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.


Vespa Scooting into Little Tokyo

When I was in high school in the late 80's, having a scooter was pretty cool...but to have a Vespa was like owning a classic sports car. Their popularity's been pretty resilient, especially during the recent gas crisis, despite the $3,000 to $6,000 price tag.

Now those cool little scooters are coming to Little Tokyo. The CRALA recently signed off on a permit for Vespa Scooters to open a 2,500 sq ft dealership in to the former Shakojuku building at the southwest corner of Central Avenue and 3rd Street.

We'll post renderings and plans of the storefront as soon as they become available.

Thanks to Ron for the tip.


Casa Heiwa Car Wash Saturday

Now that the hubbub of Nisei Week is over, it's time to take a good, long look at your dirty ole car... My car? Yes, this Saturday, August 29, the youth who live at Casa Heiwa on the edge of Little Tokyo are having a car wash fundraiser and they're hoping you'll come out to support them, visit awhile and get yer car washed.

The Little Tokyo Teen Group will be having a CAR WASH this Saturday.

Date: Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Time: 10am - 3pm

Location: Little Tokyo Service Center, Casa Heiwa, Grace Iino Playground
231 E. Third Street (enter from Los Angeles Street, just North of 3rd Street)

PRE-SALE tickets are $5 for any vehicle

Walk-ins are welcomed... small cars will be $5 and large vehicles will be $7.

They will also be selling soft drinks, water, and delicious Slushies.


Nebuta Floats

Check out these photos from the  cool Nebuta floats that where in the Nisei Week parade. Although I was at the parade I was in the parade and did not get to see them while they where moving.  They look really cool in the dark though.  Thanks to Mickie for the pictures!

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緊 張感高まる試合前。自己が打ち立てたあまりにも偉大な記録を破るプレッシャーにピリピリしているかと思いきや、リラックスした表情で写真撮影に応じる王者 ジョーイ。聞けば当日の朝、サンノゼから車を運転してきたという。「今日何か食べた?」という私の質問に、「いや、体内をからっぽにしたかったから木曜日 から何もたべてないよ」との答え。これは期待が持てますな。




1st Annual Tanabata Festival in Little Tokyo

Letsugo wanted to share a video covering Little Tokyo's first Tanabata festival last weekend. Michael posted a description of Tanabata leading up to the event and the story behind the decorations.

Check it out:


Next Generation Remix 2009! Tonight!!

Incase you forgot Next Generation Remix is tonight!! 6-9 in the JACCC plaza in Little Tokyo.  Check out the trailer, its FREE and there will be food and fun for you to enjoy.


Glorious Excess (Dies): Paintings by Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda at JANM

Mike Shinoda returns to the Japanese American National Museum!

Following his highly-successful 2008 show, Glorious Excess (Born), Mike Shinoda returns to unveil his latest collection of paintings and digital works. Larger, broader, and more sensational than before, Glorious Excess (Dies) is the next chapter in his series exploring society's obsession with celebrity culture, consumer addiction, and fascination with excess.

The exhibition opens on Sunday, August 30, but like last time, there will be a Public Opening and Signing with Mike on Sat, August 29 from 8-10pm, and it's FREE! Last year, over 800 people attended the public opening, so be prepared to wait in line. Glorious Excess merchandise will be on sale for him sign including a new book and skate decks.

If you're a member of the Museum, there will also be a special Member's only program -- "A Conversation with Mike Shinoda" on Sun, Aug 30 at 2pm. This will be an intimate event in the Forum (only 196 seats!) where he'll be discussing his artwork. After the program, he'll be on hand for a signing. If you want an opportunity to listen to him speak and have him sign stuff for you, but don't want to have to wait in long lines with hundreds of people, this is your best bet. Tickets are $40 each, with proceeds supporting JANM's programs. Limit 2 tickets per membership. If you're not a current member, you can join/renew when you purchase your tickets.

Mike Shinoda
Glorious Excess (Dies)
August 30 - October 4, 2009

Public Opening & Signing w/Mike Shinoda
Sat, August 29, 2009

For JANM Members Only
A Conversation with Mike Shinoda
Sunday, August 30, 2009 @ 2pm


Tanabata Whata?

