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.


Don't Panic!: Doubletree may help, not hurt Little Tokyo

The Kyoto Grand Hotel and Weller Court, with the Onizuka memorial in front
Recent reports that the Kyoto Grand could become a Doubletree may sound like bad news for Little Tokyo.
After all, Little Tokyo has long thrived on tourist business from Japan.  And Japan Inc. has traditionally depended on the landmark hotel which formerly went by the name "New Otani."

It was a hard blow when New Otani decided that they no longer wanted to be part of Little Tokyo.

Still, under 3D Investments, the rebadged Kyoto Grand has done okay.  They've made renovations, while maintaining the Japanese flavor of the place.  The Japanese garden still looks pretty good. Weller Court looks about the same as ever. As long as Kinokuniya is still selling overpriced manga to Japanese and increasingly American otaku, as long as Curry House is still making its uniquely-Japanese curry katsu spaghetti, then I know all is right with the world.

Weller Court
Still, Doubletree is a new element being thrown into Little Tokyo's "resurgent but still struggling (but who isn't?)" economy. What can we expect:

First of all, assume for the time being that no Japanese hotel chain is going to swoop in and rescue the New Otani/ Kyoto Grand.  If New Otani isn't interested for whatever reason, then Prince isn't going to be interested either (Prince owns a few resorts in Hawaii, but that's the extent of their American operations).

Secondly, do not assume that "big American corporation" means not Japanese. Hotel Tomo, a ridiculously over-the-top J-Pop/ anime-esque theme hotel in Japantown, San Francisco, is not owned by Japanese; it is part of the Best Western hotel chain. Japantown's other major (non-Japanese) hotel, the Hotel Kabuki, maintains a lovely Japanese garden and Japanese aesthetics oozes from every inch of the hotel.

Hilton (which Doubletree is a branch of) is not stupid. The heiress may be, but not the hotel chain.  They would not be moving into Little Tokyo if they did not think that Little Tokyo was a good investment.
And the Kyoto Grand is not a blank slate. It has undergone some recent renovations, and it is an established player in an established community with deep ties to Japan. Local community leaders have already made it clear — just as they made it clear to 3D Investments when they moved in — that we want Little Tokyo to remain Little Tokyo.

And really, what purpose would it serve to make changes? What what be their motivation ("This hotel looks too good, we're going to spend a lot of money to make it suck")?

Inside the Kyoto Grand

As a Doubletree, the Kyoto Grand will have full acccess to Hilton's reservations system and Hilton's marketing machine. That alone will make a huge, positive difference for the hotel.

Of course, that doesn't mean that we can relax. We still need to work together with Hilton/ Doubletree to make sure that this hotel remains an asset which contributes to the community, and not a faceless giant.
However,  I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.


J-town Support to Muslim Americans & Religious Freedom

On Thursday, 9/9, a Vigil was held in Little Tokyo to Support Muslim Americans and religious freedom.

The event took place at the plaza in front of the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR), the Japanese American Citizens League Pacific Southwest District (JACL PSWD), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council in cooperation with the Japanese American National Museum and other groups came together to show support for Muslim Americans who are increasingly being subjected to a hateful campaign of anti-Muslim and anti-Islam lies and attacks.  

The event included speakers such as Kathy Masaoka, Jan Tokumaru, Rinban Nori Ito, Reverend Mark Nakagawa, State Assemblymember Warren Furutani, Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga, and others.

At the end of the program, David Monkawa organized all of the participants into a PEACE sign symbolizing our support for Muslim Americans, religious freedom, understanding, tolerance and calm.  Cause that's what it's all about.
 P - E - A - C - E
All of the beautiful photos taken by: Jeff Liu


What's in a name?: Little Tokyo subway station

Light rail at the Japanese American National Museum, by James Fujita

Last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released to the public the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Regional Connector light rail construction project.
This incredibly important rail project would link together several light rail lines in downtown Los Angeles: the Blue Line to Long Beach, the Expo Line to USC, Culver City and Santa Monica and the Gold Line to Pasadena, East Los Angeles, Azusa and (eventually) Ontario.

Little Tokyo would benefit hugely from this project: Local residents would have a direct link to four corners of Los Angeles County, while visitors to the area would have a much easier way to avoid traffic and parking.
Of course, there would also be costs to a project of this scale: construction can be messy, and some types of construction would be messier than others.  During the Draft EIR process, the MTA asked the public what they wanted: where should the stations be placed, should it be ground-level or underground, etc.  And the Little Tokyo community responded LOUDLY.

Well, the MTA listened to Little Tokyo's concerns, and the Draft EIR gives Little Tokyo pretty much everything the community wanted.  Completely underground? Done. Don't disturb Nishi Hongwanji? Done.
The new light rail subway station will be about one block further into the heart of Little Tokyo than the existing light rail station at First and Alameda.  The station will run diagonally across the "Office Depot block" from the corner of Second and Central to First and Alameda.

