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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

History of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is observed nationally to recognize the contributions that people of Asian and Pacific heritage made to American culture. President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution declaring May 4-10, 1979, as the first Asian Pacific Heritage Week. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed an extension changing Asian Pacific Heritage Week to a month-long observance. It is celebrated in May to acknowledge the first Japanese immigrants to the United States who arrived May 7, 1843.

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Asian Pacific Resource Center Events

The Asian Pacific Resource Center at Rosemead Library strives to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diverse cultures that form Los Angeles County. It supports programs and book discussions that celebrate and explore the rich history and cultural heritage of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. Join us to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Events

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Japanse Gardens at the Library

A garden in Japanese culture is one of the highest art forms, expressing the essence of nature. The art of gardening was probably imported to Japan by the sixth century A.D. and has developed many styles since then. There are many well-known Japanese gardens in California such the Huntington Library Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California; Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge, California; the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, California’s Golden Gate Park.

LA County Library has Japanese gardens in two of its libraries: Culver City Julian Dixon Library and Gardena Mayme Dear Library.

Kaizuka Meditation Garden, Culver City Julian Dixon Library

The Meditation Garden gracing the front of the Culver City Julian Dixon Library was a gift from the people of Kaizuka City, Japan, to the people of Culver City, California, for the hospitality provided by Culver City citizens to Kaizuka athletes and Olympic officials and Kaizuka dignitaries.

The Kaizuka City Sister City Program began shortly after the 1962 visit from the Japanese Women’s Volleyball Team after they won the World Championship from the Soviet Union Team. The entire volleyball team was hosted by Culver City residents and returned to Kaizuka City full of praise for the warmth and kindness shown them by the people of Culver City.

After the visit, the Mayor of Kaizuka City, Yoshio Okamoto, asked the City of Culver City to become their Sister City. This marked the first time in the history of the International Sister City Program that a foreign city asked an American city to affiliate with them as a Sister City. The people of Kaizuka City felt there needed to be a permanent bond of brotherhood and friendship. The Meditation Garden is the result of many years of planning.

To give the garden complete authenticity, it was planned and fully constructed by Kaizuka engineers in Japan, then dismantled and sent to Culver City for assembly. Lanterns, a waterwheel, a bridge and other artifacts, and rocks weighing as much as 12 tons were shipped to Culver City and reconstructed by the engineers who had designed it. The trees, shrubs and flowers were supplied locally.

The completed garden was dedicated on April 21, 1974, in a Japanese ceremony, with a Shinto priest officiating. The people of Culver City warmly accepted the gift of friendship from their sister city, Kaizuka. The garden is a continuing source of pleasure, inspiration and enjoyment for our citizens and visitors. The garden can be viewed from the front of the building on Overland Avenue.

Japanese Garden – Gardena Mayme Dear Library

The Gardena Library was dedicated on December 5, 1964. A major focal point of the library is the Japanese garden that represents one of the great arts practiced by the Japanese people. The landscape design for the Gardena Library’s garden was prepared by Takuma P.Tono, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Tokyo Agriculture University.

The central feature of the garden, a Kasuga-Toro (stone lantern), is 150 years old and weighs 2,024 pounds, standing seven feet tall. It is a gift from the City of Ichikawa to her Sister City, Gardena. The Kasuga­Toro is a family relic belonging to Yoshio Konagi, past president of the Ichikawa Rotary Club, who donated the lantern in commemoration of the Sister City affiliation that exists between Gardena and Ichikawa.

The landscape materials consist of 35 tons of moss-backed ornamental rocks (the largest one weighing four tons), which were located in the Ojai-Santa Paula area and given as a gift to Los Angeles County by Ventura County. All trees and shrubs were selected to meet design requirements.

The Tsuku-Bai (water basin) is used to purify oneself by rinsing mouth and hands before entering a Japanese home. The raked sand expresses wave pattern of water while the logs are used for erosion prevention and decorative effect.

Sodegaki (bamboo) fencing serves an ornamental purpose and the background shrubs are to represent a forest. Within the garden, rocks are arranged in odd numbers with smooth flat rocks representing turtles and the upright type representing cranes, both of which are symbolic of long life in Japanese folklore.

This beautiful garden was the creative effort of the Gardena Valley Gardeners Association and represents 2,620 hours given by the members of the Association: President Kay Iizuka, General Chairman Frank Okada, Design Committee Chairman Mas Nakano, Project Consultant Art Ishida, Assistant Project Consultants Haruo Yamashiro and Kenny Uyeda, Materials Committee Chairman Ralph K. Ota, Construction Committee Chairman Nick Kats

The garden can be viewed from the interior of the Gardena Library during the library’s open hours.