I have to admit, I really had no idea what the Tanabata Festival was about. But, I had been hearing a lot about it, so I decided to go check it out at the opening ceremony on Friday night. My daughter and I walked down to First and Central, and got there about midway through the program. A bunch of dignitaries, getting ready to break open sake barrels. Emcees in both English and Japanese. Hmm, still didn't quite know what it was about.
Raising of the Tanabatas. Then we all got to walk through them, look up and take pictures. What was really nice was seeing all the community friends and people we knew walking through, kind of amazed at the beauty and originality of each of the pieces. I love that groups of people created their own, using different colors, styles and materials. Each one a little bit of creativity. There were 230 in all, some made by families, kenjinkai groups, individuals, community organizations, dance groups.
Of course we ran into our friend Nancy Kikuchi, one of the 2009 Tanabata Committee members, who is involved in just about everything in Little Tokyo. In fact, I think we should dub her "Ms. J-town." Nancy told me about how this was the 1st Annual Tanabata Festival in Los Angeles. I thought that was a great idea, great for bringing people together, and giving just another reason to come out to the Nisei Week Festival, which I admit that I haven't really been to in several years, even though I work in Little Tokyo and my daughter's preschool is here too. Nancy also told me that the 10 biggest displays were from Sendai, in Japan, and that a company had shipped them to Tokyo, and that Mutual Trading put them in a container and had them shipped to Los Angeles.
All in all, I think it was a big success. I think next year maybe I'll try to join in and get involved in making one too.


Nisei Week Parade 2009

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(The Samurais where just to cool)
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(The Machine gun was pretty cool too)

So this year to help promote the Next Generation Remix Concert, I got to participate in the Nisei Week Grand Parade.  I did not know what to expect since I have never been to Nisei Week or the parade before.  

While waiting around for the parade to start, I starting to get the idea of just how large the parade was, there where supposed to be 1600 people in the parade and people where starting to line up in the streets.  

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( I was one of those people, be sure to come see us again this saturday at the concert!)

My job along with my friends (we where the people wearing the blue shirts and passing out flyers) was to promote the concert, by passing out flyers and yelling out information about the concert.  There where also some people riding in the JACCC car.  We where right behind the Nikkei Games basketball car and the moving Taiko stage.  

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(So many people in the streets)

When we first started it took me awhile to get warmed up, but once I got settled in it was really a lot of fun.  What I really enjoyed most was the people in the crowd, it was so interesting to me seeing all the different people who came to see the parade.  

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( A moving stage performance, pretty coo l)

The parade was really cool, but I would almost say I regret not being able to watch it from the crowd, but then again who can say they participated in the Nisei week Parade?  I might never get that chance again.  I also got some really cool behind the scenes shots.  I didnt get to see the Nebuta though, which I really wanted to.  

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( Nisei Week Queen and Princesses )
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( Cosplayers )
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( Haneto Dancers )
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( Karaoke Party Bus )
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( Tanabata )


JACL Project Community Culmination

Project Community, a summer youth program put on by JACL PSW, will be having itsCulmination Event Tuesday August 25th.  To find out more information about Project Community check you can read the blog post I did a few weeks back here.

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Culmination will take place at the JACCC Garden Room (244 South San Pedro Street, Los Angeles Ca 90012), from 6-9 PM with a business casual dress code. The event is FREE, and the Project Community Participants will be showing off an art piece they have been working on over the course of the summer.  

There will be an opportunity Drawing with a $10 donation per ticket
Prizes include: $350 Cash Prize, 2 Disneyland 1-Day Park Hopper passes, and 4 Dodger tickets (Loge section) and much more

Please stop by if you you are able there will be a raffle and a great opportunity to meet the participants.  


Nisei Week Grand Parade

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The Nisei Week Grand Parade which include the Kodomo Nebuta and the Nagoya Feudal Japan Processional will be this Sunday August 16th.  The Nebuta float portion of the parade will begin at about 7pm. To find out more about the Nebuta check out the story posted awhile back here there are photos of this years Nebuta as well as a video of the Haneto dancers. 

The Grand Parade is one of the highlights of the Nisei Week festival, be sure to come out to experience it.  

