Welcome to the Little Tokyo Blog

We've set up this space where members of the Little Tokyo community could share information, thoughts, ideas, and opinions about the Little Tokyo neighborhood, it's people, politics, culture/history, businesses, and events.

12/28/2008

Oshogatsu in Little Tokyo

It's almost 2009. Here is info for the Japanese New Year's Celebration in Little Tokyo on 1/1/09 sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California. Activities at Weller Court stage are from 11am-3pm and at Japanese Village Plaza from noon to 4pm. You can click on the image below to see it bigger. Omedeto gozaimasu!

12/16/2008

Obaachan Exhibit at the JACCC

OBAACHAN (Grandma): An exhibition of children’s book illustrations by Janet Mitsui Brown runs through this Saturday, December 20, 2008.

The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) is pleased to present OBAACHAN (Grandma), an exhibition and survey of artist Janet Mitsui Brown’s children’s book illustrations that spans over 2 decades.

OBAACHAN offers a glimpse into the extraordinary artistic journey of Mitsui Brown and her OBAACHAN (Grandma) three children’s storybooks Thanksgiving at Obaachan’s (Thanksgiving at Grandma’s), Oshogatsu with Obaachan (New Year’s with Grandma) and Obon for Obaachan (Summer Festival for Grandma). The tri-series tells the story of the relationship between a Japanese American grandmother (Obaachan) who only speaks Japanese, a granddaughter who only speaks English and how they share Japanese culture and its traditions as a way to relate to one another.

The exhibition at the George J. Doizaki Gallery will demonstrate the process of book illustration and its evolution from traditional hand-drawn illustration and coloring to the contemporary technique of computer generated and enhanced illustrations. Also on display will be cultural artifacts and research materials from Mitsui Brown’s archives which were used as part of her efforts to ensure the cultural accuracy of her illustrations. Audiences can appreciate Mitsui Brown’s lengthy process of research and refinement – sketching and collaborating with community advisors, utilizing color to enhance and recreate the feel of community traditions, and putting in hours of sheer technical work to recreate the Japanese American experience between a grandmother and granddaughter.

OBAACHAN is an intimate exhibition for the entire family, illustration connoisseurs and children’s literature enthusiasts.

This exhibition is made possible in part by a grant from The Durfee Foundation.

George J. Doizaki Gallery
Admission Free

Gallery Hours:
Tues-Fri, 12-5pm
Sat and Sun, 11-4pm

12/11/2008

VC Holiday Bazaar TOMORROW (Dec. 12)

Visual Communications is holding its first annual Holiday Bazaar, set for this Friday, Dec. 12 at the Aratani Courtyard in front of their home in L.A. Little Tokyo. Check out handmade jewelry by Lisa Rocha; handmade greeting cards by Noelle Ito; socially-conscious and stylin' clothing by Black Lava; and assorted DVDs and box sets. These make fantastic boutique gift items and stocking stuffers, AND a portion of your purchases will benefit Visual Communications and its ongoing mission of promoting intercultural understanding through the creation, presentation, preservation and support of media works by and about Asian Pacific Americans.

UNION CENTER for the ARTS
120 Judge John Aiso Street, Aratani Courtyard
Los Angeles Little Tokyo

12/10/2008

Premiere of a Song for Ourselves


A personal journey into the life and music of Asian American Movement troubadour Chris Iijima

During the 1970s when Asians in America were invisible to the country—and more importantly even to themselves—the late Chris Iijima’s music provided the voice and identity an entire generation had been in search of. Through animated photographs, intimate home movies, archival footage and Chris’ own songs, A Song For Ourselves shows how Chris’ music unleashed the contagious energy of the Asian American Movement with an unrelenting passion for social justice and a life well lived. This film immortalizes Chris’ inspiring songs that have been and will continue to be sung by generations of activists young and old.

