Los Angeles like many cities has ethnic districts, but has one of the only three official Japantowns in the United States (the other two are in San Francisco and San Jose). At one point, Little Tokyo had approximately 30,000 Japanese Americans living in the area but after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of World War II, Japanese Americans living on the West Coast were forced from their homes and into internment camps. These days Little Tokyo is a cultural focal point for Los Angeles’ Japanese American population.
This little mall is full of fascinating little shops selling kitschy Japanese toys (more Hello Kitty items and waving Lucky Cats than you could wish for) and gifts as well as many food establishments. There are 2 wagashi (Japanese sweets) shops located in Little Tokyo that are among the oldest food establishments in Los Angeles. At the end behind the bandstand you will see Mikawaya was founded in 1910, this is the company that introduced mochi ice cream to the United States in 1994. For $1 you can try any of the delicious mochi ice cream that’s made fresh on the premises.
Fugetsu-do (315 East 1st Street, Los Angeles) which was founded in 1903 making it the oldest still-operating food establishment in the city; and it claims to be an inventor of the fortune cookie. Try the Peanut Butter Mochi, which is said to be the best and super fresh! Cost is about $5 depending on how much Mochi you get. Numerous events are scheduled throughout the year so check the Little Tokyo website.