California

CALIFORNIA: SANTA ANA (LYON AIR MUSEUM/ CLASSIC CAR SHOW)

Earlier, I posted an article about the Lyon Air Museum located in Santa Ana, California.  The facility occupies a 30,000 square foot hangar on the west side of John Wayne Airport and provides a unique setting for events such as galas, holiday parties, fashion shows and receptions. From now until September 2017, the museum is hosting a classic car show featuring a nice collection of pristine classic cars that will appeal to the classic car hobbyist and thrill seeker alike.

There is a 1939 Mercedes-Benz Model G4 Offener Touring Wagon and a 1940s Divco Helms Bakery Truck that are  already a part of the museum’s permanent collection. The museum also features a nice collection of military vehicles and motorcycles which include the 1939 German VID Tempo Gelaendewagen, the 1942 Ford GPW Military Jeep, the 1943 German NSU Kettenkrad HK 101 Tracked Motorcycle and the 1943 Japanese Rikuo Sidecar Motorcycle, just to list a few.

The classic car show features the 1927 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix which was driven by race car driver, William Grover-Williams, who was captured by the Gestapo in Germany  in August of 1943. He was sent to a concentration camp for nearly two years and executed in March of 1945, just a few months before the end of WWII.  You will also find a 1953 Jaguar XK120 Roadster. This vehicle’s prototype was displayed at the London Auto Show in 1948.  Then there is my favorite in the collection, the 1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe in a striking red!

Visitors can enjoy the classic cars and everything else this unique museum has to offer all for one admission fee.  General admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children between the ages of 5 and 17.  Children under 5 are admitted free.  The Lyon Air Museum is located on 19300 Ike Jones Road in Santa Ana, California.  It is open daily from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM which the exception of Thanksgiving day and Christmas day. You can contact them at (714) 210-4585 for more information.

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CALIFORNIA: SONOMA COUNTY/ MATANZAS CREEK WINERY

Founded in 1977, Matanzas Creek Winery is situated on the site of a former dairy farm in Sonoma County’s newest American Viticultural Area (AVA), Bennett Valley. Bennett Valley was formally recognized as an AVA in December of 2003, but its history of grape growing dates back to the mid-1800s.

Since its founding, the winery has built its reputation on Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot, two varieties of grapes that thrive in Sonoma’s temperate climate. In 1985, the original winery was demolished to make way for a modern winemaking facility. Since that time, the winery’s vineyards have grown to include over 280-acres and its wine portfolio has been expanded to include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay and a limited quantity of Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In addition to its wines, Matanzas Creek is also famous for its spectacular lavender gardens.  Lavender has been grown on the winery grounds for over twenty years and more than two million stems are harvested every year.  The winery offers a full line of bath, body, and culinary products derived from the harvested lavender.  The high quality, all natural products are available for sale at the winery’s lavender shop and at spas throughout Sonoma County and beyond.

The bath and body products include soaps, lotions, massage oils, scrubs, masks, sprays, and bath salts.  The culinary products are comprised of lavender laced Himalayan salt, spice rubs, honey and lavender grill sticks.

The winery offers daily wine tastings and wine and cheese pairings.  Vineyard tours are available between the hours of 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  Visitors to Matanzas Creek can also choose to picnic among the winery’s fragrant lavender fields or participate in a game of Bocce Ball. The annual Sonoma Lavender Festival takes place in June.

So, when you are  traveling in California’s wine country, why not incorporate a visit to Matanza’s Creek and sample the offerings from Sonoma County’s newest American Viticultural Area?

Location:            6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, California 95404

Web Page:         http://www.matanzascreek.com/

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California: Los Angeles (WonderCon 2016)

The otaku culture (anime and manga fandom) is alive and well, not only in Japan but also overseas.  There are countless pop culture conventions held annually all over the world including Australia, India, UAE, Romania, Russia, the UK  and Brazil.  The largest and oldest gathering is held in San Diego, California under the banner of the “San Diego Comic-Con.”

The San Diego Comic-Con is a multi-genre entertainment and comic convention that originated in 1970. The four-day event takes place during the summer showcasing primarily comic books and science fiction/fantasy related film, television and similar popular arts. In recent years, the convention has expanded to include a larger range of pop culture and entertainment elements across virtually all genres, including horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, web comics and fantasy novels. With the San Diego Convention Center as its venue, the event draws well over 130,000 attendees annually.

