08 Sep Unveiling the ‘Home Court for All’
Walking into Paul I. Terasaki Budokan, it’s easy to tell that it’s a beloved place.
Children’s artwork lines the walls and the air is filled with the steady beat of taiko drums or the flowing rhythm of hula music on any given day. Artifacts from the community’s rich history await curious visitors in display cases depicting the project’s 30-year journey.
The decades-long dream of bringing community space to the Downtown LA neighborhood was finally realized when Budokan celebrated its Grand Opening in 2022. Located within one of only four remaining official Japantowns in the US, Budokan’s opening cemented LTSC’s vision of vibrant community engagement, with the “home court for all” providing opportunities for visitors to connect with the Little Tokyo neighborhood and Japanese American culture.
Thousands gathered from across the region to celebrate with culturally-rich performances, speeches from those integral to Budokan’s success, youth games, martial art demonstrations, tributes and more, including NBA legend and Basketball Hall of Famer, Jerry West, who reminded the community what can happen when we work hard and dream big.
Many of those who had seen the project through from beginning to end soaked in the celebration with pride and satisfaction. Former LTSC Board President, Debra Nakatomi, had tears in her eyes as she walked through the gym, reveling in the manifestation of the dream she helped chase for decades.
“It felt like 30 years of pent up demand was unleashed in one day,” said Ryan Lee, Director of Terasaki Budokan. “I’m excited to see Budokan serve as a foothold to ensure our community’s spirit will endure for future generations.”
Kent Yoshimura, the artist behind Budokan’s “To Catch the Moon” mural, shared, “Having lived near and in Little Tokyo, and having been a visitor of Little Tokyo all my life, I do believe that this is one of the most important buildings here. It’s extremely important to have a space where all of us can gather and feel like we’re part of something.”