This (extremely baller) 1993 commercial for Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo is entirely in Japanese, but it aired in Los Angeles, leading one to wonder, of course, who the target audience was.
Sushi Gen was opened by Japanese immigrant Toshiaki Toyoshima in 1980. He had moved to Los Angeles in 1973 to work at Tokyo Kaikan, a huge restaurant that served the whole breadth of Japanese cuisine, from teppanyaki to teriyaki. When Tokyo Kaikan opened in 1964, many Americans were familiar with cooked Japanese dishes, but sushi was still fairly unknown — but not entirely, as the earliest written records of sushi eaten in America are from the first decade of the 1900s.
The restaurant added a sushi bar two years after opening, serving traditional sushi but also quickly catering to western tastes (well, some western tastes). There are claims that the California roll was invented at Tokyo Kaikan, though if it was truly "invented" at one particular location, it was probably a westside restaurant called Kin Jo.
Tokyo Kaikan was a celebrity hotspot, had seating for 300, and also contained a nightclub called Tokyo-a-Go-Go. When Toyoshima made moves to open his own restaurant, he planned something entirely different.
Sushi Gen opened in the newly-constructed Honda Plaza; as he explained in 2016, "I knew that the place was going to attract many people, but we were in the outskirts of town, and some people were like, 'Are you sure about this place?' And now we’re right in the middle of town."
Toyoshima's timing was impeccable, opening his traditional-sushi-only restaurant at the dawn of the decade known for people's growing sophistication and bank accounts. But Sushi Gen is above trends: 43 years is unbelievable longevity for a restaurant. Avoiding gimmicks and trusting the customers to rise to the occasion worked well for Toyoshima (PDF).
That commercial was definitely for Japanese Americans and anyone else in on Japanese culture. The rest of us are just lucky to see it.
Further reading on sushi's history in the U.S.: