Photo by Bob Nishida

The Japanese American National Museum presents “Little Tokyo Drift: Nisei Week Car Culture” on Saturday, Aug. 21, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

“Little Tokyo Drift” brings together veterans of the Nisei Week cruises and organizers of the Showoff to discuss the history and legacy of Nikkei car culture in Los Angeles in a conversation moderated by Oliver Wang with Janet Fujimoto, Tod Kaneko, Brian Karasawa, and Ken Miyoshi.

Beginning in the 1970s, the annual Nisei Week Festival became the premier destination for Japanese American cruisers who’d roll out in their freshly detailed cars, trucks and motorcycles to circle the carnival grounds. Japanese American auto enthusiasts have played vital roles within the Southern California car scene since the early 20th century and the annual Nisei Week cruises became one of the most visible displays of the Nikkei community’s pride in their vehicles, hitting its peak in the mid 1980s before law enforcement brought things to a swift end after.

However, since 2000, Nisei Week has become home to the Showoff, a car show inspired by the rise of import car racing and customization, thus continuing the link between Nisei Week and the local car scene for another generation.

Several panelists will also be bringing out their show cars to display on the JANM plaza, First and Central in Little Tokyo, on Aug. 21.

Due to limited in-person capacity, JANM is now only offering virtual attendance. For more information, visit

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit

This program is presented in partnership with the YOMYOMF Foundation with support from the Nisei Week Japanese Festival.

Learn more about Nisei Week cruise history in this Discover Nikkei article by Oliver Wang

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