Just one minor issue remains, as far as I'm concerned:  All of the Draft EIR documents show the station as "Second and Central" instead of "Little Tokyo".
This new station will be across the street from the Japanese American National Museum and a very short stroll to the Go For Broke monument, Japanese Village Plaza, Anime Jungle, the JACCC and every major attraction in Little Tokyo.  It deserves the name "Little Tokyo".

Fortunately the MTA is still accepting comments at: regionalconnector@metro.net

There will also be a public hearing on the Regional Connector at JANM   at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 28.

Little Tokyo deserves this station, and it deserves a station name.


DISKovery Center Little Tokyo Fall Schedule!

Check out the new schedule of classes (including a new after school couse) for DISKovery Center Little Tokyo!

Established in 1999, the DISKovery Center is a community technology center and a program of the Little Tokyo Service Center Community Development Corporation (LTSC CDC). We have locations in Little Tokyo, Echo Park, Gardena, and West Covina. The Little Tokyo branch offers public computer and free internet access as well as a variety of computer and technology courses.

Interested in attending a course? Interested in volunteering at one of our centers? Contact the DISKovery Center:

353 E. First Street
Los Angeles
E-mail: diskovery@ltsc.org
Telephone: 213-621-4158


Double Standard, the Dennis Hopper retrospective now showing at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, is also the title of one of the late actor/artist's most-known photographs. It depicts an intersection at Melrose and Western avenues and captures an array of details from the perspective of a driver in a convertible in 1961 Los Angeles.

The exhibit continues through September 26 and it's notable for many reasons. One, many of Hopper's photographs in the exhibit are of the contemporary artists he rubbed elbows with, including Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein and many others. What's interesting is that these artists are also part of the permanent collection at MOCA on Grand Avenue and the Hopper photographs provide a bit of informational spray mount for them. A second reason is that Hopper was "significantly" involved in the planning of the retrospective, curated by Julian Schnabel, before his death on May 29, 2010, just five weeks before the exhibit's opening.

Your ticket at either location provides entry into both, not to mention bus fare for the MOCA Shuttle that runs between them every 20-30 minutes.

Tickets are $10 for adults. See the museum website for hours and more detailed information.


DIY Radio: Podcast This! New Youth Classes at Diskovery Little Tokyo

Registration will soon begin for DISKovery Little Tokyo's next session of classes, including a pilot class for youth, DIY Radio: Podcast This! See the following flier for details!

For those in Gardena, we'll be holding this class at DISKovery JCI in the winter session, so stay tuned!


Yelp Passport to Little Tokyo, this week!

I ran across the Passport to Little Tokyo event when I was on Yelp today, a neighborhood version of Dine Out L.A.. For those new to Yelp, it's a place where folks post reviews of restaurants and businesses as well as pictures. Me and my wife have found it to be a place where you can find real-world opinions on restaurants, auto repair shops, and waxing salons...

Passport to Little Tokyo looks like a week-long invitation to visit your Little Tokyo neighborhood. Don't worry, no INS harassment or baggage searches.

There are a number of good deals: 15% off your bill at the new restaurant Fu-Ga on San Pedro, 20% of a meal at the Lazy Ox, free t-shirt with any purchase at RIF (where's that?). Special deals with your free printable Passport happen this week, Aug. 2 - 8.

Check out all the details here.


Celebrating 12 years of Art+Community

Tuesday Night Project (TNP) celebrates its 12th year of bringing together thousands of people to live performance, music, poetry, short film, live-stream broadcasts and an eclectic gathering of Los Angeles art+community through its “1st & 3rd Tuesday Night Cafe” series in Little Tokyo/Downtown L.A.

On July 31st, 2010, TNP presents “TNParty: annual benefit for the Tuesday Night Project” in the JACCC Plaza from 5PM to 11PM.  It will be TNP’s 2nd annual fundraiser underneath the Los Angeles summer skyline, with an outdoor plaza full of DJ’s spinning, live music, a silent art auction, video projection, and live painting.  Everyone is welcome, from long-time supporters of Tuesday Night Cafe to past performers to people who are new to TNP.

Join Tuesday Night Project at the TNParty and support one of the longest running free public art spaces in Downtown L.A.!

July 31, 2010

JACCC Plaza – Little Tokyo
244 South San Pedro Street
(Between 2nd and 3rd street) Los Angeles, CA 90012

$15 Presale/Students/Seniors
$20 General Admission (at the door)
12 and under free!
Food on sale from The Park’s Finest and Good Girl Dinette!
Beer, wine, soda, and water will be sold by JACCC!
You’re welcome to bring chairs, mats, blankets, etc.! No coolers, please.


Nisei Week Coming Soon!

