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Little Tokyo

Downtown Los Angeles Tour

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Colorful Japantown

Lanterns in Los Angeles Downtown

©2013 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

Japantown, Little Tokyo

A National Historic District and focal point for local Japanese-Americans, Little Tokyo offers a lot to see. You'll find the expected Japanese restaurants and shopping in Little Tokyo, but there's much more.

It's roughly bounded by Los Angeles, Alameda, 3rd and First Streets.

How to Get Here:

Set your GPS or maps app to 335 E 2nd Street, which is the Japanese Village Plaza
  • From City Hall: Walk southwest on N. Main Street, with City Hall on your right. Turn left at E. 1st Street to get to Little Tokyo in a few blocks.
  • From Grand Central Market: Exit the market on either end and walk a short distance to W. 2nd Street and turn right. Follow W. 2nd to the Japanese Village Plaza which is just past S. San Pedro Street.
  • If you want to go directly to Little Tokyo from other parts of the city, you can take the Metro or Metrolink to the Little Tokyo station. If you're driving, see the GPS notes above.

Visiting Little Tokyo

If you're following the walking route we suggest, an interesting timeline runs along the sidewalks, showing how each address was used in different time periods. Just look down to see it.

A Little Tokyo highlight is the Japanese American National Museum at 100 North Central Avenue, the only museum in the country focused on Americans of Japanese ancestry. Exhibits include original barracks from the Heart Mountain internment camp. Nearby is the Go for Broke Monument, honoring Japanese American veterans of World War II and at 244 S. San Pedro Street.

Next to the museum is Chado tea room, a good place for a pick-me-up and one of the best places we've ever seen for buying tea to brew at home.

Across the street is the Japanese Village Plaza, where you'll find lots of shops selling Japanese goods, along with Japanese markets and restaurants. Yagura Tower, just outside its entrance on 3rd Street is a replica of a rural Japanese fire lookout tower.

If you like Japanese gardens, the James Irvine Japanese Garden is at 244 S. San Pedro Street.

If you want to explore more of Little Tokyo, the Japanese American National Museum offers guided tours or try the self-guided tour at ExperienceLA. The Little Tokyo Business Association also suggests a walking tour itinerary. No matter how you're touring, Little Tokyo Koban is a combined police substation and visitor center, located at 307 E. First Street.

This area is a great place for a meal or a snack, but if you're unfamiliar with Japanese food or think it's only sushi and ramen noodles, a little guidance can help you overcome your hesitation. The Huffington Post has a list of the 10 best places to eat in Little Tokyo

The Geffen Contemporary museum (part of the Museum of Contemporary Art) is also in Little Tokyo.

Events in Little Tokyo

Every August, Nisei Week adds extra color and fun to Little Tokyo, with parades and festivals.

The Japan America Theatre stages Kabuki classics and historical dramas.

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