Support Little Tokyo!

Little Tokyo is a Japanese-American district in Downtown Los Angeles with the largest Japanese-American population in North America. Japanese immigrants settled in the district in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many legacy businesses have recently been evicted from Little Tokyo like Little Tokyo Arts & Gifts which was founded after World War II alongside Anzen Hardware and Suehiro Cafe. 

I’ve always considered Little Tokyo to be a second home to me. I have been performing for years now at many Anime and Japanese community events like Tanabata during Nisei Week and Oshogatsu Festival that takes place in Little Tokyo’s Weller Court and Japanese Village Plaza. When I first started performing in Little Tokyo, many people visited but now especially with the rising popularity of Anime and Japanese Pop Culture, the crowds have grown astronomically. So why are these Japanese Legacy Businesses getting evicted during this time? Well, due to the popularity and gentrification of Little Tokyo, rent has being increased immensely. Suehiro, which is a Japanese restaurant that has been around since 1972 made an announcement that their monthly rent was reportedly increased from $6,000 to $10,000. 

I visited Little Tokyo Arts & Gifts during the last week before they were forced to close their doors for good. When you step into Little Tokyo Arts & Gifts shop you are transported to a different time. It was truly a time capsule of a Little Tokyo many have never experienced before. 

In the shop was a vintage Japanese rickshaw jewelry music box that reminded me of the one that I had growing up as a child. 

This is my jewelry box that was given to me from my mother. My Grandfather brought it back from Japan after World War II. It still works! 

Pictured above is Kevin Charles Keizuchi who is the founder of The Shinsei Movement. I recently met Kevin at my event Koi no City which was located in Little Tokyo that you can read about here: 

I’m really glad I met him and see that he has a passion and love for Little Tokyo and the Japanese American Community. I asked Kevin about The Shinsei Movement and this is what he had to say: 

The Shinsei Movement started off as just a way for me to organize all the events going on in Little Tokyo into one spot. There’s always so many events and websites that it’s easy to miss out on the information. My hopes were that if I could make a “bulletin board” for all the events that more people would come to Little Tokyo to support all the legacy & small businesses. I have so many fond memories in Little Tokyo that if I can help others make memories here too that maybe they will want to keep this community thriving as well. The Shinsei Movement is here to share that beauty of Little Tokyo with everyone.

Please visit The Shinsei Movement here:

Just like Kevin, I have so many fond memories of Little Tokyo and I feel it’s very important for all of us to support however we can to keep Little Tokyo alive and well.

Writer: Stephanie Yanez
Instagram @stephachu