So on the days when we are not covered in dust and sweat and wondering if we brought enough water, we have been quaite refained and taking in LA’s cultural cornucopia. First to the Getty Museum which is a lovely airy complex of pale limestone high on a hillside looking out to sea.
The gardens were perfectly laid out of course and the sunlight through the blooms made the whole thing bright and beautiful.
Another cultural highlight (actually they have all been great) was the Japanese American Narional Museum in LA’s Little Toyko. As you might imagine from the name, it tells the story of the experience of Japanese people in the US. What is frankly remarkable is that any of them stayed at all. They first started arriving in large numbers in the 1880s when Congress banned Chinese immigration and major corporations needed another form of cheap labour, so they turned to Japan. So many labourers were brought in that they were banned from buying land. Then immigration from Japan was banned altogether. The only recourse for Japanese families who had kids born in the USA was to put property in their kids names until that was banned too. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the government commissioned a secret report on the loyalty of Japanese Americans which found that there were few people more devoted to the USA – despite the fact that they weren’t allowed to be citizens, own land or look after their kid’s finances. But the report was suppressed and in 1942 more than a hundred thousand Japanese-Americans on the west coast were uprooted from their homes and put in internment camps for the duration of the war.
|Baseball given to UC Berkeley pitcher Kaneta Arita by his teammates when he was forcibly removed|
This was a day when we took the metro and went via LA’s terrific rail station which was built for an age when trains were the only way to travel and the stations were cathedrals. I remember this station from trips gone by and it’s still lovely. Imagine a time though when all of these ticket booths would have been full…
It was founded by Henry E Huntingdon who made his fortune building railroads and married his uncle’s widow. From their portraits he looked like a restless individual with a ready smile, and she (Arabella) looked distinctly eccentric and vaguely terrifying. In her portrait she was dressed all in black with black-rimmed specs, a veil piled on her head and a dark glare. She also became one of the leading art collectors in America. They spent their money on a palatial estate; Art and plants and books and well, anything they wanted really.
The result is open to all and despite the beating heat we toured the Chinese Gardens with their clacking bamboo forests and pools then the Japanese Garden with its bonsai and bridges and carp and the Australian garden which had the biggest eucalyptus trees I’ve ever seen.