Authors to Gather for Inaugural Little Tokyo Book Festival


The Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and Shotokio Crew will welcome over 30 authors at the inaugural Little Tokyo Book Festival on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Aratani Theatre.


Amy Uyematsu

Amy Uyematsu


The Little Tokyo Book Festival is the collaboration of JACCC and the Shotokio Crew, which is composed of local, prominent community leaders who have a strong desire to bring Asian American writers and all people who love books to Little Tokyo. Members of Shotokio Crew — Naomi Hirahara, Sherry Kanzer, traci kato­kiriyama, Iku Kiriyama and Carolyn Sanwo — have been developing a new and different concept of a book festival that encourages literacy and literature in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles.

Not your typical run-of-the-mill book festival, the Little Tokyo Book Festival will feature three dynamic panels and two “round-robin” style readings on the Aratani Theatre stage. The theater will be transformed to provide intimate and interactive participation from writers, readers and participants.


Angela Panaredondo

Angela Panaredondo


“This book festival will cultivate how stories, both spoken and on paper, sustain our collective and oral histories, as well as stimulate our imagination and dreams for the future,” says Hirahara, author of the Mas Arai and Ellie Rush mystery series.

The theater’s lobby will be brimming with books from invited vendors: Heritage Source, Kinokuniya Bookstore, Chin Music Press and Kaya Press, with authors signings on the Aratani Veranda. The day will culminate in a post­festival reception.

The festival will introduce new books written within the past 24 months as well as old favorites. The program will feature panel sessions with Lily Havey (“Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp”), Todd Shimoda (“Why Ghosts Appear”), Nick Nagatani (“Buddhahead Triology”), Karen Ishizuka (“Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties”), Sonoko Sakai (“Rice Craft”), Sesshu Foster (“World Ball Notebook”), Nina Revoyr (“Lost Canyon”), Sarah Kuhn (“Heroine Complex”), and Cynthia Kadohata (“The Thing About Luck”).


Chiwan Choi

Chiwan Choi


“Little Tokyo was the birthplace of the Asian American movement in Southern California,” Ishizuka stated, “so having ‘Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties’ at the Little Tokyo Book Festival is like proclaiming, ‘Tadaima! I’m home!’”

Lending their talents to the round-robin readings are Angela Penaredondo, Kenji Liu, MariNaomi, Yumi Sakugawa, Chiwan Choi, Neelanjana Banerjee, Taz Ahmed, Amy Uyematsu, Mia Nakaji Monnier, Sunny Seki, Sarena Kuhn and traci kato-kiriyama, reading from “Lament in the Night.” With a rich and diverse array of participants, there is something for everyone.


Cynthia Kadohata

Cynthia Kadohata


The schedule is as follows:

10­ to 10:10 a.m. — Opening remarks

10:10­ to 11:20 a.m. — “Past” panel with Lily Havey, Nick Nagatani, Todd Shimoda, Naomi Hirahara (moderator)

11:30 a.m.­ to 12:30 p.m. — “Little Tokyo” round robin with Amy Uyematsu, Mia Nakaji Monnier, traci kato­kiriyama, Sunny Seki, Serena Kuhn, MariNa