The Japanese history can be seen through the four Japantowns found in California. The history of the Japanese in San
Francisco begins in 1869 when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in San Francisco Bay. By the late 1890s, first
generation Japanese settle in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles and West Los Angeles, near Sawtelle. Even though San Francisco
is the largest of these towns, Sawtelle Japantown is considered the smallest with a mix of Japanese business and new
modern businesses populating the area.
Sawtelle Japantown is a small Japanese-American community along a one mile stretch on Sawtelle Blvd in West Los Angeles.
Sawtelle Boulevard is a north/south street in the Westside region of the city of Los Angeles. The street has important
Japanese American cultural and historical significance as the Japanese migrated to this area in the 1890s.
Hashimoto Nursery is the oldest and largest retail plant nursery in the historic Sawtelle neighborhood.
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 Japantowns (Japanese Areas) to Visit in the United Sates.
Seattle Japantown (Not Designated)
Bainbridge Island, Seattle
Where is Sawtelle, West Los Angeles Japantown Located on a Map?
Map of Sawtelle, California, Japantown
Before You Visit Japantown - Don't Forget To Bring the Following
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
Where Does the Japantown Bring for Sawtelle Japantown?
The northern end of the Sawtelle Boulevard Street hosts the Dowden Drive in the Veterans administration complex. And
on the south, lies the Overland Avenue, a few blocks to the east of Sepulveda Boulevard. The Sawtelle community views
this street as a major thoroughfare.
Note that, this is a street that connects so many other historic sites in California. The Japantown is only a portion
of this street. Some people may confuse the whole area to be Sawtelle Japantown. The Japantown begins from the Santa
Monica Boulevard all the way to Olympic Boulevard. This marks the new but very trendy new Japanese American community.
The community has been officially named as Sawtelle Japantown. It is simply referred to as Sawtelle or Little Osaka.
Sometimes this place is confused with Little Tokyo, which is another historic Japanese community in California.
It is also different from the largest Japantown in San Francisco.
What Makes Sawtelle a Japantown?
Sawtelle is nearer to UCLA, Santa Monica, and Culver City. There are so many businesses found in this place that include
major Japanese supermarkets, Japanese fast food (curry and ramen) and upscale Sushi Bars. You will not fail
to also notice holistic and medical office, hair salons, and neighborhoods with Japanese grocery stores.
There is a Boba tea shop which perhaps makes the place carry a cultural significance. The anime shop and the Japanese
artisan stores present the unique side of the Japanese people living here. You will not also fail to notice great temples
that represent the holistic nature of the culture. Last but not least are the few historical nurseries that crown the town
Though there has been a cultural twist and mix with the Korean and Chinese cuisines coming in, it has maintained its
relevance as Japanese. Hotels like the new Seoul Tofu and ROC kitchen only add to its attractiveness. They have made
the Japantown stand out both regarding uniqueness and doors for business opportunities.
This neighborhood is something to behold if you consider the wide demographic and cheap eat. There are upscale restaurants
surrounding a bouquet center on the corner of the Olympic and Sawtelle Boulevard.
Among other interesting sites in this neighborhood is the Saudi Arabia consulate just next to the Ramen restaurant.
It is also close to the esoteric Japanese magazine store.
There are several homes here. The south portion of the Sawtelle Boulevard is solely occupied by the Japanese American population.
There exhibit great gardens and landscapes representing the true Japanese tradition.
When you leave the Olympic Boulevard, the Sawtelle Boulevard spits into four a four-lane boulevard. Here are parallel to the
San Diego freeway and the Sepulveda Boulevard.
The Boulevard runs all the way to the Culver city but not before crossing the Sepulveda Boulevard. The origin of the Sawtelle
Boulevard all the way to where it ends is very important to the Japanese American community. It is not only a landmark to the
Japantown but also a historical street.
History of Japantown Sawtelle
The first Japanese to start occupying West Los Angeles came as a result of discrimination covenants against people of the
Japanese Origin during the late 1890s. Like the left, they were forced to settle near Sawtelle, and area that then allowed
them to buy real estate and other investments. Other areas in California were discriminative of the people of Japanese descent.