This year, Los Angeles, California played host to yet another comic book, science fiction and motion picture convention called “WonderCon.” WonderCon originated in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1987 until it was relocated to Anaheim, California in 2012.  It has been a part of the Comic-Con International family since 2001 drawing an increasing number of attendees each year.  In 2016, the event took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 25-27 attracting a crowd of over 60,000 attendees and generating an income of $32 million over the three-day period.

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In the past, Los Angeles has hosted such shows as Comikaze, which is now partnered with Stan Lee’s POW Entertainment and the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention, but those shows do not attract the same level of crowds nor talent as does a Comic-Con event.

WonderCon kicked off on Friday at 12:00 PM featuring various game demos, exhibitors, dealer tables, tournaments, artists, author signings and star autograph booths where attendees had an opportunity to meet the likes of Lou Ferrigno, a former bodybuilder turned actor who stared in the Incredible Hulk and Richard Hatch known for his role as Captain Apollo on Battlestar Galactica. There were gatherings of various fan groups, panels and programs featuring various anime series and a children’s film festival.  The event concluded on Sunday at 5:00 PM.

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Lou Ferrigno

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Richard Hatch

Almost as entertaining as the various people involved in the WonderCon industry were the various cos-players dressed in some of the most elaborate costumes you can find. These people are serious about anime and put a great deal of effort into selecting and creating their costumes.

If you missed WonderCon in Los Angeles, do not worry.  The event is returning to the Anaheim Convention Center on March 31-April 2 of 2017 and will certainly be bigger and better than in previous years!

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Web Page:         http://www.comic-con.org/wca

California: Huntington Beach (Surf City USA)

Southern California is a culturally diverse and well known area that draws many tourists for its fine year-round weather, open dramatic spaces, beaches and numerous amusement parks. The beach and car culture is predominant here and no city epitomizes this better than Huntington Beach.

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Huntington Beach, a seaside city in Orange County California, was named after American businessman Henry E. Huntington. It is the most populous beach city in Orange County characterized by its 9.5-mile stretch of sandy beach, excellent surfing and numerous car shows held throughout the year. The consistent surf all year long has earned the city its nickname “Surf City.”

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The downtown district of Huntington Beach includes an active art center, a colorful shopping district, the Surfing Walk of Fame and the International Surfing Museum. The Huntington Beach Pier stretches from Main Street into the Pacific Ocean. At the end of the pier you will find the famous Ruby’s Diner serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Many of the events at Huntington Beach are focused around the beach. The U.S. Open of Surfing takes place at the south side of the pier from late July through early August. A biathlon hosted by the Bolsa Chica & Huntington State Beach Lifeguards takes place in July and the AVP Beach Volleyball Tour stops in Huntington Beach in mid-September. In addition to the beach-focused events, there is a Fourth of July parade which has been held here since 1904. The SoCal Independent Film Festival takes place every September. During the winter, the annual Cruise of Lights Boat Tour, featuring a parade of colorfully lighted boats is held in the Huntington Harbor. In February of each year since 1996, the Surf City USA marathon is held with over 20,000 runners participating in the event. The annual Kite Festival is held just north of the pier in late February.

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Huntington Beach takes its wheels almost as seriously as its waves and hosts various car shows such as the Beachcruiser Meet and the Concours d’Elegance. The Beachcruiser Meet is held in March, with over 250 classic cars displayed along Main Street and the Pier parking lot. The Concours d’Elegance is held at Central Park in June and benefits the public library.

The Beachcruiser Meet is an unsurpassed gathering of Volkswagen transporters, Nomads, woodies and other vehicles built in 1967 or earlier. The annual event takes place in downtown Huntington Beach on Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway on the third weekend in March and is free to visitors. The event hours are from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM on Saturday and 8:00 AM – 2:30 PM on Sunday. (hbcruisers.com)

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So whether it is the beach, the surf, the cars or just plain people watching that draws you to Southern California, be sure to include Huntington Beach on your list of places to visit. You will not be disappointed.

Web Page:         http://www.huntingtonbeachca.gov/

 

JAPAN: Japan/ Hollywood Connection (Kyoto: Kiyomizu-dera/ 清水寺 )

In the 2005 film, Memoirs of a Geisha, a majority of the filming took place in California, however, there were a few scenes that were actually filmed in Japan. One such location was the famous Kyomizu Temple or Kyomizu Dera, located in eastern Kyoto.

The temple was founded in 778 and takes its names from the waterfall located within the complex (Kyomizu translates to pure water). The buildings you see today were constructed in 1633 by the order of Tokugawa Iemitzu, who ruled from 1623 to 1651. He was known for enacting the Sakoku Edict of 1639, which closed off Japan to foreigners. Disobeying these edicts was punishable by death and it wasn’t until the 1850s that Japan once again opened its ports to foreigners.

