The Vanishing Japantown
Digital, 6:27 min, 2021short documentary film
The last Japanese-owned business in the former historic Japan town of Watsonville, CA, Yamashita Market, shut their doors in April 2021. With the closure of this market, the greater Santa Cruz/Watsonville area lost a staple in the local Japanese-American community. This short documentary follows the ways in which other Asian communities in the area filled the void and, ultimately, how food is a monument to cultural diaspora.
This project was aimed to be an exploration of the glaring lack of Asian and global food markets in the Santa Cruz, California area where I attended graduate school. Locals usually drive an hour up the mountains to get to Asian grocery stores in the San Jose area for produce and tofu. The nearest homemade tofu was sold at Gombei Bento & Tofu at Sunnyvale, CA. where HBJ Oriental Store and Food to Go travels to every week for the Asian-American community in Watsonville.
Director, Editor, Producer: TOYOKO MATSUO SAINDON
Cast: MAS HASHIMOTO, MARCIA HASHIMOTO, HEATHER BAYUGA, JEANNIE BAYUGA
Special Thanks: GOMBEI BENTO STAFF, HBJ ORIENTAL STORE STAFF, YAMASHITA FAMILY
Additional Camera: MERU SHARMA
Sound: TOYOKO MATSUO SAINDON