Little Tokyo is a neighborhood of Los Angeles and the center of the largest Japanese-American community in the nation. It is one of the three official “Japantowns” in the U.S. (the other 2 being in San Francisco and San Jose) and a center for Japanese culture in Southern California. Declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1995, Little Tokyo traces its beginnings to around 1900 when immigrants began to open shops and vegetable markets along 1st Street near S. Central Ave. In the late 1970’s, Japanese corporations began opening up U.S. headquarters in the area, and subsequent development added many new shopping plazas and hotels. Surrounding neighborhoods have threatened to expand into Little Tokyo, but because of local growth of overseas Japanese investment, Little Tokyo has resisted eradication and has continued to exist as a tourist attraction, community center, and home to Japanese American senior citizens and others. Today, Little Tokyo commemorates the immigrant history through the art displayed in local museums, the areas unique architecture, and shops and restaurants that celebrate Japanese culture. The California Roll was invented by a chef in Little Tokyo, and some of the oldest restaurants in L.A. are located here. Some of the cultural attractions found in Little Tokyo are the Japanese American National Museum, the Geffen Contemporary Art Museum, the David Henry Hwang Theater, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Weller Court shopping mall. Little Tokyo also has many public sculptures, artwork, and monuments, and there are two Japanese gardens open to the public. Each year in August, Little Tokyo hosts the Tanabata Festival, and Nisei Week.
Little Tokyo is bounded on the north by the 101 and on the south by 1st on the west side and 3rd street on the east side. The area extends from the 110 on the west to the L.A. River on the east. Surrounding neighborhoods include Chinatown, Aliso Village, Arts District, the Historic Core, and the Financial District. Several well-known buildings in the area offer lofts and condominiums for sale: Little Tokyo Lofts, Little Tokyo Villas, the Savoy building, and the Mura building.
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