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2019 Sawtelle Japantown Guide - Things To Do & See
Sawtelle Japantown, California
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Sawtelle Japantown | Japanese-City.com
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Welcome to Sawtelle in West Los Angeles

Explore Historic Sawtelle Japantown, California

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 Japantown, Los Angeles, California
 •  San Francisco Japantown, California
 •  San Jose Japantown, California
 •  Sawtelle Japantown, West Los Angeles, California

More Japantowns (Japanese Areas) to Visit in the United Sates.

 •  Seattle, California
 •  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

Is the Officiall Name Sawtelle Japantown? Little Osaka? Sawtelle?

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 Areas Makes Up 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.

Sawtelle is nearer to UCLA, Santa Monica, and Culver City. There are so many businesses found in this place that include major Japanese supermarket, 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.

The south portion of the Sawtelle Boulevard is solely occupied by the Japanese American population. There exhibits great home 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 into the area.

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 America. 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. 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 your vacation.

 • 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 on.

 • 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 (Authentic)
 •  Giant Robot 2 Gallery - Art Gallery Museum (Authentic)
 •  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)

Sawtelle Place

 •  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.

What is the Most Popular Japanese Event in Sawtelle, West LA?


July

West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple Obon & Bon Odori Dance Festival / WEST LA OBON - Obon or 'Festival of the Dead' is celebrated in Japanese-American communities all over the country in the middle of July or August. In America, obon has become a key event for both the Buddhist temples and the local community, as well as a celebration of the rich Japanese-American cultural heritage. Obon features bon odori folk dancing, live music and taiko, games, and lots of food. Location West Los Angeles.

 •  West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple Annual Summer Obon Festival (Different Times) - WLA (2 Days) Live Taiko, Japanese Food, Children Games..


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.

2019 Sawtelle Japantown Guide - Top Things To See & Do

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