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Sharing Japanese Culture

August 10, 1995|LAURIE K. SCHENDEN

Ryusho Inouye, a former Boyle Heights businessman who was born in Montebello, counts among his proudest moments receiving a medal for his judo exhibition at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. During World War II, Inouye and mostly everyone he knew in Los Angeles was shipped to an internment camp. Little Tokyo, the center of Japanese culture at the time, became a virtual ghost town.

This week as the United States commemorates the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II this year, Japanese Americans begin celebrating Nisei Week, a cultural event begun by second-generation Japanese Americans before the war, in an effort to share traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. After the war, the event resumed and has continued each year since in and around Little Tokyo. On Wednesday, Inouye and four other Japanese Americans will receive the Pioneer Award for their contributions to promoting their heritage.

Nisei Week events begin Saturday with a coronation ball, exhibits and book fair; taiko drumming and a parade through Little Tokyo on Sunday. The final weekend (Aug. 19-20) includes a carnival, street fair and closing ceremonies. Other events include a tea ceremony, martial arts, ondo dancing, storytelling, arts and crafts, a fashion show, car show and a karaoke contest. Little Tokyo, Second and San Pedro streets, Los Angeles. Most events are free; pick up map and schedule at most Little Tokyo shops. (213) 687-7193.

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