As time went by, many Japanese Americans started owning businesses in this area. They formed cultural and religious organizations
same as those in Little Tokyo and San Francisco, enabling them to thrive fast.
Informally, the area is known as Little Osaka for many years. Later, the Japanese Americans lobbied to name this section of
West LA, as Sawtelle Japantown. This is the name it has been known forever since as it is meant to reflect the culture of the
Japanese immigrant community.
Since 2012, Sawtelle has been thriving as a Japantown with more and more businesses coming up. It happened so until February
25th, 2015 when the Los Angeles City council unanimously approved the boundary. This boundary consists of Santa Monica
Boulevard to the north and Pico Boulevard to the south. And to the west is the Cantilena Avenue while the 405 freeway borders
the east. The whole local leader and community wholeheartedly supported the creation of the Sawtelle Japantown. Otherwise,
they feared the area would lose its Japanese-identity.
When Did the Japanese Start Coming to Sawtelle?
The Meiji Restoration of 1868 saw the first wave of Japanese into America. It came with agricultural decline and different
reforms in the society. This attracted many Japanese to leave their home, coming to fill the shortage of the laborers. The
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 put a moratorium on the labor that was initially offered by the Chinese, giving enough room
for the Japanese.
As the immigrated into the country, many who relocated to California found themselves in the areas surrounding Sawtelle.
It was impossible for them to buy land properties in other areas new UCLA, Bel Air, Brentwood, and other neighboring areas
because of ethnic prejudice.
Ethnic enclaves were formed near industrial areas. These helped the new Japanese immigrants to become farmers, working in
celery and bean fields.
In 1913, the Californian Alien Land Law was formed, which prohibited immigrants from getting citizenship. The Japanese Americans
were unable to buy land. But they started buying land under their American-born children.
In 1941, during the period of World War II, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. This made President Franklin Roosevelt to pass
the Executive Order 9066, forcing all Japanese into internment camps. However, more than 110,000 people were incarcerated of
the crime because there was no evidence. These were mostly second-generation Japanese.
Many other Japanese immigrants then moved into other areas of the US after the war. In Sawtelle, a small community came to
establish their homes, since the Japanese were allowed to buy land here. Many returned to live in their homes even after
the war was over.
Future changes for Sawtelle Japantown?
The same story as it happened with San Diego and Sacramento is repeated here. There are now big developments coming up in
Japantown Sawtelle. In the past, you could not have failed to witness long-standing Japanese American businesses like the
Yamaguchi Store and Safe Save market. But they are all gone and other developments have taken over.
There are many other businesses coming up that have no ties to the Japanese American heritage. They have nothing to do with
the Japanese culture, yet they are moving in and thriving by the day.
There is no doubt that the preservation of the Japanese culture in the US depend on Japantowns like Sawtelle. This is because
many of the new generation Japanese are moving into the mainstream American. They are born into the country, and they assimilate
to become Americans.
So, what will become of Sawtelle? Will it become just like any other American town? That would really be a sad moment for the
Japanese Americans. They would hate to see their culture and heritage thrown away and forgotten.
However, the American public as a whole poses a greater threat. It is not good for the community to become homogenous and lose
its identity. This is why the 2015 boundary amendment that was approved by the city council marked a very important period
for the town. Chances of losing the identity of the town have been greatly reduced.
Sawtelle - Where Did All the Japanese Go?
As a new generation of Japanese is born, they seem to want to assimilate themselves to become Americans. Business opportunities
are opening in and out of the town for different people. Therefore as other communities move in, the Japanese born here move out
in search of greener pastures.
What is Sawtelle Travel Tips?
When coming to Sawtelle, consider the following tips. These will help you find your way better around the time and enjoy
• Learn Weather - The weather here is definitely different from where you are coming from. During summer, it can
get extremely cold, which makes small shops to thrive. Take your time to learn about the weather and how you should put
• Identify the right accommodation - There are so many nice hotels in Sawtelle, buy you will have to go an
extra mile to get the right one. The best advice will stay a bit far from the center of the town. You don't want all the
noise to deprive you of quiet rest.
