, new year's being the biggest holiday in japan and still a big holiday over here for the japanese-americans, they make these mochi. and they season the mochi with 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 the scene of the heart of little tokyo way back in 1905. that was before the automobile.
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 the 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 20-1 japanese men versus the female, so there was no social life. so, some of them wanted to settle down, so they start the picture bride system. the picture bride system is probably a predecessor to e-harmony. the family and friend would 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 male's
family register and they're officially married, from now with picture in hand they come to america, usually port of entry was san francisco. so, now, they say, wow, there's a handsome young man 20 years old, but they find out that the groom looks like 30 years old, so they were misled. the picture was about ten years old. but then it really got out of hand. some people start sending handsome dude's picture back to japan, and when the prospective bride came to america, they were really misled, so america asked japan to outlaw picture brides, so it was outlawed in 1920. but basically it served its purpose, because now the population was about 6-1 male versus female. okay. behind me is a japanese lookout tower.
a fire lookout tower, and we call it yagura. yagura. so, that's this lookout tower way back in the late 1960s, the 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, yes, but this is called japanese village plaza. right here we call this mineki 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. it's a little different. in america, we go come here this
way. in 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 but that's it. and the japanese community has many superstitious thing. sometimes they said the right hand means something, the left hand means something else, whether it's a white cat, a gold cat or black cat, it means various things. but i'm not sure. i can't keep up with all the myths that goes with the meneki cat. if you look at the rooftop at the building behind me, what do you see there? you see fish like? this is to ward off the evil spirit. the fish is known to spit water, that's for fire protection. if you go to nagoya, japan, at
the castle, you see a similar fish there to ward off evil spirit or for fire protection. right here is one of three remaining grocery stores in the little tokyo area. at the peak population in the 1930s and '40s, we had dozens of momma and papa-type stores and the population about 30,000. population about 30,000 people of japanese ancestry was in a three-mile radius of little tokyo. today this only remains three grocery stores in little tokyo where the residential population of about 1,000. who can tell me about japanese poetry? what do we call the poetry? tonka and haiku. by the way, here we have it. haiku and tonka poetry. haiku has three lines and 17
syllables, and it does not have to rhyme, and it's about nature or feeling. and the expanded form of haiku is tonka. tonka has five, seven, five, seven, seven, seven syllables and five lines and it has talk about nature or feelings sugihara was a diplomat representing japan in lithuania way back in 1938 and he defied the government's order to leave 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 in 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 leave lithuania now, so they shipped him off to mongolia. but the owner of the property over there is of jewish descent and he wanted to honor sugihara, so about ten years ago he had tunis sugihara's son come here to the dedication of the sunis sugihara statue. right here is a restaurant. does the name mean anything to anyone? that's the japanese version of cock-a-doodle-doo. so, the japanese chickens cry out not cock-a-doodle-doo. so this is a chicken house. this is one of five buddhist
temples here like in tokyo. like the christian church, it was 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 i'd like to point out a little bit about the buddhist religion. when the japanese came from japan to america, they had to compete against christianity. i say compete, i hate to say it, but religion is also a 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 buddhists here in america has church services every sunday. in japan they only go to the temple or 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. they go sit on the floor, whereas here we have pews now. and then a little bit the
difference about christianity and buddhism, buddhist temples basically are flat and built to the ground, whereas the christian churches go up and the church steeples goes towards the heavens or the skies. so, those are two basic differences. christianity goes up and the buddhist goes down to earth. i'd like to stop here to show you what little tokyo 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 little tokyo area, first there was a jewish population, a black population, a filipino population and the japanese-american community started back in 1805. this was the railroad track sidings that first served the
industrial area of little tokyo. so in the early 1900s they had real estate covenants that they could not sell to the asians. so, we were restricted 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 grass signage was. this was the james irvine foundation japanese gardens, oh, about nine, ten years ago little tokyo was raided, 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 was for the site of a time capsule way back in 1980, they buried in the time capsule
activities and things going on here in southern california. so, supposed to be open in 2080, and i hope they get the sign back up, because in 2080, no one will know what this sign is here for. right here it's about the spaceship "challenger," it lasted about 75 seconds in the air and we had the classroom teacher mccollough on there, we had the black scientist mcnair on there, judy resnick, the observer, we had the first japanese-american astronaut allison s. tonisuka on, this is to honor the spaceship "challenger," but since they are
refurbishing it, we do not have the spaceship up here. here we have the oldest and largest japanese-american newspaper outside of japan. it first started way back in 1903 as a mimeograph copy twice a week. then about 1921 it became a bilingual newspaper had japanese and english. today -- during its peak it had over 25,000 subscribers, but today i understand they are down to about 10,000 subscriptions of the newspaper. we had right here -- dedicated this block national historic landmark. there happened to be 13 properties here on this one block. ironically, here's the christian church that was here, built way back in 1922, and at the other end is the buddhist temple. there's a timeline here. you see the charcoal area? the charcoal area symbolizes the
1940s, and then the 1930s, 1920s, 1910, 1900s, so it tells you what was there during that period. so, you see, in 1942 it says families awaiting for detention into -- gathered here. so, this is where my family had to gather because of executive order 9066. president roosevelt issued. and then general john d. whit commander of the western forces issued 108 exclusion orders, and we were over here by olvera street where los angeles was born way back in 1850. so, i was born there 80 years later in 1930. we got this exclusion order 33, dated may the 3rd, 1942, we had to report to this church on may the 9th. so, we had one week's official
notice to leave our home and report to the government. here we were supposed to come. you could only take what we could carry. basically two or three suitcases. we were prohibited to have a radio, weapons, cameras. we had to turn that in to the government. then we boarded buses. we boarded buses, went to arcadia, california. arcadia, california, the home of the santa anita horse racetrack. my family was fortunate, we lived on the parking lot of santa anita horse racetrack. i say fortunate because my grandparents lived in the horse stables, and as much as i love my grandparents, i hated to go visit them because of the stench of the prior tenant, 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 sculpture is dedicated to japanese town. today there are three about japanese town or japan 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 tokyos or japan towns, but there's three remaining. one here in los angeles, one in san jose, california, and the
other is 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 lived in the little tokyo area and their comment about little tokyo area. so, right here it 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 saki or tofu because they couldn't get those items throughout southern california. they had to come to japanese
town to get those ingredients. right here it's by hashimoto, she's issei or first generation japanese, and she started a food chain here in little tokyo. this was the center of little tokyo. in its peak 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 1,000 left. this is a kobon. in japan they are police substations. why should we have a police substation here when the police headquarters are across the street? well, in the early 1960s and '70s, little tokyo start to deteriorate. we had lots of people pandering around little first street, breaking into the cars, so our tourists start to die down. so, now we have this kobon here. there's an office here for the police to be able to make the reports here.