Nisei Week Dance practices have started at the JACCC Plaza.
Remaining dates: July 27, 29, Aug 3, 5 at 7 pm.  

Ondo and Closing Ceremony on August 22, 2010.

Check out the Nisei Week website for the full schedule.


California LOL - Benefit for A3M

Buy Tickets Online at: www.jaccc.org
Or call the Box office at: (213) 680-3700
Benefits from this event will help A3M
in our mission to save lives.


LA Asian Pacific Film Fest

Beginning this Thursday, April 29, Visual Communications hosts a 10 day film event featuring works from established and upcoming Asian American and international filmmakers. Check out the festival website and buy tickets online. See you there!


Intertwined: Bamboo & Stem @ JACCC

On the Veranda Program: Bamboo Forest

An Insight by Kenichi Nagakura
Sunday, 04.25.10 1-3pm

At the forefront of innovative bamboo basket design is Kenichi Nagakura. Trained in traditional weaving techniques, Nagakura continues to explore the limits of bamboo baskets with his innovative style and techniques.

Complimenting Intertwined: Bamboo & Stem Exhibition, acclaimed artist Kenichi Nagakura will give a lecture and demonstrate how thin slivers of bamboo can be blended together to make some of the most creative sculptures today, giving audience members a deeper understanding of bamboo art and the collaborative process between the artists. Bamboo Forest, An Insight by Kenichi Nagakura is part of the JACCC's On the Veranda Cultural Programs.

Intertwined: Bamboo & Stem exhibit is made possible in part by the generous support from the TAI Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

JACCC Garden Room
$20 General Admission
$15 JACCC Members
$18 Seniors/Students


Shiny Red Cup

You’re invited to the opening reception for an alternative art space on the border of Little Tokyo and the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles.

Gallery 203

Little Tokyo Galleria

333 S. Alameda St., #203

Los Angeles, CA 90013 | View Map

This Friday, April 23: 6 pm to midnight

Free Event with 3hrs Free Parking

Artists Caroline Kim and Kirsten Gabbe were asked to revitalize a vacant storefront in the mall and have embraced this opportunity to engage with the community.

Caroline Kim (sister of Helen Kim in previous post) has created a site-specific installation: Contact: Experiment on Broadcasting: INTERPRETATION AS A CATALYST OF ACTIVATING SUBLIMITY: INFORMATION INTO MEANING. The piece, which is currently on view, transforms paper plates, newspaper and shiny red plastic cups into a luminous listening experience.

Echo Park painter Kirsten Gabbe presents her most recent series: AFTER PAINTINGS, translucent washes on canvas. For her interactive installation Memory Net, the artist invites gallery visitors to “tie” their personal connections into a timeline of Little Tokyo.

Additional information at http://gallery203.blogspot.com


Children's Reading at the Little Tokyo Library

A couple years ago, Helen Kim, a colleague of mine working for the Asians for Miracle Matches program at the Little Tokyo Service Center, asked me if she could borrow a few of my son's children's books. She had just landed a volunteer position at the Central Library, and needed to practice for some upcoming readings for toddlers and preschoolers. Helen's been reading to kids ever since.

And though I never found the time to make it out to one of her readings, this Saturday will be our chance. Helen's a drama queen (in the literal sense), and she has a flair for telling stories...mostly for adults, but this one should be a fun and interesting adaptation of style.

Please come out and join us for this event:

17 April 2010
11 AM to 1 PM
203 S. Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles, 90012


"Japanese Hospital: Caring for the Pre-War Nikkei Community" this Sunday, April 11!

Japanese Hospital: Caring for the Pre-War Nikkei Community
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Free with JANM admission

Light reception to follow

An Event of
the Little Tokyo Historical Society & Discover Nikkei

The above photo was taken at the opening of Japanese Hospital in January 1929. Included are the five Issei doctors who started the hospital and J. Marion Wright, the attorney who represented them in the U.S. Supreme Court trial. The story of the Japanese community’s fight for better medical care in the 1920s will be recounted in the public program, “Japanese Hospital: Caring for the Pre-War Nikkei Community” on Sunday, April 11 at 2pm at the Japanese American National Museum.

The program is free with Museum admission and open to the public. Reservations are recommended to rsvp@janm.org or 213.625.0414 at least 48 hours prior to the event. Visit janm.org for more information.

Gift of the Obi Family, Japanese American National Museum (98.144.3).

