I am a full-time traveling registered nurse, fitness enthusiast, and nutrition expert. Every morning I wake up intending to bring awareness of the importance of health and spiritual wellness, especially to the traveling community. At Messy Bun Traveler, we promote travel that allows the traveler to either kick-start, maintain, or enhance a healthy lifestyle. So whether you're someone who travels for business, travels for pleasure, or new to travel and looking for health advice while on the road, this blog is for you!
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Looking to take a trip to Japan but not wanting to take a long-haul flight across the Pacific? You can instead head to Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles!
Little Tokyo, also called Little Tokyo Historic District, is sandwiched between the Arts District and Chinatown in Downtown LA.
This five-block radius was founded in 1884 and is the heart of the largest Japanese American population in North America. It was even declared a National Historic Landmark in 1995.
You can easily spend an afternoon exploring Little Tokyo! I’ve lived in Downtown Los Angeles for almost a year, and I’m still finding hidden gems in this nifty little neighborhood!
There are currently hundreds of businesses operating in Little Tokyo, so you’ll never get bored! Take an afternoon to explore one of only three Japantowns in the United States!
Little Tokyo is located in Downtown Los Angeles, just north of the Toy District and Arts District and south of Chinatown.
It is bordered on the west by Los Angeles Street, east by Alameda Street, south by 3rd Street, and north by 1st Street, including the block north of 1st and west of Alameda.
Dustin and I frequently walk around Little Tokyo and feel completely safe during the day. We are more cognizant of our surroundings at night but still feel very safe in this area.
Despite Little Tokyo only being a few blocks away from Skid Row, you won’t see as many homeless people in this area comparably. It is always wise to be mindful of your belongings and aware of your surroundings.
There are a few parking garages around the district, including the Little Tokyo Mall, Park Little Tokyo on South Hewitt Street, and near the Japanese American National Museum on 2nd Street.
The prices for parking range anywhere from $12-35 per day, comparable to many other parking locations in Los Angeles.
The best way to get around Los Angeles is to drive yourself, but the Metro is also an option.
Union Station- with connections to Amtrak, Metrolink, Metro J Line, and Foothill Transit’s Silver Streak, is located on the northeastern border of Little Tokyo. You can map out your trip here.
If you’re looking to stay in Little Tokyo, I recommend DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles Downtown or Miyako Hotel Los Angeles.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. This hotel is right in the heart of Little Tokyo! The hotel features a Japanese-inspired interior design and a beautiful terrace garden. The Kyoto Gardens has gorgeous trees, flowers, and greenery with cascading waterfalls and tranquility ponds, all with a bird’s eye view of Downtown Los Angeles. Book your hotel stay here.
Miyako Hotel. Miyako is a minimalist, Japanese-style hotel with an on-site sushi bar, a cocktail lounge, a karaoke bar, and a serene wellness spa. Book your hotel stay here.
Feeling Zen? There are several Buddhist Temples in Little Tokyo, including the very first Soto Zen temple in North America, Zenshuji Soto Mission. Take in the beautiful Japanese architecture and tranquil landscaping of these religious monuments.
Check out this year-round Japanese garden located in the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. Here you will see a beautiful, tranquil garden with a peaceful waterfall and colorfully blooming trees, flowers, bridges, and stone lanterns.
Visiting hours are on weekdays from 9 am to 6 pm. Please note that if you want to step into the garden and walk the paths, you have to go into the Community Center to receive your pass.
Little Tokyo has strong connections to the Los Angeles arts community, so you’ll see many remarkable street art paintings and murals throughout this 5-block radius.
There are hundreds of unique shops in Little Tokyo! Head to the Japanese Village Plaza, Little Tokyo Mall, Weller Court, or the Little Tokyo Galleria Shopping Center.
The Kyoto Garden is a Japanese-inspired garden located on the above-ground terrace of the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel. There is also a rooftop bar located here.
The grounds feature calming, soothing water fountains and lush greenery – a hidden gem within the concrete jungle of downtown.
Come explore the unique gaming world of Tokyo! Hit up EightyTwo for some old-school arcade games, or head to VR Station for state-of-the-art virtual reality games!
If you like history, check out the Japanese American National Museum on the northeast side of Little Tokyo. The museum is dedicated to sharing the experiences of the Japanese Americans and the part they played throughout U.S. history. You can purchase tickets here.
Make sure to walk across the Street and visit the “Go for Broke” Monument too! This monument is dedicated to the Japanese American soldiers during WWII.
Located on 1st Street, Far Bar features a lively main bar with dozens of craft beers on tap and Asian-influenced cocktails and pub fare. It hosts a daily happy hour on Tuesday-Friday from 3-7 pm, offering discounts on beer, wine, sake, cocktails, and bar food.
Head to Max Karaoke Studio in the Galleria for some classic karaoke fun! Max Karaoke Studio is a trendy karaoke spot in Little Tokyo with an eclectic song selection, including Kpop and Jpop collections. So, grab the mic and sing!
Located on the 3rd floor of the Weller Court, SIP is a new nightclub, bar, and lounge with exclusive boozy boba drinks! Sip your way through some of their unique boba flavors like “tropic like its hot” and “peach diddy.”
Join a walking tour of Downtown Los Angeles with GetYourGuide! Visit Little Tokyo and Arts District’s shops, markets, and food stands. Book your guided walking tour here.
I am a full-time traveling registered nurse, fitness enthusiast, and plant-based nutrition expert. Every morning I wake up intending to bring awareness of the importance of health and spiritual wellness, especially to the traveling community. This blog is designed to bring you travel and health advice while sprinkling in some fun life stories.
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