Session 1: Physical Space

Power of physical space: During the session, we went over a lot about physical space and the importance it has on individuals and a community. Now I’d like you to explain 2 places in your community that are important to you.  They can be anything, basketball courts, grocery stores, even your school (if you’re fond of it).  Just be sure to explain what the location means to you and why the place is of particular importance.


4 Responses

  1. Hello Everyone! I’m going to start off by admitting that I have never posted to a blog before–I really don’t even know if that’s the proper lingo–I’m “blogging,” I guess. 🙂

    It was very nice to meet you all yesterday. As an active member of the JA Community, I am really excited to see so many younger faces in Project: Community! 2009. As I (I think) am one of the older participants of Project: Community! and about to embark on the next journey–college, out of state–it comforts me to know that there are younger students interested in preserving and learning more about our relatively small community. For me, having the connection to a JA community in the greater Los Angeles area has provided the foundation for my own sense of identity. Little Tokyo and the JA community in its entirety have meant so much to me over the years and have really impacted who I am today. I hope that you may also benefit from them, as well. 🙂

    From the activities and discussions we participated in yesterday, I found it intriguing how a lot of us feel more comfortable going into situations/activities such as basketball, Boy/Girl Scouts, church/temple, etc., knowing that we’ll be among other Asian Americans or Japanese Americans. What I found even more fascinating, though, was how difficult it was to answer why we feel that way. I know that in Japan (both from my own experiences and my cousins’ who live in Japan), homogeneity is promoted and considered essential for a comfortable physical and psychological space. What we make of in our own growing JA Community seems almost a reflection of what’s going on in Japan–or at least, a sense of homogeneity. I think this was evidenced by our discussion of our “ideal Little Tokyo” and our similar ideas of what is encompassed in that physical space.

    This brings me to answer the question posted in this first blog about physical space. Although there are more than two, I would have to say the places in my community that are most important to me are my Japanese School (Wakaba Japanese Language School in the San Fernando Valley) and Kinokuniya (the bookstore in Little Tokyo next to the Curry House).

    Wakaba Japanese Language School is important to me because it is where I began my studies of the Japanese language and culture. My grandparents, both first-generation Japanese, inspired me to learn the language because of their own efforts to learn English, in hopes to converse with me better. Therefore, in my effort to reciprocate their’s, I began attending Japanese School every Saturday so I could learn to speak with them in their native language. From my beginning there, I branched out my studies to other programs, including the Japanese program at my high school. Since then, I have become fluent in the language and am now an assistant teacher and private tutor–much to my grandpa’s and family’s content. The particular school is important to me because it is also a part of the first JA community I became associated with–the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center (SFVJACC). (Also the community I began playing JAO basketball with). In essence, my Japanese school epitomizes the hearth of my interest in the JA community.

    Kinokuniya is also an important place to me because it is where my grandparents always took me when I was a little girl. It was the first place in Little Tokyo that I remember from my adolescence and also one of my favorite places. It was there that I bought my first Hiragana/Katakana chart, which is still hanging on the wall in my office at home. For me, it really is a place of comfort and familiarity–which is why I think I am so attached to the JA community, in addition to other things. I also continue to go with my grandpa who is so fond of browsing in the bookstore (and I might add, he takes forever to read nearly every single new book title).

    I hope this was okay for the first blog post. I look forward to hearing all of your responses! 🙂

  2. Hello Everyone! (sorry Molly, i copied your opening sentence.) I had so much fun last week meeting everyone in my group and out of my group!
    I’m kind of doing this blog last minute… so sorry.

    I remember we talked about the our room being a physical space and how important it is to us. The items inside and us being in it. I talked about how my moose (stuffed animal) collection was in my room and if it wasn’t in the usual spot it would be weird for it not to be there.

    I noticed that when we had to put up our stickers in Southern California (besides the fact that a lot of people including myself couldn’t find our cities we wanted) that there was a big cluster in Torrance. Being a resident in Torrance, I always think that there’s nothing to do in this city. I thought about it more and realized that there’s a lot to do in Torrance and how I should be lucky that there are many possibilities at my fingertips.

