PHOTO JOURNAL: Little Tokyo Transformed

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Photos by MARIO G. REYES and J.K. YAMAMOTO
Words by MIA NAKAJI MONNIER

Despite the heat of recent weeks, an eager crowd gathered on Sunday to watch the 72nd annual Nisei Week Parade as it made its way around the block, councilmembers in cars sandwiched between ondo and taiko groups. Though the heat couldn’t keep people indoors, it did keep them clustered exclusively in the shade, and patches of sun-drenched cement sat empty, catching the light.

Dancers swayed down the streets in kimono to a friendly cacophony of bamboo flutes: little boys beside obaasan, girls in white makeup, a lone hakujin man in bike shorts with the most contented smile. An omikuji decorated in long strands of pink and white pom-poms bounced along with exaggerated precariousness, such an absurd sight that it seemed to pump magic like powder with each bounce.

For a moment, amid the crinkling of paper kazari in the breeze, the smell of hot takoyaki, and the labored chants—“ii yo so so!”—Japanese America felt so much like Japan.

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