Category Archives: Events

Giant Robot Biennale 4 at Japanese American National Museum

December 12, 2015

Sawtelle Japantown’s Giant Robot has a temporary satellite location in Downtown Los Angeles by way of an exhibition called Giant Robot Biennale 4 at the Japanese American National Museum.  Giant Robot store and GR2 Gallery owner Eric Nakamura is the curator and has hand picked artists for the exhibition .  Many of the artists are regulars who exhibit at Eric’s GR2 gallery.

I attended the opening party in October and was impressed by the collection of works. The exhibit has a cool effortless vibe. There is even a replica Giant Robot store which showcases past and present merchandise sold at the Giant Robot store.   This exhibit which is housed on 2 floors goes on through January 24, 2016 and is a must see!

A few of my favorites are below.

The entrance to the first floor exhibit has a dreamy and calming floor and ceiling giant mural piece by Kozydan (The entrance to the first floor exhibit has a dreamy and calming floor and ceiling mural (photo by

The entrance to the first floor exhibit has a dreamy and calming floor and ceiling  mural piece by Kozyndan (photo by

Giant Robot Replica Store

Giant Robot Replica Store (photo by

Spotted Sawtelle Japantown hats

Spotted Sawtelle Japantown hats (photo by

Yoskay Yamamoto

Yoskay Yamamoto (photo by

Welcome Home by Esao Andrews

Welcome Home by Esao Andrews (photo by

Rob Sato

Big Son by Rob Sato (photo by

Bowl Cut by Luke Chueh (photo by

Bowl Cut by Luke Chueh (photo by

Curator Eric Nakamura

Curator Eric Nakamura (photo by

The Japanese American National Museum is located at:

100 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90012


Giant Robot Biennale 4 Exhibit at Japanese American National Museum

October 5, 2015

JANM-GRB4-OpeningParty-invite-FINAL (1)

Sawtelle Japantown’s Giant Robot and GR2 owner Eric Nakamura curates the Biennale 4 Exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum.  The exhibit runs from October 11, 2015 to January 24, 2016 with a kick off party this Saturday, October 10, 2015 from 7pm to 10pm.

For more information on Eric and GR2, check out our prior post here.

The Japanese American National Museum is located at 100 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Facebook Sweepstakes: Gundam Cookies

Omiyage Sweepstakes: Art of Gundam Cookies and Mickey Mouse Rice Paddle

August 1, 2015

My family and I returned from a 3 week vacation in Tokyo.  Although I fully intended to write blog posts in Japan, each day was so busy that I also took a vacation from the blog.  Now I am home and am conducting an “omiyage” (gifts in Japanese) sweepstakes with some goodies that I brought home from Japan.  I will be conducting 2 separate sweepstakes with 2 different prizes: one for Facebook entries and the other for Twitter entries.  Enter both sweepstakes!

Facebook Sweepstakes – Prize: Art of Gundam Cookies and Program

I attended the Art of Gundam exhibit in Tokyo which featured original sketches of Gundam.   I will be giving away a box of Gundam cookles and original program from the exhibit (ARV: $15).

How to enter:

On the Facebook post announcing the Sweepstakes, from August 2, 2015 12PM PST to August 14, 2015 12PM PST, you will need to:

1) follow the Sawtelle Japantown Facebook page

2) like the Sweepstakes post 

3) share the Sweepstakes post

One (1) winner will be selected at random from all eligible entries on or about August 16 and the winner will be notified by Facebook messaging.

No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited.  Must be US residents over 13 years to enter. Sponsor:  This sweepstakes is not associated with Facebook.

Twitter Sweepstakes: Mickey Mouse Rice Paddle

Twitter Sweepstakes: Mickey Mouse Rice Paddle

Twitter Sweepstakes – Prize: Mickey Mouse Rice Paddle

Found this cute Mickey Mouse Rice Paddle in Tokyo (ARV: $10)

How to enter:

On the Tweet announcing the Sweepstakes, from August 2, 2015 12PM PST to August 14, 2015 12PM PST, you will need to:

1) follow the Sawtelle Japantown Twitter Account @SawtelleJT

2) favorite the Sweepstakes tweet

3) RT the Sweepstakes tweet

One (1) winner will be selected at random from all eligible entries on or about August 16 and the winner will be notified by Twitter direct messaging.

No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited.  Must be US residents over 13 years  to enter. Sponsor:  This sweepstakes is not associated with Twitter.

