Forgotten LA


Great Grate: Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple

Everyone is familiar with the original Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple (built 1925) on East 1st Street in Little Tokyo, which now currently houses part of the Japanese American National Museum (I’m such a bad Japanese American. I’ve only been there once. Sorry, Ojiichan.) but my favorite part of the building isn’t the elaborate entrance, but the ventilation grates along the side of the building. Or whatever they are.

I just love the detailed metal work makes a simple store front feature look like an elaborate woven basket. And those glossy tiles! Yum.

Check out the this photograph of the corner on 1942; sadly (to me, at least, because I’m lame like that), you can’t see the grate. According to the museum,

A central gathering place in thriving Little Tokyo, the structure was later used to store the belongings of Japanese Americans sent to U.S. concentration camps during World War II. The building eventually fell into disrepair after the Nishi Hongwanji moved to a new facility in 1969, and was sold to the City of Los Angeles in 1973.

Glad to see that the old building is now a City Landmark, and I’ll definitely pay my respects to its place in Japanese American history during my next ramen run.


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