The historic Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles

Image courtesy of Go Little Tokyo

One of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles is celebrating its notable milestone of 140 years of rich Japanese-American history, filled with resilience to remain a vibrant community. Founded in 1884, Little Tokyo has withstood more than a century of adversity and today is a thriving cornerstone of the Japanese-American community and one of only four remaining Japantowns.

Along with this anniversary, the Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC)A nonprofit coalition representing residents, businesses, religious institutions, arts and cultural centers, and community organizations, celebrates 25 years to protect, preserve and promote the character and values ​​of the historic community of Little Tokyo.

“The 140-year commemoration of Little Tokyo’s legacy and the 25th anniversary of the Little Tokyo Community Council honor the sacrifices and contributions that allow Little Tokyo to be a vibrant neighborhood and a hub for arts, culture, history, business, dining and entertainment here in Los Angeles,” said Chris Komai, LTCC Board Member. “These milestones not only honor our storied past, but also ignite a flame of inspiration that drives us forward as champions of diversity, resilience and unity.”

Although Little Tokyo receives more than a million visitors a year, it was recently named one of the The 11 Most Endangered Places of 2024 According to the National Trust for Historic PreservationAs one of the last four remaining Japantowns in the United States and the second oldest enclave in Los Angeles, Little Tokyo remains a vibrant community and one of only 14 cultural districts in California despite an early history of forced deportation and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, urban renewal in the 1970s, and threats of gentrification and displacement that have been increasing for more than two decades.

For 25 years, the Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) He has collaborated with local stakeholders and policy makers, shaping policies and initiatives to maintain neighborhood resilience. The LTCC’s dedication has earned prestigious awards and recognition, including the establishment of Let’s go to little Tokyoa groundbreaking marketing campaign that supports local businesses and cultural institutions and highlights LTCC’s critical role in preserving this historic neighborhood.

Other important milestones and recognitions include:

  • Preventing the city of Los Angeles from building a jail next to the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple on First Street in 2003.
  • Achieve an underground route for the Metro Regional Connector Transit project in 2011, eliminating potential subdivision of the neighborhood.
  • Leading the Sustainable Little Tokyo project in 2013 with partners Little Tokyo Service Center and Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in support of the preservation of Little Tokyo through environmental, economic and cultural sustainability.
  • Advocated for and obtained significant mitigations from Metro due to the impacts of the Regional Connector construction on the neighborhood, leading to the creation of the Go Little Tokyo community-based marketing initiative.
  • Launched small business support initiatives, including Community Feeding Community and Little Tokyo Small Business Relief Fund, in response to the sudden challenges of the pandemic.

“This year, as we celebrate 140 years of Little Tokyo, we recognize the tireless, visionary work of generations of community leaders. Today, more than 400 small businesses, including more than fifty brick-and-mortar companies, call Little Tokyo home. Yet the neighborhood’s identity is continually and chronically threatened,” said Kristin Fukushima, CEO of LTCC. “Traditional businesses and community organizations are critical to maintaining connections to Little Tokyo across generations. As Little Tokyo faces urgent challenges, we remain steadfastly committed to our mission to protect, promote, and preserve Little Tokyo, while seeking to remain dynamic and embrace innovation to keep Little Tokyo a thriving neighborhood for all stakeholders.”