In Los Angeles, Little Tokyo is the cultural center for Japanese Americans in Southern California.
and was declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1995.
If you have ever visited Los Angeles for business or fun, you may have noticed how the place has evolved. What
gets the attention of everyone that visits Los Angeles California, is the rich culture that Little Tokyo presents.
It is hard to miss this beautiful place that takes center stage of development in Los Angeles.
Exploring Little Tokyo will not only reveal a modern town but also by a rich culture that lies underneath. You will
discover Japanese cultural landmarks, charming shops, excellent restaurants, eye-catching gardens and museums you won't
find anywhere else.
Where Are the Four Official Japantowns in the United States?
There are four official Japantowns in the United Sates.
Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California
San Francisco, California
San Jose, California
Sawtelle, West Los Angeles, California
Other Japanese Areas to Visit in the United Sates.
Seattle Japantown (Not Designated)
Bainbridge Island, Seattle
Where is Little Tokyo Located on a Map
Map of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, Japantown
What Cultural Towns are Next to Little Tokyo, Los Angeles?
• Chinatown, Los Angeles
• Koreatown, Los Angeles
• Mexican Birthplace & marketplace. Olvera Street, Los Angeles
A Few Days in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles
You will need enough time if you want to know what Little Tokyo holds. A few days will be needed to explore everything.
We have put together a comprehensive Little Tokyo Guide that will share the history of the town and everything that makes it unique.
Don't Forget To Bring the Following if Traveling to Little Tokyo
Metro FastTrak Transponder for Car - Access to Freeway Lanes (Los Angeles, San Francisco)
• Phone Holder for your car
• Phone Charger, extra phone cables
• Camera, batteries, video camera
• Clothing: Jacket & pants (Fall Weather), walking shoes
• Cash: some places only accept cash
• Coins: street parking meters
13 of the Oldest Buildings Standing Since 1890s
Thirteen buildings on First Street were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 as a national landmark,
this is significant in Japanese-American history.
Little Tokyo and Japanese Immigrants
Little Tokyo Historic District is a historic Japanese commercial district in downtown Los Angeles, California.
Japanese immigrants settled the district in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Before World War II, Little
Tokyo was the largest Japanese community in the United States. Today, the Little Tokyo Historic District represents
the original commercial heart of the community.
Until the 1880s, the majority of immigrants from Asia to the U.S. were Chinese. This changed with the passage of the
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred Chinese laborers from immigrating to the U.S. Because of this, Japanese
laborers became increasingly sought after by American businesses and the number of Japanese immigrating to the U.S,
particularly to the West Coast, increased rapidly.
The area that became known as Little Tokyo was first settled in 1885, when the first Japanese resturant named "Kame"
opened on East First Street. By the late 1800s, large numbers of Japanese immigrants, nearly all male, were beginning
to concentrate in boarding houses in the areas around East First Street. Many had come for short-term stays to work
in the local agricultural industry, but as Los Angeles entered a period of growth in the early 1900s, they chose to
remain in the U.S. source: nps.gov
History of Little Tokyo, Los Angeles
Little Tokyo's development has been managed by the Little Tokyo Business Association (LTBA). LTBA is a non-profit organization
that has been dedicated to the growth and development of Little Tokyo since 1959. The roots of this organization can be traced
back to 1890 - the time when the Japanese were beginning to establish their presence in the US. A few immigrants from Japan formed
a group they called "Japanese Association of Los Angeles." This group was responsible for the established of the over 40 business
that were lined up in a two block of East First Street.
In 1904, a law was passed that restricted immigrants from Asia to America. But this Exclusion Act did not prevent Little Tokyo from
thriving. The Town continued to witness more businesses coming up under the Japanese Association, which was the leading Japanese
Organization at that time. The organization served as the local arm of the Japanese Consulate that was based in San Francisco until
As it is with any culture, modernity is always a threat. That is the reason that compelled the second generation English-speaking
Japanese, Nisei, to come up with the idea of a festival that would focus on instilling and ensuring Japanese culture in the younger
generation. Nisei brought this idea to the Japanese Association in 1934. Today, you will hear of the Nisei week, a result of that
How the Japanese Entered the United States
Little Tokyo has over 131 years of history with over 400 successful businesses operating here. The Meiji Restoration or 1868 was
the beginning of the Japanese emigration into the US. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed which triggered the replacement
of Chinese laborers with those of the Japanese origin. In 1907, there was the "Gentleman Agreement" between the United States and
Japan that close Japanese immigration, opening doors only for business persons. As is that was not enough, and another law-the
Immigration Act of 1924 was enacted, further restricting Japanese immigrants.
