Tuesday, February 19, 2013

#255: Little Tokyo

Did anyone else check out Los Angeles Magazine's February "Hidden L.A." issue? Love it! The O'Neill house, Encino Velodrome and Serra Retreat are just some of the places I've bookmarked from the article.

Among the magazine's recommended hidden L.A. eateries is Fugetsu-do Sweetshop in Little Tokyo. The glossy picture of the delicately arranged Japanese confectionaries made my mouth water and inspired me to pay Little Tokyo my first visit in what has probably been a couple years.  

Fugetsu-do has been selling mochi and manju for 109 years. As the plaque says in front of the shop, Seiichi Kito opened the original Fugetsu-do candy store on Weller in 1903 and in 1930, Fugetsu-do moved to its current location.

From left to right: ogura, manju, ohagi

During our visit they had special mochis made for Valentine's Day and Girl's Day. I got a simple ohagi dessert, which is mashed sweetened azuki beans covering a rice center. Brad got a manju (cake surrounding sweet azuki beans) and a special ogura Valentine's dessert (sweet azuki beans around a sticky mochi rice center). We agreed that the ohagi was the best of the three. 

After grabbing lunch at Suehiro Cafe, we took a walking tour of Little Tokyo. First we made a stop at Weller Court where the Friendship Knot and the Challenger Memorial honoring Colonel Ellison Shoji Onizuka are on display. Onizuka was the first Japanese American astronaut selected to participate in America's Space Program. The Challenger flight was his second mission into space.

Challenger Memorial

Friendship Knot

Then we headed to the Japanese Village Plaza. On the outskirts is a neat gift shop called Bun-ka Do:

Near the Plaza's red tower is Foot Land, home of these awesome Spam shoes: 

And across from Foot Land is the macaron shop 'Lette. I couldn't resist getting a salted caramel from here:

On the corner of Central Avenue and 1st Street is the colorful "Home is Little Tokyo" mural:

Across the street from the Plaza is the Japanese American National Museum  (#57) and MOCA (#200):

Walk a little past MOCA to see the Go For Broke Memorial honoring the Japanese American soldiers who fought in WWII.

There's no place quite like L.A.'s Little Tokyo. It is a mix of old and new, built on a foundation of Japanese spirit and strength. As the Los Angeles Magazine article says, "As time collapses, you'll ask yourself what took you so long to come here."

Planning on taking a walking tour of Little Tokyo? I used this site to plan our own walking tour.

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