Departures is KCET's hyper-local web documentary, community engagement tool and digital literacy program about the cultural history of Los Angeles' neighborhoods.
As the heart of the Japanese American community in Southern California, Little Tokyo has undergone dramatic shifts in demographics and urban development. From its early days as the the city's crossroads of immigrant cultures, through the turbulent years of World War II, to its recent resurgence and future as a major transportation hub, the neighborhood has maintained -- though not without struggles -- its traditions and importance to the Japanese American community in Los Angeles.
What remains today in Little Tokyo is the spirit of a small town, with an impressive set of family owned businesses, much of which have been in L.A. since the neighborhood’s halcyon days in the early 1900s, and a tight-knit group of tenacious community leaders that protect its legacy while securing its role for the future.
Departures: Little Tokyo explores the social and cultural history of this unique neighborhood. With help from community members, leaders, and organizations such as the Little Tokyo Service Center, Japanese American National Museum, and Rafu Shimpo, and through interviews, historical research, photographs and essays, we aim to create a narrative that weaves together the social fabric of the community, and reveal just what it is that makes this neighborhood an important part of the city's history.
What does Little Tokyo mean to members of the community?
What we've discovered is that Little Tokyo is sort of a small town in itself -- everyone knows each other, and many depend on each other for services and support.
In preparation for production on Departures' Little Tokyo, we're mapping important places in the history of the community. Add your story about one of the places already listed or suggest a new place in the map to help shape the narrative on Departures Little Tokyo.