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Chinese New Year

The Chinese celebrate their ancient tradition, the Chinese New Year, at the beginning of the year by the Chinese lunar calendar. At the beginning of the year the past year’s symbol goes into limbo for 11 years before emerging for another one-year reign in the perpetual 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac.

Chinese lunar New Year falls on the first day of the first moon. This varies in relation to the Gregorian calendar named after Pope Gregory XIII, who decreed it in 1582 to replace the Julian calendar introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.The lunar calendar, which dates from 2698 B.C., thus predated the Julian calendar by 2652 years and the Gregorian calendar by 4280 years.

The Chinese New Year is the most colorful and important of China’s fêtes. It is observed from the 16th of the 12th month until the 15th of the New Year. The Lunar New Year itself may occur as early as January 21 and as late as February 21.

On the 16th day of the last month, businesses close their accounts and thank the gods for a prosperous year. Even their customers join in by paying their debts. Everyone wants to start the New Year with a clean slate.

The New Year celebrations come to an end on the fifteenth day of the first moon, observed as the Lantern Festival. A feature of the festival is the eating of “yuan hsiao,” a small dumpling made of rice flour and containing a sweet filling. The dumpling is round, symbolizing the full moon and complete family reunions.

Chinese New Year Symbols

Year Of The Rooster

Calendar Symbol: 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017

Roosters are: frank, vivacious, sincere, industrious and popular. They can also be: mistrustful and short-sighted.

Year Of The Monkey

Calendar Symbol: 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016

Monkeys are: witty, acutely intelligent, enthusiastic and passionate. They can also be: tricky, calculating and unfaithful.

Year Of The Ram

Calendar Symbol: 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015

Rams are: elegant, creative, peace-loving and sweet-natured. They can also be: pessimistic, dissatisfied and insecure.

Year Of The Horse

Calendar Symbol: 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014

Horses are: amiable, eloquent, frank, athletic, and hardworking. They can also be: selfish, impatient and rebellious.

Year Of The Serpent

Calendar Symbol: 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013

Serpents are: wise, cultivated, calm, decisive, and compassionate. They can also be possessive and extravagant.

Year Of The Dragons

Calendar Symbol: 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012

Dragons are: shrewd, vital, lucky, generous, successful, and admirable. They can also be disquieting, willful and demanding.

Year Of The Hare

Calendar Symbol: 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011

Hares are: discreet, social, gifted, forgiving and clever. They can also be: old-fashioned and aloof.

Year Of The Tiger

Calendar Symbol: 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010

Tigers are: hugely generous, well-mannered, courageous, and passionate. They can also be: undisciplined, hasty and stubborn.

Year Of The Ox

Calendar Symbol: 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009

Oxen are: patient, precise, leaders and strong. They can also be: stubborn, jealous and authoritarian.

Year Of The Rat

Calendar Symbol: 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008

Rats are: energetic, charming, honest and humorous. They can also be: greedy, petty and destructive.

Year Of The Boar

Calendar Symbol: 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007

Boars are: loyal, sincere, impartial, peaceable, decisive and sensitive. They can also be: naive and willful.

Year Of The Dog

Calendar Symbol: 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006

Dogs are: courageous, noble, devoted, loyal, prosperous and intelligent. They can also be: pessimistic, critical and stubborn.

Additional Information

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Ethnic Newspapers

Chinese Daily News – Chinese language newspaper, also known as the World Journal
International Daily News – Chinese language newspaper, launched in Monterey Park in 1981
The Korea Daily – Korean Language newspaper
The Korea Times – Korean Language newspaper
Nguoi Viet Daily News – The first Vietnamese language newspaper published in the United States, began in 1978
Rafu Shimpo – Japanese-English newspaper based in Little Tokyo
Singtao Daily – Chinese language newspaper founded in Hong Kong in 1938
Vien Dông Daily News – Vietnamese language newspaper published in the Little Saigon neighborhood of Westminster, CA

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Museums

USC Pacific Asia Museum – The USC Pacific Asian Museum contains examples of art and artifacts from Asia and the Pacific Islands, spanning a period of five thousand years.
Japanese American National Museum – The Japanese American National Museum is the only museum in the United States dedicated to sharing the experience of Americans with Japanese ancestry.
Chinese American Museum – The mission of the Chinese American Museum is to preserve and share the rich cultural heritage and contributions of Chinese Americans.

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Other Sites

Library of Congress, Asian Reading Room – With over 2.8 million books, it is one of the most comprehensive collections of Asian language materials outside of Asia.
Library of Congress, Asian Pacific Americans – Resources – Library of Congress site for Asian Pacific American themed resources. Find official documents, newspapers, photos, poems, maps, images, and webcasts.
Famous Firsts by Asian Americans – Site lists Asian American firsts from government, entertainment and the sciences.

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