July 2018 Issue
In 1947 – the same year Jackie Robinson broke major league baseball’s Color Barrier – Wataru “Wat” Misaka joined the New York Knicks, making him the first person of color to play in what became the National Basketball Association. Last month, Misaka (now 94-years-old) traveled to LA to be a special guest at Straight Outta Little Tokyo 3, a 90s R&B and hip-hop event to raise money for Terasaki Budokan. Currently under construction, Budokan will be a multipurpose sports and community center in Little Tokyo. Budokan campaign supporters and basketball enthusiasts also welcomed Misaka at a community reception.
To reach basketball’s highest level, Misaka had to overcome years of discrimination because of his Japanese ancestry. Growing up in Odgen, Utah, Misaka was denied service at restaurants, avoided on the street and excluded from recreational opportunities. Misaka lived through World War II, when over 120,000 people of Japanese descent were held in incarceration camps by the U.S. government. Later, he served in the U.S. Army in Hiroshima, just months after it was devastated by the atomic bomb.
Stories like Misaka’s are at the heart of the campaign to build Terasaki Budokan. With the tagline “A Home Court for All,” the project’s vision centers on inclusiveness. Once built, Terasaki Budokan will be a facility for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy sports, community events and the opportunity to connect with Little Tokyo and Japanese American culture. The projected completion date for Budokan is 2020.
Through our collaboration with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program and LA Metro, LTSC helps provide assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in Little Tokyo and throughout Los Angeles County. In July, LTSC will co-host a series of small business workshops on topics such as raising money for a startup (July 11) and choosing between a non-profit or for profit structure (July 12).
In addition, LTSC and partners will soon launch the LA Small Bizcubator program, which will provide an opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to use free retail pop-up space in Little Tokyo. An informational meeting for the program and application process will be held on July 17.
Click here to read a VoyageLA interview with Small Business Counselor Mariko Lochridge about the LA Small Bizcubator.
Lloyd Honda of Kut Above
On June 16 at the Nishi Hongwanji Temple, supporters of Terasaki Budokan enjoyed a night of 90s R&B and hip-hop, while raising funds for the Budokan campaign. The third edition of the “Straight Outta Little Tokyo” festival presented an eclectic mix of artists. Headlining the event were R&B platinum recording artists Troop. Also, on the entertainment list were internationally renowned Taiko Project, singer/songwriter Jules Aurora; the multi-talented Paul Dateh; hip-hop artist, poet and activist Jason Chu and tri-lingual rapper Kaze Jones. The event also featured live bands Ho’opala, Kokoro and Elemental Funk and DJs known for packing clubs on the West Coast and Hawaii.
Straight Outta Little Tokyo 3 was supported by several sponsors and community partners, including ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat–thanks to Executive Producer Melvin Mar. The legendary Japanese American basketball player Wataru Misaka, NBA great Michael Cooper and Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson attended as special guests.
Last month, proud parents, family members, and Angelina Preschool teachers and staff celebrated the graduation of 33 students, who will start kindergarten in the fall. The graduating students delighted onlookers with a series of spirited performances, complete with singing, choreographed dance routines, props and costumes.
Angelina Preschool, located in the Temple-Beaudry area of Echo Park, provides full-day subsidized preschool services for income eligible 3 to 5-year-olds and is enrolling now. For more information, visit the LTSC website.
Vermont and Santa Monica Metro Station
LTSC recently received a grant from Bank of the West to support our newest apartment project adjacent to the Vermont and Santa Monica Metro station. At 154 multifamily rental units, this is the largest affordable housing project LTSC has undertaken. When completed, it will provide much needed affordable housing in the East Hollywood community. The project will also include improvements to the bus shelters, bike storage areas and streetscape.
LTSC wishes to thank Bank of the West for its support of this important project.
Participants watch films with 3-D viewers
Youth from Casa Heiwa, our affordable housing community in Little Tokyo, were invited to participate in a series of workshops to learn about 360 Virtual Reality (VR) technology. Through this project, participants created three VR videos that showcased areas of the Little Tokyo neighborhood. They filmed the annual festival FandangObon, Weller Court and the Space Shuttle Challenger/Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka memorial, as well as their favorite hangout spots in Little Tokyo.
