Consul General of Japan Harry Horinouchi and Sabine Horinouchi recently hosted an event for Budokan of Los Angeles — a community effort to build a multipurpose sports and activities center in Little Tokyo.
At a reception held last month at his official residence in Hancock Park, the consul general told about 60 guests, including a large delegation from Japan Business Association of Southern California (JBA), that Budokan will be an important part of a positive change taking place in Little Tokyo. In his opening remarks, he reminisced about his youth in his native Japan when martial arts tournaments were held at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. He fondly remembered hearing about the Beatles performing there in 1966.
“I very much look forward to the day when Budokan of Los Angeles opens its doors to the community and we hear the laughter of children in the gym as well as the peaceful shinkokyu (deep breathing) of seniors doing morning exercises in the rooftop garden,” Horinouchi said.
Following a short video presentation titled “Together We Can Build,” Dean Matsubayashi, executive director of Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), presented a brief overview of the effort to build a gym in Little Tokyo. “Budokan is special because its development is crucial to our mission of preserving Little Tokyo as the historical, cultural and symbolic home for the Southern California Nikkei community,” he said.
Matsubayashi stressed the importance and urgency of raising funds to begin construction in late 2016. “Little Tokyo is one of only three Japantowns remaining in the whole country; in prewar years, there were 80 Japantowns that provided social support and cultural offerings to the broader Nikkei community,” he continued.
“The rapid gentrification in greater Downtown will put Little Tokyo at risk if we are not proactive about preserving our neighborhood. We strongly believe that we cannot miss out on a crucial opportunity to build a major facility that would ensure that younger generations have a stake in the community and its future,” Matsubayashi concluded.
Having reached 80 percent of the fundraising goal last August, the focus of the project now is to raise the remaining $5.1 million by the expected groundbreaking in late 2016.
“After many years, we are very close to realizing a dream. Please be a part of this community-wide effort to build this sports complex for the youth of our community,” said Alan Kosaka, the capital campaign chair. “We are asking everyone in the community — from San Fernando Valley to Orange County, Eastside and Westside and the South Bay — to make a generous donation. Now is the time. Let’s do it.”
Yuko Kaifu, a bank executive and executive vice president of Japan Business Association, who was instrumental in organizing the gathering, said, “I am very happy to play a role in strengthening the Nikkei community in Southern California. I think Budokan will be a fabulous addition to the landscape of Little Tokyo and will encourage young people to learn more about the history and culture of Japanese Americans.”
On the Web: www.budokanofla.org