Friday, May 15, 2015

Triple Date Night in Little Tokyo

Last Saturday, May 9th,  Mike and I  spent a fun evening with my brother Randy and his wife Barb

  and my sister Jocelyn and her husband  Vicente.

 We met in Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles for a casual dinner at Mitsuru Sushi Grill

It's very typical to see plastic food in the windows of restaurants in Little Tokyo (better known to us at "J-Town). I love these window displays.

 I grew up in nearby East Los Angeles and would come to this area of downtown Los Angeles every sunday to go to church. So this area of 1st and San Pedro streets is near and dear to my heart.

After dinner we walked to the nearby David Henry Hwang Theater housed in the Union Center for the Arts. for the  East West Players   musical production of "The Who's  Tommy".

This Center for the Arts building was formerly known as L.A. Union Presbyterian church.  It was the church that my grandmother,  my siblings and myself attended.   I grew up in this church, was baptized here and attended sunday school weekly from early childhood through high school. What memories I shared with my brother and sister that night as we stood in front of our old church.

 Being in the church sanctuary where the plays are now performed brought back many childhood memories of church sermons and special Christmas plays.  I'm so glad this wonderful building has been preserved and given new life in Little Tokyo.

Established in 1965, East West Players has been hailed as the nation’s leading Asian American theater troupe for our award-winning productions that blend Eastern and Western movement, costumes, language, and music.  In 1998 the East West Players moved to this location and a new church was built two blocks away for our congregation. *

There are small gold plaques behind chairs acknowledging key people in the theater arts, those Asian Americans who have played significant roles in theater and movie production.  We thought it was less than coincidental that in front of my sisters seat was a plaque honoring "Bessie Loo".  She was a movie agent for Asian Americans and was our grandmother, Miyoshi Jingu's agent, in the 1950's and 60's when our grandmother began a career in motion pictures and t.v. 

The pastor of our church was Reverend Howard Toriumi.  I was so pleasantly surprised to see the new Plaza and parking structure on the corner of 1st and San Pedro streets with a plaque dedicated to our Minister, Revererd Howard Toriumi.  He was such a wonderful, dedicated Pastor of Union Church.  

What a fun triple date night with my family.


* EWP has premiered more than 100 plays and musicals about the Asian Pacific American experience and has held more than 1,000 readings and workshops. Our emphasis is on building bridges between East and West, and one measure of our success is an audience of 56% Asians and a remarkable 44% non-Asian attendance. East West Players was founded by nine Asian-American artists (Mako, Rae Creevey, Beulah Quo, Soon-Tek Oh, James Hong, Pat Li, June Kim, Guy Lee, and Yet Lock) seeking opportunities to take on roles beyond the stereotypical parts they were being offered in Hollywood. EWP continues to provide unique opportunities for Asian-American artists and is committed to advocating for more diverse representations of the Asian-American experience on TV and across all media.

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