2023/8/12-20 : Downtown Los Angeles’ Historic Nisei Week Japanese Festival Celebrates Its 81st Year

Nisei Week banner is displayed on Second Street in Little Tokyo (Cultural News Photo)

Aug 12-13 (Sat & Sunday) 10:00am-4:00pm
Nisei Week Cultural Exhibit at Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC)

Aug. 12 (Sat) 7:00pm-9:30pm
Nisei Week Queen 2023 Coronation

Aug. 13 (Sun) 4:00pm-7:00pm
Nisei Week Grand Parade

Aug. 14 (Mon) Award Dinner at DoubleTree

Aug. 16 (Wed) Pioneer Spirit Award Luncheon

Aug. 19 (Sat) 11:00am-4:00pm
Nisei Week Plaza Festival at JACCC Plaza

Aug. 19-20 (Sat & Sun) 10:00am-4:00pm
Nisei Week Cultural Exhibit at JACCC

Aug. 20 (Sun) 11:00am-4:00pm
Nisei Week Taiko Gathering at JACCC Plaza

Aug 20 (Sun) 4:30pm-7:00pm
Nisei Week Ondo Public Street Dance & Closing Ceremony on First Street

LOS ANGELES – On August 12, 2023, The Nisei Week Japanese Festival returns to for its annual nine-day celebration of Japanese and Japanese-American culture and community. Originating in 1934 as a way to bring visitors to support the small business of Little Tokyo, Nisei Week is one of the longest-running cultural events in the United States, attracting thousands of attendees each year.

After only the second hiatus in its history due to the COVID-19 pandemic (the first due to Japanese incarceration during WWII), Nisei Week proudly returned to live events in 2022. This summer, the streets of Little Tokyo will once again come alive with a parade, Japanese ondo (festival) dancing, traditional taiko drumming, live music, and endless Japanese food, beer, and sake. Most events are free to the public and suitable for all ages. “Our 2023 theme is Turning the Corner, states Foundation President David Yamahata, “it is our hope that as the threat of the pandemic stabilizes, we can return to celebrating the Nisei Week Festival as we have done in previous years.”

On Saturday August 12, seven candidates will represent local Japanese-American community organizations for the honor of being crowned Nisei Week Queen at the Nisei Week Queen Coronation. These young women will then spend the next year serving as ambassadors for the Little Tokyo community both locally as well as abroad in Los Angeles’ sister city Nagoya, Japan.

The Grand Parade begins on Sunday, August 13 where traditional Japanese dancers, taiko drummers, Haneto dancers, community groups, and the newly crowned Nisei Week Queen and Court make their way around the streets of historic Little Tokyo. Community leader Bill Watanabe will serve as the Grand Marshal with CrossFit star Jamie Hagiya serving as the Parade Marshal. This event begins at 4 pm, is free to attend, and open to the public.

During August 19-20, the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center will host the annual Plaza Festival from, where attendees can shop with local merchants and purchase delicious Japanese foods, beers, and sake while taking in live entertainment. The community center host cultural demonstrations throughout the day including ikebana, tea ceremonies, and much more. The event will be held from 11 am to 4 pm.

On Sunday August 20, from 11 am to 4 pm, the annual taiko gathering will be held at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center Plaza where festival goers will be treated to hours of boisterous energy and music from local taiko groups of all ages. Later that afternoon from 3:45 pm to 7:30 pm, Nisei Week’s closing ceremony and street ondo will take place on historic 1st Street, where the entire community is invited to join in the annual festival-style dancing . No experience is necessary.

In addition to these events, Little Tokyo’s many restaurants, shops, and museums will offer specialty products, promotions, and programs only available during the Festival dates.

For more information and an updated schedule, please visit www.niseiweek.org or follow @niseiweek on Instagram and TikTok.