Follow Sawtelle Japantown on Twitter @SawtelleJT

Like Sawtelle Japantown of Facebook here.

June 6: West Los Angeles Sawtelle Neighborhood Council Community Clean Up Day

May 30, 2015



  • 1645 Corinth AveLos Angeles, CA, 90025United States

Come join us on June 6 from 9AM to 11AM to cleanup our neighborhood. We will be picking up trash on Sawtelle Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard along with cleaning up the areas around the West Los Angeles Regional Library, the civic center, and senior center. We will also be reporting graffiti and bulk item pickup to MyLA311 for cleanup.

We will meet at the West Los Angeles Municipal Building on 1645 Corinth Avenue. We will have coffee and donuts to start your morning and also have supplies for you!

Thanks in advance for helping to keep our neighborhood clean!

Hello Kitty Exhibition Closing Reception

May 25, 2015

Hello Kitty Exhibition

Hello Kitty Exhibition

Wall of Hello Kitty  Backpacks

Wall of Hello Kitty Backpacks

On Friday, I attended the closing reception party of the “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty” exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles.   The Hello Kitty exhibit was held as part of the Hello Kitty’s 40th-anniversary celebration.   The closing reception occurred in advance of the actual exhibition ending date of May 31, 2015.  In addition to the displays of Hello Kitty products through the years,  a selection of artworks inspired by Hello Kitty by contemporary artists were on display.  I am a big fan of Sanrio and grew up with Hello Kitty items so I was excited see the exhibit.

Hello Kitty Bento

Hello Kitty Bento

Various Hello Kitty Products

Various Hello Kitty Products

The exhibit was filled with items that I either owned or recognized and it brought me back to my childhood.   Back in the late 70s, my family was one of the few Japanese families living in Houston, Texas and I recall my friends crowding around me whenever I brought a Hello Kitty item to school.  At the exhibit, there were several displays of Hello Kitty consumer products including a wall of backpacks, bento items and electronic products.



Yoskay Yamamoto

Yoskay Yamamoto

The best part of the reception was that attendees could get their official exhibition program signed by the artists who contributed artworks to the exhibition.  When talking to some of the artists about this blog, many of the artists indicated that have exhibited artworks at Sawtelle Japantown business Giant Robot or GR2.  In fact, husband and wife artist team of Kozyndan was the first art exhibitor at Giant Robot back in 2002.  Artist Yoskay Yamamoto, an artist known for fusing urban art with traditional and mythical Japanese elements, will be exhibiting at GR2 with other Japanese artists sometime in October (check Giant Robot’s schedule of events for Yoskay’s upcoming show).

Simone Legno of Tokidoki

Simone Legno of Tokidoki

Another artist who has shown at Giant Robot is Simone Legno, creator of the Tokidoki brand, an innovative line of apparel, handbags, and accessories.   Tokidoki is known for collaboration projects with other companies such as Sanrio and LeSportSac.  Legno created a large sculpture called Kittypatra at the exhibit using trademark Tokidoki imagery. Legno has strong ties to Sawtelle Japantown as he lives nearby and has an affinity to Japanese culture.

Souther Salazar

Souther Salazar

Martin Hsu and Mark Nagata

Martin Hsu and Mark Nagata

Signed Page by Mark Nagata

Signed Page by Mark Nagata

The artists that signed my program were: Becca “Hello Kitty Hello”, Edwin Ushiro “Shading in a Heavy Line”, Jeni Yang “Merry Go Round”, Kozyndan “Kitty Visions”, “Hello Kitty Kaiju”, Martin Hsu “Hello Kitty Transcendence”, Michael Courville “Hello Kitty in Bloom”, Nicole Maloney “Hello Kitty All Stacked Up!”,  Simone Legno “Kittypatra”, Souther Salazar “Radiant Kitty”, and Yoskay Yamamoto “Space Kitty”.

Sanrio's First Collaboration with Paul Frank's Julius

Sanrio’s First Collaboration with Paul Frank’s Julius

In addition, Sanrio did its first collaboration with the monkey Julius by artist Paul Frank. He was on hand to sign programs.

I am glad that I was able to attend the exhibit before the ending date. And for those of you who have not attended the exhibition, you have until May 31st before the exhibit officially ends.  If you like Hello Kitty, this is a must go see exhibit!

For more photos from the Hello Kitty Closing Reception, go to’s Facebook Page.