    Now, onto the question. My two physical spaces in my community that is important to me are: the blackbox/theatre room at North High School, and Gardena Buddhist Church.

    The “Blackbox” at North High School is important to me because I realized my passion in this fabulous room. I never thought I would be on-stage, reciting lines from Shakespeare, and feeling the applause after the plays. After all the time and effort one puts into being in a play, hearing and feeling the “pat on the back” of a job well done feels indescribable. In elementary school and middle school, all my friends were mostly into basketball. I didn’t like playing basketball and still to this day don’t like it. In elementary school, I didn’t have a true passion for anything. All my friends said that they would be professional basketball players or something across the lines of that. No one ever told me I could be an actress on a stage for a play, they only mentioned a “movie-star”. So from then on I always answered the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question by saying enthusiastically: a Movie-Star! But now that I reached High School, was in Beginning Theatre, and in both the Fall and Spring productions, I’m pretty confident that I’m going to stick with theatre. (my theatre teacher would be so proud if she was reading this. 🙂 )

    Gardena Buddhist Church is where I spend most of my weekends. It’s important to me because I learn more Japanese, and Buddhism also. I take Japanese at North High, and at the Buddhist Church. Most of the time, honestly, I don’t want to go to Japanese School at 8 o’clock in the morning, but when I think about it, I want to learn more Japanese and be able to speak it better. I also take flower arranging classes, ikebana, after Japanese school every other Saturday. I think it keeps me connected with my Japanese heritage. Being Buddhist and going to church every Sunday keeps me practicing my religion. Gardena Buddhist Church teaches me more Japanese, and how to look at everyday life differently.

    I think that’s what I’m supposed to write… hopefully I’m right… :/
    Thanks to the readers reading my comment!

  3. Sorry this took me a while to finally blog, but it has been a pretty busy week. I had fun at the first session and it made me think a lot about the JA community and how it became what it is today. I am familiar with some of the Japanese American history because of my grandparents. My grandma, Yuri Kochiyama, especially inspired me to become more involved in our community and to also make a difference. She is a civil rights activist and she has made an impact in our community. One of the questions asked at the first session was why groups like girl scouts and basketball are apart of the JA community. I had a hard time answering the question last week, but I think it is because Japanese Americans had a hard time participating in things like sports after the war because they were discriminated. They started their own leagues and teams, so they could play and it has continued til now.

    I think we still continue these different JA organizations, so Japanese Americans feel comfortable to join because we share this connection and it preserves our community. It is hard to explain, but I enjoy attending Japanese American events and also participating in different organizations for this reason. Everyone is so supportive and they make you feel welcome. I feel it is important to have a JA community (this physical space) for all of us to participate in and for the younger generations to understand that we need to continue this on for many years.

    There are many places in our community that are important to me, but one of the major ones is Gardena Valley JCI (Japanese Cultural Institute). My mother is currently the director there, but it is important to me because I’ve attended many different classes or events that have been held there (some of them Japanese culture related). I like what they are doing for the community, so I volunteer there as much as I can. Their major fundraiser (JCI Carnival) was just this past week and it was a really good turnout. My family and I tried to help my mom out as much as we could to set up, help out, and also clean up. That’s one of the reasons why it took me a long time to blog because I was there Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday helping out. I also like how it is a place where so many senior citizens volunteer their own time just to help out the JCI. They are all really nice and I can’t believe how there are so many senior citizens who just want to do what they can to help and just donate their time. This is an example why the JA community still exists.

    I wanted my second place to deal with basketball because that is a big part of the JA community. I was thinking about different gyms or high schools, but recently I’ve been volunteering to coach different basketball leagues for kids. Our games have been held at Gardena Municipal gym, so I choose this as my second place. I’ve been going to this basketball gym since I was little to either practice or play games. These past few years I’ve been coaching Candy League there that South Bay F.O.R. sponsors. Candy League is for girls in the grades 2nd through 8th. I used to play when I was younger and now since I’m older, I coach. I just want to give back to Candy League because I enjoyed it and I like what the league does for the girls. You meet a lot of new people and make new friends. Another league I coach for that is held at Muni is F.O.R. Double Dribble. It’s a lot of fun coaching the young kids in kindergarten to second grade. I started in double dribble when I was that young, so it’s really cool being to coach them and teach them about basketball.