Rafu Community Page: Go For Broke National Captures 1,000th Oral History

Rafu shares another article from its community page. Be sure to check out the Rafu Shimpo website for more local and JA news.
Go For Broke National Captures 1,000th Oral History
More interviews to come with MIS linguists and other Nisei veterans
George Kobayashi, MIS Linguist

Gardena resident George Kobayashi, a Military Intelligence Service (MIS) linguist in occupied Japan, gave Go For Broke National Education Center's (GFBNEC) Hanashi Oral History Program its 1,000th unique interview in mid-March. Kaoru "Kay" Yokoyama followed that same afternoon as number 1,001 and Hanashi's first interview with a woman who worked for Civil Service in an office for the War Crimes Division, B Trials. GFBNEC is working with the US Army Center for Military History to collect 30 oral histories a year for a scholarly, objective and professional history of Nisei or second-generation Japanese American linguists who served in Japan from 1945 - 1952, during the US Military's post-World War II occupation. This is the second year of the three-year program.

GFBNEC Hanashi staff captured 32 of these interviews last year and 20 so far this year. An estimated 3,000 Japanese Americans served during this period. Before beginning this project for the Center for Military History, GFBNEC had already interviewed several Nisei linguists who were in the US MIS during World War II and stationed in occupied Japan after the fighting ended.

PFC Kobayashi arrived in Tokyo in 1946 and was assigned to the War Crimes Tribunal, A Trials. His job was to call the court to order every morning and sit in on questioning of those being tried to ensure that questioning did not damage the legal process.

Kobayashi grew up in San Francisco where a high-school counselor told him he would never amount to anything because he was Japanese American. Disregarding his counselor, he applied to Berkeley in 1941 but his family was forced into the Topaz Internment Camp in Utah before he could finish his degree. He found a way to get out of Topaz by working on a farm and applied to the University of Utah to finish his studies. But, on the heels of an older brother in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Kobayashi was drafted. Kobayashi became a structural engineer after he completed his service in the MIS.
Kay Yokohama

Yokoyama was born in Glendale and raised on a farm on the outskirts of Burbank. On Pearl Harbor Day, she was with friends in the middle of a movie when a fleeting newsreel flashed a report of the attack. The newsreel was brief and she didn't recognize the significance of the event until she left the theater. Her father was arrested a few days later because of suspicion related to his service as a board member for a Japanese school. She and her family evacuated to an uncle's farm in Utah to avoid being sent to an internment camp. After sleeping in the barn with the animals because the house was too small to shelter the extended family, Yokoyama first joined a sister in Salt Lake City and then moving to Chicago with another sister. Yokoyama found a job working for the War Labor Board of the American Council on Race Relations.

Yokoyama was recruited by the US Army as a civilian secretary to work for the Civil Service in Japan and signed a two-year contract, effective from the spring of 1947 through early 1950. She was assigned to the War Crimes Division, B Trials, and worked at the Yokohama courthouse until she was promoted to be the executive administrative assistant for the chief of the War Crimes Division, B Trials. Her job was to take hand-written transcripts and type them. In her work, she encountered General Douglas McArthur and other famous historic figures, along with some regarded as infamous. Assisting an investigator at Sugama Prison outside of Tokyo, she saw General Hideki Tojo, the 40th prime minister of Japan and leader of the country during World War II. Yokoyama now lives in Carlsbad, CA.

The Hanashi team is traveling throughout California and nationwide to conduct its interviews with MIS Nisei veterans who served in Japan during its occupation. In addition to Kobayashi and Yokoyama, Hanashi's recent interviews for this program include Paul Ito in Sacramento; Fred Fujimoto, Elk Grove; Koji Kawaguchi, Woodbridge; Toshi Uesato, San Jose; Moffet Ishikawa, San Jose and Joe Kurata, San Francisco. More interviews in Northern California, Seattle, Texas and Minneapolis are planned.

GFBNEC's Hanashi video oral history archives are the largest of their kind in the nation. They provide content for GFBNEC's teacher training and education programs and they're a valuable resource for museums, universities, journalists, corporations, academics, researchers, production companies, film studios and more. More than 700 of these personal stories are available to teachers, students, historians, researchers, veterans and their families, and to the general public on GFBNEC's website at www.goforbroke.org. Additional information about GFBNEC's Hanashi Oral History Program, including volunteer opportunities, is available by contacting Laura Shigemitsu, Program Manager, at 310-222-5705 or laura@goforbroke.org. GFBNEC also welcomes names and current contact information, including telephone numbers, email and mailing addresses, for Nisei who served in occupied Japan at (310) 222-5705 or Hanashi@goforbroke.org.


Rafu Community Page: Hanamatsuri Celebration to be Held April 11

Another article that first appeared in the Rafu Shimpo Community Page!

Already, Hanamatsuri, the celebration of the Buddha’s birthday is right around the corner. This year’s Los Angeles Buddhist Church Federation’s Hanamatsuri will be held on Sunday, April 11 from 1 p.m. at the Jodoshu North America Buddhist Missions at 442 East Third Street in Little Tokyo. The theme of this year’s celebration is Buddhism and Compassion.

