I posted this in the lounge… Since I wrote so much, I figured why not, put it in here.
1) I don’t think this thread is stupid. I bet if I looked at a random 50 threads, this one isn’t near the top. Happy birthday ____ is a stupid thread, but I do like those. Maybe stupid means important since one actually has to think. I’m not sure.
2) Been reading this thread and it’s a hard thing to have a perfect stance. Keep in mind, it’s about Japantown (s) and not Chinatown, Koreatown etc. Japantowns seem to be dying, even Sawtelle is less and less Japanese American as time goes by. Little Tokyo, same, and so on. I think it makes a difference to be Japanese American and have this issue in front of you. I’m one, so I’ll give my 2 cents. Sorry it took so long.
I do agree with yumyum, Monterey Park, etc, don’t need any saving. They’re actually still developing. It’s definitely on an upward trend. Koreatown, same thing. Pride isn’t a factor since a heavy percentage of that area is owned and operated by people from Asia. They frankly don’t care, since they just want to turn a buck and make a living off of thier own people. A lot of those places are only recently beginning to cater more towards Americans. In 75 years, we’ll see what gets said about that area. Will Monterey Park need to be “saved” at that time? It’s possible. Chinatown LA is another story… I’ll get to that later.
The 75 years later thing is here for Japanese Americans who are in their 4th, 5th and 6th generations now. Japantowns are changing as a result.
A joke between Greg, who works as the Japanese American market Safe and Save in west LA… occasionally I’ll ask where did ____ go? An answer we’ve said. “Oh, got married to a white person and moved away.” I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but with probably the highest rate of “out” marriage (I’ve heard it’s over 50% for women – less with men, since a lot won’t ever get married – back to that age old Asian women White man issue), Japanese Americans are turning hapa, and “blending in” with society the fastest. The need for a Japanese American community becomes less and less, and the need for suburbia that’s a better place to raise kids seems to go up. In the end, if you’re nearly a middle suburban American, why do you need a Japantown? I suppose it’s so you can buy the occasional grocerie (1 item – a bag of rice), eat japanese food which your suburban hood has, etc.. There isn’t really that much you need at this point.
I have seen it with LA’s Chinatown. I know that area needed to be “saved”. And as I read in an earlier post, it is now just a tourist place and retains little of what it was originally for — to (I think) help Chinese folks way back in the day when it was needed. There less Chinese culture than ever, since in the end, it’s now many galleries, and youth culture stores, although the restaurants are holding it down. There are some old school elements and that’s continuing, but I do think the gallery thing that took over isn’t helping it be Chinatown, if that was one of the purposes of bringing them in. LA Chinatown seems to be sort of like the Sawtelle Area, except instead of having a Monterey Park that’s really the true Chinatown in my opinion, there is nowhere else for true Japantown.
The Sawtelle area, does less for Japanese Americans (If Safe and Save market ever closed, I’d think the area for JA’s would be near over.), but does more for Japanese nationals. Kids from Japan are in the area. We’re talking half of one block! How many plan to stay in the area, get married and have kids remains to be seen. I assume most are here to fuck around and then go back to Japan. Meanwhile, the Sawtelle area is leaning towards Korean business if anything.
So all this said, is there a lack of pride by Japanese Americans in these areas? Probably. But does this make them bad people? No.
Can it be “saved” I guess that still depends on what the ultimate goal and definition is. But most likely, it’s going to be an uphill battle. I personally am not interested in saving an area, but I’m more interested in working in or with an area.
I’m Japanese American, and yes, I do have pride for at least the area I grew up in, which is Sawtelle. That’s one reason why we have businesses here. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to open stores only in areas that are JA. I still have to do what’s best for GR, and ultimately that means I have to make a business decision over a personal one. Is Little Tokyo a great place for GR? Probably not. I personally don’t like downtown LA too much, but I do remember when Little Tokyo was important. We’d go once a week in the 70s.