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7th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest

July 24, 2020 - Aug. 14, 2020

Each year, the Little Tokyo Historical Society’s Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest heightens awareness of Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo by challenging both new and experienced writers to write a story that showcases familiarity with the neighborhood and the people in it. Writers from three categories, Adult, Youth, and Japanese language, weave fictional stories set in the past, present, or future. This year’s winning stories captured the spirit and cultural essence of Little Tokyo. This year the 7th Imagine Little Tokyo brought the awards ceremony online on July 23. Actors Tamlyn Tomita, Derek Mio, and Eijiro Ozaki performed dramatic readings of the winning stories from each category.


*Read stories from other Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contests:

1st Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
2nd Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
3rd Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
4th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
5th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
6th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
8th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
9th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
10th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>
11th Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest >>

Stories from this series

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Half an Anman

Aug. 14, 2020 • Muslima Gulyamova

“Akemashite omedetou!” Hideki elbowed his way through a tight crowd of people relentlessly moving up and down First Street. At 8 years old he was still a head shorter than most of them, and as far as he could see, there was no end to the stream of people. “Happy New Year!” he heard at every corner. It was the first day of New Year, and Little Tokyo was swarming with people, both Japanese drawn in by nostalgia and folks …

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Finding Shinyū

Aug. 7, 2020 • Onassa Sun

I am inside Marukai Market when the muffled sound of the taikos indicate the Oshogatsu Festival has begun. Several strong, clear beats slip through the door with every entrance and exit. As people settle down to observe the New Year’s celebrations, I pay for my mentsuyu and leave. Onstage, the Nisei Week Queen and Court are preparing to throw mochi into the crowd for mochi-maki. Hisa always urged me to try and catch one with her, but—proud as I was—I …

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The Last Visit

July 31, 2020 • Junzo Arai

It was in mid-August 1969 in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Tokuji Yoshida, a first-generation Japanese American, was reading that day’s Rafu Shimpo while smoking a cigarette at the dining table. “The 28th Nisei Week Festival Grand Parade will be held tomorrow.” He crushed his cigarette stub in an ashtray and called out to his wife Hisae in the living room, “Hey, we should be going soon.” They were both in their late 60s. Hisae served a bowl of tea to …

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She’s Still Here

July 24, 2020 • James Fujita

My name is Eric Ramirez, and I’m proud to say that I’m helping Los Angeles build a subway system. You may have seen me before. You know that big construction site in the middle of Little Tokyo, across from the Japanese American museum? There are a couple of spots along the sidewalk where you can look through the fence and see what will eventually be an underground light rail station. Yeah, I’m one of those construction guys you might see …

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Authors in This Series

Born in Kawasaki city in Japan, Junzo Arai came to the United States in 2000 and studied Cinema and TV production at Los Angeles City College. He joined Japan America Television in 2003. As a TV director, he received broadcasting awards twice from the Association of Nikkei & Japanese abroad. He joined Soto Group International in 2009 and produced a weekly Japanese Local news program called NTB. In 2015, he started his own production company called Sorack Media Productions and produced online commercial videos and documentaries. One of his documentaries called Dream Blossoms was selected for the Japan Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2019.

Updated July 2020

James Fujita is a half Japanese writer and editor from Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. He has contributed articles and photographs to the Gardena Valley News and the Rafu Shimpo. He is currently writing online content for an anime fan website, OTAQUEST. He has also edited newsletters for Go For Broke National Education Center. He has been a journalist for 20 years. He enjoys photography, anime, trains, and reading. He was born in Tokyo to an Irish-German American mother and Japanese father.

Updated July 2020

Muslima Gulyamova is a screenwriter and director with an affinity for telling heart-warming, empathetic, and nostalgic stories that speak to both adults and children. Born and raised in Uzbekistan and educated in the United Kingdom in Media Arts, Muslima moved to Los Angeles to pursue filmmaking dreams. From studying Japanese language to cooking traditional washoku food, Muslima has great passion for Japanese culture. One of her biggest dreams is to set foot on Japan’s soil one day and witness the blooming of sakura trees.

Updated August 2020

Onassa Sun currently attends Arcadia High School and is an avid member of the creative writing community. As a writer, she strives to capture the human experience with her stories and is fascinated by how writing can touch the hearts of people she might never even meet. Travelling is an integral part of her life, as it inspired in her a deep appreciation for other cultures and taught her the importance of empathy. During her free time, she enjoys reading, doing yoga, and spending quality time with her mother.

Updated August 2020

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