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Sawtelle Japantown Celebrates 3rd Anniversary of Designation

Len Nguyen, a planning deputy for City Councilmember Mike Bonin, presents a certificate celebrating the third anniversary of the official naming of Sawtelle Japantown to Levana Leyva (center), chairperson of the Booster Club of Nora Sterry Elementary School, who offered the celebration venue. Leyva’s daughter is on the right.

A celebratory event was held at Nora Sterry Elementary School along Sawtelle Boulevard in West Los Angeles on Feb. 25, commemorating the third anniversary of the city’s official designation of Sawtelle Japantown.

Approximately 200 people, including members of Japanese American organizations in Little Tokyo, Norwalk, Sun Valley, and Norwalk, participated to show their support for maintaining and developing the Sawtelle neighborhood as a Japantown.

Mitsuhiro Shimotsu, who graduated from Nora Sterry Elementary School in 1939, participates in Bon Odori in a wheelchair with the help of his daughter.

In conjunction with this event, more than restaurants and shops in the Sawtelle area offered discounts and other promotions.

City Councilmember Mike Bonin, who supported city signs designating Sawtelle Japantown, sent a celebratory message: “I honor those Isseis and Niseis who lived in this area, have survived the history of racial discrimination and detention, and built the community here in Sawtelle. I emphasize the significance of the naming again.”

He also thanked Nora Terry Elementary School, which many Japanese and Japanese Americans graduated from, for providing a venue for the celebration.

The event started with a performance by Koshin Taiko from the Venice Japanese Community Center, followed by Bon Odori led by the Little Tokyo Dance Club.

Photos by YUKIKAZU NAGASHIMA/Rafu Shimpo

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