Seated from left: Mike Okamura, Jeffrey Gee Chin, and Chris Tashima. LTHS hosted their first panel at Anime Expo on July. (Photo by SOPHIA COLE/Rafu Shimpo)

By HIKARU ITO

The Little Tokyo Historical Society hosted their first-ever panel at Anime Expo on July 1 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In a panel titled “LTHS Dynamism in the 130+ Year Neighborhood,” Mike Okamura, Jeffrey Gee Chin, and Chris Tashima discussed the storied past of Little Tokyo.

The panel began with introductions. Okamura, the president of LTHS, introduced himself along with his fellow panelists, film director and author Chin and actor and Academy Award winner Tashima. As the room filled, the panelists shared images and stories about the various Japanese American Historical Cultural Monuments or HCMs throughout Los Angeles.

Mike Okamura, Jeffrey Gee Chin, and Chris Tashima presenting at Anime Expo on July 1. (Photo by SOPHIA COLE/Rafu Shimpo)

Kame Restaurant, the Sei Fujii Memorial Lantern, the Japanese Hospital in Boyle Heights, Toriumi Plaza, the Aoyama Tree, The Finale Club, Azusa Street Mission, Toyo Miyatake Way, Judge John Aiso Street, and Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Street were all featured during the panel. Each monument was accompanied by images along with stories of their cultural and historic significance to Little Tokyo and the Japanese-American community.

The panel also featured a trailer for the short film “A Rebel’s Outcry.” Based on the award-winning book of the same name, the film features the life of civil rights pioneer and journalist Sei Fujii, played by Tashima. Chin, author of “A Rebel’s Outcry” and director of the short film, shared stories of Fujii’s past and his connection to the Little Tokyo community. Select pages from the upcoming Fujii graphic novel were also shared at the panel.

As the panel came to a close, audience members were invited to ask questions about film, writing, and the history of Little Tokyo. Tashima shared insights on creative license in film along with the importance of owning one’s art and knowing the importance of the story that you wish to deliver.

If you’re interested in the history of Little Tokyo, or you’d like to know how you can help the Little Tokyo Historical Society, you can find their website here. You can purchase “A Rebel’s Outcry” at stores throughout Little Tokyo or on the LTHS website.

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