Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest

As part of Little Tokyo Historical Society’s (LTHS) 130th Anniversary of Little Tokyo (1884-2014) celebratory activities throughout the year, LTHS held a fictional short story contest that awarded cash prizes to the top three. The fictional story had to depict the current, past or future of Little Tokyo as part of the City of Los Angeles, California.

  • First Place: “Doka B-100” by Ernest Nagamatsu.
  • Second Place: “Carlos & Yuriko” by Rubén Guevara.
  • Third Place: “Mr. K” by Satsuki Yamashita.

Some of the other Finalists:


*Read stories from the Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest II >>

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Nihonmachi Serenade

Prologue: September 14, 1992 

I am often drawn back to places that hold a sentimental value for me. That being said, I had not been to Little Tokyo in years, but when I read in the paper that a new museum was opening to honor the legacy of Japanese Americans, I made it a point to pay it a visit.

The Japanese American National Museum was housed in the Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple building on First Street and Central Avenue. The temple had served as a place of worship for a good forty-five years before becoming a local landmark and ...

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A Wedding in Little Tokyo

It was Saturday evening. Mitsue Yamashita’s fingers moved nimbly over a pair of kimono panels. She threaded a needle through the autumn design, stitching the panels together which were the last to be assembled for the kimono she intended to wear for the Little Tokyo Nisei Week festivities. It was the fifth year of the worst economic downturn anyone could remember and everyone feared the festival would fail to attract people outside the Issei and Nisei community.

Mitsue and her friends sat in a circle sewing their own kimonos from fabrics imported from Japan. The other girls thought Mitsue ...

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A Little Piece of Home

My second cousin had been here for a week already and she still hadn’t quite gotten used to the way of life here.

Her name was Motoko and she was visiting from Tokyo, Japan. It was her first time abroad, and, of all places, Los Angeles would be her first exposure to anything foreign. I’ve spent all fifteen and a half years of my life here and even I still hadn’t gotten used to it. It hadn’t helped that my big ol’ American dad gave her a big ol’ American hug as soon as he greeted ...

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The Guardians

The temple stood at the edge of Little Tokyo, its delicate roof and garden just beyond the harsh shadows of the surrounding urban landscape. Across the street was a warehouse with graffiti and iron bars on the windows. Beyond that, the gutters were littered with needles and glass pipes, the sidewalks teeming with lost souls searching for a home, searching for peace.

For generations, the denizens of Little Tokyo had labored to preserve the ways of their native land in a city filled with endless flux and struggle. That’s why many were surprised when a young woman became the ...

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Smile’s Sonata

“Can you loan me this book?” A lanky man in a pair of black slacks and a white button-down shirt held a book in his hands. He was very tall, enough for me to tilt my head to look at his face. His skin was smooth and youthful, and his cheekbones rose high on his face, giving him a feminine nature. The jawline snapped to a strong point, defying the womanly features that accompanied his shapely nose and fair complexion. His thin lips were turned into a warm smile. With his taut, black ponytail, he seemed misplaced among the stacked ...

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