7th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest

Each year, the Little Tokyo Historical Society’s Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest heightens awareness of Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo by challenging both new and experienced writers to write a story that showcases familiarity with the neighborhood and the people in it. Writers from three categories, Adult, Youth, and Japanese language, weave fictional stories set in the past, present, or future. This year’s winning stories captured the spirit and cultural essence of Little Tokyo. This year the 7th Imagine Little Tokyo brought the awards ceremony online on July 23. Actors Tamlyn Tomita, Derek Mio, and Eijiro Ozaki performed dramatic readings of the winning stories from each category.


*Read stories from other Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contests:

1st Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
2nd Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
3rd Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
4th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
5th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
6th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
8th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>

culture en

Half an Anman

Akemashite omedetou!

Hideki elbowed his way through a tight crowd of people relentlessly moving up and down First Street. At 8 years old he was still a head shorter than most of them, and as far as he could see, there was no end to the stream of people.

“Happy New Year!” he heard at every corner.

It was the first day of New Year, and Little Tokyo was swarming with people, both Japanese drawn in by nostalgia and folks of all kind of nationalities, all eager to take a glimpse of the exotic Japanese culture on this …

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community en

Finding Shinyū

I am inside Marukai Market when the muffled sound of the taikos indicate the Oshogatsu Festival has begun. Several strong, clear beats slip through the door with every entrance and exit. As people settle down to observe the New Year’s celebrations, I pay for my mentsuyu and leave.

Onstage, the Nisei Week Queen and Court are preparing to throw mochi into the crowd for mochi-maki. Hisa always urged me to try and catch one with her, but—proud as I was—I refused, claiming I was too old for such things. And now, Hisa will be fifteen forever, and with every …

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community en ja

The Last Visit

It was in mid-August 1969 in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Tokuji Yoshida, a first-generation Japanese American, was reading that day’s Rafu Shimpo while smoking a cigarette at the dining table. “The 28th Nisei Week Festival Grand Parade will be held tomorrow.” He crushed his cigarette stub in an ashtray and called out to his wife Hisae in the living room, “Hey, we should be going soon.” They were both in their late 60s. Hisae served a bowl of tea to the Bon altar and responded, “Hold on a moment.” On the altar, there were a horse made out of …

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community en

She’s Still Here

My name is Eric Ramirez, and I’m proud to say that I’m helping Los Angeles build a subway system.

You may have seen me before. You know that big construction site in the middle of Little Tokyo, across from the Japanese American museum? There are a couple of spots along the sidewalk where you can look through the fence and see what will eventually be an underground light rail station. Yeah, I’m one of those construction guys you might see over there.

Sorry about the mess.

About a month ago, I was down in a corner of the big pit, …

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442nd fiction Imagine Little Tokyo Japanese New Year Koyasan Buddhist Temple little tokyo war WWII