By Phyllis Hayashibara
Esther Chaing, proprietor of Hama Sushi in Venice, has graciously offered once again to host a fundraiser for the Venice Japanese America Memorial Marker on Thursday, April 25, 2013 at the landmark restaurant at 213 Windward Avenue “on the circle” in Venice. Head chef Kinya Aota and chef Masayo Onuki will once again generously contribute their professional expertise in the preparation of the bento box lunches. Bento will include chicken teriyaki, cucumber and potato salads, spicy tuna and California rolls, shrimp and vegetable tempura, plus a bottle of water or a soft drink, for $20 each. Bento pre-orders must be received before April 23 at Hama Sushi, which is not yet open to the public for lunch. Esther will donate 100% of the bento box lunch profits to VJAMM, as well as 10% of the dinner proceeds that evening, between 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm. Contact Phyllis Hayashibara at (310) 390-1576 or email@example.com for bento pre-orders. Local businesses may contact Esther Chaing at (310) 308-6347 or firstname.lastname@example.org for company orders. For dinner reservations, call Hama Sushi at 310-396-8783.
“I am a U. S. citizen running a Japanese restaurant, and I just want to give back to the Venice community, which has been so good to me,” said Esther. “This is so important, to remember our history so that the same mistakes will not happen again.”
April 25 marks the 71st anniversary of the forced removal of some 1,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu in 1942 after the Imperial Army of Japan attacked the U. S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, authorizing the military to declare areas of Washington, Oregon, and California militarily sensitive and to forcibly remove those living in the declared areas to live in hastily set up Assembly centers and War Relocation Authority concentration camps. Civilian Exclusion Order No. 7 gave persons of Japanese ancestry in Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu only days to dispose of their property, to pack only what they could carry, and to report to the northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards for bus transport directly to the camp at Manzanar in the desert of Inyo County.
The VJAMM Committee has raised over $80,000 to build and install a black granite obelisk on that northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards. Hundreds of donations have ranged from $10 to $1,000. Most recently in February, 2013, Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County Supervisor, 3rd District, donated $5,000 towards the VJAMM. In March 2012, the National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites program awarded the VJAMM a 2:1 $50,000 matching grant. In 2011, the VJAMM Committee raised $10,000 at its benefit at Beyond Baroque in October; the Venice Neighborhood Council awarded the VJAMM $1,300 in Community Improvement Project funds in May; and Bill Rosendahl, Los Angeles City Councilmember, 11th District, donated $5,000 in April. Donors of $5,000 or more will be permanently etched into the granite of the VJAMM. The rising costs of materials, labor, fuel, and taxes since the inception of the VJAMM project necessitates continuing VJAMM’s fundraising efforts. For a complete list of donors and supporters, or to make a new donation, please visit www.venicejamm.com.
The VJAMM obelisk of black granite echoes the iconic white obelisk in the cemetery of the War Relocation Camp in Manzanar. The white cemetery obelisk bears three Japanese kanji, which identify it as a “monument to console the dead.” The black VJAMM obelisk will remind the living “to be forever vigilant about defending our Constitutional rights, so that the powers of government shall never again perpetrate an injustice against any group based solely on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion.”
The VJAMM Committee and Esther Chaing invite everyone to Hama Sushi on Thursday, April 25, for a short program beginning at 11:00 am. Pre-ordered bento box lunches may be eaten in or taken out from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Advance payment may be made in cash, with credit cards, or by checks payable to “Hama Sushi.” Dinner sales that benefit the VJAMM will begin at 7:00 pm end at 11:00 pm.