How West L.A. Became a Haven for Japanese-Americans

Long Before It Was the Westside’s Ramen Epicenter, Sawtelle Boulevard Bustled with Japanese-Owned Nurseries and ‘Gardeners’ Colleges’


My introduction to the West Los Angeles neighborhood my parents called “So-ta-ru” came in the 1970s when we visited relatives there. I still am unclear on exactly how we are related—it was definitely on my mother’s side and it may go back to some village in Hiroshima. But for my immigrant mother, these relatives were her only blood relatives in the United States.

The first thing I noticed was how much cooler it was in West L.A. than back home in the Pasadena foothills. The Westside front yards had more …

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