9th 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 captures the spirit and essence of Little Tokyo and the people in it.  Writers from three categories, Adult, Youth, and Japanese language, weave fictional stories set in the past, present, or future. On May 26, 2022 in a virtual celebration moderated by Derek Mio, noted actors, Keiko Agena, Helen Ota, and Megumi Anjo performed dramatic readings of each winning entry.


  • Adult Category: “Tori” by Xueyou Wang 
      Honorable mentions 
  • Youth Category: “Time Capsule” by Hailey Hua
      Honorable mentions
  • Japanese Language Category: “教えて” (Tell Me) by Nao Mutsuki
      Honorable mentions
    • 回春” (Spring is coming over) by Miyuki Kokubu (Japanese only)

*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 >>
7th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
8th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>

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Through The Opera Glasses

The California sun was bright as Erin strolled through the streets of Little Tokyo, too lost in worry to notice the sights around her. Ugh! She thought, trying to push the negative thoughts out of her head.

It’s my day off, and I’m going to enjoy it! I just need to relax and not worry about Grandma. 

Just then, Erin noticed a tiny, shabby store jammed between two modern buildings. Several Japanese symbols were written on a faded sign above the door with ‘Little Tokyo Antiques’ printed in tiny letters beneath. 

This place looks interesting. I never know what I …

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J is for Junichiro

“Juni, you’ve been fighting again.”

Junichiro Nakashima hoped to hide his hands until he could ice them, but as usual his mother was too perceptive. Junichiro sat on the floor next to the family kotatsu as his mother retrieved her medicine box. Her antiseptic stung the open sores of his knuckles, but her usual monologue stung worse.

“How many times must I tell you not to fight with the other boys? This is the second time this month! Don’t you know what we’ve sacrificed to make this life for you!?”

Her chastisements continued for 15 minutes, and served to maintain …

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Tell me

I’m beautiful.

I grew up with Dad telling me I was the prettiest in the world, so I knew that I was beautiful, without a single doubt, from a very young age as far as I could remember.

People at the cafeteria served me extra amounts. Strangers confessed they had a crush on me. They gave me their contact information.

The accumulation of affection from total strangers backed up Dad’s words and eventually built up my confidence.

“Dad, when did you realize you’re attractive?”

From the mug he was holding in his right hand, the freshly made coffee was giving …

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The last time I was here, the sakura were in bloom.

I came to Little Tokyo to visit my grandmother. She was aging but still ran the batik workshop in the spare room at the Catholic church. Every Tuesday afternoon, she would set out her dyes and silk fabrics, and invite anyone who was willing to come and do indigo dye and batik with her. Her hands never shook, even when handling the bowls of hot wax. Especially when handling the bowls of hot wax. Growing up, I had watched her wring out countless hot towels, until she could no …

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