Statement from the Director, Tadashi Nakamura:
The Asian American Movement not only worked for social justice, it created the community into which I was born and raised. When I asked what the early Movement was like, my mom simply played an old record for me. This was my first introduction to Chris Iijima. When I got to know Chris myself, rather than seeing him as an OG from the past, I looked up to him as a role model for the present. When Chris got sick, the community that was created over thirty years ago came together from all parts of the country to care for him and his family in a way thatLink made me realize the lasting power of the Movement. A Song For Ourselves is my attempt to capture the essence of this community I am grateful and proud to be a part of.
You can find a link to Tad's blog about the film making here.

7:30pm Saturday, February 28, 2009
Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
$10 General Admission, Limited $50 VIP Tickets
For tickets and info visit JACCC's website
or call (213) 680-3700
Aratani/Japan America Theatre
244 S. San Pedro St., Little Tokyo
Downtown Los Angeles

Special guest artists Nobuko Miyamoto and Charlie Chin
Live performances by Blue Scholars, Bambu, and Kiwi

12/03/2008

Speaking of Bronzeville...

...there's going to be a play reading about it at East West Players this Sunday.


Bronzeville is set in LA's Little Tokyo during the WWII years. It's based on a true story and explains how the District went "bronze" as Black families from the Deep South moved into apartments and warehouse lofts when Japanese and Japanese Americans were forced into Internment Camps.

One Black family discovers a secret--a young man who has refused to go. The family's debate about what to do is set against the backdrop of jazz (Central Avenue moved North), war hysteria, and ethnicity. Playwrights are Tim Toyama and Aaron Woolfolk. Support for development of the play has been provided in part by the James Irvine Foundation.

Sunday, Dec. 6th
120 North Judge John Aiso Street
213.489.7402
A donation of $5.00 is suggested

11/30/2008

LT is Bronzeville, taiko and community

Did you know that the "Home is Little Tokyo" mural on Central Avenue at 1st Street is made up of 20 separate 4 foot X 8 foot plywood panels? Here is one of the panels from 5 years ago when it was in development.

I like this one. It shows the "No Jail in Little Tokyo" effort where the community successfully gathered thousands (I think it was something like 13,000) of paper and online petitions to stop a 500-bed jail from being built on what was known as the Mangrove site at First and Alameda, future site of Nikkei Center.

It also shows an image of Charlie Parker, jazz musician from the World War 2 era when Little Tokyo became known as "Bronzeville." At top, are drummers from Bombu Taiko, out of Higashi Buddhist Temple on 3rd Street between San Pedro and Central Avenue.

Pictured is Tony Osumi, the lead mural designer, manuevering the heavy mural panels.

11/21/2008

Nikkei Center Reception at JANM

About 100 people attended the Nikkei Center reception last Tuesday night at JANM, and listened to presentations and speeches from the project's partners that reflected optimism about the direction of Little Tokyo, despite the gloomy economic downturn. The folks at blogdowntown posted a story about the event.

The project partners also announced plans to launch a website that will update the community on the progress of the development, and promote transparency to ensure continued involvement from all stakeholders--a refreshing and positive departure from some of the insulated and tight-lipped tendencies of some of the recent retail developments in Little Tokyo.

11/19/2008

MOCA in trouble?

At yesterday's Little Tokyo Community Council meeting, the Geffen Contemporary announced that it'll be shutting down its Little Tokyo museum from January to July (thanks for the tip, Ron). No reason was stated but today's LA Times story explains their serious financial situation.
This month, in a bid to shave 10% off operating costs, the museum announced a six-month closure of its Geffen Contemporary exhibition space, which is leased from the city for $1 a year.
The Frank Gehry adaption of the space has enabled MOCA to house some of its larger art exhibits such as the Takashi Murakami retrospective last fall.

All I can say is "wow". The Geffen draws a lot of people into Little Tokyo, so this will be sure to have an impact in the community and local businesses.

11/17/2008

Rock 'n Ruckus!

I know it's a bit late.

But two weekends ago I took my dog to the BEST GROOMER in all of little tokyo, Grace of Muttropolitan (you know you love "punny" names, too!).

Take a peek at some of the adorable work she's done.