The celebration will begin at 1 p.m. with a special performance of by Kinnara Gagaku of Senshin Buddhist Temple. The visually stunning Bugaku, the classical dance that accompanies Gagaku music will be the featured part of this year’s performance.

The Hanamatsuri Service conducted by over ten priests of the federation temples will begin at 1:20 p.m. The traditional chanting of the priests will be enhanced by the music of Gagaku. An awards presentation for the winners of this year’s Children’s Art and Photography contests will take place immediately after the service.

This year’s highlight will be the commemorative lecture on Buddhism and Compassion delivered by Dr. Glenn Webb, Professor Emeritus of Pepperdine University and one of our country’s leading Buddhist scholars.

In addition to the celebration on April 11, the annual Hanamatsuri Golf Tournament was held on Friday, March 26 at California Country Club. The funds raised at this event will go towards maintaining the annual LABCC Buddhist Summer Camp program.

The Hanamatsuri Children’s Art and Photo exhibition will be on display at the Jodoshu North America Buddhist Missions from April 11 through April 19.

For more information, please contact (213) 626-4200 or info@hhbt-la.org.

Photo: Mario G. Reyes/Rafu Shimpo

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Although the national festival takes place in DC, the Cherry Blossom Festival of Southern California of the took place April 10-11, 2010 in Little Tokyo. Here is a guest post by Erik of the National Museum of Crime and Punishment on one aspect of the sociopolitical significance of cherry blossom trees...

National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC

The Cherry Blossom in DC is home to The National Cherry Blossom Festival (501(3)(c) non-profit). The festival is a two-week, annual event that celebrates springtime in Washington, DC as well as the 1912 gift of the cherry blossom trees and the long lasting friendship between the people of the United States and Japan. The event begins March 27th through April 11th, with a parade on Saturday, April 10th beginning at 10am.

Prior to this intangible peace treaty, 19th century imperialism drew clear lines of separation between these two great nations. Through it's strict policy of isolation, Japan remained untouched by western ways until the Treaty of Amity (1854). Although, feelings of mistrust and resentment continued to ride due to early U.S. Naval Leaders gunboat diplomacy upon Japan. In order to lessen tensions and restore peace, mutual Cherry and Flowering Dogwood tree offerings were given.

DC Attractions include multiple festivals, museums, monuments, and more. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) organization that coordinates, produces, and supports creative and diverse activities promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty and the environment, and community spirit and youth education. It's also begins peak season for an influx of tourists to Washington, also brought in by the thousands of historical landmarks, museums, and other buildings. Some of the most popular DC Tours include Hop-On-Off Double-Decker Bus, Discover DC Segway Safari, & Arlington Cemetery, and Washington DC After Dark.

The National Museum of Crime & Punishment, located in Washington, D.C. contains excellent depictions of historically famous crime scenes along detailed information concerning past wars, forensics, organized crime, and more. Feel free to stop by our website and get a preview of some of the most notoriously famous crime scenes in U.S. History. There's plenty of information on featured exhibits in our crime library along with a vast amount of Crime Data at our Forensic blog.


Monday Nights at the Ox

Most nights at the Lazy Ox Canteen, the seats are filled by folks of the non-Asian persuasion. So why are Monday nights any different?

Could it be "Half-off bottle night"? Combine that with happy hour (M-F, 5-7pm) and you just might have the ultimate bargain-seeker’s delight.

In general, the price for a full bottle of wine at the Ox is relatively affordable, with the selections very eclectic, from Argentine Malbecs to German Rieslings to Spanish Tempranillos, and everything in between.

It’s the food where things tend to get pricey. Keep in mind, the small plates are, well, small. Think izakaya or Asian-inspired tapas. Translation: don’t come here hungry. On second thought, hungry’s okay, just don’t come here starving.

An L.A. Times review said the Ox burger (comes with fries) is the best in town, but to be honest, if I want a burger, I'd rather hit Pete’s Café and Bar on 4th and Main or Café Metropol on 2nd (east of Alameda by R23) in the artist district.

Pete’s now has Mared Sous 8 on draft, and that’s a burger's best friend if you ask Ken Wada. Metropol has a Kobe-style burger, but opt for the sirloin instead, as it's both a better value and a bigger taste.

But where were we? Ah yes, Asian night, or rather, Monday nights at the Ox. Reservations are highly recommended on any night, but if they're fully booked for the night, the hostess hinted, "The bar is usually a good option around 6:30."

Oh, by the way, the half-off Monday special also includes beer bottles, I believe.

Rafu Community Page: Consultant to Help Community Address Regional Connector Concerns

As part of an effort to bring more content to the blog and to promote discussion of community events and updates, Gwen Muranaka of the Rafu Shimpo is graciously sharing content from the Rafu Community Page, published March 27, 2010. Look forward to more Community Page stories right here on the LT Blog!


