Japanese Village Plaza
Time Out says
Opened in 1978, Japanese Village Plaza was a community effort meant to assist in the revitalization of the neighborhood after a period of decay. Since its inception the mall has brimmed with shops and eateries—most of them small business owners—though a few local chains have joined the ranks. While shopping is a must at this outdoor mall, don’t leave the cherry blossom lined area, without sampling a few street snacks. Join the constant line at the Mitsuru Café’s sidewalk window for a taste of imagawayki (freshly griddled red bean cakes), takoyaki (meaty dumplings on skewers) or mitarashi dango (rice flour dumplings). Across the way at Mikawaya, there’s freshly made mochi for sale—small, handheld rounds of ice cream or gelato wrapped in chewy, pounded rice cake. After filling up on sweet treats, head out for a day of shopping alongside the iconic yagura (tower) and wood-accented buildings inspired by architecture common in rural villages in Japan.
RECOMMENDED: Little Tokyo neighborhood guide
335 E 2nd St
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I rarely leave Little Tokyo without a stop at the Japanese Village Plaza. While businesses have been updated over the years, it brings a lot of energy and excitement. I've done everything there from buy groceries, to attending public art exhibits to shopping for Sanrio type products to eating meals and even doing Hello Kitty meet and greats - yes she does make appearances there.
I enjoy the donburi rice bowls at Wakasaya, particularly the toro and salmon roe.
Often in the evenings you will hear outdoor karaoke. I really enjoy the experience every time.
The Japanese Village Plaza is a fun place to grab some tasty bites, treats and also find some cool items you might not get elsewhere around LA. For example, there's a store with a bunch of cute things (Sanrio-style) for the kids, and also markets to buy Japanese food items, cooking tools and more. The Plaza itself is bustling, but usually not so touristy and crowded that it's hard to get around. My main complaint is that it's pretty congested if you're driving around there, and although there are some parking structures, street parking is very tough to find... and there are so many pedestrians, it just takes a while to park in general. So factor in a little cushion time for parking, and enjoy strolling around this nice plaza decorated with trees and lanterns!
This is a really fun place to hang out, especially if you have time to kill while waiting out the long lines at Little Tokyo's popular ramen spots. Grab a donut from Cafe Dulce and make sure to explore all of the super cute gift shops. Sure, it's an artificial recreation of a Japanese plaza, but it's a lovely public space without feeling too touristy.