While waiting for my pup to get gorgeous, I passed an apparent Ruckus meet-up.

It was across from Honda Plaza in front of the Starbucks.

For those of you uninitiated, the Honda Ruckus (aka Zoomer) is a small, single cylindered scooter, which according to iReport.com gets 100 mpg.

The cons, it can't go on freeways.

The pros... it is very easy to rejigger anyway you want and it gets 100 mpg... hello... 100!!! and it's cute.

Here are some more pictures from last week


read more about it here.

11/16/2008

Imagine the Possibilities

I was just sitting here thinking about the Community Reception/Celebration that will be held on Tuesday night, Nov. 18 at 5pm, hosted by Nikkei Center Partners at the Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. 1st Street in Little Tokyo. And then I came upon an article "A Little Tokyo Renaissance: Imagine the Possibilities" from April 2004 by Kei Nagao and Tony Osumi from J-townVoice! Here is an excerpt:

"So what we now have is a major victory within Little Tokyo’s grasp. Instead of Parker Center being built along Alameda between First and Temple, Mayor Hahn now supports the land being open for community input. With Little Tokyo control and possibly even community-backed development, we could reconnect Nishi Buddhist Temple to the rest of Little Tokyo and create thriving retail space, public parking, community housing and other Little Tokyo necessities all along First Street and Alameda. The Mayor’s proposal, called Plan A1.5, and another plan being considered by the community called Plan B1, both help J-Town and Nishi avoid the street closures and the negative impact of a massive LAPD complex.

With a new Metro Gold Line station planned for the corner of First and Alameda, the area could also become a LA cultural destination spot and a bustling gateway to Little Tokyo and the Little Tokyo Arts District. Echoing what many community members have said over the last year with City planners, Mayor Hahn sees the city-owned land as an opportunity to build a “vibrant urban village” instead of another encroaching city complex. Who would be against such a win-win solution?

In a few years, picture the constant stream of families coming to J-Town for basketball tournaments, library visits, and dinner with grandma and grandpa at the Far East CafĂ©. Visualize young people cruising First Street, meeting friends, slurping late night noodles and filling their hearts at poetry readings. Envision a mixture of Los Angelinos filling theater seats, playing volleyball, tasting sushi and strolling under blooming cherry blossoms. It’s all possible.

Helping Little Tokyo rise back up like the mythical phoenix is more than exciting--it’s our responsibility. We are this generation’s caretakers of Little Tokyo. As residents, small businesses, Japanese American institutions, elected officials and City planners--let’s work together to reclaim and extend Little Tokyo’s borders and lay the groundwork for a Little Tokyo Renaissance. Imagine the possibilities. "

11/14/2008

Tokyo Cafe is open for lunch

"Tokyo Cafe"

When I go out to eat, the more home-style cooking, the better I like it. It's ironic I know.

Lately, I've been making a habit of a small restaurant next to the Union Center for the Arts called Tokyo Cafe. The sign outside is misleading--it reads "Union Center Cafe." If you've never eaten there, it's probably because of the limited hours. Tokyo Cafe is only open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday-Saturday.

Why is this restaurant only open for three hours a day? Tokyo Cafe is a true mom-and-pop business. The people who operate it have been in Little Tokyo a long time and they just don't have the stamina to keep up with normal business hours anymore. Which is sad news for the customer because the food here is really good.

Tokiko-san

Tokiko, orginally from Japan, married into the family business and has been serving made-from-scratch shumai and mouth-watering cha shu since 1967. Her mother-in-law ran Terminal Cafe in the flower district before the war. After the war, the family opened the first Tokyo Cafe on Weller where the Piccomolo Italian Ice Cream shop is now located. They moved across the street and renamed the restaurant to Tokyo Garden. When the New Otani Hotel and Weller Court complex was built, Tokyo Garden moved to the 2nd Street side of the Tokyo Village Plaza where they served locals, downtown employees and tourists for many, many years.