Many Japanese went back to Japan during World War II in which most were displaced. But that was not the end of the Japanese in
the US as there is Little Tokyo as one of the remaining Japanese towns in the country. The town holds all the information there
is to know about the Japanese in the US.
Little Tokyo was taken over by the African Americans immigrants who came to the US during the Second World War. Since the Japanese
abandoned the town, the empty homes provided convenient shelter. That is when the area became known as "Bronzeville."
The rebuilding of Little Tokyo begun in 1941. At this time, LTBA re-emerged alongside another organization, the Los Angeles
Japanese American Association (1947).
The Japanese started returning in Los Angeles after the World War II and moved into the area around downtown. And during the
1950s, many Japanese came and took position near Boyle Heights.
The development of Little Tokyo become more apparent in the 1970s through the 80s when oversees corporations, including many
Japanese banks, made their headquarters in America. This resulted in new restaurants, shopping centers and other businesses
that are still a significant contribution to what we can see today.
LTBA continues to play an essential part in ensuring Little Tokyo thrives. Only that now there is another player making thing
move even faster-the Little Tokyo Business Improvement District (LTBID) established in 2003.
Future Changes in Little Tokyo
Little Tokyo is slowly becoming less Japanese and more diverse. There is every reason for this to happen as development
has made things to change. It is no longer a place only for the Japanese Americans but for the whole world. This
situation was triggered by the African Americans' occupation go the empty houses in Little Tokyo.
Gentrification is a threat to all ethnic enslaves in the mission district of San Francisco. And that is why you will
not fail to spot brand new condos after every line when you walk along the 1st street. Where local restaurants once
thrived, you will find emptiness to pave the way for a new transit station.
But that is only as far as the development of the area is concerned. In 2012, the Sustainable Little Tokyo was formed to
transform the community into an eco-friendly, small district business-driven district to protect the history of the
Today, little Tokyo is the best destination in Los Angeles if you are looking for beautiful restaurants and nice
shops. There is an excellent harmony between the old and the new. New restaurants and stores are spouting up, but the
authentic Japanese businesses and buildings are still there to visit and experience history.
There are different cultures in the area with the new generation bringing in the element of modernity. But that alone
is not enough to change the cultural history and deep roots Little Tokyo has established already.
Why Did Japanese Businesses Leave Little Tokyo?
Every culture changes with time and Little Tokyo is no different. Little Tokyo is more than just a place for
the Japanese, many of those who migrate here have left to start businesses in other cities.
That is what everyone does when a place begins to develop, and now Japanese businesses are in every major
city in America.
The Ultimate Best Tips for Visiting Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, California
Are you planning on visiting Little Tokyo in Los Angeles? We have the ultimate tips and secrets to save you time in what to eat and where to go.
We have selected the top Little Tokyo tips to help you enjoy your time to the fullest.
Little Tokyo is one big area in downtown Los Angeles, California. To make it easier to understand, we divided it into five walking areas.
1) First Street, Little Tokyo
You can start your personal walking tour along 1st Street. This is where the first Japanese restaurant was established in the late 1800s.
It carries a great significance in Little Tokyo as it stands as the foundation stone of the city.
It has JANM Museum, Go For Broke Monument, Go For Boke Museum & MOCA (Art Museum).
Visit the JANM (Japanese American National Museum) to learn the history of the Japanese people in America.
All things Japanese American are found in this museum. Every Thursday is a free day.
Check out their Litle Tokyo walking tour.
Visit the "Go for Broke" Museum and monument. It commemorates the heroism of the Japanese American Soldiers in World War II.
