Los Angeles


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.



IMG_96221927 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix


IMG_96291953 Jaguar XK120 Roadster

IMG_96301955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe

IMG_96311963 Porsche Carrera







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.



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.















Lou Ferrigno


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!







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

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.







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.





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.


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


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.


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.





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.





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.





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

California: Los Angeles (Hollywood Christmas Parade)

The holidays are a time for glitter and glamour and no one does it better than Los Angeles, the movie capital of the world. Every year, on the Sunday following Thanksgiving, the Hollywood community hosts the Hollywood Christmas Parade. The parade began in 1928 as a daily parade to help boost business for Hollywood merchants. In those days, it was called the Santa Claus Lane Parade. From that point, the parade continued to grow in scale with the assistance of local businesses and the community. In 1978, it was renamed the Hollywood Christmas Parade in an effort to attract more celebrities. What began with only Santa Claus and actress/ singer, Jeanette Loff, has now grown to an enormous parade which includes numerous floats, animals, bands and celebrities.


Hollywood Blvd. is transformed to Santa Claus Lane in 1928

Jeanette Loff

Jeanette Loff

The parade stretches 3.5 miles down Hollywood Boulevard on what is the longest red carpet in the world. Over the years, the list of parade grand marshals have included such names as Bob Hope, James Stewart, Sammy Davis Jr., Mickey Rooney, Peter Fonda, Magic Johnson and Susan Lucci to name a few. The parade was suspended from 1942-1944 due to the war but it resumed in 1945 with record attendance!







Venetain HOtel Winter Queen

Venetain Hotel’s Winter Queen


Actor George Takei

Actor George Takei




The parade is free to attend unless you want to reserve grand stand seating along Hollywood Boulevard near the main stage. Tickets prices range anywhere from $25-$85. For those not willing to pay those ticket prices or brave the nasty southern California winter temperatures [joke], the parade is aired on television on KTLA and the Hallmark channel. However, do note that if you do go to the parade and want to see the pre-parade concert, you will need to purchase grand stand seating.


Parade route




Over the years, the parade has also benefited the Toys for Tots charity, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas.

Web page: http://thehollywoodchristmasparade.org/

Los Angeles: First Hello Kitty Convention 2014

The coin purse that started it all!

The coin purse that started it all!

Harokiti (ハローキティ) or Hello Kitty is a world renown cartoon icon that made her debut in the U.S. in 1976. However, she began life in Japan as a character on a coin purse back in 1974 and this year will mark her 40th anniversary! Kiti-chan has been featured on countless toys, not to mention bowling balls, motor oil, a Fender Stratocaster, men’s undies, a Visa card and even a dress worn by Lady Gaga! From that humble coin purse, Hello Kitty has helped spawn an $8 billion enterprise. It is fair to say that she has truly become a part of global culture.

Hello Kitty Bowling Ball (right)

Hello Kitty Bowling Ball (right)

Hello Kitty Motor Oil

Hello Kitty Motor Oil


Hello Kitty Fender Stratocaster

Hello Kitty Fender Stratocaster

Lady Gaga's Hello Kitty Dress

Lady Gaga’s Hello Kitty Dress

Consequently, in honor of her 40th anniversary, there are a number of activities devoted to Hello Kitty taking place in Los Angeles. An exhibition called “Hello! Exploring the Super Cute World of Hello Kitty,” which offers a full blown retrospective of the character opened at the Japanese American National Museum (100 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012) on October 11th and includes such rare items on display as the first plush doll from 1976 and the dress made famous by Lady Gaga. The exhibition is scheduled to run through April 2015! Exhibit DSCN3187 DSCN3218

An entire set of Hello Kitty KISS dolls

An entire set of Hello Kitty KISS dolls

Hello Kitty Dodger dolls

Hello Kitty Dodger dolls

Hello Kitty Yukata

Hello Kitty Yukata

Sake set

Sake set

Hello Kitty geta sandals

Hello Kitty geta sandals

Various Japanese Hello Kitty snacks

Various Japanese Hello Kitty snacks

Various Hello Kitty inspired Japanese items

Various Hello Kitty inspired Japanese items

DSCN3215 DSCN3206 DSCN3203

There exists a Hello Kitty jet

There exists a Hello Kitty jet

Hello Kitty inspired artwork by various artists on display

Hello Kitty inspired artwork by various artists on display

DSCN3267 Starting October 30th and running through November 2nd, the first ever Hello Kitty Convention was held at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Downtown L.A.’s Little Tokyo district. The sold out event featured interactive experiences and events for fans of all ages, including activities, art, exhibits, live performances, workshops, lectures, panels, tattoos, food and much more! It was estimated that over 25,000 fans attended the event. The main exhibit hall was divided into a main stage area, the Hello Kitty Friendship Village, Art School, Sanrio Vintage Shop, Vintage Village, Art Corner, Hello Kitty Tattoo Shop as well as a Zen Garden and a Super Supermarket (which featured a signing booth where Yuko Yamaguchi, Hello Kitty’s lead designer from Tokyo signed autographs). Outside, various food trucks, a temporary tattoo booth, a nail art station and a face painting/ caricature booth were featured. Even on the last day of the event which concluded at 7:00PM, the lines circled around the block as fans from not only California but from all over the U.S. poured in to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their beloved kiti-chan. HKCON_Globe1-768x1024 DSCN3088 IMG_0674 DSCN3092 10710743_10152576723303500_3717434769797838906_n DSCN3131

