Etsuo’s Corner: Japanese culture embraced in Los Angeles


Etsuo Fujita

Etsuo Fujita visits Little Tokyo in Los Angeles during his spring break this year. He spent his time with two host families who showed him around Los Angeles. //Photo By: Etsuo Fujita/The Guilfordian

For the first three days of spring break, I went to Los Angeles. I have never been to the west coast and this break would be my last long break, so I felt it was necessary to visit the west coast during the time.

I expected Los Angeles to be warmer than Greensboro. Unfortunately, it was almost the same temperature as Greensboro, which was unusual for Los Angeles. My first impression when I got off the airplane was that it was cold.

While I stayed in Los Angeles, I visited two host families. On my first and second days, one family kindly hosted me. A member of the host family had graduated from the same Japanese university as me and studied at Guilford as an exchange student ten years ago. We talked about our lives at Guilford and we agreed that the cafeteria here closes too early. She said the café closed so early that she got hungry at night and lost weight, which is the same experience I’ve had.

On the night of the first day, the family took me to a sushi restaurant, which served us real sushi. I had not eaten sushi for months except the Grill’s, so I was very excited. That being said, I think the Grill’s Sushi is delicious and some of their sushi is almost like real sushi. I did not expect there to be such delicious sushi in the Grill and I really recommend that all students try it.

On my second day, I went downtown and visited the area called Little Tokyo. In that area, there are many Japanese restaurants and shops together. I ate ramen there and it was my first time eating ramen in the U.S.

In Little Tokyo, my host family told me an important historical fact. More than 100 years ago, Japanese individuals started immigrating to the west coast of the U.S., especially to Los Angeles. At that time, the discrimination toward Japanese was labeled as the “Yellow Peril.” During World War II, Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps and many of them lost their lives and property. By listening to the story, I learned of the difficulties that Japanese Americans experienced and that I need to find out more about that portion of history.

On my third day, I moved to stay with another family. A member of the family also graduated the same university with me and she has lived in Los Angeles for almost 20 years. Her daughter graduated from a university in California and studied at my Japanese university for one year as an exchange student. The daughter talked to me about her experiences and difficulties as half-Japanese and half- Indian. I was impressed by how she overcame several obstacles.

They took me to the mountains from where I could see the whole city. I learned that the city is surrounded by mountains which is why there is almost no wind in summer. I’ve heard that in the summer, Los Angeles is too hot, and now I understand the reason.

While staying with two host homilies, I appreciated the hospitality from them and absorbed a lot of knowledge. I am so glad I was able to stay with them and if I have a chance, I want to go back to Los Angeles again when it is warmer.