Consultant to Help Community Address Regional Connector Concerns
Consultant Douglas Kim speaks on Tuesday with members of Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple.


Douglas Kim, a transportation and environmental planner with 25 years experience, has been hired as a consultant who will provide technical expertise to the LTCC and help assess the impacts of the proposed Regional Connector on Little Tokyo and recommend a set of mitigation measures that can protect the physical, social, and economic environment in the community.

He served for over ten years as the director of Regional Planning
for Metro and currently manages a consulting firm that provides
transit planning expertise to public agencies and local communities.
He will also work with the LTCC to ensure that a solid mitigation
monitoring plan is developed that ensures that needed mitigations are in
fact implemented in the future.

"I have a history of working with community groups to ensure that their interests are protected from those agencies that build these systems," Kim said at the LTCC meeting on Tuesday. "I've seen a lot of systems get built without a lot of community input and there's only so much a transit agency can do if they don't have the perspective of the people who live and work in the community."

Metro proposes a two-mile rail system that will connect its Gold, Blue, and Expo rail lines and allow passengers to travel throughout the region without transferring in downtown. It would include three stations in the downtown area between Little Tokyo and Bunker Hill.
The system could cost about $1.25 billion and be running by 2019, though some estimates show operations by 2025. $160 million was already approved in November 2008 through a sales tax increase.

In January 2009, Metro approved studying several alternatives, including a rail system at-grade and one partially underground. In response to community concerns about disruptions to Little Tokyo, Metro added another alternative in February 2010 that would run entirely underground through the area.

Among the issues Kim highlighted as community concerns include:
  • The community wants to ensure that the Fully Underground Alternative is selected as the solution, since the At-Grade and Partially Underground Alternatives have unacceptable impacts to Little Tokyo, such as noise, traffic, and visual impacts, particularly at First and Alameda.
  • However, the community insists that all environmental impacts from the Fully Underground Alternative be fully addressed.
  • This includes concerns about how the 3-4 year construction period could disrupt local businesses, tourism, and everyday life.
  • Major excavation and tunneling will occur in several locations to build stations, portals, and entrances. These "cut and cover" activities must minimize traffic, noise, air quality, and other impacts to nearby businesses and residents.
  • Long-term concerns include noise and vibration from the underground system, the design of new development at the Office Depot location where an underground station would be located, and the system's impact on the cultural and economic identity of Little Tokyo.
Kim will be holding meetings on April 22 at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center at 4 p.m. for nonprofit organizations, churches and cultural groups; and 6 p.m. for residents to share their concerns regarding the Regional Connector. All are welcome to attend the meetings. A meeting for Little Tokyo businesses will be determined later.

For more information, contact Kim at douglaskim@verizon.net or (310) 316-2800.

Photo credit: Gwen Muranaka


Japanese Hospital: Caring for the Pre-War Nikkei Community

Discover Nikkei & the Little Tokyo Historical Society presents...

Japanese Hospital: Caring for the Pre-War Nikkei Community
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Free with JANM admission
Light reception to follow

For the early Issei immigrants, access to medical care was limited. Five Issei doctors sued the State of California after being denied papers of incorporation to build a hospital. Jordan vs. Tashiro was won in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1928. Japanese Hospital opened in Boyle Heights in 1929.

The program will include:
  • Keynote Speaker: Dr. Troy Kaji will talk about the historic case and the establishment of the Japanese Hospital
  • Moderator: Gwenn Jensen, author of Silent Scars of Healing Hands: Oral Histories of Japanese American Doctors in World War II Detention Camps
  • Special Guest: Janice LaMoree—daughter of J. Marion Wright, the attorney who represented the doctors in the court decision—will speak about her father presenting the case in Washington D.C.
  • Video clips from interviews sharing stories related to the community hospitals
  • Arrive early to view slideshow of historic photos from the hospitals and Little Tokyo community.
Reservations are recommended to rsvp@janm.org or 213.625.0414 at least 48 hours prior to the event.


Teens Wash Cars to Raise Funds on Saturday

 The Little Tokyo Teens
invite you to their
Wash & Munch Fundraiser

Come join us!
We’ll wash your car while you eat!!
Date: March 13, 2010, Saturday
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Location: LTSC/Casa Heiwa
231 E. 3rd Street
Grace Iino playground
(Entrance on Los Angeles Street, North of 3rd Street)

***For $10 you can get your car washed, a delicious home cooked meal with a FREE DRINK.***

Thank you for supporting the Little Tokyo Teens.
*larger cars will be charged an additional dollar*


Hold Up Art

You might have noticed a new art gallery taking shape on 2nd street, and now Hold Up Art gallery is open to the public. Launched by two USC grads, Hold Up Art features offbeat street art from a few core artists and an inviting, interactive space.