My co-worker shared how much she loved the cha shu at Tokyo Garden. She wasn't the only one. At that time, cha shu was only made on Fridays, and if you didn't go early enough, they often ran out. But at least there were other delectable dishes on the menu like the egg foo young, yakisoba and teriyaki combination dinner. Tokyo Garden closed in 2000. Tokyo Cafe re-opened at the current location with the same menu and more importantly the same recipes--secrets passed on down from Tokiko's mother-in-law. The restaurant is now owned by Tokiko's sister-in-law.

cha shu and shu mai combo "to go"

When you go, try the combination lunch special - a plate of cha shu and shu mai with rice and miso soup for $6.95. My other favorites are the tempura donburi ($6.50) and the egg foo young ($5.95). The egg foo young is an omelette with bean sprouts, fresh celery and diced bell peppers mixed in over rice and topped with an excellent gravy sauce.

When in Little Tokyo, please support the local businesses like Tokyo Cafe! We don't need more chain stores and food franchises--if we do, then Little Tokyo will lose its flavor. Again, how ironic...

Tokyo Cafe
116 Judge John Aiso St. (N. San Pedro Street)
Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 628-3017

Business hours:
Monday - Saturday
11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

egg foo young

Change the System?

First off: Congratulations Obama.

Secondly:
Message to the Registrar of Los Angeles:
I understand that it must be an incredibly complex equation with 98071037132 variables when it comes to registering and placing voters, but the system STILL does not work. We had over 100 provisional ballots cast! So many that they didn't even fit into our little provisional ballot envelope! Thomas K Nagano was our fearless poll inspector on election day, props to him.

some food for thought.

11/12/2008

Nikkei Center Community Reception and Celebration

Nikkei Center Partners will be hosting a Community Reception on Tuesday November 18 at 5:00 pm at the Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. 1st Street in Little Tokyo. The project team will provide a brief update, and bust open the celebration over the future development of the Alameda and 1st (Mangrove) site. The event is open to the entire community.

11/06/2008

B-Ball is Coming to Little Tokyo!

From Mike Murase, one of the Little Tokyo Recreation Center boardmembers...


Dear Basketball Families:

After a long wait, we are one step closer to the dream of a 4-court gym in Little Tokyo! The Japanese American community is widely dispersed now and much of our lives are centered in various suburban neighborhoods, schools and workplaces, but Little Tokyo is still a special place.

Imagine the day when you drive into Little Tokyo to watch your children compete against teams from Venice to West Covina, from the Valley to the O.C. Imagine running into your childhood friends or your children making new friends. Then, afterwards going out to eat at a favorite noodle shop, celebrating a victory with sushi, or buying some manju to take home. or stopping by at the Japanese American museum or the JA cultural center. Come home to Little Tokyo where it all began. Join us and let your kids be a part of this exciting new chapter in Little Tokyo's development.

Watch this video to see what a Recreation Center in Little Tokyo can look like:



Won't you be a part of the thousands of families who are ready to bounce? Take THREE SIMPLE STEPS:

__ Come to Little Tokyo on Saturday, November 8, noon to 3 pm at the JACCC Plaza for a community celebration with music and other festivities. Bring your team in your uniforms and bring your balls!!! Join the hundreds of other kids and young adults in uniforms--red, green, blue, black and gold. (Please send us an email at RecCenter@ltsc.org to let us know if you plan to attend so we can get a head count.)

__ Forward this to your family, friends, teammates, organizations, and competitors.

__ Go to the Rec Center website and sign up to be kept informed of each new development.

SPECIAL PRIZES FOR TEAMS (minimum 5 players) that come in uniform.

Sign up at the event to qualify for a special drawing and win a GRAND PRIZE (your next tournament fees, up to $400, paid for by the Rec Center), 2nd Prize (five basketballs, either Men's or Women's, for your practices and layup drills), and other prizes.

11/05/2008

From LT to DC!!!!

From First Street in J-town...

to the White House...

President Barack Obama!!!
Thanks to Mike Murase for the t-shirt and photoshop design.

