A Walking Tour of Little Tokyo

Explore one of L.A.’s most historic and popular cultural neighborhoods

With roots dating to the 1880s, Little Tokyo is a major cultural and civic center for Japanese Americans living in Southern California. Little Tokyo is a Downtown L.A. area of about five city blocks, bounded on the west by Los Angeles Street, on the east by Alameda Street, on the south by 3rd Street, and on the north by 1st Street, including the block north of 1st and west of Alameda.

One of only three official Japantowns in the United States, Little Tokyo is the home of the annual Nisei Week festival, and was declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1995.

From cultural attractions to restaurants and bars, read on for a walking tour of Little Tokyo, one of L.A.’s most historic and popular neighborhoods.

Kyoto Gardens at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles Downtown in Little Tokyo
Kyoto Gardens at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles Downtown  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles Downtown

The home base for your Little Tokyo excursion is the elegant DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles Downtown. Nestled in the heart of Little Tokyo, the hotel features a unique Japanese-influenced interior design, and the serene rooftop Kyoto Gardens. The garden and several suites feature breathtaking city views. All rooms feature 42-inch LCD flat screen HDTVs with HBO, and Sweet Dreams by DoubleTree plush top beds with jumbo hypo-allergenic down pillows. The hotel's on-site Justice Urban Tavern serves craft beers and pub fare made with local ingredients. Located in the atrium, the Rendezvous Lounge offers a full-service bar, bar bites, and big-screen HDTVs for watching sports. The Weller Court Shopping Center, with restaurants, shops, a Japanese bookstore and an Asian supermarket, is conveniently adjacent to the hotel.

Matcha Roti and Donuts at Cafe Dulce in Little Tokyo
Matcha Roti and Donuts at Cafe Dulce | Instagram: @ttinaheartyou

Cafe Dulce

Kickstart the morning at Cafe Dulce, located in the Japanese Village Plaza. Caffeinated options include LAMILL Coffee & Tea and specialty drinks like Vietnamese style iced coffee, Hong Kong style milk tea, and organic masala chai latte. To complement the coffee, many guests order the ever-popular Matcha Roti and Donuts, which are best enjoyed in the morning, freshly made and piping hot. There’s also a variety of freshly made pastries, cakes, and tarts, as well as a selection of sandwiches and salads if you stop by a little later in the day.

Chocolate Emoji at Okayama Kobo in the Miyako Hotel
Chocolate Emoji at Okayama Kobo | Instagram: @okayamakobousa

Okayama Kobo Bakery & Café

Another morning option is Okayama Kobo Bakery & Café, located in the Miyako Hotel off 1st Street. Featuring LA-based Groundwork Coffee, Okayama Kobo offers freshly baked bread and pastries handmade with 100% Hokkaido flour, with no additives or preservatives.

The Kobokuma (bear-shaped bread filled with vanilla bean custard cream) and Chocolate Emoji (soft sweet bun filled with dark chocolate and vanilla bean custard cream) are almost too cute to eat. For a little more umami, there's the Mentai Salt & Butter Roll topped with spicy cod roe and seaweed; Curry Pan (baked, panko-crusted bread filled with original Japanese-style vegetable curry) and Hot Dog Panini with Japanese pork sausage, ketchup, mustard, Japanese mayo and cheddar cheese.

"Kaiju vs Heroes" at the Japanese American National Museum
"Kaiju vs Heroes" Print by Brian McCarty | Photo: JANM

Japanese American National Museum

Now that you're properly fueled up, cross 1st Street to the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). The museum is internationally recognized for its commitment to exploring America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by presenting and sharing the experience of Japanese Americans with exhibitions, public programs, an award-winning museum store and resource center.

Common Ground: The Heart of Community is an ongoing exhibit that features hundreds of objects, documents and photographs that chronicle Japanese American history, beginning with the early days of the Issei (first generation) pioneers in the 1800s, through the World War II incarceration and post-war resettlement.

Sashimi Lunch Special at Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo
Sashimi Lunch Special at Sushi Gen | Instagram: @vy_music

Sushi Gen Restaurant

For one of the best sushi deals in LA, head to Sushi Gen, located in the Honda Plaza strip mall off 2nd Street. Just before 11am, eager diners queue up for the famed Sashimi Lunch Special.

Priced at $23, the special comes with miso soup, warm tofu dish, pickles, bowl of rice, and a large sashimi plate. Selection varies, but usually includes tuna, yellowtail, spicy tuna or toro, octopus and cooked fish. Note that the lunch special is only available at a table, not at the sushi bar. Lunch is served Tuesday-Saturday from 11am to 2pm.

Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen at Men Oh Tokushima Ramen in Little Tokyo
Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen at Men Oh Tokushima Ramen | Instagram: @nommydumps

Men Oh Tokushima Ramen

If you’re in the mood for something heartier than sushi, stop by Men Oh Tokushima Ramen, also located in Honda Plaza. Their signature Tokushima Ramen features a savory and umami-rich broth made from Kurobuta pork bones and soy sauce. The hefty ramen bowl includes stir-fried pork belly, seared pork, bamboo shoots, seasoned soft-boiled egg and scallions. Turn up the heat with the Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen - curly noodles in the signature broth with spicy miso ball, char siu, shredded nori, chile threads, cabbage, seasoned soft-boiled egg and bean sprouts.


For those seeking udon, check out Marugame Monzo on 1st Street, where the thick noodles are made right in front of diners who score a coveted “window” seat.

Tenshin Chahan Ankake at Kouraku in Little Tokyo
Tenshin Chahan Ankake at Kouraku | Instagram: @thirstyinla


Opened in 1976, Little Tokyo's Kouraku is renowned as the first ramen restaurant in the U.S. The late Hiroshi Yamauchi, who took over Kouraku in 1986, attracted a late night crowd with Japanese comfort food like Tenshin Chahan Ankake - a shrimp omelette on pork fried rice with gravy.

The current hours aren't so much for the night owls - stop by for lunch and order favorites like Kouraku Special Ramen and Katsudon from the adorable BellaBot. When the kitty robot delivers your order, she instructs you to be careful when you pick up the dishes from her trays. So kawaii and thoughtful!

12-Piece Wagashi Mix at Fugetsu-Do in Little Tokyo
12-Piece Wagashi Mix | Photo: Fugetsu-Do


After lunch, pick up some sweet treats at the family-owned Fugetsu-Do, which has specialized in making mochi for more than 120 years. Along with traditional mochi, creative offerings include Peanut Butter Mochi, Korey's Chocolate Mochi (named for the owner's son) and the snack-sized Rainbow Dango. The 12-Piece Wagashi Mix offers the widest assortment of bean paste centers and outer textures. Fugetsu-Do also stocks a variety of sweet and savory snacks.

Hoodies at Japangeles in Little Tokyo
Hoodies at Japangeles | Instagram: @japangeles


Founded in 2009 by native Angeleno Roy Kuroyanagi, Japangeles expanded from its Little Tokyo kiosk to a storefront at Japanese Village Plaza in August 2017. Designed and printed in LA, the Japangeles streetwear line remixes traditional Japanese iconography like Mt. Fuji, geishas, bonsai, and maneki-neko ("waving cat") with a modern SoCal aesthetic. There's no online store, so a trip to the Little Tokyo shop is the only way to buy Japangeles gear. Follow @japangeles on Instagram for the latest drops.

POP Little Tokyo
POP Little Tokyo | Photo: Popkiller

POP Little Tokyo

Located on 2nd Street, POP Little Tokyo is Popkiller's flagship location, featuring ironic t-shirts packaged like LPs from independent labels and original designs created in-house. A few doors down, Popkiller Second sells everything from vintage clothing to jewelry, accessories, toys, vinyl and novelty items like “bacon strip” band-aids.

Barbara Kruger, "Untitled (Questions)" at The Geffen Contemporary in Little Tokyo
Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Questions) at The Geffen Contemporary | Photo: MOCA

Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Located adjacent to JANM, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (previously The Temporary Contemporary) opened in 1983 as a satellite location of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Formerly a police car warehouse, the 40,000 square-foot space was renovated by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, who also designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and other world-famous buildings.

As part of its 40th anniversary, MOCA reinstalled Untitled (Questions), the monumental wall work by LA–based artist Barbara Kruger. Located on the building's north facade facing Temple Street, the red, white, and blue artwork was originally commissioned by MOCA in 1989 for the exhibition A Forest of Signs: Art in the Crisis of Representation. The 30 x 191-foot work holds an iconic place in the collective memory of LA’s art community and is considered one of the museum’s curatorial highlights.

Go for Broke Monument in Little Tokyo
Go for Broke Monument in Little Tokyo | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Go For Broke Monument

After viewing Kruger's artwork, stop by the nearby Go For Broke Monument, the first memorial of its kind on the U.S. mainland. The 40-foot black granite circle is engraved with more than 16,000 names of Japanese American soldiers and officers who served overseas during World War II.

"Go for Broke" was the motto of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in the history of American warfare. Members of the 442nd received over 18,000 awards in less than two years, including 21 Medals of Honor.

