Yoshinari Ishii / LA Branch, Marubeni America Corporation
"Los Angeles" means "The Angels" in Spanish. The city belonged to Spain until the mid 19th century, and Spanish is frequently used on the street and almost everywhere else in the city. However, the city has come to be known as a "Melting Pot" because immigrants from not just Spain, but from all over Europe and Asia live here. The size of the population of Japanese people living here too is the second largest in America, next only to New York. Without even having to leave Los Angeles, it is possible to enjoy the authentic cuisine of all sorts of countries from around the world, and to come into contact with a wide variety of cultures.
Los Angeles has a temperate climate with almost no humidity, and rain only ever falls a few days a year, making it extremely comfortable weather throughout the year. (On the other hand, forest fires occur frequently and this year the damage caused by these has been particularly large). Golf and tennis can be enjoyed all year round. Professional sports such as baseball (Takashi Saito plays for the LA Dodgers), basketball, and ice-hockey also flourish here, and the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team, which recently added David Beckham to their line-up, is based here.
Moreover, since the city is surrounded by the sea on one side and mountains on the other, at weekends many families go sunbathing on the beach or hiking in the mountains in the summer, while in winter it is possible to enjoy the real thing in terms of "Surf & Snow" (it is only 2 hours by car from Los Angeles to the nearest ski resort, and 30 minutes to the beach).
However, while it may appear to be the kind of ideal environment you see on a picture postcard, the biggest problems in Los Angeles are traffic congestion and pollution. There has been almost no development of public transport apart from buses, and often your only choice is to call a taxi by phone, or to try and catch one outside your hotel or the airport. Having your own car is essential for people who live here, but even then, in the morning and afternoon rush hours, you have to take into account the fact that your journey may take 2 or 3 times the usual journey time. In addition, the smog from exhaust gases which is recognized as being a severe problem causing air pollution, and ecologically friendly "eco cars" made by Japanese manufacturers are so popular that there are waiting lists to buy them.
If you visit Los Angeles, the city where transport by car is an essential part of life, you may well end up becoming frustrated at all its traffic jams. But, despite these, try to look beyond them, at the city around you. You are sure to experience something new. If you are lucky, you may even get to meet a Hollywood star!