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Commissioned by Pío Pico, the last Mexican governor of California, this three-story building was constructed as a hotel by Ezra F. Kysor. Built in the style of an Italian palazzo, the building was once considered one of the finest buildings south of the Bay Area, and was put to successful use attracting merchants to stay and trade in the area. Today the building is privately owned and not open to the public; however, it's still worth a walk-by visit by anyone with an interest in local history.
Aratani Theatre is a stunning event space, must-visit for aficionados of performing arts. Inaugurated by a Japanese group in 1983, this theater boasts of impeccable acoustics set up by audio equipment giant, Bose. Its silk curtain is the theater's yet another lavish, Japanese characteristic. To sum it all together, the performing arts events held here effortlessly carry forward the venue's Japanese legacy.
This attractive museum is both a study of the life of Japanese-Americans and a celebration of Japanese-American art. The museum has presented a number of art exhibitions tackling several different mediums, including photography, film and sculpture. The subjects of some past exhibitions have included "Asian American Artists and Abstraction, 1945-1970", and "The Kona Coffee Story: Along the Hawaii Belt Road."
The James Irvine Japanese Garden, also known as Seiryu-en or Garden of The Clear Stream is a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. It is a mix of Eastern and Western landscaping styles and is located in a sub-ground level of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. The garden was made possible by volunteer Japanese-American gardeners, landscape contractors and nurserymen. In 1981, it won the National Landscape Award presented by First Lady Nancy Reagan at the White House. The park is closed to the public when rented for special occasions. Stop by for a relaxing stroll and enjoy the beautiful landscaping and plants.
This gallery presents both contemporary and traditional art by Japanese and Japanese-American artists. There are few boundaries as to what is exhibited here. One show for instance, focused on the designs of local architects as seen in models, drawings and plans. Another recent show displayed pieces from the impressive permanent collection, which explored the WWII relocation camp at Manzanar. The gallery is housed inside the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.
The Chinese American Museum is the first in Southern California to document the experience of the Chinese in America. It is housed within the oldest surviving Chinese building, called the Garnier Building. The first exhibition was held in 1992 and featured the works of James Wong Howe, the Oscar-winning cinematographer. The museum's main aim is to eventually become an educational resource for other ethnic communities. In February, it celebrates the Chinese Lantern Festival, so if you're visiting LA at that time make sure it's on your itinerary.