An interesting fact about the temple complex is that not a single nail was used to construct the various structures. The main hall of the complex has a large veranda supported by tall pillars and it juts out over the hillside offering visitors breathtaking views of the city below.  Below the main hall is the Otowa Waterfall. Water from this fall is believed to have wish granting powers.

The temple complex incorporates several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine dedicated to the god of love.  There are a pair of love stones located at this shrine, which visitors who successfully walk between them with their eyes closed are granted their wish of finding love.

Other structures on the temple grounds include the Okunoin Hall, which resembles the main structure, but on a smaller scale and includes a viewing stage as well. The three-storied Koyasu Pagoda is located in the far southern end of the temple grounds and is often visited by expectant mothers praying for an easy and safe childbirth.

The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are countless shops and restaurants surrounding the temple, which have been catering to tourists and pilgrims over the years and are worth visiting.

One of the love stones

One of the love stones

 

 

Web page: http://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/lang/01.html

California: Manzanar (Japanese Internment Camp/ マンザナール)

Many of us are familiar with the attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan on December 7th, 1941 through what we have been taught in history classes and even through Hollywood’s rendition of what occurred on that day. According to President Roosevelt’s speech it was , “ a date which will live in infamy ….”

But what occurred in the United States during 1942, in retaliation for the attack is something that is not often discussed. While the U.S. condemned the Nazi regime for operating concentration camps in Europe between 1933-1945, they too established what they called “Internment Camps” through Executive Order 9066, issued February 19, 1942. The internment of Japanese Americans in the United States was the forced relocation and incarceration during World War II.

Of the 127,000 Japanese Americans living in the continental United States at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, 112,000 resided on the West Coast. Approximately 80,000 were Nisei (second generation, American-born Japanese with U.S. citizenship) and Sansei (third generation; the children of Nisei). The remainder were Issei (first generation, immigrants born in Japan who were ineligible for U.S. citizenship by U.S. law).

Under Executive Order 9066, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. The Manzanar War Relocation Center was the first of ten camps established where Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II.

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Manzanar, located on the west side of U.S. Highway 395, approximately 230 miles northeast of Los Angeles, was home to the Paiute Indians prior to the arrival of the Japanese Americans in March of 1942. The town of Manzanar was established in 1910 by ranchers and miners who abandoned it by 1929 after Los Angeles purchased the water rights to virtually the entire area.

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The camp site stretched 6,200 acres with the developed portion covering approximately 540 acres. The residential area was only one square mile and consisted of 36 blocks of hastily constructed barracks measuring 20×100’. A single family, regardless of size resided in a 20×25’ partition within the barracks. These partitions had no ceilings eliminating any chance of privacy. Each residential block also had a communal mess hall, a laundry room, a recreation hall, an ironing room, and a heating oil storage tank. There were school facilities, chicken and hog farms, churches, a cemetery, a post office, a cooperative store, other shops and even a camp newspaper. Camp residents had to wait in one line after another for meals, at bathrooms and at the laundry room Thirty four additional blocks on the camp site were designated for staff housing, camp administration offices, warehouses, a garage, a camp hospital and 24 firebreaks. The camp perimeter enclosed by five-strand barbed wire, had eight watchtowers manned by armed Military Police. Sentry posts were positioned at the main entrance.

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An all American game of baseball at the camp

An all American game of baseball at the camp

Summers at Manzanar were generally hot, with temperatures exceeding 100 °F. The winters brought occasional snowfall and daytime temperatures often dropped into the 40 °F range. Due to frequent high winds, dust was ever-present. Those living in the barracks often awoke being covered from head to toe with a fine layer of dust. They had to constantly sweep dirt out of the barracks.

Monument at Manzanar Cemetary

Monument at Manzanar Cemetery

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On November 21, 1945, the WRA closed Manzanar, the sixth camp to be closed. Although the camp residents had been brought to Manzanar by the United States government, they had to leave the camp and travel to their next destination on their own. The WRA gave each person $25, one-way train or bus fare and provided meals to those who had less than $600. Although many left the camp voluntarily, a significant number refused to leave because they had no place to go after having lost everything when they were forcibly uprooted and removed from their homes. As such, they had to be forcibly removed once again, this time from Manzanar.

One hundred forty six Japanese Americans died at Manzanar. Fifteen of them were buried there but only five graves remain as most were later reburied elsewhere by their families.

It is important to note that as WWII progressed, many of the young Nisei volunteered or were drafted to serve in the United States military. Japanese Americans served in all the branches of the United States Armed Forces, including the United States Merchant Marines.

