Our mission is to provide a facility in Downtown Los Angeles for youth, families and seniors that offers sports, community activities and opportunities to connect visitors to Japanese American culture and to a vibrant, sustainable Little Tokyo.
Video by Tad Nakamura
Tad's Video with Japanese Subtitles
TERASAKI BUDOKAN PROJECT HISTORY
The Terasaki Family Foundation has generously donated $3.5 million to Little Tokyo Service Center’s community-driven project, Budokan of Los Angeles. Budokan of LA will be renamed after the late organ transplant pioneer and philanthropist Dr. Paul I. Terasaki.
Once LTSC has successfully covered construction costs for Terasaki Budokan, it will shift into phase II of its fundraising, an endowment campaign necessary to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the facility. A ground breaking ceremony is scheduled for August of 2017 and Terasaki Budokan will open to the public 2020. Thanks to supporters like you, we will make this community dream a reality. Little Tokyo is only 1 of 4 remaining Japantowns in the United States.
Our groundbreaking ceremony was on Thursday, August 3, 2017! We had 300 guests in attendance with 25 speakers to celebrate this huge milestone for the Budokan Project. Mitsubishi Electric US President and CEO Kent Hora announced they will be donating a solar power system to Terasaki Budokan. Not only will this generous gift help lower the electrical costs for LTSC, the use of solar panels for a 25 year period will equal planting 17,500 new trees or removing 143 cars off the road.
Special events like the Budokan Toyota Raffle, Big Budokan Bash, Straight Outta Little Tokyo, Bola-thon, and the return of the San Tai San Basketball Tournament have helped the Budokan Project gain momentum towards breaking ground in 2017.
LTSC launches the Budokan Grassroots Campaign to raise awareness of the project to the various organizations and sports groups that will be utilizing this long-anticipated facility. The urgency to help preserve Little Tokyo’s cultural heritage is highlighted as condominium complexes are being constructed next door and across the street from the future Budokan location, LTSC, and the Little Tokyo Public Library.
The Budokan Capital Campaign gains momentum as major funding from the city, state, and federal levels are awarded to the project. Public and private foundations as well as key individual donors also show their support.
Annual fundraising events like BoLA-thon (a youth bowling tournament), San Tai San (3-on-3 basketball tournament) and the Budokan Golf Tournament gain popularity. These events will continue past the conclusion of the capital campaign and will hopefully become a Budokan tradition.
A grand achievement is celebrated as a long-term ground lease for the future Budokan site is approved by the Los Angeles City Council. LTSC launches the Budokan Capital Campaign to cover the projected development and construction costs.
Little Tokyo Rec Center is renamed Budokan of Los Angeles. The Japanese word “budokan” literally translates to “martial arts hall” in English. “Budo” meaning “the way of the warrior” embodies physical discipline, harmony, and respect, virtues that the Budokan of Los Angeles will represent.
Budokan of Los Angeles promises to preserve the cultural legacy of Little Tokyo by incorporating traditional Japanese values and customs. This standard will serve to differentiate the Budokan from many other recreation and entertainment venues in Southern California.
Japanese American community groups hold a series of planning sessions and agree that a gymnasium could serve to maintain Little Tokyo’s cultural identity and stimulate the area’s economy. A group of students expressed that a gym would definitely entice younger generation back to Little Tokyo.
In 1994, Little Tokyo Service Center is assigned the task to help identify a suitable site for this project. For the next 5 years, LTSC explores 25 different sites in Downtown for the Little Tokyo Rec Center.
A gym for Little Tokyo was originally included in the plans for the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center. However, plans for the single court gym were changed to the JACCC Plaza (designed by Isamu Noguchi).
In 1979, Little Tokyo Service Center is founded as a nonprofit organization that provides essential social services to seniors, families, and children who call Little Tokyo home. Over the next 35 years, LTSC’s services have expanded both geographically and ethnically as the population of Downtown Los Angeles changes.
During the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, the Nippon Budokan was built as the official competition venue for Judo. The Japanese word “budokan” literally translates to “martial arts hall” in English.
Today, the Nippon Budokan continues to host Japan’s National Championship for judo, kendo, aikido, karate, naginata, etc. Nippon Budokan is also internationally known as a concert venue and the first rock group to perform there were the Beatles in 1966.
When Japanese American families living on the west coast were relocated to WWII internment camps, sports like basketball and volleyball were a necessary outlet for socializing and morale.
In the post-war years when Japanese American families returned home, they faced housing discrimination and social segregation. Many JA organizations (usually associated with a church, club, or community center) were formed to provide stability and independence for the younger generations through sports. These groups continue to be an endearing part of the Japanese American community to this day.