Although Japanese, and as such always an outsider to the Anglo culture of SRO land, G. Kurokaua was a respected longtime employee of the Ramona Saloon at 307 South Spring Street. But for all his years in the bar, he failed to tune his ear to the friendly jibes and japes that were the habit of the place. Already crabby with an undiagnosed stomach ailment that pained him, the gentleman took grave offense when a patron, perhaps aware of Kurokaua’s remarkable thrift, joked that he had doubled his salary by raiding the till. Mortified, Kurokaua went to his employer, who laughed the remark off as the joke it was. But Kurokaua brooded. If his customers believed he was dishonorable, what was the point in living? His Japanese friends tried to appease him, it was just a case of an American being American, nothing worth taking to heart. It was no use. Several days after the slight, Kurokaua went to his rooms at 215 Boyd Street, readied his tanto knife with cloth around the outer side, plunged the blade into his belly and managed a cut of nearly a foot in length before losing consciousness. He then fell back upon his bed to die, a traditional Samurai honor suicide, harakiri, in downtown Los Angeles.
Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including The Real Black Dahlia. She is the author of The Kept Girl, the acclaimed historical mystery starring the young Raymond Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe, and of The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons and forensic science seminars of LAVA- The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For Life, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Lost in the Grooves and an oral history of Neutral Milk Hotel. View all posts by Kim Cooper