Ming's Wings at Far Bar in Little Tokyo
Ming's Wings at Far Bar | Instagram: @mihosmeals

Far Bar

Located on 1st Street a half-block from JANM, Far Bar features a lively main bar with numerous flatscreens, dozens of craft beers on tap, and Asian-influenced cocktails and pub fare. A second bar is discreetly located next to the bar’s patio off 1st Street, featuring a massive list of hundreds of bourbons, single malts and Japanese whiskies.

Far Bar hosts a popular Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 3-7pm that includes a Toki Highball for $10; Sapporo and sake shot ($9), Wagyu Hot Dog ($5), Wasabi Fries ($6), Ming's Wings ($8) and the Far Bar Burger Special ($13) with fries and Sapporo or soda.

Whisky with Wolves flight at Wolf & Crane in Little Tokyo
Whisky with Wolves flight at Wolf & Crane | Instagram: @wolfandcranebar

Wolf & Crane

Another happy hour option is Wolf & Crane, which describes itself as “Little Tokyo’s Neighborhood Bar” and boasts the largest collection of Japanese whisky in the U.S.

Happy hour is Monday-Friday from 5-7pm, featuring select cocktails for $9-10; the $9 Wolf & Crane Special (Asahi can + Japanese whisky shot), $7 draft beers and wines, and bar bites like edamame ($6) and pork gyoza for $10.

Weekly events include Neighbor Nite every Tuesday with cocktail specials, rotating DJs and eats like Atlaco Taco; and Whisky with Wolves flights on Wednesdays.

Liquid Jade cocktail at Peking Tavern in Little Tokyo
Liquid Jade at Peking Tavern | Instagram: @pekingtavern


For even more pre-dinner drink options, head to Peking Tavern, which "The Andrews" (Chiu and Wong) relocated from its original underground location below Spring Street to the former Yapa space at the AVA apartment complex.

Sip on signature cocktails like the Peking Manhattan (Templeton Rye, Miracle Mile Peking Bitters, port wine) and the Liquid Jade, made with baijiu, fresh lemon juice and celery juice, and simple syrup.

Weekday Happy Hour bites include the veg-friendly Spring Rolls, Scallion Pancake and Peking Pop Chicken - bite-sized boneless chicken coated in a mildly spicy "dragon" seasoning. There's also Peking Tavern favorites like Sichuan Fish Dumplings, Kobe Beef Potstickers and the "new and improved" Beef Roll - braised beef wrapped in a Scallion Pancake with scallions, cilantro and hoisin sauce.

Day Boat Scallops at Redbird
Day Boat Scallops at Redbird | Instagram: @redbirdla


Housed in the former Vibiana cathedral on 2nd Street at the edge of Little Tokyo, Redbird is a stunning restaurant from acclaimed chef Neal Fraser. The main dining room is a beautiful courtyard with a retractable ceiling. The indoor/outdoor space includes a lounge and a wraparound bar with award-winning cocktails from Bar Director Tobin Shea.

The Modern American dinner menu starts with Spicy Shishito Peppers, Sugar Snap Peas, Roasted Figs and Chawanmushi. Entrees include Red Wattle Pork Chop, Liberty Farms Duck, and Day Boat Scallops with Thumbelina carrots, carrot top gremolata, gooseberry and tangerine. "For Two" selections include Whole Grilled Basque Turbot, 24 oz Bone-In Ribeye and 32 oz Creekstone Farms Porterhouse.

Cocktails at The Mermaid in Little Tokyo
Cocktails at The Mermaid | Instagram: @themermaidla

The Mermaid

Celebrating its 5th anniversary in 2023, The Mermaid is tucked inside Honda Plaza a couple of doors down from Sushi Gen. Industry vets Katie Kildow and Arelene Roldan set out to make the former hostess bar a safe space for people of all genders to relax and enjoy tropical cocktails while immersed in kitschy nautical-themed decor.

The generous Happy Hour draws a loyal crowd of locals and Little Tokyo visitors alike: Monday-Thursday 5-8pm, Friday 4-8pm, Saturday 3-6pm and all day on Sunday.

Like any great neighborhood joint, The Mermaid hosts theme nights like Tiki Goth Mondays, Dolce Vita (Italo Disco) on Tuesdays; Game Night with rotating DJs on Wednesdays; and Karaoke Thursdays. Guest bartender nights highlight women bartenders and raise money for numerous causes - sponsors are often women-owned or -helmed spirits brands like Future Gin and Yola Mezcal.

XLanes 1


Located on the third floor of the Little Tokyo Galleria on Alameda, the 50,000 square-foot XLanes has something for everyone: 30 state-of-the-art LED bowling lanes (including three VIP rooms), 4 competition-quality pool tables, karaoke room, and 80 vintage and modern arcade games.

NOTE: XLanes is 21 and over after 7pm Thursday-Sunday, and there's a dress code Friday-Saturday from 6pm to close.