What is Budokan of Los Angeles?
Budokan of Los Angeles will be a recreational, multi-purpose activity center and gathering place located in the historic and cultural community of Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles.
What does the word 'Budokan' mean?
Little Tokyo Rec Center was renamed Budokan of Los Angeles in 2009. The Japanese word “budokan” literally translates to “martial arts hall” in English. “Budo” meaning “the way of the warrior” embodies physical discipline, harmony, and respect, virtues that the Budokan of Los Angeles will represent. During the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, the Nippon Budokan was built as the official competition venue for Judo. Today, the Nippon Budokan continues to host Japan’s National Championship for judo, kendo, aikido, karate, naginata, etc. Nippon Budokan is also internationally known as a concert venue and the first rock group to perform there were the Beatles in 1966. Budokan of Los Angeles promises to preserve the cultural legacy of Little Tokyo by incorporating traditional Japanese values and customs. This standard will serve to differentiate the Budokan from many other recreation and entertainment venues in Southern California.
Who will use Budokan?
Budokan of Los Angeles will be the “Home Court for All,” people like:
- Lauren K and her team will have basketball practice every Saturday.
- John M will be introduced to the traditional Japanese martial art of kendo.
- Miyoko Y and her friend Grace L will come weekly to the tai-chi class for seniors.
- Cindy and Brent will take their engagement pictures and hold their rehearsal dinner in the outdoor garden.
- Evan will come with his family after lunch in Little Tokyo, play in the children’s playground and later watch his sister’s volleyball game.
- In the community garden, Mitch will tend his plot of tomatoes and eggplant, picking a few ripe vegetables to share with his neighbors.
How much usage will the Japanese American community have in the facility?
Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) has a 35-year history of providing services and community development programs in the Little Tokyo neighborhood and has built extensive relationships with stakeholders and policy makers. In addition, LTSC maintains extensive ties with JA community based organizations, including youth and sports-related organizations. These relationships are the conduit to a majority of the potential users of Budokan. The need for gym space, practice space for sports, martial arts, and recreational activities for many of these organizations will be fulfilled by Budokan.
Who controls the scheduling and operations once the facility is built?
Budokan will be owned and operated by the Little Tokyo Service Center, a social service and community development non-profit.
Why has the project taken so long to be realized?
Identification and approval of a site for Budokan was the major reason for the delay of the project.
- 2008, a site adjacent to the historic St. Vibiana Cathedral was confirmed and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was executed with the City of Los Angeles.
- In 2011, the ground-lease was executed with the City of Los Angeles.
- Fall of 2014, the entitlement process was completed, the final administrative step in securing the site.
What changes, if any, have been made to the project?
The environment has changed since the project’s inception, including weathering a deep economic recession that underscored the importance of not overly relying upon public funding, grants, and donations for operational support. The current revitalization of downtown Los Angeles indicates increasing numbers of residents and visitors of diverse backgrounds coming to Little Tokyo. The changing demographics of the Japanese American community identify a growing need for services and activities, not just for youth, but for adults and seniors.
LTSC has revised the project reflecting strategies to:
- Maximize space and emphasize earned income potential; 2-court gymnasium, community event & rental space
- Create a broader range of usages for the facilities for a broader range of age groups and audiences; community garden, children’s play area, senior drop-in center
- Provide more opportunities to connect with Little Tokyo cultural and neighborhood preservation efforts; performance and community gathering space, education and exhibit space, public art depicting Japanese American sports history
Little Tokyo has changed so much, is the project still relevant?
Little Tokyo is the largest and the most vibrant of the 4 remaining Japantowns in the United States. It is the historic and cultural heart of the Japanese American community in southern California and an important touchstone for Nikkei, especially its young people.
Maintaining and nurturing a sense of community and neighborhood as well as promoting the historic and cultural roots of Little Tokyo is more important than ever, especially in the face of downtown development.
Budokan will be perhaps the final community-driven, community-owned project to be built in Little Tokyo, serving as an important anchor and center of activity and participation, especially for young people.
With the increased traffic and expensive parking, will people be willing to drive to Little Tokyo for activities at Budokan?
Little Tokyo is centrally located from many areas of southern California and will be a convenient location for activities. Budokan will have approximately 63 public underground parking spaces.
In the future, completion of several major transit projects, will make Little Tokyo accessible by public transit.
Does LTSC have the experience and competence to complete and operate a project like this?
Since the 1980s, Little Tokyo Service Center has developed more than 800 units of affordable housing as well as rehabilitating existing historic buildings, like the Far East Cafe and the Union Center for the Arts. LTSC also serves as property manager for many of its housing projects, demonstrating its competence and experience to build and operate the project.