California Japantowns - Exploring the preservation of history, culture, and community...


Close proximity to the seashore that eased nostalgia for their homeland, the mild temperatures and rich soil ideal for working close to nature, and a cooperative network by the local Kenjinkai, were attributes attracting the early Issei to Sawtelle, or so-te-ru, in the 1910s. From 1920 to 1925, the town's population increased from 3,500 to 10,700, primarily due to the westward migration of the movie industry from New York, the influx of Nikkei farmers and merchants, and later the establishment of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). With the growth of neighboring communities in Westwood, Bel Air, and Brentwood, the demand for Nikkei gardeners, nurserymen, and domestics increased; and the area became ideal for raising families.

Becoming a part of greater Los Angeles and renamed West Los Angeles (WLA) in 1929, "Sawtelle"" still commonly refers to the commercial corridor of Japanese businesses and restaurants along Sawtelle Blvd, between Pico and Santa Monica Boulevards, and the residential neighborhood surrounding it. By 1941, Sawtelle boasted 26 nurseries/florist shops, 8 boarding houses, 8 gas stations/garages, 4 churches, 3 grocery stores, 5 shops, 4 barbers, 2 sewing schools, 1 beauty salon, and 1 Japanese language school and community hall. Today, only a handful of pre-World War II historic sites remain, but an influx of Japanese restaurants, markets, and the J-pop influence of the Giant Robot store and eatery provide a new identity, often referred to as "Little Osaka."


Kobayakawa Boarding House - 1936 Sawtelle Blvd.

Sawtelle Gakuin - 2110 Corinth Ave.

Japanese Community Church - 1913 Purdue Ave.

Modern Beauty Salon (Satsuma Imports) -

Pacific Rose Company - 11111 Wilshire Blvd, Veterans Administration

OK Nursery - 1947 Sawtelle Blvd.

Ikkanda Automotive Services & Harry’s Service Station - 2004 Sawtelle Blvd.

Stoner Japanese Community Garden -


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