Local businesses raise funds for Japanese relief

The devastating earthquake and tsunami that shook Japan on March 11 has created countless relief efforts, many with the help of American consumers. Particularly in Los Angeles, where one of the largest Japanese-American communities lives, there is a noticeable presence of storefronts advertising relief efforts. The California based company Jedidiah, "a humanitarian-based apparel brand aspiring to cultivate change, one garment at a time," according to their website, was able to design and distribute clothing just a week after the disaster. For every $20 tee-shirt purchased, $15 went directly to World Vision, a charity organization. Less than 48 hours after the tsunami hit the shore, World Vision was on the ground in Sendai identifying priority needs.

Santa Monica'sIn Residence, a modern vintage boutique, has reordered the Jedidiah Japan-relief line three times since their first orders. Shop owner Rachel Salzman takes great pleasure in fusing charity efforts with the clothing in her windows. "It was a no-brainer," she said when deciding to help the cause. "You've got to do what you can."

With such a strong local enthusiasm for helping those that have had their lives upended from the disaster, In Residence decided that on Memorial weekend a percentage of all profits made from the store would go directly towards relief efforts.

Another local shop, Tortoise General Store on Abbot Kinney in Venice, has been hosting events and raising donations. At the onset of the disaster, Tortoise General Store donated a percentage of its sales to help Japan. Sami Watanabe, an employee of Tortoise General Store and native of Japan, has worked hard to organize events centered around hand-made apparel and bake sales. These fundraisers occur almost every weekend.

When asked about the local communities reaction, Manager Sachiyo Itabashi said "They are very supportive. After it happened, local customers came every day to check up. They were worried; they wanted to see our faces."  Taking a different approach is Japan L.A., a shop on Melrose Avenue with merchandise inspired by Japanese and Los Angeles pop culture. Japan L.A. will host a second Art Exhibition on June 4 titled "Kittens and Ice-cream." Their first art show drew hundreds of people, and the proceeds went to the Red Cross.

"Basically we really love Japan, and know our fans do too," said store owner and founder Jamie Rizadeneira. The store is involved with Japanese culture, so much so that once a year they organize a trip with their fans to go and visit the country.  Some of the proceeds from this coming week's art exhibitions will go to "Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support."

Members of the group have been going into hazardous areas of Japan, sometimes sneaking in to rescue pets that were left behind. They have provided the animals with food, shelter, and comfort, with the hope that their owners will return.

Restaurants all across town are also doing what they can to help Japan. Most notably Takami Sushi & Robata, located on the 21st floor of a downtown Los Angeles sky-rise. The high-end Japanese restaurant is donating 100 percent of its profits to the Red Cross Japanese Relief Fund until it sees fit to stop doing so. Many of its employees were directly affected by the disaster, and are pleased that the restaurant is doing what it can.

Over a dozen other restaurants are showing similar support efforts. On March 24, for every burger they sold, Umami Burgerdonated one dollar to the American Red Cross. Typhoon, located at the Santa Monica Airport, held a "Jazz for Japan" marathon in its new Pan Am Room. Ticket sales went to the American Red Cross.