L.A.’s Little Tokyo Celebrates 140 Years of Rich Legacy

140 Years of Legacy and Resilience

Little Tokyo, one of the oldest and most vibrant neighborhoods in Los Angeles, is celebrating an incredible milestone: 140 years of rich Japanese American history and resilience. Established in 1884, this community has overcome numerous adversities to remain a cornerstone of Japanese American culture and one of the last four remaining Japantowns in the United States.

Honoring 25 Years of Preservation
In tandem with this anniversary, the Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) is celebrating 25 years of dedicated work in preserving and promoting this historic neighborhood. The LTCC, a nonprofit coalition representing residents, businesses, religious institutions, arts and cultural centers, and community organizations, has been instrumental in maintaining the unique character and values of Little Tokyo.

“The commemoration of Little Tokyo’s 140-year legacy and LTCC’s 25th anniversary honors the sacrifices and contributions that have made Little Tokyo a vibrant center for arts, culture, history, business, dining, and entertainment in Los Angeles,” said Chris Komai, LTCC Board Member.

Facing Challenges
Despite welcoming over one million visitors annually, Little Tokyo was recently named one of 2024’s 11 Most Endangered Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. As one of the last four remaining Japantowns in the U.S. and the second oldest enclave in Los Angeles, Little Tokyo continues to face challenges like gentrification and displacement. However, it remains a vibrant community and one of California’s 14 Cultural Districts.

Community Achievements
Over the past 25 years, the LTCC has collaborated with local stakeholders and policymakers to shape policies and initiatives that maintain the neighborhood’s resilience. Some notable achievements include:

2003: Preventing the construction of a jail next to Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple.
2011: Securing an underground route for the Metro Regional Connector Transit project to prevent subdivision of the neighborhood.
2013: Launching Sustainable Little Tokyo with partners to support environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability.
2020: Creating Go Little Tokyo, a marketing campaign supporting local businesses and cultural institutions during the pandemic.

Looking Forward
“This year, as we celebrate 140 years of Little Tokyo, we recognize the visionary work of generations of community leaders,” said Kristin Fukushima, LTCC Managing Director. “Legacy businesses and community organizations are crucial for sustaining connections to Little Tokyo. We remain committed to protecting, promoting, and preserving Little Tokyo while embracing innovation to keep it thriving.”

For more information on Little Tokyo’s 140th anniversary, LTCC’s 25th anniversary, and upcoming events, visit littletokyola.org.

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