MOCA Geffen: The place is exclusively dedicated to contemporary art with three MOCA museums to enjoy.
There have been challenging works of art created since 1940, some of the most intriguing pieces.
Make a stop at Fugetsu-Do Manju and Daikokuya noodles.
First Street Highlights
1st Street - 13 of the Oldest Buildings since 1890's (Authentic)
Fugetsu-do - Over 100 Years Old, Since 1903 (Authentic)
Japanese American National Museum - Museum (Authentic)
Chado Tea Room at JANM Museum
Go For Broke Monument (Authentic)
Go For Broke National Education Center (Authentic)
Daikokuya - Ramen (Authentic)
Hachioji Craft Ramen (Authentic)
Koyasan Buddhist Temple (Authentic)
MOCA - Art Museum
Miyako Hotel Los Angeles (Authentic)
2) Weller Court, Little Tokyo - Shopping, Restaurants
Weller Court Plaza: You will find restaurants, shopping, and a Japanese market. Nothing carries more weight
than what you find in this place regarding culture and heritage.
Next to Weller Cour Plaza, Double Tree Hotel: It is called the Japanese Garden in the sky. Every meal that
has a Japanese origin can be found in the Hotel. It is a fantastic place that represents both ancient
and modern Japanese culture in the US.
Weller Court Highlights - Market, Shopping, Restaurants
Marukai - Japanese Market, snacks.. (Authentic)
Curry House Restaurant - Japanese Curry (Authentic)
Kinokuniya Bookstore - Japanese books, supplies..
Note: Doubletree Hilton Hotel is walking distance from Weller Court and worth seeing the Japanese Garden.
DoubleTree Hilton Hotel - Rooftop Kyoto Japanese Gardens Overlooking City (Amazing)
3) Japanese Village Plaza, Little Tokyo - Shopping, Restaurants
You will find shopping, bakery, coffee, restaurants and a Japanese market.
Japanese Village Plaza Highlights
Yamazaki Bakery - Drinks, coffee, breads.. (Authentic)
Mikawaya - Mochi ice cream (Authentic)
Mitsuru Cafe - Japanese Restaurant known for Bean Cakes (Authentic)
Little Tokyo Watchtower (Authentic)
Little Tokyo Mural
Nijiya Market - Japanese Market (Authentic)
Shabu Shabu House (Authentic)
Note: Little Tokyo Mall is right next to Japanese Village Plaza and has Anime Shops hidden inside,
you may miss this mall so ask.
Little Tokyo Mall, Little Tokyo - Anime
Anime Jungle - Everything Anime
4) Honda Plaza Area, Little Tokyo - Food
There is a small strip mall on 2nd Street and South Central Ave.
Have you ever thought of trying authentic sushi? Go to Sushi Gen but expect a line.
Sushi Gen - Sushi (Authentic)
Karayama is next to Starbucks in Office Depot lot accross from Honda Plaza.
Karayama - Fried Chicken (Authentic)
Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen (Authentic)
5) JACCC Building (Japanese American Cultural & Community Center)
The JACCC building is a hub for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture and a community gathering place which
includes the Aratani Theatre, James Irvine Japanese Garden, and Noguchi Plaza.
JACCC Building (Authentic)
JACCC Japanese Garden (Authentic)
6) Buddhist & Churches in Little Tokyo
Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Church founded in 1905, current location since 1969, walk down 1st Street and N Vignes Street.
Higashi Honganji Buddhist temple presents the beautiful architecture of the Japanese people.
The temple is located on the East 3rd street in the town. Learn about the teaching of Jodo Shinshu.
Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple - LA Betsuin (Authentic)
Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple (Authentic)
Koyasan Buddhist Temple (Authentic)
Zenshuji Soto Mission (Authentic)
Christian Church in Little Tokyo
Centenary United Methodist Church founded in June 1896 (Authentic)
Where are the Top Japanese Food Snacks, Candy, Chips?
There are two Japanese Markets that have every Japanese chips and candy you would want to try. You will be obsessed once you try them.
Look for Marukai Market or Nijiya Market.
Where are the Japanese Anime Shops?