この展示に協力したアーテイストがプログラムにサインしてくれてうれしかった。このブログを書くために作品提供者のアーチストとお話したところ多くがソーテルジャパンタウンにある店ジャイアントロボッㇳ、GR2に出展したことがある。2002年 コジンダン夫妻の作品が最初の展示をした。10月には日本の日本テイストが入ったヒュージョンの絵を描くヨースケイヤマモトが他の日本人アーテイストと共に展示する。(詳細はGR2スケジュール参照)



終わる前に展示を見られて良かった。見ていない方には31日まで展示されている。 ハローキティ愛好会には必見お勧め。

The Japanese American National Museum is located at:



Unique LA Event

Unique LA

May 20, 2015


When starting this blog about the Sawtelle Japantown area, it was important to engage in social media so that I can alert people of happenings around Sawtelle Japantown.  Up until 8 weeks ago, I had never sent out a tweet.  However, starting a Twitter account has opened up a new world of meeting interesting people, reading up on various subject matters, and finding out about the latest events.

Two weekends ago, I attended the Unique LA event, a show where vendors sell unique handmade items. The event occurred at the California Mart in Downtown Los Angeles.  I found out about the Unique LA event through a Twitter follower, Jella Roson Woodward, a jewelry designer who was exhibiting at the event and had sent out a tweet about the event.  The exhibition floor was filled with many vendors each selling one of a kind items.

Vendors included:

Honey My Heart

096 (640x428)

Honey My Heart Jewelry

Honey My Heart Jewelry

Jewelry designer Jella Roson Woodward, a resident of the West Los Angeles area, makes all of her jewelry by hand under the brand name Honey My Heart.  All of her pieces are delicate and unique.

Tomoro Pottery

070 (640x428)

Tomoro Pottery

Tomoro Pottery

Tomoro Pottery’s Tomoko Morisaki makes simple, earthy and modern pottery with Japanese zen like sensibility.

Minion Me

068 (640x428)

Minion Me

Minion Me

Artist Kris Kehasukjaren draws cross over characters using the character the minion from the Despicable Me movies as the base.  Kris can make a minion out of any character.   His popular “minionized” characters are Star Wars characters and Disney princesses.


061 (428x640)



Artist Naoshi makes cute fantasy type characters using a technique called sunae or sand art. She cuts out the top layer of sticky paper and covers it with various colors of sand to make one artwork.  Her technique is amazing and an instructional video can be found on her website.


053 (640x428)



Sisters Alice and Doris Lieu of ILootPaperie design, make and sell whimsical greeting cards and prints.

Yuki Fujita

041 (640x428)

Yuki Fujita

Yuki Fujita

Illustrator Yuki Fujita makes prints, cards, towels, t-shirts and tile coasters with her watercolor art. Her watercolor art depicts laid back California lifestyle images of surfboards, vintage cars and palm trees.

Hepp’s Salt Company

089 (640x428)

Hepps Salt Company

Hepp’s Salt Company

Owner Brian Hepp makes gourmet sea salt combined with different spices, herbs and peppers. Hepp’s Salt Company is based in West Los Angeles.  Through a distributor, Hepps sells salts to Sawtelle Japantown restaurant Plan Check for incorporation into dishes and cocktails.

I wished that I had more time to check out the other vendors at Unique LA as so many things caught my eye. I am happy to learn that Unique LA will have a  summer event on August 8th and 9th which I will be sure to attend!
For more photos from Unique LA, go to our Facebook page.

We want to engage with our readers! Follow us Twitter @SawtelleJT!



ソーテルジャパンタウンのブログを始めた時私にとって大切 だったのはソーシャルメデイアによりソーテルジャパンんタウン 周辺で何が起こっているかをお知らせすることだった。8週間前まで私はツイートした事がなかった。ツイートを始めることにより新しい人びとに会い色々な事に関して読んだり最新イベント情報を得た。ユニークなハンドメイド製品を売る    ユニークLAというイベントに先週末行った。LAダウンタウンにあるカリフォルニアマートで開催されたこのイベントは私のツィッターフォロワーの宝石デザイナージェラローソンウッドワードさんから知った。彼女は自作販売していた。展示会場は一つしか無いようなユニークな品を


Honey My Heart


Tomoro Pottery


Minion Me




Yuki Fujita

Hepp’s Salt Company

もっと他の店を見られる時間があると良かったが 次回8月8日、9日にユニークLAサマーイベントがあるので幸いだ。


Prime Minister Abe Visit to Los Angeles and Meeting Yoshiki / 安倍首相昼食会 – Yoshiki 氏

May 3, 2015

Prime Minister Abe

Prime Minister Abe (photo by

Prime Minister Abe Luncheon (photo by

Prime Minister Abe Luncheon (photo by

On May 1, 2015, I attended a luncheon at the Biltmore Millennium Hotel with special guest Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe.  Abe’s visit to Los Angeles was a last stop of his US tour, which included a speech in English to a joint session of Congress,  a first for a Japanese Prime Minister.

