Victoria Kraus at L.A. Eastside has a charming piece about East L.A. kids' current fixation with all things Japanese. The self-described "Jewpanese" Krause notes how, when she grew up in Boyle Heights, all Asian families, including hers, were routinely lumped as Chinese. Kraus writes that "20 years ago in elementary school and throughout high school, anyone who looked remotely Asian was called Chino or China."
Anime, manga, "Beat" Takeshi and the martial arts craze would change all that into an adoring fascination with Japan. Today, Kraus notes, the high school students she works with are trying to learn Japanese through podcast and Internet lessons.
Her final meditative sigh about the ironies of this new Japanophilia sums up what it's like to have just missed the locomotive of history:
"Oh, how I wonder what it would have been like to be 'cool' for bringing salmon and riceballs to school in my pink New Kids on the Block lunchbox while envying my classmates who had normal sandwiches and bags of pepinos."