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.


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!


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


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.

120 Judge John Aiso Street, Aratani Courtyard
Los Angeles Little Tokyo


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


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
A donation of $5.00 is suggested