“Tales of Little Tokyo” will be performed on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum’s Tateuchi Democracy Forum, First and Central in Little Tokyo.

Dan Kwong and Takayo Fischer (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

“Tales of Little Tokyo” is a live theatrical reading of memories drawn from over 50 interviews with Los Angeles residents about their relationship to the oldest and largest Japanese American community in the United States. Today this 135+-year-old landmark of Japanese American history faces serious threats to its existence as the relentless forces of gentrification bear down on its ever-shrinking geography. This is a phenomenon that major cities across the country are grappling with.

Why are communities and the cultural history they embody important? What do we stand to lose? What have we lost already? How can a community respond intelligently and effectively to conflicting issues of preservation and development? “Tales of Little Tokyo” speaks to those questions and more through the stories of those who have been part of its history and who continue to cherish it as a community.

Originally created by award-winning performance artist Dan Kwong in 2018, this presentation will include new interviews as well as a multimedia component. Read/performed by Kwong and veteran actress Takayo Fischer, dozens of recollections will come to life with the help of archival photos, family snapshots, and period music. Together they will convey the rich history of Little Tokyo and what it means to its stakeholders.

Even to those who are not Japanese American or have no particular relationship to Little Tokyo, the idea of people fighting for something that has symbolized “home” for generations resonates loud and clear: the heart and soul of a city is found in the collective experience of its people.

General admission is $16. Free admission for JANM members, seniors (62+) and students with ID. RSVPs are strongly recommended. For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit www.janm.org.

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