Visual Communications Benefit - Nov. 8



DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY... to the tunes from the 60's thru the 80's

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 8, 2008
7:30pm until 12 midnight

A NIGHT OF DANCIN' AND REMINISCIN' TO BENEFIT VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS

Entertainment by THE MUSIC COMPANY featuring MARIKO

Cash Bar
Door Prize
Raffle Prizes

Dance Committee: Doug Aihara, Walt Louie, Amy Kato, Rick Katsuki, Carrie Morita, Sandy & Tracy Okida, Wendy Oshita, Susan Soohoo, Cas Tolentino, Evelyn Yoshimura

NISHI HONGWANJI BUDDHIST TEMPLE
815 East 1st. Street (Free secured parking)
Los Angeles (Little Tokyo) CA 90012

TICKETS
$40 / person advance sales; $50 / person at the door

http://www.vconline.org/dance-the-night-away.cfm

Sao Paulo's Japantown



Earlier this year I took a trip to Brazil and visited the Japantown in Sao Paulo, an area called Liberdade. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Brazil. Today, 1.5 million Brazilians claim Japanese ancestry.

Like Little Tokyo, Liberdade is peppered with Japanese markets, gift shops, restaurants and other small businesses. Like LT, they have a popular ramen shop where people wait for 30 minutes just to get a seat. Like LT, it is a common sight to see elderly Japanese walking down the street or sitting at a cafe enjoying a cup of coffee. And like LT, the community struggles to maintain it's identity as a cultural enclave and worries about their future.

I ate at one of the Japanese restaurants in Liberdade and ordered a California roll. But in Brazil, they don't put avocado in the California roll. Can you guess what they use instead? .......mango! Why don't they just call it a Brazil roll? There is also a stand that sells takoyaki, but in addition to octopus filling, they make shrimp and cheese flavors.

I was impressed with the weekend market in Liberdade. Vendors set up tents and sell handmade crafts, clothing and gift items. There were also some really good food booths. This happens every weekend and brings in large crowds.

I think we should have a monthly street fair and flea market here in Little Tokyo. I know that local business owners would kill this idea, but we need to make LT more lively and give people a reason to come and hang out here. A street fair would increase business for everyone because it would attract more people to the community.

You can see a photo essay of my trip to Liberdade on the Discover Nikkei website:
Liberdade - Sao Paulo's Japantown

Cuidado!

10/29/2008

Sea Stars...

This may seem somewhat random but i took a picture of it on my phone and i just had to write a blog on it. But according to the title, yeah, our community's future sometimes shines through even the smallest things......


I walked into Weller today and for the first time, this fountain was running! This thing was beginning to become almost an eyesore at one point, the water inside was all grungy and then all of a sudden the water was flowing today!

There was a story I once heard by this motivational speaker. He said, "there was a beach, and on this beach there were 1000's and 1000's of sea stars. There was also a girl who was picking up the sea stars and throwing them back into the ocean. When a man walked by and told her there were so many sea stars along the beach and that she wouldn't make a difference, she looked him in the face, threw a sea star into the ocean and said, 'i just made a difference.'" So although that may have been the lamest and corniest story you've ever heard, it illuminates my point that even the small things make a difference and those small things bring hope.

10/27/2008

API Marriage Equality in Little Tokyo!

Last Thursday morning on my way to work, I was driving down First Street in Little Tokyo and I saw a bunch of people in red shirts with signs saying, "Honk for Equality!" I then remembered that that morning, there had been a press conference organized by API Equality-LA (Asian Pacific Islanders for Marriage Equality) at the Japanese American National Museum to help defeat Proposition 8 on November 4th.

So I found myself honking all the way down First Street with a big smile on my face.

Asian & Pacific Islander community leaders coming together to defeat Proposition 8: Warren Furutani, John Chiang, Judy Chu, Dennis Arguelles, Hamid Khan, George Takei, John Cho, and others.

And afterwards, the march through Little Tokyo...

Thanks to Veronica Garcia Macias for the great photos. Don't forget to vote Tuesday, November 4th!

