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.


Pub Crawl Tonight

It's getting harder to figure out what is influencing Little Tokyo's popularity of late: beer or food? For those who choose beer, let it be known that Little T is not a one-beer-pub area any more, and I'm in no way referencing Angel City Brewing Co., which is a big place for only serving 4 kinds of beer.

No, beyond Wurstkuche, the landscape is getting larger, hence tonight's Big Crawl taking place in 9 different bars featuring 9 different breweries.

Sponsored by Far Bar, the Crawl will be tapped at such previously unknown beer bars as The Spice Table and Fu-ga, whose bar manager said will be featuring all the beers from the Stone Brewing Company. New pizza spot Xlixe is definitely worth a slice, according to one adventurous neighbor, and I'd suggest grabbing a burger at The Escondite on the early side of the evening before the cardboard boxes take over the sidewalks. Old timers will recognize The Escondite as the old 410 Boyd, of course.

There's no admission price. Please don't drink and drive. And on behalf of all LT residents, please urinate in a toilet, preferably one that flushes.


Childcare for infants/toddlers in Little Tokyo/Downtown Los Angeles

“…I felt great peace of mind knowing that my sons were under the care of people who understood what their individual preferences, leanings, and needs were." - S. Sy and E. Olson

The Little Tokyo Service Center, located in Downtown Los Angeles is now offering spaces for infants and toddlers at Grace Iino Child Care Center.  The combination of the nurturing staff and spacious facility allows Grace Iino to care for 48 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 2 1/2 years old.  It provides a safe and trusting environment that offers parents a sense of comfort and relief that their child is being well taken care of.

"Raising a family downtown posed several challenges as well as benefits.  Having a licensed day care in walking distance was definitely a benefit.  All three girls bonded immediately to the attentive and professional staff. " - J. Brasel

Grace Iino practices Primary Infant Toddler Care, or “responsive care,” which allows the child to remain with the same caregiver throughout his or her entire stay at Grace Iino. “My two boys did very well under the Primary Care model.  They both came to love their respective caregivers.” said parents, S. Sy and E. Olson.

Grace Iino also takes deep pride in their Toddler Plus program, a unique developmental preschool readiness program.  Upon a child reaching the age of 2, they will spend 2 hours a day in a group of older toddlers practicing hands-on activities that will prepare them for the next level of development.  They also have a month-long transition period when transferring from the infant to toddler classrooms.

"Grace Iino Child Care Center is a caring, nurturing environment and a great stepping stone for preparing toddlers for preschool.  Our kids were potty trained there - the caregivers made it so easy for us," explain Leslie Ito and Steve Wong.
The highly-qualified and diverse staff speak English, Spanish, Japanese, Russian and Armenian.  Hours of operation are 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday.   The fee for infants is $1,250 per month; toddlers is $1,100 per month. 

Little Tokyo Service Center is a Community Development Corporation and nonprofit community-based organization in Los Angeles dedicated to helping people and building community for over 30 years.  Grace Iino Child Care Center, a program of LTSC, is located at 231 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (License #198008650)

For more info, please contact Jenni at jkuida@ltsc.org or Rocio at (213) 617-8596.


Project Sake and BloomfestLA

A couple decades ago, I shared a loft on Traction Avenue with photographer Shane Sato. The loft was a couple blocks east of Honda Plaza, an area which used to be a wide expanse of vacant parking lots and a whole lot of nothingness.

But on the corner just down the street from Al's Bar, Joel Bloom sold a few bits of merchandise, mostly cigars, cigarettes and other smoke paraphernalia. Mr. Bloom was a cigar aficionado and had the deep baritone voice to prove it. He was a really nice man, from what I remember of him. He died about 5 years ago.

In his memory, and in the spirit of this little strip often known as the Downtown Arts District, BloomfestLA was born and starts at 2pm today and goes until 10pm.

A bunch of food trucks have just pulled into the area as I write, including one Ludo Truck in all its red-and-black rooster glory. Go stand in line for an hour or two, why don't ya?

Next week, Thursday to be exact, Project Sake comes to St. Vibiana in Little Tokyo. Walking in will be many dignified folks from the greater Japanese American community. (And stumbling out will be somewhat less dignified folks from said community.)

In its 5th year, Project Sake is the Little Tokyo Service Center's annual sake- and food-tasting event. Dozens of restaurants will offer tastes from their menu, and many dozens of sake bottles will be offering something to wash it all down. A fashion show will be presented by Anne Namba, and many other locally grown and concocted crafts will be on display and/or for sale.

Every year, this event gets sold out, so don't wait till you get to the door to get your tickets.


Greenbreaking at Casa Heiwa

On April 12, 2011, Enterprise Community Partners, Little Tokyo Service Center, partners, and Little Tokyo residents met in the courtyard of Casa Heiwa for a "greenbreaking" ceremony. This greenbreaking marks the start of a retrofitting project in several of LTSC's affordable housing apartment buildings. These retrofits will reduce building costs, energy consumption, and overall impact on the environment. Watch this video, produced by LTSC's DIY Productions social enterprise, to find out more about this event and the positive effects of "green" retrofitting on affordable housing residents.


another Little Tokyo Eki twist

The twisty path towards Little Tokyo's new subway station has just taken another turn. Literally.

Both Los Angeles Downtown News and BlogDowntown are reporting that Metro has made some changes to the Regional Connector, the underground light rail line that will include a new subway station in Little Tokyo.

Previously, trains heading east on Second Street would have made a somewhat sharp curve as it headed from Second and Central towards First and Alameda.  A station would have been put roughly here:

Office Depot, with Chiune Sugihara out front

Office Depot would be gone, but Little Tokyo would gain a direct link to USC, Culver City, Santa Monica, Long Beach, etc.

The new plan calls for the subway to curve slightly underneath Japanese Village Plaza.  Judging from the new maps, it would miss most of the shopping center, and tunnel under the parking garage instead.

Now, I have to say, modern subway tunneling techniques are much safer than they used to be. I'm not worried about that.

But, it's a bit odd that they would choose to save the above-mentioned Office Depot and take out the older buildings to the north of Office Depot instead.  And, since they can't use the Office Depot for tunnel staging, the would be/ could be/ maybe might have been Nikkei Center gets to be the new staging area instead.

It was just a couple of years ago that it looked like this:

Corner of First and Alameda, during Gold Line construction

So, the good news is, the Little Tokyo chikatetsu no eki will be directly across the street from the Japanese American National Museum. And trains will have an easier curve going into the station.

I'm a bit ambivalent on this idea, but I definitely support the project as a whole.   What do you think?  Is this better than it was (and remember, this has gone through several changes)? Is it a big deal or is saving Office Depot no biggie?