What is Paul I. Terasaki Budokan?

Paul I. Terasaki Budokan (named after philanthropist Dr. Paul I. Terasaki) will be a recreational, multi-purpose activity center and gathering place located in the historic and cultural community of Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles.

What does the Terasaki Budokan logo mean?

The logo design incorporates the Japanese kanji character, “do” (pronounced “dough”), which variously means: way, path or road.  It is alternatively read as “michi” to mean “street.”  The compound forms combined with other characters create an additional layer of meaning, for example “budo” translates to “the way of the warrior.”  Further, in the expansive utility of this kanji, “doutoku” means “morals” or “ethics.”  The character also symbolizes Taoism, a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao (The Way) and to be humble.

What does "A Home Court for All" mean?

Terasaki Budokan’s tagline is “A Home Court for All.”  Most often, the term “home court advantage” has been used in sports to signify that the host team has a competitive edge over visiting teams.  We believe that Terasaki Budokan will be a facility in which everyone is equally welcomed.

Who is Paul I. Terasaki?

Dr. Paul Ichiro Terasaki (1929-2016) is known professionally for developing a tissue-typing test for organ transplant donors and recipients which became the international standard for such testing.  He is also a generous philanthropist who made significant donations to his alma mater UCLA and to many Japanese American organizations and to causes that fostered mutual understanding between U.S. and Japan.  Early in life, he was among those incarcerated at Gila River in Arizona.  Before his passing in 2016, he established the Terasaki Family Foundation along with his wife, Hisako, and his four adult children.  Dr. Terasaki was proud of his Japanese American heritage and had deep affection for the Nikkei community in Southern California.  The Terasaki Family Foundation made a $3.5 million gift to LTSC and the Budokan Project at the beginning of 2017.  The Budokan of Los Angeles will be renamed Terasaki Budokan after the late Dr. Paul I. Terasaki.

What happened to Budokan of Los Angeles?

This project has gone through many name changes.  Originally it was known as the Little Tokyo Rec Center, then in 2009 the project was named Budokan of Los Angeles.  Since the Terasaki Family Foundation’s gift of $3.5 million to LTSC at the beginning of 2017, the Budokan will now be named after Paul I. Terasaki (the late organ donor pioneer and philanthropist).  The Paul I. Terasaki Budokan (or Terasaki Budokan) will stand as a monumental achievement for the Japanese American community and for the sustainable future of Little Tokyo.

What does the word 'Budokan' mean?

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 Terasaki Budokan will represent. During the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, the Nippon Budokan was built as the official competition venue for Judo.  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.  Terasaki Budokan 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.

Who will use Terasaki Budokan?

Terasaki Budokan will be “A Home Court for All,” people like:

  • Lauren K and her team will have basketball practice every Saturday.
  • John M will be introduced to the traditional Japanese martial art of kendo.
  • Miyoko Y and her friend Grace L will come weekly to the tai-chi class for seniors.
  • Cindy and Brent will take their engagement pictures and hold their rehearsal dinner in the outdoor garden.
  • Evan will come with his family after lunch in Little Tokyo, play in the children’s playground and later watch his sister’s volleyball game.
  • In the community garden, Mitch will tend his plot of tomatoes and eggplant, picking a few ripe vegetables to share with his neighbors.

How much usage will the Japanese American community have in the facility?

Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) has a 35-year history of providing services and community development programs in the Little Tokyo neighborhood and has built extensive relationships with stakeholders and policy makers.  In addition, LTSC maintains extensive ties with JA community based organizations, including youth and sports-related organizations.  These relationships are the conduit to a majority of the potential users of Terasaki Budokan.  The need for gym space, practice space for sports, martial arts, and recreational activities for many of these organizations will be fulfilled by Terasaki Budokan.

Who controls the scheduling and operations once the facility is built?

Terasaki Budokan will be owned and operated by the Little Tokyo Service Center, a social service and community development non-profit.

Why has the project taken so long to be realized?

Identification and approval of a site for Terasaki Budokan was the major reason for the delay of the project.

  • 2008, a site adjacent to the historic St. Vibiana Cathedral was confirmed and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was executed with the City of Los Angeles.
  • In 2011, the ground-lease was executed with the City of Los Angeles.
  • Fall of 2014, the entitlement process was completed, the final administrative step in securing the site.
  • The Capital Campaign to cover construction and development costs has not been completed.

What changes, if any, have been made to the project?

The environment has changed since the project’s inception, including weathering a deep economic recession that underscored the importance of not overly relying upon public funding, grants, and donations for operational support.  The current revitalization of downtown Los Angeles indicates increasing numbers of residents and visitors of diverse backgrounds coming to Little Tokyo.  The changing demographics of the Japanese American community identify a growing need for services and activities, not just for youth, but for adults and seniors.

LTSC has revised the project reflecting strategies to:

  • Maximize space and emphasize earned income potential; 2-court gymnasium, community event & rental space
  • Create a broader range of usages for the facilities for a broader range of age groups and audiences; community garden, children’s play area, senior drop-in center
  • Provide more opportunities to connect with Little Tokyo cultural and neighborhood preservation efforts; performance and community gathering space, education and exhibit space, public art depicting Japanese American sports history

Little Tokyo has changed so much, is the project still relevant?

Little Tokyo is the largest and the most vibrant of the 4 remaining Japantowns in the United States.  It is the historic and cultural heart of the Japanese American community in southern California and an important touchstone for Nikkei, especially its younger generations.

Maintaining and nurturing a sense of community and neighborhood as well as promoting the historic and cultural roots of Little Tokyo is more important than ever, especially in the face of downtown development and gentrification.

Terasaki Budokan is a community-driven, community-owned project currently under construction in Little Tokyo, serving as an important anchor and center of activity and participation, especially for young people.

With the increased traffic and expensive parking, will people be willing to drive to Little Tokyo for activities at Terasaki Budokan?

Little Tokyo is centrally located from many areas of southern California and will be a convenient location for activities.  Terasaki Budokan will have approximately 60 public underground parking spaces.

In the future, completion of several major transit projects will make Little Tokyo easily accessible by public transit and the Metro Gold and Red Lines.

Terasaki Budokan is also located off the 5, 10, 60, 101, and 110 freeway junctions making it a central location for people coming from the Westside, South Bay, San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley and Greater Los Angeles.

Does LTSC have the experience and competence to complete and operate a project like this?

Since the 1980s, Little Tokyo Service Center has developed more than 800 units of affordable housing as well as rehabilitating existing historic buildings, like the Far East Cafe and the Union Center for the Arts.  Until 2017, LTSC served as property manager for many of its housing projects, demonstrating its competence and experience to build and operate the project.