10/20/2008

Artcore’s 20th Annual Awards Benefit / Live Auction

October 25th, 2008
5:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Downtown Omni Hotel (next to MOCA)

L.A. Artcore will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this Saturday. You can preview some of their auction items here.

The gallery is located in the Union Center for the Arts - the venue that also hosts Tuesday Nights at the Cafe.

This year Artcore will honor two nominees: Kenneth A. Colorado, an international artist who has made a significant contribution to addressing global warming, and Martha A. Canales, a pioneering spirit, educator, promoter, and collector of contemporary Latino Art.

Tickets for the Annual Awards Benefit are available from L.A. Artcore. For further details please contact the gallery at: 213-617-3274.

10/15/2008

Nov 1: Little Tokyo Community Forum

If folks remember, after the sale of Weller Court and the New Otani Hotel, the LTCC put together a community forum for the purpose of addressing the concerns by the community on the sale. In addition, to updating on the situation, the forum also divided participants into small groups in order to talk out concerns. This discussion portion was monumental in that it also helped to create goals for the Little Tokyo Community Council to pursue in 2007-2008.

Now, a year after that sale, Little Tokyo is once again hosting a community forum but this time with a greater focus on "tomorrow's Little Tokyo." We invite people who want to learn about current developments in Little Tokyo (that will be the presentation portion) as well as all other stakeholders to help plan for the community's future.

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE. Well actually, just be there...

SAVE THE DATE!

Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) Announces:
"Tomorrow's Little Tokyo"
The 2008 Little Tokyo Community Forum

Saturday November 1, 2008
10:00am-2:00pm
JACCC Garden Room
244 S. San Pedro St.
Los Angeles CA, 90012
*Lunch will be provided
*Translation for Japanese Speaking participants will be provided

Please join us to get updated on current events happening in community as well as plan and provide input to build tomorrow's Little Tokyo. Presentations include:
- A changing Little Tokyo: New Developments (Presentation by Bill Watanabe)
- Little Tokyo Community Council Update (Presentation by Chris Aihara)
- Working with City Government for Community Preservation (Presentation by Alan Kumamoto)

*Discussion to Follow on Various Topics

FOR FOOD --> RVSP. email Craig Ishii at: psw@jacl.org, or call 213-626-4471.

Little Tokyo's Aoyama Tree



The Aoyama Tree located on the edge of the Japanese American National Museum courtyard was declared a City Cultural Historic Monument in May of this year.

The dedication ceremony and a bit of Little Tokyo history will be featured on Huell Howser's "California Gold" on Monday, October 20th at 7:30 P.M. and on Thursday, November 20th at 7:30 P.M. on KCET, channel 28.

Please see the tree's history and dedication ceremony in Nikkei Album, created by Fiona Potter.

Update on Go For Broke Education Center

[posted on www.downtownnews.com 10/13/08]

Little Tokyo WWII Project Gets $4 Million

News Brief

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - The Go for Broke National Education Center, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate the public on the World War II experience of Japanese American veterans, has received $4 million from the federal government to help build a new facility in Little Tokyo. Currently headquartered in Torrance, the organization signed a long-term lease with the city of Los Angeles in 2006 for property adjacent to the Go for Broke memorial in Little Tokyo, where they hope to break ground on a new educational venue in 2010. U.S. Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard and Adam Schiff and Sen. Daniel Akaka requested the funding as part of the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance and Continuing Appropriations Act, which was signed into law on Sept. 30. The facility would feature an exhibit built around videotaped oral histories from men and women of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service and other units that operated overseas during World War II, said Christine Sato-Yamazaki, president and CEO of the National Education Center. The organization has now raised more than $5 million of the $15 million it needs to build the center, Sato-Yamazaki said. "Go for Broke National Education Center is thrilled to receive this funding," Sato-Yamazaki said. "It takes us closer to our vision to build an education center where we can offer teacher training and educational programming that will keep the legacy of the Japanese American World War II veterans alive."