    Okay…I think I’m done now. I’ll see you guys soon.

  4. Hey Guys!
    So I’ve been thinking a lot about this post, and I thought it would be a little more interesting if I incorporated a little bit of the recent trip I just went on.

    First off, it was really interesting to learn about physical space and the meaning and influence it has on people. To me, my own personal physical space only includes my room, because that is where I can house my belongings, relax, have fun, do anything else I want to, and shut out the rest of the world if I wish. However, I believe that there are a lot of shared spaces that people use to connect with people. For example in my house I would consider our kitchen and family room, as the two most important shared places in our house. The kitchen is very important in my family because that is where congregate to eat, and eating is very important for everyone in my house. When we are eating most of the time we eat with others, so we talk about what has happened in our day so far and what we are planning to do next. The family room is also very important in my house because that is where our tv is. Our family loves to watch sports and different tv shows (my favorite shows are House, Bones, Ugly Betty, Pysch and Monk). But sports tops everything in our family, we usually watch every NBA or NHL game that’s on, but NBA games take more priority. Additionally we watch MLB, NFL, and Tennis but usually only during the playoffs or when there is a grand slam. Oh, and I can’t forget all the college games, we are avid fans of NCAA basketball and football games. (I even watched some NCAA softball games this year, though I think that was because I had more time as a senior) Anyways, what I was getting at was that space has different meaning depending on whose space it is or what you want it to be.

    Two places in my community that are important to me are the walkways in my neighborhood, and the UCI Center. I know that sounds a little weird that I said walkways are important to me, but I like to excersize and I make good use of the pathways in my neighboorhood. Whether I’m walking or jogging with my friends, excersizing by myself, walking dogs with my friends or neighboors, or just meeting someone along the pathways, there are always possibilities on the pathway; I bump into a lot of people and friends along the way. The walkways are both a space for social interaction and physical excersize. (Our walkways are not just sidewalk next to the street, but they are pathways in between meadows in the community without any cars nearby) The other place that has importance for me is the UCI Center. The Center isn’t only for UCI students or on UCI campus, rather it is right across the street. But I live like right next to UCI and my high school is very close too. During the school year, my friends and I almost always went to the UCI center for lunch or just to hang out and grab a drink. The UCI center contains a: Trader Joes, Peet’s Coffee, Juice it Up, a little café, Golden Spoon, a great sandwich place, two pizza places, a couple asian and indian restraunts, a brewery restraunt, a Cha for Tea, a candy store, Arriba, a 24 hour fitness, a post office, a Kinko’s (needed for countless school projects), In-n-out (very important), Lee’s Sandwich’s, basically everything that I could need in a neighboorhood center. I guess I could say that my neighboorhood was kind of built around UCI, so we have a lot of places like that for the students, but it is also great for the citizens in the community like me! Now during the summer, my friends and I meet up for breakfast, coffee, an icecream … whatever, its just a great place to meet up.

    So, recently I went on a senior graduation trip to Hawaii with my friends. While I was there I noticed the places that my friends and I went while on vacation. The spaces that we went to the most were the beach, and food and shopping places. I noticed two differences from the places at home compared to places that are important while on vacation. First, a place that was important for us was the beach, because it was a place where we could have fun (surf, canoe, float in innertubes, etc) and also relax (tan, take a nap, and just unwind). At, home my places weren’t places for me to relax. I guess this is because at home I don’t need somewhere to relax in my community I have my room for that. Secondly, though food is important everywhere, shopping was an important thing for us. We went to many diffrenet shopping places. I don’t know if we shopped so much because we were on vacation and didn’t have anything else to do, or if its becaue we are Japanese and have so much omiyage to buy. Haha Anyways, I thought that was interesting, so I thought I would blog about that.

    Hope this was an interesting blog!! See you guys tues. 🙂

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