Saturday, August 12, 2006

Little Tokyo

I pulled out a pair of comfortable old sneakers this morning for my sojourn to Little Tokyo, worn and unstylish by West Hollywood standards, perhaps, but imminently preferrable for our exploration though Little Tokyo, a part of the city where the original cobblestones pavement often appears intermittently and without warning. In Boston's Beacon Hill or 18th century Philadelphia, such pavement would be without question a part of a neighborhood's historic cultural heritage and charm; in the central core of Los Angeles, where the transformation of land use has reached fever pitch, cobblestones either be considered as quaint embellishments or an impediment to progress; if not immediately imperiled with replacedment by modern surfaces as telecommunications and powerlines are discreetly rerouted and tucked underneath, then by the crushing weight of heavily laden trucks bearing both the raw materials and the finished goods of Progress back and forth.

I should advise you that one needn't be an urban planner or cultural historian to find this to be a fascinating community, remarkably unvisited by most residents in Los Angeles.

The study of Little Tokyo, the history of how it ame to be where it is, shaped by such disparate events as American racism and imperialism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, natural disasters, and migrations of peoples to California; it's near total obliteration by the forced removal of the entire population to --depending on your preferrered terminology-- concentration camps or the more euphamistically named 'relocation centers' during the hysteria of the Second World War; the miraculous rebound of Little Tokyo in the post-war years even as its population and prominence within the Japanese-American community shrank; to its late 20th and early 21st century resurgence as a symbolic center for an ethnic community and a newfound urban oasis of cultured living to upscale young professionals that know little to nothing of Little Tokyo's legacy.

The community is the locus for a vibrant design community and artists, as well as urban planners and students of urban land use and ethnic or cultural history and landscapes. And then there's the food. If you're going to go exploring, ya gotta eat, and you might as well dive in and immerse yourself in the experience of Little Tokyo with your tummy, too.

In searching briefly for the photographs below that would illustrate, in brief, my Little Tokyo, I came upon a number of interesting sites worth checking out.
In addition to the link on the header above, I would suggest checking out these sites:,,, and

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