10/10/2008

Kids Helping Kids in J-town

Last week, 2-5 year old preschoolers and Kindergarteners in Little Tokyo participated in a Trike-A-Thon to help sick children at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

10/08/2008

Rockers and Race cars

Some random snapshots of recent happenings in Little Tokyo...


09-24-08
A crowd of young people, mostly teenaged girls, gather outside of the anime collectors shop, Anime Jungle (325 E. 1st St.) on a Wednesday night. They came to Little Tokyo to meet Japanese rockstar Sugizo who stopped by LA in the middle of a North America tour. Some fans waited as long as two hours to get an autographed CD.





10-01-08
Imprint Culture Lab returned to the Japanese American National Museum. The event is put together by interTrend Communications; its mission is to introduce what's cool with Asian culture to the business world. This year's line up included video gaming, car culture, street fashion brands and the business of crafting.



10/07/2008

The Little Tokyo "Vibe"

Forbes and the Associated Press featured Little Tokyo in a story over the weekend:

The last time Little Tokyo tried getting back to its Japanese roots, it was in the early 1980s with the Japanese Village Plaza, a warren of sweets shops, tea stands and trinket stores under sloping glazed-tile roofs.

Now, on the eve of the area's most ambitious development project in decades, the historically Japanese enclave has something different in mind: trendy boutiques and stylish apartments enclosed in sleek mid-rise towers.

The article talks about the Nikkei Center in the context of the recent real estate developments and how these changes are impacting the community, and how Little Tokyo is gettin' its groove back.

But hipness fades, and the next year or so is going to be critical to crafting a vision of the community that'll endure and capture and reflect the spirit of Little Tokyo.

The fact that our small neighborhood is garnering so much attention I think is testament to some of the amazing and dramatic shifts taking place here, and how a community tries to pull together to address some of the challenges to identity, culture and history. This is a really exciting and important time for all of us to be involved in Little Tokyo's future.

10/01/2008

Regional Connector Update Meeting


The MTA is holding another series of meetings to update the community about the planned regional connector going through Little Tokyo. Jeff blogged about the last meeting back in August, and raised some valid concerns about how it could impact the neighborhood and its businesses.

It's important to come out to these discussions and provide feedback, so hope folks can make it.

Thursday, October 16th, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
Los Angeles Central Library
630 W. 5th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Tuesday, October 21st, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Japanese American National Museum
369 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

For additional information, call 213.922.7277 or visit their website.

9/26/2008

More details of the Little Tokyo Shopping Center Emerge

The folks over at Angelinic.com picked up a series of renderings from DeZeen that describe some of the design plans for the Little Tokyo Shopping Center.




These sketches were proposed by architects Zellnerplus. Among the retail areas proposed in the image below are
  • a Korean Day Spa/Food Court
  • Anchor Electronics Retailer and Boutiques
  • Korean Supermarket and Boutiques

How will this structure add to the "character" of Little Tokyo?

9/23/2008

YEAHHHHHHH!!!! REC CENTER!!!!!!!!!!!


THE FACTS:

On September 23, 2008, the Los Angeles City Council approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Little Tokyo Service Center to build a multi-use facility for sports and community activities in Little Tokyo, just east of Downtown Los Angeles. This vote, years in the making, gives LTSC and the Recreation Center Coalition the green light to move forward with the Little Tokyo Recreation Center as envisioned by hundreds of supporters over the past decades!

“The Little Tokyo Recreation Center will be an important addition for the Little Tokyo community and for the entire Downtown area, because it will not only add much needed recreation space, but will also serve as an important economic engine and have an immediate impact on local businesses in the area”, said Councilmember Jan Perry.

THE "REAL" STORY:


Rightfully, there is much excitement about the passage of the MOU for the Little Tokyo Rec Center site, after SO many years of rallys, san tai sans, and city red tape. But the story is still amusing, here it is:


On 9/23/2008 a throng of Rec Center supporters from all over Little Tokyo descended on City Hall Room 340 for the City Council Meeting that would pass the Memorandum of Understanding allowing for the construction of the Little Tokyo Recreation Center. There was excitement int he air, after all this was for the REC CENTER!! AFTER 10+ LONG YEARS!


