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Will your stomach lead you through Japantown?

May 7, 2014

Will your stomach lead you through a Japantown?

Your stomach will serve you well if you allow it to guide you through the Regional Connector project area.

You can begin with breakfast at the Cherry Pick Café near 2nd Street and Broadway. You can walk and shop and chat until lunch when Maria’s Italian Kitchen on Flower St will serve you lean salads and aromatic pizzas. Then for dinner you can munch on sizzling shrimp at Korea B.B.Q. House, which brings you to the historical feast in Little Tokyo.

Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo community, one of three remaining Japantowns in the United States, offers a rich portrait of the Japanese American “Nisei,” the second generation children of Japanese immigrants. ( Japantowns remains a common name for official Japanese communities in big cities outside Japan.)
Just strolling its streets and reading the historical markers under one’s feet, one can glimpse the work of generations in building a community reminiscent of a nation almost 5,500 miles away. Its abundant family owned businesses offer treasures from Japan and the Japanese who flourished in Los Angeles. One can stop for a sweet delicacy, made from recipes handed down three generations, or purchase intricate carvings that capture a dynasty from another millennium.

While the restaurants offer traditional tastes (anyone for udon made before diners’ eyes) and modern twists on familiar mainstays, the Little Tokyo Historical District is a culturally conscience community represented by other family-owned businesses, often residing in buildings more than a century old.

The Japanese family crest, imported vintage Japanese ivory art pieces, porcelain and imported hand-embroidered silk are only the beginning of ancestral pieces that can be found in Little Tokyo. If your tastes run to the more eclectic, peruse shop windows for vintage clothing designers and costume pieces ranging from Comme des Garcons and Issey Miyake to accessories from the 1920s-1980s.

The businesses named above participate in Metro’s Project Area Discount [] program—Metro’s effort to advertise businesses within the Regional Connector project area. This is Metro’s way to remind new and old customers that these businesses remain open, even while state-of-the-art rail is expanded through Downtown Los Angeles.

Metro interviews each business owner and then creates a website to highlight its wares. Each website includes contact information, as well as a map showing each business’ location. Directions to the business from the nearest Metro bus or rail line can be found on each page.

In exchange each business offers a special incentive in their stores until the Regional Connector Transit Project opens in 2020.

To learn more about these great offers please visit the Project Area Discounts page:



The delicate ivory statues are a rare treasure found inside the Little Tokyo Arts and Gifts shop on East 1st St.


Nobu Jewelry is well known for the traditional Japanese family crest in the Little Tokyo Historical District on East 2nd St.


Mitsuru Sushi & Grill is one of Little Tokyo’s family owned restaurants, serving sushi and specialty ox tail stew for more than 30 years.


Korea B.B.Q House serves elaborate dishes on a sizzling stone plate.

Yonah Hong