Last month, the youth held a screening to show the movies they made. Everyone donned their Google cardboard 3-D viewers and watched the films. Parents were impressed with the work their children accomplished and what they learned. LTSC would like to thank Verizon for their support and Public Matters for their invaluable help with the project.
Calligraphy workshop led by artist Kuniharu Yoshida
Four artists are bringing new projects to Little Tokyo as part of LTSC’s inaugural +LAB Artist Residency. During their 3-month program, Susu Attar, Dan Kwong, Tina Takemoto, and Kuniharu Yoshida will create visual and performing art pieces to the residency’s theme of “Community Control and Self-Determination.”
These projects are being developed in a time when the historic neighborhood faces ongoing changes from outside the community. Amidst continuing construction of market-rate housing and the new metro station, and changes in the resident, employee, and visitor makeup, these projects use art to reconsider who gets to determine the shape and future of Little Tokyo.
Former LTSC Social Services Director Yasuko Sakamoto (middle) and former LTSC Executive Director Bill Watanabe (right) present a gift from LTSC’s Social Services staff to Mrs. Kim (left).
In the 1980s, with support from LTSC, members of the Japanese American community created the Nikkei Helpline to assist callers facing difficult times. Anna Kim—respectfully referred to as “Mrs. Kim”—later became the program’s coordinator.
After nearly three decades of offering lifelines to Japanese and Korean-speaking callers struggling with issues related to financial woes, relationship crises, immigration, education, illnesses and other emergencies, Mrs. Kim announced her decision to retire last month. At a Little Tokyo gathering to celebrate Mrs. Kim’s contributions, friends and colleagues heaped praise on a tireless community worker whose wisdom and selfless dedication allowed her to touch many lives.
Former LTSC Social Services Director Yasuko Sakamoto spoke about Mrs. Kim’s enduring impact on the Nikkei community, “Your tireless efforts truly encouraged people in desperate situations to move on with their lives. Because of your work, Nikkei Helpline became a popular asset, helping people in the community.”
Luckily for LTSC, Mrs. Kim still plans to volunteer for the Nikkei Helpline during retirement.
July 20 – Sake on the Rocks
July 20-21 – Delicious Little Tokyo 2018
July 22 – Bridge USA Japanese Summer Festival
Oct. 6 – Asian Small Business Expo
Save energy: use a microwave instead of the stove.
Thank you to all our supporters for your contributions last month!
June 2018 Donors
Jim and Elena Azama
Better Future Foundation
T.C. and Elaine Chung
Holly Services, Inc.
Combined Federal Campaign of Greater SoCal
Gary and June Masada
Robert and Teresa Matsushima
Diana and Yoshi Matsushima
Victor and Meriko Miyamoto
MUFG Union Bank
David and Mary Noguchi
Mo and Charlene Ono
John and Irene Ota
Sam and Kimie Otsuji
Panda Restaurant Group, Inc.
Tadashi and Geri Sakuma
Eugene and Catherine Sato
Bruce and Diane Shimano
Motohiro and Sheryl Shimizu
Paul and Kay Shishima
David and Donna Uyehara
Edward and Momoyo Wada
In Honor of Yasuko Sakamoto
In Honor of Rosalind Sakata
Julie Akiko Gladsjo
In Honor of The Wakabayashi Family
In Memory of Hiroshi Furukawa
Consumer Law Section
In Memory of Shig Iba
In Memory of Dr. Fred Miyazaki
Ted Akahori and Julie Akahori
In Memory of Jeannette Kyoko Sanderson
Emily and Dan Weaver
Laura Blosser and Chris Argyros
Scott Ito and Nan Lee
Brent Mori and Jessie Kikuchi
Norman and Mardy Maehara
Jeff and Christine Murakami
Mike Murase and June Hibino
Victor Okada and Candace Lao
Takashi and Beverly Oki
Perfect Parking, Inc.
Grant Sunoo and Emily Maeda
Kathy and Russell Tagawa
Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc
Gary and Sandra Yamamoto
Clement and Angela Yang
In Honor of Bill Watanabe
In Memory of Monica Quan
Marsha and Gary Watanabe