little tokyo-colourized T-Shirt
Little Tokyo is an ethnic Japanese American district in downtown Los Angeles, one of three official Japantowns in the United States. Founded around the beginning of the 20th century, the area, sometimes called Lil' Tokyo, J-Town, or Shō-tokyo (Japanese), is the cultural center for Japanese Americans in Southern California.-------------At its peak, Little Tokyo had approximately 30,000 Japanese Americans living in the area. Little Tokyo is still a cultural focal point for Los Angeles's Japanese American population. It is mainly a work, cultural, religious, restaurant and shopping district, because Japanese Americans today are likely to live in nearby cities such as Torrance, Gardena, and Monterey Park. However, the recent boom in downtown residential construction is changing the nature of Little Tokyo. ---------------------------- What is left of the original Little Tokyo can be found in roughly four large city blocks. It is bounded on the west by Los Angeles Street, on the east by Alameda Street, on the south by 3rd Street, and on the north by First Street and the Los Angeles Civic Center. More broadly, Little Tokyo is bordered by the Los Angeles River to the east, downtown Los Angeles to the west, L.A. City Hall and the Parker Center to the north, and the newly named Arts District (made up of warehouses converted into live-work lofts) to the south.----------------The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center is located in Little Tokyo, as well as the Japanese American National Museum. The extension of the Museum of Contemporary Art, formerly called the Temporary Contemporary and now known as the Geffen Contemporary (named after David Geffen), is also in Little Tokyo. East West Players, one of the nation's first Asian American theatre companies, specializing in live theater written and performed by Asian American artists, is located in Little Tokyo, performing in the David Henry Hwang Theater. There is also the Aratani/Japan America Theater, which features plays and musical performances. Visual Communications, an Asian Pacific American media arts organization, has its offices in Little Tokyo, and each May, annually presents VC FilmFest (Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival), in several venues around Little Tokyo. ---------------------- The Nisei Week festival is held every August, and includes a large parade, a pageant, athletic events, exhibits of Japanese art and culture, a taiko drum festival, and other events. The LA Tofu Festival is a subcommittee of Nisei Week and is also held during the month. ----------------------------- Little Tokyo has quite a few public sculptures and artwork, including a monument to Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka, a Japanese American from Hawaiʻi who was a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Challenger when it exploded during takeoff in 1986. There are also two Japanese gardens in the area open to the public—one is next to the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and the other is a rooftop garden in the Kyoto Grand Hotel and Gardens, formerly the New Otani Hotel. The Go For Broke Monument commemorates Japanese Americans who served in the United States Military during World War II. The multi-purpose theatre, The ImaginAsian Center, opened in December, 2007.------------There are several Buddhist temples in the area, including Zenshuji Soto Mission (the first Soto Zen temple in North America) and a few Japanese Christian churches. One of the roots of Pentecostalism started in Little Tokyo. Where the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center Plaza is now located was once the home of the First Pentecostal Church, a multiracial congregation called the Azusa Street Mission. This is where the Azusa Street Revival started in 1906. Earlier, it was also the site of the First AME Church. The former Catholic Cathedral of Saint Vibiana is just to the west of Little Tokyo. After being heavily damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the Archdiocese moved to a new site (now the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels) and the old site was redeveloped with the former cathedral converted into a performing arts space and non-historic buildings on the site demolished and replaced with a new Little Tokyo Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.------------There are numerous Japanese restaurants, catering to both Japanese and non-Japanese clientele. Many of them specialize in one type of Japanese cuisine, such as Donburi, Japanese noodles (soba ramen and udon), shabu-shabu (which translated from Japanese means 'swish-swish', referring to the motion of dipping meat and vegetables in a communal bowl of boiling water), Japanese curry, sushi, or yakitori. There are also a number of Korean barbecue restaurants, where meat is often cooked on a small grill built into the center of the table. Little Tokyo has several shops that specialize in Japanese-language videos and DVDs, while other shops specialize in Japanese electronics and video games. These are a great way to find Japanese video games that were never translated into English. ------------ The Weller Court shopping mall has several restaurants, karaoke clubs, and a Bubble Tea cafe. For tourists visiting from Japan, there are a number of shops specializing in expensive name brand products such as Coach handbags. There is also a large bookstore, Kinokuniya, that is part of a well-known Japanese chain. They have a large selection of Japanese-language books, magazines, music CDs, manga, and anime, as well as a selection of English-language books on Japanese subjects and translated manga and anime. The Japanese Village Plaza is located roughly in the center of Little Tokyo. There are several restaurants in the plaza, plus a number of shops geared towards tourists. First Street and Second Street border Japanese Village Plaza and have a number of restaurants that are open later than those in the plaza.