so they have their black and whites parked out here. so they have a police presence in little tokyo. today, this is a visitors center. we have literature here and we have japanese-speaking volunteers to help 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 3 years old. this is a kawasaki building. why did he have this building when he was 3 years old? well, it was to circumvent the law. 1913 california passed the alien land law which stated that if you are ineligible 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 3 years old, to circumvent the law, he
couldn't put it in his own name because japanese alien, so they put it into his name. so, today this one of the oldest japanese-owned buildings in little tokyo. way back in 1903, they opened up a sweet shop or monju shop. and his claim to fame is that he invented the fortune cookie. all of you heard the fortune cookie. he invented the fortune cookie. but there's discrepancy. oh, another japanese family here in southern california invented it, and if you go to northern california, they say, no, a chinese invent the fortune cookie. but about ten years ago, a chinese archivist from boston, massachusetts, got in contact with brian keto, a grandson today, that's operating this shop. he said indeed his grandfather was the originator of the
fortune cookie. however, when he did the fortune cookie, he put haiku poetry into the fortune cookie, whereas the chinese put the fortune in there and then commercialized it by giving it out at their local restaurants. this building was built back in 1882. what do you think they had here? this is before the automobile. this was a blacksmith shop. so, the building had blacksmith shop here, and historically this is where the pentecost movement had their meetings here, the pentecostal movement back in 1906. down this driveway, again, is one of the buddhist temples.
this was built way back in 1940. and the buddhist temple was built as the community center also. in the sanctuary they do not have permanent seating so they could have maybe a dance hall during the evenings or on weekends. toyo miataki was the local professional photographer in little 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 to the government. so, he kept his shutters and lens. he took it in to manazar camp which is about 200 miles north of here, and 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 slide projector shows activities going on in the
japanese american community. but he took these in. he had a carpenter make him a box camera. and he was taking pictures in manazar camp and then he got caught. but fortunate for us we had a sympathetic camp director. the camp director assigned a caucasian lady with him. being a professional he would compose the picture, set the shutters, and then the caucasian lady would come and click the camera. so, technically he stopped taking pictures in the camps during world war ii. but because of the camp director, i believe we have the most documented pictures of manazar camp because of the sympathetic camp director. right here's the national center for the preservation of democracy. basically it tells the democratic story of america, of the various multiethnic 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. on american history tv's oral history series, richard todd describes his interactions with local civilians and the impact of war on families while serving in iraq and afghanistan with the army national guard. here's a portion of that interview. >> did you have interactions with the locals? >> yes. all the time. >> what was the reaction from them to your being there?
>> to your face. they loved it. we're so glad you're here. thank you for coming. give me some money. give me something. gimme, gimme, gimme, which got sort of to the point of, you know, i'm giving you my time right now. because you know, collateral damage would occur and our way of saying we're sorry was to give you money. so if you talk to them, to their face, they would love having you there. and then you catch that same guy a couple nights later, a couple days later, trying to kill you. the consistent thing is kids. innocence. the kids, you know, you could trust the kids and that's about it, to be kids. you couldn't trust anybody else
to be telling you anything of any value. i mean, you're talking about farmers. this was a farm area, an agricultural area. a lot of canals. basically between the rivers. the water system is unbelievable. and the way they've channeled it to grow their stuff. and they would just try to raise their family and mind their business and insurgency, whatever you want to call them would say we're planting a bomb and we need to you blow up an american first chance you get. and if you don't, we're going to kill your family. >> watch more oral histories from veterans and others any time at c-span.org/history.
this week we're looking back to this date in history. >> justice ginsburg, would you raise your right hand and repeat after me. do i solemnly swear -- >> i ruth bader ginsburg do solemnly swear -- >> that i will support and defend the constitution of the united states. >> that i will support and defend the constitution of the
united states. >> against all enemies, foreign and domestic. >> against all end ms., foreign and domestic. >> that i will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. >> that i will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. >> that i take this obligation freely. >> that i take this obligation freely. >> without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. >> without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. >> and that i will well and faithfully discharge. >> and that i will well and faithfully discharge. >> the duties of the office on which i am about to enter. >> the duties of the office on which i am about to enter. >> so help me god. >> so help me god. [ applause ] >> follow us on social media at
c-span history for more this date in history posts. next, on lectures in history. professor melissa borja teaches a class she examines how laws and public opinions have changed over the past five decades and emphasizes the difference between immigrants and refugees. today we are going to talk about topic 18, which is southeast erin asian refugee migrations. and if you have been following the news in recent years, i imagine that you, like me, have found it difficult to ignore the topic of refugees. this is an image of a refugee's experience fleeing communist vietnam in 1975. in many ways, it reminds us of
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