For more information about nisei week you can go to www.niseiweek.org
For a detailed events schedule click here
For a detailed exhibit schedule click here 

- The City's "Mangrove Site" on 1st and Alameda  (northeast corner)
- City Hall East, (enter from Los Angeles Street, near Temple) (free)
- Parking is available at private lots in Little Tokyo. Fees Vary

Parade Participants with Permits are allowed to park in Lot 7, next to East West Theater

Street Closures:  Please see website:  niseiweek.org


Nisei Week Car Show

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The Annual Nisei Week Car show is this Friday August 15th from 11-6pm, admission is $12 at the door and kids under 10 are free.


As Taken from showoffcafe.com

"The nation's premiere import car show hits Southern California on the 10th Annual Nisei Week Showoff Car Show, where the import car show meets cultural experience in Downtown Los Angeles. Mainstream Productions presents the Nisei Week Showoff Car Show to be held at Little Tokyo on Saturday, August 15, 2009. 

This is the place where the top-notch show cars come out to compete and show.

This year the all day event features:

SHOWOFF CAR SHOW - West coast's top show cars compete for cash prizes and trophies. This is the place where function, quality, and form counts. Overall Winner wins $1000.00 and 6ft trophy with all bragging rights. Custom Showoff (runner up) receives $500 and 5 ft trophy. We have over 350 of the finest show cars so don't miss out!

The TOP honors in the NOVICE CLASS are:

Team SHOWOFF and Team REPRESENT awards:
Team SHOWOFF - $2000 in BOMEX aero parts 
Team Represent - $1000 in BOMEX aero parts

(Need at least 6 vehicles for each class or class will be cancelled)

LIVE ENTERTAINMENT - An all day array of stage acts including Hip Hop, R&B and bands. PLUS! To tease the eye some of the hottest industry models with their hot autographed posters and much more.

NISEI WEEK FESTIVAL - Come get a taste of Japan happening at various spots throughout Little Tokyo, Carnival, food, shopping and more!"

- The City's "Mangrove Site" on 1st and Alameda  (northeast corner)
- City Hall East, (enter from Los Angeles Street, near Temple) (free)
- Parking is available at private lots in Little Tokyo. Fees Vary

Parade Participants with Permits are allowed to park in Lot 7, next to East West Theater

Street Closures:  Please see website:  niseiweek.org

Tanabata Festival During Nisei Week

The Tanabata festival will take place during Nisei Week on August 14-16.  The Tanabata Festival also known as the star Festival is held all over Japan as well as in Brazil. 

Each Tanabata is different and was made from people and organizations around Little Tokyo.

The Opening Ceremony will be August 14th @ 5pm on Central Avenue @ the Japanese American National Musuem and Museum of Contempoary Art.  There will be booths with arts, crafts and food and entertainment. The Tanabata will be on display until August 17th.  

Here is some brief background on the Tanabata Festival as taken from jhills.com.

"What is the Tanabata Festival?   The festival celebrates the once-a-year meeting of star lovers, the Ox Herder and the Weaver Princess, who are separate by the Milky Way during the other 364 days of the year. Although held in several cities throughout Japan, the largest Tanabata Festival has been held in Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture since 1946, although it was celebrated in much smaller scale since the 1600s.           
In Japan, the festival is celebrated mainly along streets and inside shopping malls, which are decorated with large, colorful streamers (“kazari”) suspended by cables and rope.  People celebrate by writing wishes on small strips of paper (“tanzaku”) and hanging them from decorated bamboo poles that are always nearby."

Heres a Video with some Behind the scenes of the Tanabata

This Video talks about the story of the Tanabata its in Japanese, but maybe you can understand just by looking at the

This Video shows how the flowers where made for the Tanabata


Keigo Morita Exhibit at Kyoto Grand Hotel

Artist Keigo Morita is displaying his exhibit Women at the Kyoto Grand Hotel and Gardens in Little Tokyo.  The display began on August 8th, and will run until Saturday August 15th.  You can view it at the Rasen Gallery inside the Kyoto Grand.  The Kyoto Grand is located at 120 S. Los Angeles Street, Suite 270, Los Angeles CA. 

Here is a brief description of his exhibit as taken from thelamag.com

" Keigo Morita created a special new way of painting no one had done before. He made canvases from "Japanese Kimono" and painted on them. But when he had the idea, he had two problems. One is, if oil paint can stick to this canvas or not. The other was, even if paint sticks to this canvas, the Kimono itself is art, and too bright to set off his painting to advantage. But he solved these problems by treating the canvas with some special basic paint, and using colors that make the most of the brightness of the Kimono. These paintings are his first works. Now he is still groping for the different, better way of painting that matches the Kimono canvas."