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The nation’s highest award for combat valor, the Medal of Honor, was conferred upon only one Nisei during the war. Twenty-one members of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team received Distinguished Service Crosses during or immediately after their service. However, in the 1990s, after a study revealed that racial discrimination had caused these soldiers to be overlooked, their awards were upgraded to Medals of Honor. On October 5, 2010, the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion, as well as the 6,000 Japanese Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service during the war.

In 1980, under mounting pressure from the Japanese American Citizens League and various redress organizations, President Jimmy Carter opened an investigation to determine whether the decision to put Japanese Americans into internment camps had been justified by the government. He appointed the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) to investigate the camps. The Commission’s report, titled “Personal Justice Denied,” found little evidence of Japanese disloyalty at the time and concluding the incarceration had been the product of racism, recommended that the government pay reparations to the survivors. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act, which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government and authorized a payment of $20,000 to each individual camp survivor. The legislation admitted that government actions were based on “racial prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.”

In 1992, Manzanar became a National Historic Site. It is a painful reminder of the incarceration and violation of civil rights of Japanese Americans during World War ll. It also serves to educate and raise public awareness of the continuing struggle of all persons when their Constitutional rights are violated.

The Manzanar site is open from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM (April 1 – October 31) and 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM (November 1- March 31). Admission to the site is free of charge.

Web page: http://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm

Los Angeles: LACMA (Samurai – Japanese Armor)

I have long been fascinated with the legend of the samurai so whenever there is an exhibit featuring their armor, katana, etc. I am eager to explore it!

Fortunately, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is right in my backyard, so to speak, and they featured an exhibit which ran from October 19, 2014 through February 1, 2015 incorporating more than 140 pieces dating back to the 12th – 19th centuries, including 18 complete suits of armor and some life-size armor-clad horse figurines. The exhibit is part of a traveling display from the Dallas-based Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, which holds one of the most comprehensive private collections of samurai armor in the world. Their collection encompasses several hundred pieces from 10 centuries of samurai warriors.

Gabriel Barbier-Mueller, a Swiss transplant and Texas real estate mogul, amassed a staggering array of samurai protective gear over the years. The exhibit at LACMA was centered on armor worn by high-ranking samurai and daimyo and reflected changes made to armor design as the samurai adapted to the changing nature of battle. During the 12th-19th centuries, military engagements evolved from horseback archery to clashes with spear and sword-wielding infantry. Later, armor had to be developed to withstand musket volleys when firearms became prevalent following contact with the more technologically advanced European nations.

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Samurai armor consisted of a helmet (kabuto), a mask (mengu) and chest armor (do) along with thick shoulder guards, sleeve covers, a skirt, protection for thighs and shin guards. Unlike the heavy armor or Europe, the complete outfit for samurai only weighed between 20 and 45 pounds. Rather than being crafted from large plates of metal, the Japanese armor was made using small perforated plates that were lacquered and sewn together with colorful silk cord. Creating a complete suit of armor involved blacksmiths for the metal, leather-craftsman, weavers, embroiderers and metal smiths who added elaborate ornamentation. Depending on a samurai family’s wealth and status, these suits of armor can be quite elaborate. Armor was passed down in these families from generation to generation.

Even after 1615, when the Tokugawa military dictatorship brought an end to battle, samurai families still continued to commission magnificent arms and armor for ceremonial purposes.

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Yokohagido tosei gusoku: Saotome Iyuenari (helmet) and Ichiguchi Yoshikata (mask) Early to mid Edo period: 17th century (helmet); 18th century (mask and armor)

Yokohagido tosei gusoku: Saotome Iyuenari (helmet) and Ichiguchi Yoshikata (mask)
Early to mid Edo period: 17th century (helmet); 18th century (mask and armor)

Okegawado tosei gusoku: Late Momoyama to early Edo period: late 16th century (sashimono); early 17th century (armor)

Okegawado tosei gusoku: Late Momoyama to early Edo period: late 16th century (sashimono); early 17th century (armor)

The samurai class arose when Japan ended mandatory military service in 792 forcing landowners to rely on their own private forces. The samurai followed a set of rules that came to be known as bushido. While they numbered less than 10% of Japan’s population, their teachings can still be found today in both everyday life and in modern Japanese martial arts.

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So whenever you get a chance, take an opportunity to explore one of these exhibits and travel back in time to discover remarkable objects that illuminate the life, culture, and pageantry of the samurai, the revered and feared warriors of Japan.

Webpage: http://www.lacma.org/ and http://samuraicollection.org/index_web.html

Address: 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036