Inside Little Tokyo: First Stop Little Tokyo Street Fair at Weller Court

Weller Court is a  multi-level shopping and dining with dozens of store fronts, photo ops, and dining opportunities.

Much like Fig&7 or the Bloc for that matter, with the exception that most of the writing on the signage still remains in Japanese, Weller Court’s history dates back to the early 80s. Weller Court sits on triangular lot at the intersection of San Pedro and 2nd Streets leading toward 1st and Los Angeles but holds its own street address at 123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka Street almost encompassing an entire city block. 

For those willing to step into a world where tradition meets modernity, with every corner telling a story, and every bite leaving them craving for more, Weller Court could prove itself as one of DTLAs greatest tourist attractions and cultural hub soaked in Japanese history every step of the way.

For instance, Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St, the road that lends entry to the center, features a scaled space shuttle resting on its launch pad. The memorial is dedicated to Ellison Shoji Onizuka the first Asian American to reach space. The Japanese-American astronaut, engineer, successfully flew into space with the Space Shuttle Discovery but tragically lost his life in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster back in 1986.

There’s nothing like walking down Onizuka’s own street at Weller Court in Little Tokyo heading to shop for souvenirs, grab a bite to eat, or pick up some original Japanese wears.

Calling further attention to the shopping court are personal friends and business associates of the owners of Weller Court,  Bozu Plants and the Kiosk Boys. 

Bozu plant at Boxx coffee

The creator of Bozu, is a third-generation artisan known in these parts as the giver of good fortune thanks to the traditional legend that goes along with every Bozu plant. 

“We enjoy working in Little Tokyo because of the diverse nationalities shopping and hanging out. We also get people of all ages. It’s also great to see many of the older generation Nisei Japanese (2nd generation), along with Sansei and Yonsei, stopping by. But now we even see some new gosei, which are 5th generation Japanese.” – Bozu

Along with partners Kiosk Boys, a just as popular DTLA urban fashion brand, the two entities bring the beauty of Japanese culture to light every other month at Little Tokyo Street Fair, an event they curate with dozens of local artisans at the passage way that exist as Weller Court sight. 

During the Little Tokyo Street Fair, visitors explore 10 by 10 kiosks, each of which lines the Ozinuka Street of Weller Court, offering a unique glimpse into Japanese craftsmanship and creativity from the first generation of settlers (Issai), their offspring, the second generation (Niesi), their grandchildren, the third generation (Sansei), and the fourth generation, the Yonsei, or great grandchildren, that make up the lineages of Little Tokyo inhabitants of today.

With dedication to ensure authenticity in every nook and cranny of the open air complex, Weller Court is a place where visitors can Indulge their senses with a myriad of Japanese delicacies from renowned establishments. Marukai Japanese Market for everyday life in the city, Kinokuniya Book Store for gifts and learning, and restaurants, Rice & Nori, Orochan, Torigoya, Sushi Takeda for sushi aficionados, Sip Little Tokyo and Kushi Shabu keep Weller Court filled to max capacity both day and night. 

Fun Fact: Onizuka has many other locations dedicated to his life and times;  An Onizuka memorial is located in the lobby of the nearby Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. There’s also  Onizuka Air Force Station in Sunnyvale, California and Onizuka Village family housing on Hickam Air Force Base, once at The Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center at Kona International Airport on Hawaii island where he was born and and select items from the center’s collection have been put on display at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii in Moiliili on the island of Oahu.

Two astronomical features were also named after Onizuka: an asteroid discovered by Edward L. G. Bowell in 1984, 3355 Onizuka and a 29-km-diameter crater on the Moon, Onizuka.

In upcoming issues, DT Weekly will take our readers Inside this epicenter of Japanese of culture, community, and creativity. Paid parking is available on site, as visitors are encouraged to  offset costs, by taking advantage of businesses offering validation. Weller Court is located at 123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St Los Angeles, CA  90012.

Author: Hanny Playa

Lover of all things music. Seeker of the highest frequency. When I’m not writing or attending concerts I’m marching to the beat of a different drum.