Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest VIII

Each year, the Little Tokyo Historical Society’s Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest heightens awareness of Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo by challenging both new and experienced writers to write a story that showcases familiarity with the neighborhood and the people in it. Writers from three categories, Adult, Youth, and Japanese language, weave fictional stories set in the past, present, or future. On May 23, 2021 in a virtual celebration moderated by Michael Palma, noted theatre artists, Greg Watanabe, Jully Lee, and Eiji Inoue performed dramatic readings of each winning entry.

Winners


*Read stories from other Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contests:

Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest I >>
Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest II >>
Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest III >>
Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest IV >>
Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest V >>
Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest VI >>
Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest VII >>

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Little Tokyo, A.C.

Your daddy’s religion was Worry. Never one to call upon any God for any reason, he chose to bear the weight of everything—especially the fear of uncertainty—upon no one other than himself. But in those tender, terrifying seconds between your mama’s contractions, he felt an instinctual, perhaps primitive-like urge to pray. He reassured your mama he’d be right back before hurrying out onto the balcony. He clutched the railing and took deep breaths of dry, summer air. He gazed down at the orange glow of the San Fernando Valley on a busy Saturday night. Motors revving, sirens screaming, people rushing …

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Race Queen of Little Tokyo

I. 

May Tomita was embarrassed. Her dad is a Kibei gardener and would always pick her up in his beat up truck at Carson High School, with the lawnmower, edger and other dirty garden tools still in the truck bed. Compared to the Cadillacs and Buicks that parents drive to pick up their kids, her dad’s Ford Courier was a pile of heap that even junkyards would reject. She’d ignore the truck, walk past her father, as he drives alongside her. He yells in Japanese, “Get in the goddamn truck!”

But today May was really pissed. She saw her boyfriend …

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Mochi Wishes

On the day of the Tanabata Festival, the summer sun cast rays of golden light onto the streets of Little Tokyo. The sizzling smell of yakisoba cooking in stalls around the corner taunted Yuki Clearwater. At fifteen years old, Yuki felt a bit too old for the festivities—or at least that is what she told herself. She knew how important the Tanabata Festival was to her family’s shop Usagi Mochi, which sat on East First Street for generations.

The amount of customers in the shop had slowed to a trickle in recent years and the wrinkles on her father’s forehead …

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The Creatures of Little Tokyo

Thistle sat and watched people eat mochi ice cream from a tree. She was in the James Irvine Garden, and all the lanterns were glowing particularly bright this evening. Of all the places in Los Angeles, the garden here in Little Tokyo was her favorite place, especially during this time of year when the sound of drums hummed through the streets and children twirled in colorful clothing.

When Thistle, the small fox squirrel, first arrived in Little Tokyo, she watched as a little girl danced, the patterns on her kimono swirled to the rhythm of the song. Thistle didn’t know …

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The Throw

Reggie strolled through Little Tokyo, feeling content and happy in his favorite part of Los Angeles. Angular office buildings cut into the clear blue sky like sleek, indifferent businessmen. Below them, the streets buzzed. Reggie could feel the energy, the life under his feet. He cut through the Japanese Village Plaza, just because he wanted to walk under the little trees and red lanterns that seemed to gaze down like round, benevolent gods on the tourist shops, manga stores, hibachi restaurants, make-up salons, and kiosks selling hats featuring Japanese characters. The shopkeepers sweeping the sidewalks and calling out to one …

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fiction imagine little tokyo Imagine Little Tokyo little tokyo short story contest tanabata