An Insider’s Guide to Little Tokyo, LA

California’s largest metropolis, Los Angeles is known for its big city allure and diverse culture. Amidst the eclectic and ever-growing mix of things to do in the vibrant city, there’s a hidden gem that comes from a profound history. Little Tokyo in Southern California is not just a major cultural and civic center for Japanese Americans but is also one of the only three Japan towns [MS1] left in the USA.  

Little Tokyo is also one of LA’s most popular ethnic enclaves. Located on the northern outskirts of LA, it is also easily accessible from the Miyako Hybrid Hotel in Torrance, offering modern, Japanese-style accommodation and smart lifestyle amenities. Indulge in a culturally enriching experience, exploring the charming district for yourself and read through our guide below to plan your adventures!

A Glance at the History of Little Tokyo

The history of Little Tokyo dates to when Charles Hama, a former seaman from Japan, opened the first-known Japanese restaurant in LA. By the 1900s, the Issei population grew exponentially, leading to a burst of Japanese-owned restaurants and shops in the region. Several of these businesses remain open even today, hence, the birth of Little Tokyo. It was declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1995 and offers everything from cultural attractions to culinary stops for all its visitors.

What to See in Little Tokyo

· The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center

The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center is the heart of the Japanese American community in LA. JACC offers visitors a tranquil respite from the buzz of city life and its James Irvine Japanese Garden is well worth a visit. Once you’ve spent some time in nature, catch a performance by Kabuki performers at the Aratani Theater.

· Japanese American National Museum

Brush up your knowledge of Asian American history at the spectacular Japanese American National Museum. It is the largest museum dedicated to the Japanese American experience in the US and boasts an impressive collection of 60,000 artefacts. Here, you can learn about everything from the legacy of Hello Kitty to Japan’s internment camps.

· Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

The only artist-founded museum in LA, Geffen Contemporary at MOCA holds more than 7,000 extraordinary pieces of contemporary art. Explore the stunning exhibition space full of cutting-edge modern art and deep dive into a world of visual art and design.

· Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple

One of the most popular attractions in Little Tokyo is the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple. It is part of the Shinshu Otani-ha sect, one of the oldest denominations in Japan and is LA’s first-ever Japanese Buddhist temple. Admire its traditional design, a breathtaking statue of Buddha and a gorgeous garden maintained by temple members.

· Max Karaoke Studio

If you’re planning a fun day out with friends or family, the Max Karaoke Studio offers an exciting experience for visitors of all ages. Sing your heart out in its private karaoke rooms and share a good laugh with your loved ones. Afterwards, relish an enticing, seasonal meal at our Japanese restaurant in Torrance and look back at a day well-spent.

· Nisei Week

Time your visit to Little Tokyo around one of the iconic festivals held here annually. Nisei Week takes place every August and celebrates the culture of Japan with a DekoCar show. Experience the district come to life with public street dancing and a colorful parade of cars covered in custom anime and manga. Also, enjoy watching the participants of the World Gyoza Eating Championship consume as many gyoza and pot stickers as they can in 10 minutes!

Here it is! All you need to know about LA’s most popular neighborhood, Little Tokyo. Book a premium California accommodation today and experience a slice of Japan on your trip to the City of Angels!

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