Little Tokyo - Things to Do PDF Print Email

Places to Explore/Sights to See



1. Festivals

a. Summer

i. Obon: A Japanese celebration in honor of our ancestors is an important and fun summertime activity. Everyone is invited to join in the circle and enjoy festival dancing at dusk at Little Tokyo temples. Every obon festival also features food, games, shopping and great entertainment to delight every age group.

ii. Nisei Week: Summer in Little Tokyo reaches its climax with the 71st Nisei Week Festival and Grand Parade from Aug. 12-21. For a complete schedule of events, visit or call the Nisei Week office at (213) 687-7183. Some of the highlights:

photoa. Tanabata Festival: A breathtaking display of colorful handmade kazari (ornaments) at the annual Tanabata Festival (Star Festival) which kicks off in the plaza in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). The festival originated in Sendai, the epicenter of the March 11 earthquake. Admission is free and all are welcome. For information or volunteer opportunities, call (213) 613-1911.

b. Grand Parade: The Nisei Week Grand Parade is held on the streets of Little Tokyo. Hundreds of dancers in colorful kimono representing Japanese dance schools will perform. The public is also encouraged to join in the dancing. Practices are held weekly leading up the parade at the JACCC Plaza. At the parade’s conclusion, the summer night will light up with the whimsical small-scale Nebuta floats made of colorful Japanese paper and lights whose origins come from Aomori, Japan.

c. Taiko Festival and Closing Ceremony: Listen and watch some of Southern California’s best taiko drum groups perform during the Taiko Gathering held in the JACCC Plaza. To close another year of Nisei Week, Ondo street dancing will be held on Little Tokyo’s First Street.

b. Winter

i. Oshogatsu: New Year's is one of the biggest holidays in the Japanese community. Traditional activities include pounding mochi (rice cakes), waking up early to view the first sunrise and visiting the temple to pray for good health and happiness in the New Year. All dates and time to be determined.

a. The JACCC presents its annual Oshogatsu festivities with its signature New Year program, Kotohajime, or the First Performance of the New Year on Jan. 1 and the annual Shikishi Exhibition. For information, visit

b. The Japanese American National Museum presents its free Oshogatsu Festival, featuring taiko performances, food demonstrations and tastings, and arts and crafts related to the arrival of a new year. For information, visit

c. Traditional Japanese performances and displays will be presented on New Year’s Day by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California in Weller Court. For information, visit