July 15, 2013
Japanese Americans all across the land from Vermont to Hawaii will celebrate the ancient Buddhist Obon festival in the coming weeks with joyous folk dancing, religious observances and traditional Japanese foods in what is the most authentic cultural event remaining in Japanese America.
Obon Festival season continues through August and marks the zenith of the Buddhist year. But more than just a chance to take colorful photos and eat Japanese comfort foods, Obon has been described as a physical manifestation of meditation or prayer through dance, a Buddhist teaching come alive.
Obon [ お盆 ] originates from the story of Mokuren, a disciple of the Buddha, who during a meditative trance saw his deceased mother suffering in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts (the Buddhist equivalent of purgatory). Greatly disturbed, he went to the Buddha and asked how he could release his mother from this suffering. Buddha instructed him to make offerings and to meditate on the life of his mother. Mokuren followed the Buddha’s instructions and he began to see the true nature of her past unselfishness and the many sacrifices that she had made for him. The disciple, happy because of his mother’s release and grateful for his mother’s kindness, danced with joy. From this dance of joy came Obon, which has been celebrated for thousands of years as a time in which ancestors and their sacrifices are remembered and appreciated.
~ Originally posted by “Yellowkid” in August 2009. H/T to Ms.Yuri (Yuri Yoshida Photography)
March 11, 2013
END THEME ~ Japanese director Shunji Iwai and middle school student-turned anti-nuclear activist Fujinami Kokoro survey the almost surreal devastation in the aftermath of the triple disasters that hit Iwai’s native northeastern Japan March 11, 2011. Music: “Breath” by alternative rock band Radwimps.
December 20, 2012
October 17, 2012
September 12, 2012
A gang of fleeing bank robbers decided to give the residents of South Central Los Angeles a bit of economic stimulus Wednesday morning by tossing wads of cash out of the window of their getaway vehicle, and although TV news anchors and reporters tried to put a socially acceptable spin the actions of the Robin Hood gangstas, those on the street saw it in a complete different light as many of them rushed into the street to scoop up the Benjamins. “Deshawn,” who said he did not grab any of the robbers’ stolen money, told KTLA-5′s reporter Elizabeth Espinoza he saw this morning’s shower of cash as “neighborhood stimulus.” Added Deshawn: “We all need it. If you had seen it, what would you do?” he asked the reporter rhetorically. “If you saw money flying out, you would do the same thing they did, especially if you’re in a time of need.”
[The following video runs 07:10]
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August 30, 2012
With the smell of backroom deals and corruption permeating the L.A. City Council chambers, residents and stakeholders of L.A.’s dynamic Koreatown/Wilshire Center community escalated their drive for increased self-determination and representation in city government by taking their demand to be made part of Council District 13 right into city hall.
About 200 Korean Americans wearing yellow t-shirts proclaiming “I (Heart) Koreatown” responded to a last-minute call for action to attend the morning council session only to be met with the oldest stall tactic in politics. Council President Herb Wesson, whose staff had been the target of graft and bribery allegations at L.A. Redistricting Commission meetings all last month, apologized profusely for having to delay the public comments 2½ hours until after several ceremonial presentations and perfunctory unanimous votes were finished.
However, despite their long wait, the Koreatown speakers thanked CD10 Councilman Wesson for the opportunity to speak and asked the council to rethink the redistricting body’s recommendation that their neighborhood be divided between two council districts. There was no chanting or shouting. Several speakers read passages from the Bible.
But the stick to the carrot wielded by Koreatown Wednesday is a plan to sue the city, alleging that the redistricting process has been illegally politicized. There is also talk of calling in the FBI to investigate charges made by Koreatown business owners of bribe-solicitation and shakedowns by Wesson Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Bai, a Korean American and a high-profile figure in the community.
As the 20th anniversary of “Sa-I-Gu” (the Korean American community’s cipher for the 1992 L.A. economic and race riots which decimated their businesses throughout the city) approaches, Koreatown is tired of pay-to-play, business as usual political corruption they have allegedly been subjected to by officeholders. After years of being represented by the controversial former 10th District Councilman Nate Holden (and his chief deputy Herb Wesson), Korean Americans, who supplied more than one-third of Holden’s campaign finances, are looking to eliminate the middle man, get more bang for their buck and elect a councilman of their own. Thus, the drive to be included in Councilman Eric Garcetti’s CD13.
Garcetti, son of former L.A. County DA Gil Garcetti, has already announced he will run for L.A. mayor in 2013. Political strategists say the election to fill the council vacancy created by a Garcetti victory next March would give a Korean American favorite son/daughter candidate a great chance to become the first Asian American on the L.A. City Council since Chinese American urban planner Michael Woo was elected over CD13 incumbent Peggy Stevenson 27 years ago.
From 1985 to 1993, Woo, the son of an influential Chinatown banker, was the first—and so far the only— Asian American on the L.A. City Council. Koreatown’s savvy new generation of political leaders are hungry and seem ready to make history, and nobody’s mentioned it yet, but it looks like the Holden-Wesson golden goose has flown.