A section of Azusa Street Project proposal to the Japanese-American Community and Cultural Center.

By Pastor David Hino

As a Japanese American and a Christian, I have come to a deeper understanding of honoring the land. Land contains memories where we honor the past. Standing in the White House, walking the land of Israel, or making my first trip to Japan all had significant moments of connecting to the past. Memorials are erected on land to celebrate past moments. Houses and buildings become part of Historical Societies to honor the past.

The Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) is going through major re-evaluation of their facilities, finances and future. Whether it was by an accident or providential, the JACCC owns the property where the Azusa Street Revival took place in 1906. Providentially, the beautiful Noguchi Plaza was built on the former site of the church where the public can meditate and remember.

The Azusa Street Revival under the leadership of Pastor William Seymour lasted for three years and had worldwide implications. It is known as the birthplace of the Pentecostal movement which today embraces over 600 million followers worldwide, including the Assembly of God and Foursquare denominations and has also influenced millions of others. This revival in 1906 crossed ethnic lines and saw supernatural miracles resulting in thousands of transformed lives.

Life Magazine has listed the Azusa Street revival as the 68th most important event in the world in the last 1,000 years. In 2006, Los Angeles hosted the Azusa Street Centennial in which over 100,000 people came from all over the world to celebrate this revival and many came to Noguchi Plaza.

Religious groups have often honored the land, such as Catholics and Vatican City, Christians and tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem, Jews and the Jerusalem Wailing Wall, Moslems and Mecca, Buddhists and Lumbini the birthplace of Buddha. In Japan, Kyoto has become the spiritual center where Japanese come from all over the nation to experience the atmosphere of the temples.

Today, many still believe that the former property of Azusa Street Revival is sacred, holy and spiritual. Everyday, people from all over the world pilgrimage to this site. There is a strong line between marketing and honoring the land. Our intent is not marketing but there seems to be major marketing implications. Honoring the land will mean giving understanding and respect to the past and to the groups that have strong emotional and historical connections to the land. If the JACCC would consider more proposals in honoring the land, this could have major marketing benefits that would help the JACCC and the Little Tokyo Community. Literally putting it “on the map” with more of a coordinated effort could increase daily visitors and visibility. Honoring the land would also bring positive goodwill into the local community around the world and in churches that have no knowledge of the JACCC. JACCC is currently the keeper of a spiritual land that hundreds of millions of people hold sacred. The potential has incredible possibilities that can help JACCC into their future.