Art School

Art School

Main Stage featuring live performances

Main Stage featuring live performances

Plenty of photo opps available including this one with the coin purse

Plenty of photo opps available including this one with the coin purse

One of the many exhibits

One of the many exhibits


One of my favorite Hello Kitty vintage toys

One of my favorite Hello Kitty vintage toys

Vintage Sanrio Happi Coat

Vintage Sanrio Happi Coat

Hello Kitty fashions

Hello Kitty fashions

IMG_0616 IMG_0661

Hello Kitty Tattoos

Hello Kitty Tattoos

Yoshiki, the leader of XJapan who has his own version of Hello Kitty called Yoshikitty made a special appearance at the opening party on October 29th performing two compositions, the first of which was dedicated to Kunihiko Tsuji, the deceased son of Sanrio’s founder, Shintaro Tsuji and the senior operating officer and executive vice president of Sanrio Co. Ltd.  It was Kunihiko who brought the character of Hello Kitty to the rest of the world. He passed away in November of last year due to acute heart failure. He was only 62 years old. Yoshiki told the audience how he knew Kunihiko and had spoken with him before his passing about creating the second song he performed, the Hello Kitty Anniversary song.



Hello Kitty designer Yuko Yamaguchi and Yoshiki

Hello Kitty designer Yuko Yamaguchi and Yoshiki

Yoshiki posing with Bullseye (formerly known as Spot)  the official mascot of Target Corporation who sponsored the opening party

Yoshiki posing with Bullseye (formerly known as Spot) the official mascot of Target Corporation who sponsored the opening party

Yoshiki performing during the opening party

Yoshiki performing during the opening party

For food lovers, there is a special Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt (http://www.sanrio.com/hungryhunt/ ) taking place from October 24th through November 21st, where fans can visit some of the hottest restaurants in LA to pick up limited Hello Kitty themed food and a souvenir pin at every stop. Participating locations include: Cafe Dulce, Chado Tea Room, Charm City Cakes West, Daikokuya Sawtelle, and Dylan’s Candy Bar just to name a few.

The Hungry Hunt Pins

The Hungry Hunt Pins

cafe l hello kitty creme puffs HK But Los Angeles is not the only city devoted to the super cute character. Not surprisingly, there is Sanrio theme park in Tokyo called Puroland (https://traveldreamscapes.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/japan-tokyo-tama-city-sanrio-puroland-hello-kitty-theme-park/) and a Sanrio Café in Honolulu! From all of this activity it is evident that Hello Kitty’s popularity continues to grow strong and shows no sign of abating anytime in the future. Interesting Hello Kitty Trivia:

  1. Hello Kitty is not a cat according to a recent revelation by Sanrio, the Japanese company that designs, licenses and produces Hello Kitty products. “She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.”
  2. Kitty is actually named Kitty White and she has a full back story.
  3. She is a Scorpio.
  4. She loves apple pie.
  5. She is the daughter of George and Mary White.

California: Los Angeles (Rise of the Jack O Lanterns)

Halloween is my favorite holiday right after Christmas and I love to seek out events to mark the occasion. This year, a spectacular Halloween event will make its West Coast premiere in Los Angeles at the Descanso Gardens located at, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada Flintridge. Beginning October 3rd and running through November 2nd, RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns! will feature 5,000 hand carved pumpkins created by professional artists and sculptors displayed throughout a ¼ mile trail.

The pumpkins will be arranged within a variety of themes including the recreation of the New York City skyline, sports stars from various teams, classic movie monsters, various Halloween characters and TV stars. There will be life-sized dinosaurs constructed entirely from lit jack o lanterns as well as a graveyard made up of various jack o lanterns. RISE will also pay tribute to noted individuals who have passed away this year with lit pumpkin portraits.

The event was previously held in New York, at the Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island. This year it will be held in New York in addition to making its debut in Los Angeles. The viewing takes place from 5:30 PM to 10:30 PM. Ticket prices will range from $18-$28 and kids two years old and younger will be admitted for free.

So don’t spend this Halloween waiting all night in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to rise – get out and see some amazing jack o lanterns courtesy of RISE!

For more information visit: http://www.therise.org.