Exploring L.A.’s Little Tokyo

Just a few stops away on the Gold Line, L.A.’s Little Tokyo is a diverse, walkable hub of culture and cuisine.

As the “largest museum in the U.S. dedicated to sharing the experience of Americans of Japanese ancestry,” the Japanese American National Museum promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s diversity through educational programs and exhibitions. General adult admission is $16, but the museum offers free admission every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. and all day every third Thursday of the month. 100 N. Central Ave., 213-625-0414, janm.org

Created in Japan, “monkey pants” are an innovative part of a baby’s wardrobe. Parents appreciate their durability (perfect for lounging, travel, and play while accommodating a diaper) and visual appeal. Children’s boutique Monkey Pants offers a cute curated selection. Founder Mychaela Hardy discovered the garment style while online shopping for her then 8-month-old, and realized Western parents like herself longed for more fun options in their children’s wardrobes. Along with the eponymous pants, Hardy stocks a collection of bright, funky graphic tees, handmade bibs from Kyoto, and plush animals. 131 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, 213-570-0980, japanesemonkeypants.com

Home to a variety of services, shops, eateries, and year-round cultural entertainment, Japanese Village Plaza is not to be missed when visiting Little Tokyo. During the holiday season, share your wish list with “Shogun Santa.” 335 E. Second St., 213-617-1900, japanesevillageplaza.net

Since its opening in 2011, Cafe Dulce has become a must-stop destination for a caffeine pick-me-up or sugar rush. For a sweet or savory treat, the cafe serves up creative flavor combos like its Fruity Pebbles donut hole, and spicy Korean cheesesteak with kimchi, marinated beef, house slaw, sweet chili sauce, and provolone cheese served on a fresh baguette. 134 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, 213-346-9910, cafedulce.co

An unexpected peaceful oasis in the middle of downtown, Koyasan Beikoku Betsuin (also known as Koyasan Buddhist Temple) is more than 100 years old. And you don’t need to be a member to visit. The temple offers weekly and monthly services and activities, including meditation and Buddha painting classes. 342 E. First St., 213-624-1267, koyasanbetsuin.org

Mochi, a rice cake confection, is especially popular during the New Year’s holidays in Japanese culture. Family owned and operated since 1903, Fugetsu-Do is the oldest-running mochi business in Little Tokyo, specializing in both traditional and modern flavors of the tasty treat—including peanut butter, blueberry, and white bean. Fugetsu-Do is also known for its kiku or “chrysanthemum” mochi—a pink and white mochi surrounding a white bean center molded into the shape of a flower. 315 E. First St., 213-625-8595, fugetsu-do.com

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