Sawtelle Stories: On the Naming of “Sawtelle Japantown”

In 2015, the Sawtelle neighborhood in West Los Angeles was officially named “Sawtelle Japantown” with approval from the Los Angeles City Council. A sign announcing the name was placed at the corner of Sawtelle Boulevard and Olympic Boulevard. The area has gained popularity over time as a Japanese American enclave with a concentration of unique stores and restaurants, and the name “Japantown” seems like a perfect fit. For a long time however, the district was informally known as “Little Osaka,” which speaks even more explicitly of its heritage. So why the name “Sawtelle Japantown” now? In this series, we take a look at how the neighborhood got its new name, and we speak with local residents and business owners to get their perspectives.

community en ja

The Rise and Fall of Kobayakawa Boarding House—Mr. Ishioka Recognizes the Value in the Naming of Japantown

Today, in the open area on the east side of Sawtelle Boulevard, from La Grange Avenue to Missouri Avenue, stand big complex facilities and apartment buildings. In that block, there used to be a boarding house where many gardeners lived. It was called “Kobayakawa Boarding House.” It was a large boarding house with six big premises and simple frame houses that once held 60 people at its peak. Riichi Ishioka, an immigrant from Hiroshima started the business in a solitary house in 1926. It was extended in the early 1930s, shut down temporarily during the war, and closed in 1979 ...

Read more

food en ja

To “Chinchikurin”

“I want Caucasians to eat it.”

Chinchikurin—Hiroshima okonomiyaki restaurant on Sawtelle Boulevard

Finding a parking spot on a street in Sawtelle on a Friday night is such a hassle. After going around the place twice in search for a spot, I was finally able to find one on La Grange Avenue, two blocks west of Sawtelle Boulevard. I parked my car there and walked to Sawtelle Boulevard.

Heading south from Sawtelle Boulevard, I saw neon lights on a variety of stores on both sides of the street. Especially the west side seemed busy. There were quite a few stores ...

Read more

community en ja

Hashimoto Nursery: Yotaro Hashimoto Keeps His Business Going

The Sawtelle district is located in West Los Angeles. In 2015, it was officially named “Sawtelle Japantown” by the Los Angeles City Council, and a sign was placed at the corner of Sawtelle and Olympic. For a long time the area had been known as Little Osaka, due to the large number of shops and restaurants owned by Japanese Americans. Local residents and shop owners established an advocacy organization and worked hard to get their neighborhood recognized. They are overjoyed by their victory.

For establishments like Hashimoto Nursery, however, which has been in existence for 88 years and is the ...

Read more