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  • Writer's pictureMiyuki Yoshikami

A Japanese Oasis: Kawafuku

An escape to Japan was Kawafuku in the center of LittleTokyo, Los Angeles. Large enough to hold important events the original owner was Mr. