Summary essay from Town Hall  1.24.4
contributed by Kathy Sakamoto


Through word and song, display and building, culture is preserved through many avenues, some of them being community memory, historic places and activities that have been carried through some timeframe so that they become identified with a specific set of community values, emotions, sights, sounds and even smells.

It also seems that no matter what the process of conceptualization of the values of a community, whether sociological, biological, historical or arrived at by observation and deductive reasoning, or whether by personal experience and exponential derivation, it is the quality of that particle of the universe that resonates within the hearts and minds of the individuals from whom the desire to preserve a culture is founded and initiated that, in and of itself, makes the pursuit of the culture worthwhile and possibly even inevitable.

Because the community is only as rich as the sum of its parts, we find that the organizations that inhabit the hearts of those of Japanese and Japanese American identity (as differentiated from 'descent') are vital to the integrity of community memory. In preserving the culture of San Jose's Japantown we need to realize that the only form in which the culture will actually be preserved is that of individual ownership. Without the conversation, the activities, the look and feel of that which each person associates with Japanese and Japanese American culture, there is only the static presentation or observation of that culture. Only when involvement and commitment are present is the culture in hopes of survival.

We have only to create a pathway through which all the parts of the sum of the culture be nurtured and actively supported.

So what is the definition of 'cultural preservation?' It is that which each of you, indeed, each of us realizes comes from themselves, each person individually, that belief or fact identifies itself as a part of Japantown.