Next Generation Remix 2009!

Next Generation Remix 2009 is coming soon! Its going to be Saturday August 22nd from 6-10 PM in the JACCC plaza.  Best of all its FREEE! So be sure to come stop by and bring all your friends, their will be live performances and much more.  Performers include Camile Velasco,Kacie Yoshida aka Diane DylanEyeASageTaiko ProjectBambuSibrian and DJ ET. 

Incase you have never been to Remix before, its a concert which is put on by one the Nikkei Community Interns, every year it features different performers but always is a lot of fun.  Remix is intended to be not only for the youth, but for people of all ages to come out and enjoy.  To my knowledge remix is in its sixth or seventh year running, and there is a lot of cool new stuff planned for this year.

For more information on the performers check out the official remix site

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Nisei Week

The Annual Nisei Week Festival is starting soon! This years festival begins August 15th and runs until August 23rd.  There are so many things going on in Nisei Week you better check the schedule here. There is a car show, exhibits, performances, demonstrations parades and a whole lot of fun.  Here is a link to the official Nisei Week Website, where you can find out more information about this years festival.  

Incase you are not familiar with or do not know much about Nisei Week heres a brief overview as taken from Wikipedia.

"Nisei Week is an annual festival celebrating Japanese American (JA) culture and history in Little Tokyo, Los AngelesNisei means 2nd generation in Japanese, describing the first American born Japanese, a group which the seven day festival was originally meant to attract. Though named for the Nisei generation, Nisei Week is no longer targeted at Niseis, nor is the festival still contained within a week. Nisei Week Foundation president for 2006, Michelle Suzuki, described the festival as "the opportunity for people of all backgrounds to celebrate Japanese heritage and culture".[1]

Festivities are held over one month, though the main attractions are held during the primary two weekends of the festival in mid-August. Nisei Week draws tens of thousands of participants each year from both the Japanese community and Southern California area, mostly to its Grand Parade and specialized festivals, most notably the Tofu Festival. The 69th Annual Nisei Week will take place on August 15-23, 2009."

There is no more Tofu festival this year.

Be sure to stop by during Nisei Week and also check out their website so you can find out more about everything going on at Nisei Week.  

Heres a video from a past Nisei Week to give you and idea of what to expect.


MTA Regional Connector Meeting (8/5)

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Last Wednesday 8/5 I attended an MTA meeting on the Regional Connector, it was held at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo.   The meeting began at 4:30, and there where many people from the beginning, there where also refreshments such as cookies and coffee.  

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As soon as you walked in you asked to sign in as well as given some papers, and then you could not help but notice the large model.  People quickly gathered around the model, as MTA representatives as well as the Architect and community members struggled to figure out what it was and ask some questions.  When I looked at the model, I couldn't orient myself what area this model represented, it was only half way through the presentation that I figured out how to read the model.
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The meeting then began and people took their seats, MTA project manager for the regional connector opened with a few words and the MTA director also spoke a few words.  The MTA Technical Consultant then began his presentation, it was a long presentation which included an overview of the 4 options, why they would benefit Little Tokyo, as well as computer renderings, a video flyby, construction information such as timeline, as well as where are they along with the project.

After the presentation the floor was opened up to for the community to raise their voice for questions, comments and concerns.  This part of the meeting got very intense, many community members raised tough questions and serious concerns, about the impact of a regional connector on Little Tokyo.  Metro staff took notes and recorded the feedback from the community.  

The meeting ran until 7:30 an hour longer than initially planned, MTA representatives stayed around for a bit to answer more questions.  The Project manager also said she is available to meet with any individual who would like to do so.  The Regional connector is currently in the stage where they evaluate the options get feedback from the community and then they will make their decision around summer of next year.  For the next year, they plan on having more community meetings and this was the first of those.  

Watch a video flyby created by MTA here
Another Video with a recap of the slideshow you can see here

Disclaimer: The views represented here are my own, this information is accurate to the best of my knowledge, if you notice anything that is incorrect please email me at moguro@ltsc.org thanks

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