I am a member of the Japan America Society of Southern California, an organization which was a co-host of the event and gave members an opportunity to purchase tickets.  The event which had a capacity of 750 seats sold out in 30 minutes.

Mayor Eric Garcetti who provided the introduction speech for Abe expressed his fondness of Japan and stated that he studied at Tamagawa Gakuin when he was a high school student.  Garcetti pointed out that Los Angeles has deep ties to Japan with 250,000 persons of Japanese descent living in Los Angeles and 650,000 visitors coming to Los Angeles from Japan each year.

Prime Minister Abe Los Angeles Visit

Prime Minister Abe Speaking of “Abenomics” (photo by

Abe spoke of several hot topic issues including a new defense cooperation agreement with the United States and his views on the three arrows of “Abenomics”: fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms  to open the economy.  Abe was specifically asked about the third arrow of structural reform and whether it will succeed and he responded, “I am often criticized about the third arrow, that it has missed its target.  However, I will tell you this, I was a member of my university’s archery team, so my arrow will definitely hit the target.”

What was refreshing about Abe’s speech was the light-hearted comments he interjected in his speech in addition to providing insights on his background and interests.

Some insights that stood out to me were:

  • Abe attended the University of Southern California (USC) as a foreign student for 2 years in the late 70s.
  • Abe is a fan of Hollywood movies and watching DVDs is a form of distressing after he has been grilled by opposition lawmakers.
  • Abe’s favorite move is the Graduate and one of the things he enjoyed doing as a student at USC is to visit locations where the Graduate was filmed.
  • Abe’s grandfather Nonbusuke Kishi, the Prime Minister of Japan in the 50s, stayed at the same Biltmore Millennium Hotel when he visited Los Angeles as Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Abe Seated Next to US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy (photo by

Prime Minister Abe Seated Next to US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy (photo by

Additionally, I was surprised that Abe actually sat at the head table to have lunch and socialized with guests.  Abe was seated next to the US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.  I’ve been to other events with high-profiled speakers and the speaker usually comes to give the speech and leaves.  Abe allowed photos with guests and even stood up to talk to certain guests.   The luncheon felt intimate and provided special access to a high political official.

Japanese Mega Artist Yoshiki in Attendance (photo by

Japanese Mega Artist Yoshiki in Attendance (photo by

Yoshiki Attended the Prime Minister Abe Luncheon

Another highlight of the luncheon was meeting Japanese musician Yoshiki.  Yoshiki was in attendance as an invited guest.  Yoshiki is a “mega star” in Japan and has also established himself professionally in the United States (he wrote a score for the Golden Globe Awards).   He graciously allowed guests to approach him and take photos with him, which is unthinkable to do in Japan due to his immense popularity.  We briefly chatted with Yoshiki and he said that he has visited Sawtelle Japantown from time to time.

Now if I see Abe on television, I will think of him differently from the insights that I gleaned from the luncheon.  And my encounter with Yoshiki was an extra bonus!

 Yoshiko graciously allowed guests to approach him and take a photo (photo by

Yoshiki graciously allowed guests to approach him and take a photo (photo by


2015年5月1日ビルトモアミレニアムホテルで開催された日本の首相安倍晋三氏を主賓とする昼食会に参加した。歴代首相として初めて上院下院議会で英語で演説をした後 ロスアンジェルスは首相の今外遊の最終訪問地となった。






首相は70年代 USCに 2年間留学した。


首相の一番好きな映画は卒業(THE GRADUATE)でUSC時代にはこの映画の撮影現場を訪ねるのを楽しんだ。






The Meal Served at the Luncheon

The Meal Served at the Luncheon – Beef with Shitake mushroom and shiso (photo by

Nisei Week Queen Tori Nishinaka-Leon presented Mrs. Abe with flowers. (photo by

Nisei Week Queen Tori Nishinaka-Leon presented Mrs. Abe with flowers. (photo by

For more photos from Prime Minister Abe’s Luncheon, go to’s Facebook Page.

Please follow us on Twitter for the latest information on