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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Cookies inspired by Japanese cuisine

Masako, an Osaka-based mother and baker extraordinaire, creates cookies inspired by Japanese cuisine. While the tiny treats may look like mini meals, they’re actually simple sugar cookies topped with intricately sculpted icing – a delicious and inventive craft she showcases on Instagram.

An avid baker, Masako has documented her collection of cookies for about a year now. While always impressive, her dessert designs have come a long way—though she’s always had a penchant for recreating familiar foods. In the past, she often paid homage to classic snacks like bacon, hot dogs, and cupcakes, as well as a delicious assortment of strikingly realistic cakes. She’s also reimagined bouquets of flowers, festive holiday trimmings, and even impressive icing drawings of beloved movie characters. Few of her creations, however, were as detailed as the Japanese food-inspired treats she beautifully bakes today.

Far from your average cookies, Masako’s latest creations transcend sprinkles, frosting,

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Is Learning Japanese Hard? No! And The Pros Outweigh The Cons

Did you know learning a second language makes you smarter? Research shows that bilingualism increases cognitive function as you age and delays the onset of dementia. In addition, you become more tolerant and improve your cultural intelligence. That’s a competitive edge for people who work with globally distributed teams.

Although it may be a herculean task to speak like a local, being bilingual, or even a polyglot, builds your brain muscles. An MRI scan has proven that some parts of language students’ brains have enlarged compared to those in a control group. So, if you want to develop more of your global and social skills, then why not learn Japanese? It’s not that tough as you think, and learning it has more pros than cons.

Pros of Learning Japanese

Study Learn a new language without being overwhelmed. Set a time for yourself and explore Nihonggo. Photo: Pixabay

It Isn’t a

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Japanese Low-Fat Okara to Launch in the US

An exciting, new addition to the low-fat, low-carb niche is set to be released to the American health food market in 2021.

Okumura Engineering Corp (OKM) is ready to unveil Okara curry flakes: an enticing option for health-conscious curry lovers. Okara is gluten-free, vegan, low in trans-fats, and free of sugar, chemicals, artificial colors and flavors, and preservatives.


The company has adopted a method to utilize Okara; the soy pulp that is often left behind as a result of filtering pureed soybeans in the production of soy milk and tofu. 

Over 600,000 tons of Okara are currently generated in Japan but has traditionally been disposed of as it is challenging to manage due to its high moisture content contributing to spoilage and easy deterioration.

As Okara is highly nutritious and contains many essential nutrients for the human body, OKM has now developed advances in its processes to dry out the

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