Evelyn Yoshimura

Evelyn Yoshimura is the Community Organizing Director at the Little Tokyo Service Center, where she has worked since its beginning in 1980. She also worked at The Rafu Shimpo, Tokyo Kaikan Restaurant, and Amerasia Bookstore. She is married to Bruce Iwasaki and has a daughter, Naomi and son-in-law Casey, who just had a son, Genzo Eiseman.

Updated November 2013

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Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column

Encircle, In Dance

For this month’s Nikkei Uncovered, we wave goodbye to the Obon season with special reflections from a family of activist/artists and a local legend & community organizer. Maiya, Jenni, and Tony Kuida-Osumi share with us poems that tie the dance we do in commemoration of ancestors at Obon, with homage in action to community, to our shared struggle, to Los Angeles. Evelyn Yoshimura brings us a brief essay reflecting on the letting go and the images that spring forth through the dance itself. Hopefully these words will not only resonate with the images that come to your mind during ...

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Little Tokyo: 130 Years Old and Going Strong

The other day, I was walking from the Gold Line station, headed back to my job at the Little Tokyo Service Center. As I passed the old historic JANM (Japanese American National Museum) building, I had a big flashback.

Buddha’s Birthday (circa 1956)

My earliest memories of Little Tokyo include Hanamatsuri—the Buddha’s birthday.

Children from temples all over Southern California converged at the old Nishi Hongwanji—our Mother Temple, the previous inhabitant of the JANM historic building on First & Central.

I remember nothing of the service except the smell of incense. But afterwards, noisy kids rumbled down ...

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Changing Little Tokyo

This past year, I worked with students and other volunteers to conduct an inventory of businesses in Little Tokyo; seeing the results made me pause and consider the future of a place that I’ve worked in for nearly 40 years.

In the past four decades, I’ve seen profound changes. What once was a neighborhood geared towards the Japanese-speaking workers who lived in one-room hotels has morphed into an area that caters to downtown loft dwellers. Where once we had small markets and specialty stores; drug stores complete with a soda fountains; bars; cleaners; and small restaurants featuring Japanese ...

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