Continuing Traditions

Descendants of the early immigrants carry on many of the traditions their parents and grandparents brought with them from Japan. Not the least of these are values: strong family ties, respect for education, respect for elders honesty, courtesy, the value of hard work and a strong sense of duty and obligation.

Japanese American artists show the influence of their heritage in the fields of painting, sculpture, furniture making and woodworking.

The Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park provides an oasis of tranquility in a busy city. A volunteer organization in which many Japanese Americans participate helps the city keep the house and garden in good condition.

The Minyo Dancers, a dance troupe based at the Seabrook Buddhist Church, travels widely performing Japanese folk dances. A taiko drum corps of young people from the New York Buddhist Church has been invited to perform as far south as Florida.

Most Japanese Americans attend churches in the communities in which they live, but the Japanese Christian Church of Philadelphia holds bilingual Sunday services in Japanese and English. The Church has grown to 65 members.

Japanese food traditions continue. A pot luck supper usually is not complete without sushi, chicken teriyaki and Japanese pickles mixed in with dishes such as chow mein, chocolate cake and other non-Japanese food. The New Year's party held by the Philadelphia Chapter of JACL features the traditional ozoni soup.

Together with other Asians, Japanese Americans celebrate 1985 as the Year of the Ox in the twelve-animal cycle of the Oriental zodiac. Many Japanese American homes are decorated with Japanese scrolls, dolls and screens. Stone lanterns lend a Japanese touch to many a suburban garden.

Japanese influences have spread out into the larger American community. The annual Philadelphia Flower Show features arrangements by members of Ikebana International, only a few of whom are Japanese Americans. In the same show the local chapter of the Bonsai Society displays miniature trees grown by devotees in the area. Longwood Gardens maintains a bonsai collection which has many excellent specimens. People of many backgrounds participate in martial arts such as judo, aikido and karate. Asian martial arts now are included in the Olympic games.

JACL participates in Philadelphia's Super Sunday each October with a booth selling Japanese style food. Japanese restaurants featuring sushi bars are found in suburban as well as center city locations. Tofu, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and Japanese style frozen dinners made in the U.S.A. can be found in most supermarkets.

Japanese Americans are maintaining many elements of their heritage while the larger community has discovered the delights of a centuries old-culture brought by people from an ancient island nation across the Pacific.

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