by Eddie Wong. Posted April 5, 2022.
Scrolling through Facebook has become a daily ritual for me. Facebook is annoying to many people – the endless stream of party pictures, what I ate last night at that trendy restaurant, and mindless rants – but on the plus side Facebook offers a place to stumble upon old classmates and revive long forgotten memories.
Today, I came across an alert that the California poppies are a POPPIN’ in the Antelope Valley and that brought me back 51 years when the hardy crew at Visual Communications went on the Pioneer Center’s Hanami, the flower viewing trip. Robert A. Nakamura and Alan Ohashi shot the color slides that you will see in the following video. I just love these images. Many thanks to the Visual Communications Archives and Abe Ferrer for preserving these images.
For many of the Issei who lived in Little Tokyo in single room occupancy hotels, trips like these by the Pioneer Center offered a welcome respite from isolation in Downtown Los Angeles. I made a second video that features these Hanami images along with interviews with Pioneer Center founders Mo Nishimoto and Jim Matsuoka. Check out The Pioneer Center and Hanami
But this video, my first draft so to speak, still holds a special appeal to me.
Hanami is historically associated with cherry blossom viewing, but there are few places to view cherry blossoms in Los Angeles. Here in the rolling hills of Antelope Valley just a one hour and 15 minute drive from downtown LA, there is an abundance of California poppies, bursting out in orange and yellow framed by patches of green and dirt brown pathways.
It was a warm spring day 51 years ago when these images were shot. And I can still conjure up the dry breezes and the sound of light laughter as children and seniors wandered amid the flowers. As I edited this short piece, I was happy to find this short poem by Fujiwara Hanifusa (804-72)
As the years stream by
My own life passes from me
Still I am renewed when I see the blossoms
My heart’s sorrows disappears.
This poem sums up the feelings of the day and reminds us of the satisfaction that beauty and reflection bring to all of us.