Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles is beautiful this time of the year. Recently, we headed to Little Tokyo for a fun family field-trip. Our first stop was exploring the Buddhist Temple on East Third Street. The docent, Nancy, really inspired us to be more compassionate and kind to one another. She was very articulate in delivering the message of Buddha and the Japanese Culture. The way she impacted us was through story telling of her life as a Japanese American. The entire experience was very humbling and eye-opening. I can honestly say that our entire family felt honored to meet Nancy and visit the temple.
Next, we happily ran to the Japanese American National Museum after our visit to the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple. We were all excited to learn more about the culture after meeting Nancy. However, The visit to this museum was a slightly different experience. We all had knots in our throats when we left. Let me explain. The minute you walk in, you are hit with images of US Executive Order 9066. This order was a horrible thing that destroyed many Japanese-American lives.
I cried as we read with disbelief through the displays of Executive Order 9066. Reading history books and hearing about American history is not the same as being presented with evidence and photographs of American bigotry. Standing next to a large display of Japanese American Tags was piercing. There were hundreds of tags hanging in a corner of the museum. These tags were used as part of the human accounting system for the concentration camps that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had built to enforce U.S. Executive Order 9066. Reading and living through the museum displays was heart-breaking. Looking at photographs of children being removed from their homes and placed into concentration camps just because of their ancestry. No crime had been committed, no trial or conviction had been established. It was unconstitutional and it happened right here in the US for the Japanese Americans of that era. These innocent people were imprisoned and lost everything for a war that the US didn't want to get involved in. Imagine today, being imprisoned for being a specific race, being separated from your family, losing your home and all of the possessions you have worked so hard to save for nothing more than to fight a war. Democracy and freedom are not protected by racism. Whether brown, black, white or any where in between, we are all immigrants to this fine Nation. The only true natives to this country are the American Tribal Nationals, remember this the next time you are tempted to say, "Go back to your county, you are not welcome here!" Let us all put down our "Arms" and be fast to wrap them around your neighbors regardless of the color of their skin.
|Dorothea_Lange via Wikimedia Commons|
After our visit to the museum, we were all hungry and significantly sad. What to do? Therapy shopping. Just a few feet away is a great plaza filled with food and shopping. We found lots of great things that we could not leave behind. Around the corner from the plaza, we found the Japanese Cultural Center Garden. This beautiful sculpted garden was perfect to help us restore ourselves to peace and zen. Adorned with a trickling brook throughout the garden, this is a perfect spot to sit and enjoy tranquility, take some beautiful family photos or walk and admire all of the beautiful plants.
To visit and learn more:
Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple is located at 505 East Third Street Los Angeles, CA 90013. You may call them at 213-626-4200 or visit their website at http://hhbt-la.org/
Japanese Village Plaza is located at 335 E 2nd St #223, Los Angeles, CA 90012
You may visit their website at http://japanesevillageplaza.net/
To learn more about the Japanese American concentration camps of WWII visit
www.janm.org - JAPANESE AMERICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM
100 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90012
Disclaimer: Not a sponsored post. All of our thoughts and opinions are all our own.