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In L.A.'s Little Tokyo, a place for our wishes

The wishes that people have put on paper reflect concerns for the people of Japan, but also fear about the economic crisis, worries about health, aspirations for relationships and the usual angst of daily life.

August 14, 2011|Julia Gabrick and Samantha Schaefer

In July, Naoko Ikeda, the owner of Blooming Art, a Japanese arts and crafts store in the Japanese Village Plaza of Little Tokyo, had an idea. She cut a stalk of bamboo from her home garden and set it up in her store along with a sign explaining a Japanese tradition to her customers.

As part of the annual Tanabata Festival, people write their wishes on small pieces of paper and tie them to bamboo trees. Later, the wish-laden bamboo are thrown into a river or brought to a shrine where they are set on fire. Once this is done, the wishes are said to come true.

The idea caught on so quickly at Blooming Art that within one day the bamboo was full of wishes. Since then, Ikeda has brought in more cuttings and scattered them through the Japanese Village Plaza. The trees will be set on fire during the 3rd Annual Tanabata Festival in Little Tokyo, which runs from Aug. 12-15.

Japan's Sendai province, the scene of this year's March earthquake and subsequent tsunami, hosts the country's most famous Tanabata Festival, Ikeda said.

Although Ikeda has owned the store since 1996, this year she decided to extend the tradition to the plaza as a way to remember the tragedy. "I want people here in Los Angeles to think about people in Japan." Plus, "When people are writing the wishes they look so happy," said Ikeda.

The wishes adorning the plaza's trees reflect concerns for the people of Japan, but also fear about the current economic crisis, worries about health, aspirations for relationships and the usual angst of daily life. A sampling:

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I wish that I will get stellar grades and acceptance to legit college.

I wish for a husband before I turn 40.

We wish for world peace!!! Poverty should not be a problem anymore.

I wish everyone's wish comes true. I wish everyone good health.

I wish for traveling the world with my camera.

I wish for worldwide peace, for the economy to get better. I pray for people less fortunate than I.

I wish for family unity, success with my studies and career and to finally know what I want and who I want to be. Good health for my family and never-ending guidance, protection and blessings from God.

I wish for my angst to be resolved in a positive way.

I wish I could be on Broadway someday soon.

Dear magical tree, since the latest is a confirmed "nope," please eventually send a girl my way that is cute and nice. Bonus points if she doesn't bleed me dry.

I hope to make the baseball team in my tryouts and get straight A's in 7th grade and in the rest of my life.

I wish my lactose intolerance would go away and for one day to have a home of my own.

I wish for good health and safety for my family and my host family. I wish for guidance and clarity and the wisdom to make good choices in my life. I hope I can stay in America.

I wish that I find a stable job I enjoy doing and that I can support my parents.

I wish OPRAH would come back! Unemployment isn't as fun without her.

May my nephews and niece find jobs that make them happy.

I wish for LA! And the job I interviewed for today.... And more money. And a house for my cats to play.

Wish for a good economy, clean environment and love!

I wish for my friend to make a healthy recovery.

For all my friends and family happiness and for Japan to continue getting support from everyone.

I wish for someone know me for who I am.

I wish to get a decent job very very soon!

I wish for the ozone hole to be closed and to bring world peace and to end world hunger and for a Sim 3 PC.

I wish that my sister's baby will grow up big and strong, and that my brother will find some direction in his life, and that my parents find peace knowing that their children are taken care of.

I wish for our business to start doing better. I also wish we can move into our building very soon. Thank you!

Pray my mom is cancer free.

I wish there was no sickness. I wish people weren't sick. I wish one of my grandparents didn't die. I wish that my family could have a big dinner together.

I hope she likes me.

I hope that I always remember to be kind to those that I love.

I hope our marriage lasts forever.

I wish for Japan to thrive and recover from the earthquake and tsunami. .

No more wars and peace on earth

Josh and I wish for the cutest, most sincere, most kind-hearted little girl on the planet!

For things to change for the better.

I wish the public education system to have better luck in the future.

I hope I can become a valuable asset to my company in the near future.

I wish for you to be content.

Cure autism.

I wish I and my family a happy life. And that I could fly!

I wish that I can be a good person.

I wish for my parents to be happy together and not go through a divorce. I wish to overcome my depression and for me and you to work out in the end.

To be free.

To be successful in business and for my family to be happy and healthy.

I wish to be happy.

I wish I can meet my real family in Korea.

Pass bar this time.

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