• Be wise when spending - Avoid spending our money on anything you see. Start by booking early for your hotel
to avoid rush hour. And while here, drop your car and use public means, Uber or taxi.
• Don't forget to eat great food - If you don't know how to get to the best place around the town, identify a
tour guide who knows the place. Consider small local tour companies, they are cheaper, and they can get you the best
restaurants. Don't leave before trying out the Japanese and Chinese cuisines.
Where Are the Best Places to Shop and Eat on Sawtelle Japantown, West Los Angeles?
Are you planning on visiting Sawtelle Japantown in West 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 Sawtelle Japantown tips to help you enjoy your time
to the fullest.
Sawtelle Japantown isn't as large as Little Tokyo's Japantown. There is one main street called Sawtelle Blvd.,
from Santa Monica Blvd To Olympic Blvd which has all the Japanese businesses and long history.
Sawtelle Japantown Tips with History
West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple - Formed almost 90 years ago (Authentic)
Sawtelle Blvd. - Things to Eat and See
Giant Robot - Japanese anime and pop culture shop
Giant Robot 2 Gallery - Art Gallery Museum
Sushi Tsujita - Japanese Sushi (Authentic)
Tsujita Annex - Ramen (Authentic)
Tatsu Ramen - Ramen (Authentic)
Furaibo - Japanese Izakaya (Authentic)
Kiriko Sushi - Japanese (Authentic)
Hide Sushi - Japanese Food & Sushi (Authentic)
Daikokuya - Japanese Ramen (Authentic)
Kimukatsu - Japanese Tonkatsu (Authentic)
Sushi Stop - Japanese Sushi (Authentic)
Hashimoto Nursery (Since 1928) - Japanese Nursery (Authentic)
Yamaguchi Bonsai Nursery (Since 1929) - Japanese Nursery (Authentic)
Curry House - Japanese Curry (Authentic)
Max Karaoke Studio - Rent private room for yourself or friends.
Nijiya Market, West LA - Japanese Market (Authentic)
Beard Papa - Japanese Pastry (Add) (Authentic)
Daiso Japan - Japanese Dollar Store (Add) (Authentic)
Not Japanese But Worth Checking Out
Brian's Shave Ice
Top Places to Visit in Sawtelle, Japantown
The following are places you should not miss on your list-Coffee Tomo. This is the perfect place to start your morning
with house-roasted coffee and great snacks. The fresh an ambiance in this place is a real invite for all.
• Alias books. Looking for a place to learn the history of Japantown Sawtelle? This is the best area in town.
• BlackMarketLA. If you need the best gift for your friend, come to this place, and you will get it all. It
is located across the street from Sushi Tsujita. Get your Sushi and get there.
• Max Karaoke Studio. Love to sing? Get to Max Karaoke Studio, to the south of Sawtelle Japan town and sing
to and extensive selection. You will get all the best songs from here.
Top Things To Do in Sawtelle Japantown?
The first thing you want to do in Sawtelle enjoys the traditional Japanese cuisine. There are several restaurants serving
the best foods in the town. Start at the Sushi Tsujita who are famous for their latest Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle. It offers
the perfect environment for enjoying Sushi as you sit at the table or a bar.
In the evening, get to Blockheads Shavery Co for a Taiwanese snow cream commonly known as shaved cream. You get to pick your
own flavors and make sweet ice cream from there.
Transportation Tips for Sawtelle Japantown
Sawtelle is a small town. However, you may want to find the best transport in and out of the town. Taking personal car can
be great but quite costly. Hotels charge a lot for parking. Use public transport or get a cab. And if you must drive, hire
a vehicle for a day or two.
What Other Japanese Towns Can You Visit and Learn About Japanese Culture
Sawtelle is the smallest and newest Japanese American community in California. There are three other Japantowns apart from
it-San Francisco, Little Tokyo and San Jose.
Do not forget to visit these Japantowns and learn about the Japanese and their struggles and success in America.
Check out our growing list of things to do on the list below, we will keep adding to it. There are other places if you
want to explore, we are on the look out for the best authentic Japanese resturants.