Little Tokyo Community Profiles - 2010

In the Spring of 2010, Discover Nikkei partnered with Professor Morgan Pitelka of Occidental College and his students taking the seminar “Japanophilia: Orientalism, Nationalism, Transnationalism” on a meaningful community-based documentation project. The students interviewed owners of five long-time Little Tokyo businesses to write ten articles and create five albums in the Nikkei Album. Articles will be posted one each week on successive Mondays.

This project is a follow-up to the 2009 Little Tokyo Community Profiles series.

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The Tsunami of Little Tokyo - An Interview with Mr. Akimoto of Frying Fish Restaurant

Editor’s note: Discover Nikkei is an archive of stories representing different communities, voices, and perspectives. The following article presents the opinions of a Little Tokyo business owner and does not represent the views of Discover Nikkei and the Japanese American National Museum. Discover Nikkei publishes these stories as a way to share different perspectives expressed within the community.

“You cannot hold a tsunami by yourself.” These are the words of Mr. Akimoto as he ponders the future of Little Tokyo. His wife, Mrs. Akimoto, is the owner of Frying Fish, a kaiten-sushi restaurant in the center of Little ...

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The Renaissance of the Rafu Shimpo after WWII

Following the events of World War II, Akira Komai, with the help of three other businessmen, helped the Rafu Shimpo newspaper restart on January 1, 1946. After the bank refused to give funding to the project, three of Komai’s friends offered their savings to restore the newspaper to its former glory.

The existence of the Rafu Shimpo after World War II was especially significant for friends and relatives divided by the Japanese internment camps. The newspaper provided valuable information to the Japanese community slowly trickling back into Little Tokyo after WWII. Later, it also began to help businesses recreate ...

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Mitsuru Grill: Feel Good Fusion

Mitsuru Sushi & Grill is a cozy restaurant located by 1st Street and San Pedro of Little Tokyo. Its atmosphere projects an air of unassuming invitation. The main store window displays an amazing and colorful array of plastic sushi pieces, organized in the manner in which they may be ordered and prepared. In the very front of the restaurant is a simple sushi bar where one has complete visual access to witness the traditional manner of making sushi. The restaurant then deepens into a larger eating area containing a lengthy lunch counter and flanking booths. It would be an understatement ...

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A Lasting Commitment: Rafu Bussan Inc.

It is hard to miss this wonderful gem of Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo District. With its big orange sign shaped like a fan and wide storefront windows to match, Rafu Bussan Inc. stands out as a landmark in the neighborhood. The front window displays a wide collection of Japanese import products—from books, to dolls, ceramics, chopsticks, earthenware, and vases—a selection which exemplifies the diversity of this 7,000 square foot store at the heart of Little Tokyo.

Rafu Bussan holds one of the longest histories in the Little Tokyo community, and has been a fixture there for ...

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America’s First Ramen Noodle Restaurant is Los Angeles’ Best Midnight Snack

Koraku Japanese Restaurant opened in 1976 on 2nd Street in Little Tokyo and was the first Japanese ramen noodle restaurant in the United States. Although one notices several other ramen establishments in the area, some of which insist that they were the first ramen restaurant in America, Koraku’s proprietor, Mr. Hiroshi Yamauchi, hastily sets the record straight whenever the question arises. Mr. Yamauchi, who arrived in the United States in 1976 to study English, spent only ten years in the United States before purchasing Koraku with a friend in 1986 and has been the proud owner ever since ...

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