Those supporters then marched into city hall at about 12pm (after passing through the metal detector) and barged into the doors of Room 340 ready with banners and ready to cheer for the city council's decision. But as they listened most of the items being discussed were of later agenda items......

At that point Councilwoman Jan Perry's assistant came over and said "actually.... they passed the MOU about 10 minutes ago by consent...."

----------------

So funny story (slightly anti-climactic), we all headed over ready to hear the passage of this MOU only to arrive 10 minutes late. BUT, there was one person from LT present, that was Bill Watanabe (he got there at 10:30, just in case). I can't think of a person that should have been there more than him, after 10+ years of san tai san's and rec center meetings etc. congratulations Bill and congratulations to the COMMUNITY!!

1. Mangrove
2. Rec Center
3. What's next? and is Little Tokyo's future starting to look pretty bright?? I think so.

UPDATE: Here's an L.A. Times link to the story.

9/22/2008

Little Tokyo Recreation Center Near Final Approval

We're less than a day away from a historic development in Little Tokyo. Big news, given that the community's been actively working to get a recreation center built over the last decade, and originally conceived of over 30 years ago.

One of the many goals of the Rec Center is to serve as the home base for many of the Japanese American basketball league tournaments and martial arts competitions throughout Southern California. This development will be certain to bring many families, children, and revitalization to the Little Tokyo community.
On Tuesday September 23, 2008, the Little Tokyo Service Center is anticipated to receive approval by the City Council for a Memorandum of Understanding to build the Little Tokyo Recreation Center at the St. Vibiana South site, a project we have all been working together to develop for over a decade. LTSC will host a press conference immediately after City Council meeting for this historic announcement, and we invite you to attend the council hearing and conference. Please join us at 12 noon in Council Chambers at City Hall!

WHEN:
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
City Council Hearing 10am-1pm (*Item likely to be heard around 12pm)
Press Conference 1pm

WHERE:
Council Chambers and Media Room (behind Council Chambers)
City Hall (John Ferraro Council Chambers)
200 N. Spring Street, 3rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA.

WHO:
Councilwoman Jan Perry; Bill Watanabe, Executive Director of Little Tokyo Service Center; Edward Takahashi, President of the Little Tokyo Recreation Center, and others.

Contact: Thomas Yee

9/19/2008

2008 JLA Educational Forum

Save the Date!

Redress Remembered: WWII Rendition of Japanese Latin Americans



October 25, 2008
@ The Japanese American National Museum

During WWII, over 2200 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry were kidnapped from 13 Latin American countries and interned in Department of Justice camps and Army facilities for the purpose of hostage exchange. Learn more about what they endured during WWII, their ongoing redress struggle to hold the US government accountable for war crimes, and lessons for present day challenges.

Presented in collaboration with Campaign for Justice: Redress Now For Japanese Latin Americans!, Japanese American Citizen's League–Pacific Southwest District, Discover Nikkei, Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress, and the National Museum.

9/18/2008

Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity) Performance

There is a one-of-a-kind performance piece happening this Friday evening down the street at the JACCC. The performance blends many different art forms, including blues harmonica, archery, buddhist chanting, butoh, bugaku and gagaku. The Kinnara Gagaku ensemble (a local favorite) will also be performing.
Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity), part of the 2008 World Festival of Sacred Music Los Angeles, delivers an astounding performance piece created by award winning performance and visual artist Hirokazu Kosaka featuring Zen archery, Calligraphy, experimental movement and music.

A striking blend of traditional and contemporary art forms, Mare juxtaposes elements of nature against an urban backdrop. A total meditative journey inspired by the serenity and purity of the moon, Mare comes to a crescendo with a 12-million candlelight searchlight illuminating a path to the moon.
Date: September 19, 2008
Time: 8:00 PM - 10:30 PM
Location: Aratani/Japan America Theatre
Admission: $25 General admission, $20 Members, Seniors & Students
http://www.jaccc.org/08summerfall.htm