Copyright ©2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

In California, Governor Jerry Brown designated Sunday as a day of remembrance and prayer for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Many people in Los Angeles need no reminder.

The city has one of the largest Japanese communities in the country, and a good part of that community lives in West Los Angeles. NPR's Ina Jaffe visited a church there and sent this postcard.

INA JAFFE: This neighborhood is sometimes called Little Osaka, but that doesn't ring a bell for most people. So if you had to describe how to find it, you'd probably just say: You know that street west of the 405 freeway where all the Japanese restaurants are?

There's more to this neighborhood, though, than sushi bars and noodle shops. Japanese immigrants began settling here in the 19-teens and returned here after World War I, when they were released from the internment camps.

The younger generation now haunts the boutiques and clubs. The older generation maintains the ornate gardens in front of the modest stucco bungalows. And on Sundays, the congregation at the West Los Angeles United Methodist Church gathers as they have been since 1930.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Group: (Singing hymn)

JAFFE: This is a small congregation. Not much more than 100 people show up on any given Sunday morning. Yet they've raised quite a bit of money for the victims of Japan's multiple disasters, says George Kikuta, who's worshipped here for more than 40 years.

Mr. GEORGE KIKUTA: Last Sunday was the first Sunday, and we raised $8,000. So today I'm hoping, you know, we could double and triple that.

JAFFE: This Sunday's collection brought in nearly $11,000 more. Many here have friends and relatives in Japan. Kikuta has an uncle and six cousins in northern Japan, about 50 miles from the crippled nuclear reactors.

Mr. KIKUTA: And I talked to one of them, and she's sleeping in the car right now, parked in front of her house. The house is OK, but because of the aftershake, she's so afraid.

JAFFE: Fear has been overwhelming for Chimie Hashimoto. She also has family and close friends in northern Japan. She now knows they're OK, but she had no word of them for almost nine days.

Ms. CHIMIE HASHIMOTO: I pray every day, and I'm every day look at the TV. And it really hurt.

JAFFE: Another member of the congregation, Toshio Takahaschi, thinks that the Japanese people have set an example for the world with their resolute stoicism.

Mr. TOSHIO TAKAHASCHI: I am very proud of that. And many people say to me: You should proud to be Japanese.

JAFFE: Takahaschi says that he hopes America can learn from how the Japanese people are enduring the devastation caused by the earthquake. After all, he says, something like that could happen here. And in Los Angeles, everyone expects it will.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Group: (Singing hymn)

JAFFE: Ina Jaffe, NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: