Sakura Gardens retirement home, a last vestige of Japanese American Boyle Heights, faces partial closure

Kotoko Toji has lived in Los Angeles since the 1950s but speaks little English.

Laura Morita Bethel directs traffic during a protest at the Sakura Gardens intermediate care facility. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

© Provided by The LA Times
Laura Morita Bethel directs traffic during a protest at the Sakura Gardens intermediate care facility. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

When it came time to move to a retirement home 15 years ago, she had a request: Sakura Gardens.

Like Toji, many of the residents are Japanese Americans in their 80s and 90s. Most of the staff speaks Japanese.

On the Japanese holiday of Girls’ Day, Toji and her friends eat sakuramochi — a sweet rice cake filled with red bean paste and encased in a pickled cherry blossom leaf.

Sakura Gardens is a last vestige of Japanese American culture in Boyle Heights.

Since the facility opened in the 1970s, most businesses catering to Japanese residents have closed as the neighborhood solidified into a working-class Latino enclave.


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Japan extends emergency amid vaccine, Olympic uncertainty

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced Tuesday that he is extending a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and nine other areas through March 7, amid growing uncertainty over the national rollout of vaccines and the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Suga said he will speed up vaccination plans and start inoculating a first group of medical workers in mid-February, instead of the earlier target of late February.

Under the state of emergency, the government has issued non-binding requests for people to avoid crowds and eating out in groups, and for restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m.

New cases have declined in Tokyo and nationwide since early January, but experts say hospitals remain flooded with serious cases and that preventive measures should remain in place.

Japan has had about 400,000 coronavirus cases, including 5,800 deaths.

“I seek your cooperation to endure just a

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Only 21% cleaning hands appropriately in Japan amid pandemic: survey

Students wash their hands at their elementary school in Shizuoka, central Japan, on March 16, 2020, amid the spread of the new coronavirus. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Just over 21 percent of people in Japan are washing or sanitizing their hands appropriately amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to an online survey by a team drawn from Tokyo Medical University and other institutions.

The survey was conducted in June, after a decline in the daily number of COVID-19 infections and the lifting of the first coronavirus state of emergency in late May. The research was published in the Japanese Journal of Infectious Diseases in late December.

Masaki Machida, a research associate in Tokyo Medical University’s Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, who led the research, said people may have improved their hygiene because alcohol hand sanitizers had been placed at

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Salvaje, With a Menu by Fermin Azkue, Opens at the Hyde Midtown Miami


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Salvaje, a restaurant with locations in Spain, Panama, and Colombia, opens its doors today on the rooftop of Hyde Midtown Miami. Led by chef Fermín Azkue, the kitchen offers a menu of Japanese-fusion dishes.

Using imported ingredients, Salvaje — the name is Spanish for “wild” — serves dishes like grilled and teriyaki-glazed lamb shank, tandoori chicken on a stick, and truffle fried rice with roasted duck.

“Salvaje has an international menu to which we are adding and experimenting with products and gastronomy of each location and culture,”  Azkue tells New Times. “We like to innovate and share a part of each location with the rest of the restaurants around the world.”

Azkue, who was born in Venezuela, worked in restaurants in Spain, France, and England, including Michelin-starred

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