In the midst of gallery construction a few weeks ago, I met with the curators/creators Brian Lee and Ben Kaufman. Their aim is definitely not to be another one of those pin-drop awkward galleries where art is out of reach--instead, they're hoping to create a place where people can grab a coffee and hold up a while and hang out with fellow art lovers and featured artists.

Kaufman and Lee at Hold Up Art

You can check out Hold Up Art at 358 E 2nd St in Los Angeles. They're open Tuesday - Sunday from 10AM to 6PM. Their website is http://www.holdupart.com

And if you're looking for a Friday night outing, check out the gallery's first exhibition on Friday, March 12, from 7 to 10PM!


Reminder...Final Budokan Meeting TOMORROW at JACCC

The CRA and LTSC are hosting one last workshop calling for YOU, the residents and stakeholders in Little Tokyo, to come out and voice your opinion about the Budokan design. The meeting is on Saturday, February 6, 9AM to 12PM at the 2nd floor of the JACCC.

The previous meetings had a great turnout and participation, and we need you to be there to make this final meeting just as fun and productive. On the agenda: the CRA has taken the surveys and suggestions from the previous meetings and will be unveiling the design concept that will be submitted for the Prop 84 grant application.

If you're on the fence, just realize that this is a great opportunity to make yourself heard and contribute to this community project...



...Voicing your opinions!

And as in previous meetings, there will be translators and free food! It's not just any Saturday that you get to participate in a project like this, so put on a raincoat and head on over to the JACCC tomorrow at 9AM!


Metro Regional Connector Update...

Metro continues to work on the environmental document that will analyze the four build options, but meanwhile here is an update on the "Fully Underground Alternative." I've posted about this option previously, but in this build, the construction would take place almost entirely underground--and hopefully avoid interference with LT traffic and business.

You can find the Metro blog post (complete with diagram) here. There is a link at the bottom of that post for comments, so if you have thoughts or concerns, definitely forward them to Metro.

And for those unaware, Metro and the Little Tokyo Working Group and Transit Issues Subcomittee have brought in a consultant to help Little Tokyo through the environmental process and to help better represent the community needs to Metro.

Thoughts or concerns about the Regional Connector "fully underground" alternative?


Hinamatsuri: Celebrating Japanese Girl's Day

The Japanese American Cultural and Community Center invites you to Hinamatsuri, the Japanese Girl's Day doll festival on Sunday, March 7, 2010 from 1 - 3 PM.

The Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) opens up the spring season of the On the Veranda Cultural Programs with "Hinamatsuri: Celebrating Japanese Girl's Day." Traditionally held on March 3, Hinamatsuri (doll festival) is an observance of rituals practiced by Japanese families in honor of young girls.

roots are placed back to the ancient custom called hina-nagashi, or "doll floating" where people would float dolls down the river to carry away the bad spirits.

Today, families display their heirloom dolls depicting the royal Heian court on a special red lacquered tiered platform, starting with the Emperor and Empress on the top tier shelf and going down to the various ladies in waiting, musicians, samurai on the following tiers. Little girls celebrate Hinamatsuri by having a party of delicious Japanese treats and drink, and "offering" it to the dolls.

The public is invited to join us for an afternoon of games, arts and crafts activities and special treats. Families enjoy the day with a stroll through the newly re-dedicated James Irvine Japanese Garden, a tea ceremony, Japanese music, and viewing of an elaborate display of traditional Hina Dolls.

Want to attend?


ames Irvine Japanese Garden at JACCC

244 S. San Pedro St., Level B, Los Angeles, CA 90012


Hina Doll Exhibit & Tea Ceremony: Free admission;
Donations Welcome
Tea & Hinamatsuri Treats Tasting Event at the Garden:

$20 General Admission, $15 JACCC Members
For tickets visit www.jaccc.org or call (213) 680-3700

www.jaccc.org, call (213) 628-2725 ext. 133, or by email Kelley@jaccc.org.


LTCC Community Meeting Update

Here are a few upcoming events that were discussed at this month's LTCC meeting:


LTSC and the CRA are seeking Prop-84 funding from the State of California for the Budokan, a community recreational center. Community members are urged to take part in meetings to discuss what features they would like to see at the Budokan. Please attend and voice your opinions, concerns, and questions!

Thursday, Jan. 28 6-8pm @ JACCC (Garden Room) * Food will be catered by Don Tahara

Saturday, Feb. 6, 9am to Noon @ JACCC (Conference Rm A & B) * There will be breakfast and lunch served

Little Tokyo Korea Japan Festival

The Japan Foundation and the Korean Cultural Center, along with the Japan Korea Society, DCA, and KOFIC, are working with the JACCC to present the LT Korea-Japan Festival on Saturday, February 2, 2010 at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre and JACCC Plaza.

