Sawtelle Blvd (between Wilshire and Olympic)
There were a few things that began my interests in Japanese culture as a kid. Sushi, video games, and language studies taught me a little about what it would be like to one day visit Japan. It was not until I visited Sawtelle Boulevard (north of Olympic, south of Wilshire), that I found a way to fully immerse myself in Japanese culture without even leaving Los Angeles. My nickname for this part of Los Angeles is Little Japan, and while downtown L.A. has a Little Tokyo, for some reason it does not get anywhere near as close to imitating Japanese culture as this five block span in the middle of the city. There are some amazing shops here, including the Giant Robot Store (post-modern Japanese merchandise) and some Japanese Convenience Stores that offer everything from both old and new Japan. I have been able to find old Japanese tea kettles and prints to decorate my apartment with, and used Japanese video games that never made it to the United States. The best part about Sawtelle, undoubtedly, is the food served here. While without the variety of New York City’s St. Marks Place, there are still a wide variety of restaurants available to people looking to get a taste of Japan. Asahi Ramen has the best noodles on the west coast, the Shabu Shabu house has Kobe meats that cannot be found almost anywhere else in Los Angeles, and the Sasebune has some of the most amazing sushi on the planet (still second to Sushi King in L.A.). Finally, Sawtelle has more bubble tea shops than any other area in Los Angeles, and I heard they were opening even more. So by starting my day with some bubble tea, getting ramen for lunch, picking up some groceries at the Japanese market, looking around the electronics stores, then singing karaoke with my friends all afternoon, I manage to have pretty amazing days on Sawtelle Blvd, and I think any new visitor would as well.