San Tai San ROCKED Little Tokyo!

San Tai San ROCKED Little Tokyo!

Event Recap

Hi! My name is Amelia, and I’m the Communications and Outreach Coordinator for Terasaki Budokan (pictured to the left- capturing content at San Tai San!). On March 9th, Budokan continued its annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament, San Tai San. This was the second time this long-standing legacy was held in Budokan’s gym, as San Tai San initially started on the streets as a part of the capital campaign to build Budokan– a home court where community events like the tournament could take place. 2023 was the first year Budokan hosted the tournament in the newly constructed gym–a significant full-circle moment for everyone who contributed to making the dream a reality.

This year, over 90 teams, 1,250 attendees, and 70 volunteers from across LA County gathered at Budokan for this event, which was generously sponsored by LA84, City National Bank, and Japangeles. The event was a HUGE success thanks to the support of many attendees, sponsors, vendors, donors, and volunteers- we raised close to $4,500 for Budokan’s mission-driven programs that connect community members to Japanese culture and the Little Tokyo neighborhood.

This was my first time attending San Tai San, and…WOW. I truly couldn’t believe how amazing it was.

What Makes San Tai San Special?

San Tai San is THE ONLY free, co-ed, intergenerational 3-on-3 basketball tournament in DTLA completely open to kids, teens, college students, adults, and people over 40 from all backgrounds and from all over LA County. This event feels so special, because it encapsulates what Budokan is all about- being, “a home court for ALL.”

Anytime I walked into the gym throughout the tournament, the energy was surreal. From the elementary school kids in the morning, to the high schoolers in the afternoon, to the adults at night- you can tell how passionate everyone is about basketball and how much fun they were having playing with and against friends.

Off the court, players, guests, and volunteers were able to enjoy food and activities in our plaza (pictured to the left). It was so cool to see community partners and local businesses come out to make the day even better. There was takoyaki, corn hole, coloring activities, curry, prizes, an inflatable soccer goal (pictured below and to the right), photo stations, and so much more.


My favorite part of the tournament was seeing the kids and teens show up just as hard for their parents when they competed in our 40+ division. They cheered just as loud and were just as invested as their parents were for them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an event where both kids and parents were able to equally participate in the same activity. It was so special seeing a high schooler who participated in the tournament earlier (pictured below) take a clipboard and pretend to be an intense coach for his parent’s team– he even jokingly threw the clipboard on the ground after a frustrating play! He stayed at the front of the sidelines and jumped up and cheered throughout the whole division.

Hear from the Community!

Elaine, a girl participating in the 1st + 2nd grade girls’ division (pictured to the left), won her first round and was about to play against her friends in the next one! She said she was excited to play against them, and when I asked her if she thought she would win, she diplomatically replied that she “might.”

Maddox, the team captain of Lords, the co-ed high school division champions (pictured below), says, “Basketball to me is not just the game itself, it’s the people you play with– it’s the people you spend time with and bond with….I love my coaches, I love my players, I love everyone, and the parents especially- they mean so much to me.”

Jeno and Jacob, two boys participating in the 5th + 6th grade boys’ division (pictured below and to the left), attended San Tai San for the first time this year. They had a blast playing, and ended up making new friends by the end of the day.

Hearing from all of the participants, volunteers, referees, coaches, parents, and staff, it was so clear to me what this day was all about- community. Basketball is an awesome sport to play and watch, but the true highlight of the day for everyone was coming together. Being with your friends, parents, friends’ parents, grandparents, and younger siblings, PLUS making new friends, is what makes San Tai San so special to everyone. There aren’t many chances to have kids, teens, college students, adults, and 40+-year-olds come together for one thing and to all be able to participate and make memories. 


Thank you to everyone who made San Tai San a success! It was such a meaningful day, and we hope you all had a great time. To see photos/videos of the event, follow us on Instagram!


All photos where taken by Joe Akira (click here for his website, and here for his IG).

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