For $20 ($15 for JACCC members, seniors, students, and groups of 10 or more), enjoy a Korean-Japanese bento, outdoor performances, the documentary New Beginnings, and a double feature: the award-winning Yeong-hwa-neun yeong-hwa da (Rough Cut) and Sanjuro, a remake of Kurosawa's Tsubaki Sanjuro. The festival begins at 11am with Rough Cut, followed by New Beginnings at 1pm and Sanjuro at 3pm. Come to this event and be part of the cultural exchange!

DISKovery Center Benefit Concert featuring the Ark Sano Trio

6:30PM Saturday, January 30th at Saint Francis Xavier Chapel (formerly Maryknoll), located in Little Tokyo at 222 South Hewitt Street Los Angeles, CA 90012. Tickets are $25.00 for general admission and $50.00 for VIP admission (which includes exclusive seating, an autographed CD, and more). Complementary desert and drinks will be provided with admission.

To purchase tickets in person please come by the DISKovery Center in Little Tokyo
353 E. 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

To purchase tickets over the phone with a credit card please call 213-473-3027

Tickets may also be purchased at the event.

For more information please call 213.621.4158

There are many events forthcoming in March, so stay connected and check your RSS feeds! And as a reminder, if you have events, announcements, or if you wish to become a frequent contributor, please contact mniiya@ltsc.org.


Little Tokyo Historical Society: Last Call for Images!

This is the last call for historic images for possible inclusion in the book, Los Angeles's Little Tokyo.

We are looking to scan original photographs that show how people have worked, lived, and played in Little Tokyo throughout its history.

If you would like your photos scanned, please contact Stephanie Van at (213) 473-1665 or svan@ltsc.org to make an appointment on Saturday, February 6th, between 9am and 12pm, at the Little Tokyo Service Center, located at 231 E 3rd St, Suite G106, Los Angeles, CA 90013.


Park and Rec Center Design Workshops

The CRA and several agencies are hosting a series of workshops and discussion meetings to solicit input on a Little Tokyo recreation center (Budokan of Los Angeles) and park proposal for Proposition 84 funding. The discussions offer an opportunity for community residents and other stakeholders to participate in the planning and design of these important Little Tokyo developments.

1. January 20th, 6:00 to 8:00 pm
CRA/LA Community Advisory Committee
Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
5th Floor Cultural Room
244 South San Pedro Street, LA CA 90012

2. January 21st, 6:00 to 8:30 pm
Casa Heiwa Residents Meeting
LTSC Conference Room
231 East 3rd Street, LA CA 90013

3. January 26th noon
Little Tokyo Community Council meeting @ JANM
369 E. 1st Street, LA CA 90012

4. January 28th, 6:00 to 8:30 pm
Community-wide Workshop
Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
Garden Meeting Room
244 South San Pedro Street, LA CA 90012

5. February 6th, 9:00 to Noon
Community-wide Final Workshop
Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
Conference Room A & B (2nd Floor)
244 South San Pedro Street, LA CA 90012Casa Heiwa


New Parking Meters Today, January 12, 2010

Today, the Department of Transportation unveiled new parking meters in Little Tokyo. These new meters feature LCD screens, accept both coins and credit cards, and will display the new parking hours. In most areas, parking times will be from 8am to 8pm (excluding Sunday). The maximum parking time will increase from 1 hour to 2 hours.

These changes affect the following streets:
  • 1st Street from Los Angeles St to Central Ave
  • 2nd Street from Los Angeles St to Alameda St
  • San Pedro St from 1st St to 3rd St
  • Central Ave from 1st St to 3rd St
  • Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Street South of 1st St


Newly Released Consultant RFQ

Call for Consultant Applicants

The Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) is an organization of key stakeholders committed to ensuring that Little Tokyo remains a center for Japanese American history and culture and a vital part of downtown Los Angeles. The LTCC is seeking a consultant to assist the Little Tokyo community as it formulates comments for inclusion in the Regional Connector Transit Corridor Project Draft EIS/R being prepared by Metro. This consultant will be paid up to $30,000 by Metro and selected by the LTCC to assist the community with the development of proposed mitigation measures for each of the build alternatives under consideration for the regional connector. The consultant will be employed for up to six months with work to commence in February 2010 and most of the work completed during the first three months of the contract.

Individuals and organizations interested in being considered for this consultant position should submit a letter of interest and statement of qualifications by no later than Wednesday, January 20, 2010. These materials should be submitted via email or mail to:

Chris Aihara, Co-Chair
LTCC Transit Committee
c/o Japanese American Cultural and Community Center
244 So. San Pedro St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

For further information, please email Chris Aihara at Aihara@jaccc.org.
For further information regarding the Regional Connector Transit Corridor please visit the Metro website at: www.metro.net/regionalconnector/

Little Tokyo Community Council (www.ltcc.janet.org)
369 East First Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012