Nisei Week for Dummies 101

When it comes to events, I always find myself having to go to the events Facebook page, website, googling the event, hitting up the Instagram page...

…and whatever else I need to do to figure everything I want to know. So that this doesn’t happen to you, I’m going to try and summarize everything on one page.


What is Nisei Week

It’s an event that was started in 1934 by Nisei or second generation Japanese Americans. The event was started to promote Japanese and Japanese American heritage and traditions while bringing together the diverse communities of Southern California through arts and cultural education…..ok, that’s the formal “copy’n’paste” job that I typically do, but I like the more in-depth history of how it came to be on the Nisei Week website (a good read). To paraphrase in my words, the second gen Japanese aka the Nisei were like “yo, Issei, you’re so old school. We need to try and be new school, so lets bring it brah. We need to do an event that will bring Issei and Nisei together for the good of the hood and even for non-Japanese”. The Issei were like “meh”, but the Nisei finally convinced them to do the event. The Nisei knew they had done good when even the Issei had joined in on the ondo parade which I kind of liken to the plot of the movie Footloose (how they won over the stodgy town folk or any movie where they dance at the end).

Where is it?

In Los Angeles, California in the Little Tokyo neighborhood. Where exactly is that you ask? For an actual address you can go to (keep in mind that they close many of these streets for many of the festivities):

The general vacinity is in or around 1st and 2nd street between S. San Pedro St. and Alameda St.

What Time Does it Go From?

They do have some early morning events like the “Rubiks Cube Open” at 8am, but I think most events start at around 11am and go to about 7pm.

Where Do I Park or How Do I Get There?

There’s a number ways to get to Little Tokyo via public transportation, along with information regarding parking although for that you’ll want to go to the Nisei Week website.

Image from KCET “Photographs of Nisei Queens Through the Years

Schedule of Events

  • Sunday Aagust 14th – Don’t miss the Nisei Week Grand Parade at 4PM ~ Sunday, August 14. Metro Los Angeles is offering FREE Shuttle Service and FREE Parking that day, and on August 20-21, Thank you Metro! For more info on street closures, free shuttle service and parking, visit this link.Parade-Route-with-no-legend.png
  • Weekday – There’s a few events during the weekday, but I think those are more community based such as lunch and dinners to acknowelege community members.
  • Saturday, August, 20th
    • Nisei Week Japanese Festival/JACCC Plaza Festival – 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
    • Nisei Week Rubik’s Cube Open – JACCC Plaza, 8:00 am
    • Nisei Week Car Show – Aiso Parking Garage, 101 Judge John Aiso St, Los
    • Angeles; 12-7pm* More information at
    • Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship – JACCC Plaza, 2:00 pm
  • Sunday, August, 21st
    • Nisei Week Japanese Festival/JACCC Plaza Festival – 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
    • Ondo and Closing Ceremony – 1st Street, 4 pm

Top 3 Must See

I highly suggest both Saturday and Sunday because both days have a ton of things to see and do. Having been several years in a row, I feel the most impressive would probably be (ok it’s more like a top 20 list guised as a top 3):

  1. The ondo and closing ceremony. Nobody ziplines down the cable of lanterns, but they do have a raffle, dancing, and it occupies a block of 1st street (between S. San Pedro and Central Ave.).
  2. All of the displays inside of the JACCC (Japanese American Cultural & Community Center located at 244 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA) building and plaza.
    1. Here’s a partial list of what you’ll see: hagiyaki ceramics, kimekomi dolls, ikebana flower arrangement, tea cermony, sashiko needlecraft, photo club, beikoku shodo kenkyu-kai (calligraphy), bonsai, and furoshiki (wrapping cloth).
  3. The car show. This is the one event out of all the events I have attended for years. It was held in an adjacent parking lot, but that’s now a bunch of condos’.

For the complete schedule, you can go to the Nisei Week website.

What You’re About to Miss Out On

The 8th Annual Tanabata festival also goes on from August 12th (Friday) to August 15th, 2016. It’s right next door to the Japanese American Museum.

The huge draw is the paper craft or the sasakazari, but one of the best surprises was the entertainment. They have a ton of acts and personalities on the main stage which include:

  • Michael Paulo
  • Local Mojo/The Local Band
  • Lolita Dark
  • Stephanie Yanez
  • Miyuki
  • Yuna + Tida
  • Kaoru Enjoji
  • Atomic Project
  • Minyo Station
  • Erica Nagashima
  • Aaron Aoki
  • Nancy Hayata
  • Aaron Takahashi

For more information go the Tanabata Los Angeles Website.

One Last Thing

I really like the graphics and illustration for the Nisei week promotional collateral, and I noticed the person responsible is listed on the poster. So to make sure they don’t get overlooked, I’m going to post their information here: Kristen Sadakane at

1 comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: