Japanese culture has a way of captivating and interesting the world around it. Whether it’s their delicious food, their fascinating history, or their colorful contributions to the world of animation, it is hard to escape the impact this small Eastern nation has had on the western world. Santa Monica is no different. There are many places throughout the city and surrounding areas rich with Japanese-American heritage and history. Here are some of the best ways you can experience a slice of Eastern culture in this wonderful city.
The quickest way to learn all about a different group of people is through their food. Japanese cuisine is lauded around the world as one of the most diverse and popular things to eat. Almost everyone has had a taste of the dried noodles that come in a plastic package, but did you know that it is possible to have authentic Japanese ramen delivered right to your door? Once you’ve tried what it is supposed to taste like, you’ll have trouble going back to the styrofoam cups.
Japanese cuisine can be difficult to make yourself simply because it is hard and expensive to find the ingredients. Thankfully, Santa Monica is home to dozens of Japanese-American restaurants that can deliver that authentic Asian taste that you desire. There are a wide variety of sushi places that you can try as well as hibachi restaurants if you want to be entertained while you eat. Learn to be adventurous and try new places and new things. Santa Monica has a lot to offer!
Southern California has a rich history of providing opportunities for immigrants from all over the world, and Japanese Americans are no exception. Santa Monica had a fairly large immigrant population, and the city has done a lot to remember this history. One event that many remember is the Japanese flower market hosted by the city at the public library. This event not only taught people about flower arrangement but also about the struggles of Japanese-American people as they adjusted to life post-WWII.
Although many of these immigrants have moved out of the area, in the early and mid-1900s, there were several communities in Santa Monica. These people were often fishermen who would sell their hauls to local markets and restaurants. Eventually, these communities needed a place to celebrate and remember their rich heritage, the leaders of the towns got together and purchased a plot of land where the Nikkei Hall currently stands.
Nikkei Hall is a place of community and culture. It was a common place for Japanese immigrants and their families to come and gather for social events like weddings and funerals and stands as a bastion of their Eastern heritage. Although the Hall is not as popular of a social spot as it once was, the building still stands as a historical site to protect and honor the history of the individuals who built it. If you are interested in seeing Japanese-American history firsthand, then Nikkei Hall is still available for you to visit today, so be sure to check it out.
Earlier, we mentioned how difficult it is for the average person to find the ingredients to make authentic Japanese cuisine. While it is true that many of the things you will need won’t be found in your local grocery store, there are many international marketplaces that are made specifically for this purpose.
Though many of these places are found in Los Angeles, they are still easily accessible to Santa Monica residents. The Nijiya Market and Mitsuwa Marketplace are 2 examples of Japanese grocery stores that you may not have known about. You’ll be able to find all the ingredients and snacks you could ever desire here. In Santa Monica, you will never be too far away from Japanese culture.