Look for Little Tokyo Mall for the ultimate stores in Anime.
Where are the Japanese Magna Books?
Look for Kinokuniya Book Store in Weller Court or Anime Jungle in Little Tokyo Mall.
Where is the Largest Japanese American Museum in Litttle Tokyo?
JANM or Japanese American National Musuem located on First Street, Los Angeles.
Where Can I Find the Oldest Buildings in Litttle Tokyo?
13 of the Oldest Buildings Still Standing Since 1890s on First Street, Los Angeles.
Where To Find Authentic Japanese Restaurants in Litttle Tokyo?
There are many authentic Japanese restaurants. Check our picks for tops places.
When is Nisei Week in Little Tokyo?
Nisei Week is two weeks of Japanese Cultural events in August. We'll give you the latest updated list of events
and tips so you won't waste your time.
Nisei Week Events & Tips, Little Tokyo in Los Angeles
Little Tokyo Transportation Tips
How do you get to Little Tokyo with ease? Little Tokyo is just one of the great Japanese towns in the US,
which makes it an excellent destination for any visitor. But the problem comes up when it comes to traveling.
With technology, however, you can get to Little Tokyo using the best means available. The best means would be to use
a car to drive around the town. That will give you enough time to observe the town inside out. And if you prefer public
transportation, there are several choices like the Metro Gold Line to make your traveling easy. Before you come to too
little Tokyo, book an excellent place to stay in advance. Sometime the number of visitors may be too overwhelming for the town.
What is the Difference Between Issei, Nisei, Sansei, Yonsei, Gosei
The first generation of immigrants, born in Japan before moving to Canada or the United States, is called Issei.
In the 1930s, the term Issei came into common use, replacing the term "immigrant" (ijusha). The term Issei represented the
idea of beginning, a psychological transformation relating to being settled, having a distinctive community, and the idea
of belonging to the new country. - wikipedia
• Issei ("1st Generation") - Generation of people born in Japan who later immigrated to another country.
• Nisei ("2nd Generation") - Generation of people born in North America, or any country outside
Japan either to at least one Issei or one non-immigrant Japanese parent.
• Sansei ("3rd Generation") - Generation of people born to at least one Nisei parent.
• Yonsei ("4th Generation")- Generation of people born to at least one Sansei parent.
• Gosei ("5th Generation") - Generation of people born to at least one Yonsei parent.
Lost of Identification Being Japanese American-Finding Your Roots Again
Japanese Americans that are Sansei (3rd Generation Japanese) or Yonsei may have an identification crisis.
One may feel they lost their Japanese heritage or they lost the identity behind it.
Little Tokyo has the opportunity for you to come back and learn the traditions of the Japanese Culture.
You will be exposed to all areas of the Japanese experience. Visting the JACCC (Japanese American
Cultural Community Center) one will learn about about areas you identify with and areas you want to
get more involved in.
The Japanese culture has so many aspects and traditions that are captivating. You can also visit other Japantowns,
Cultural Centers, Festivals, Japanese Gardens and YouTube to learn about the Japanese Culture. You can go to a
Japanese Garden, take Japanese language classes and witness a tea ceremony. We are finding an
increase trend in people learning and experiencing the Japanese Culture and then going to Japan.
Walking Tour History of Little Tokyo, Los Angeles
You can take a personal walking tour of Little Tokyo on your own. Browse through the list below this to see what you can do.
If you want a more personal tour and history of Little Tokyo, you can contact the Japanese American Museum.
What Other Japan Towns Can You Visit and See
Apart from Little Tokyo, there are two other Japanese Towns in the US. They are San Francisco and San Jose. When
you finish checking out Little Tokyo, these are two other places you may want to put on your list. Enjoy your visit.
We will have complete guides tips to help you.
Top Things to Do in Little Tokyo
There is a lot to do in Little Tokyo. But we have picked top things to do in Little Tokyo to give you an easier time of
selecting where to begin and end.
Check out our growing list below, we will keep adding to it. There are a lot of other places but we are thinking about your time.
If you want to explore you can, we are also focused on resturants that are authentic Japanese resturants.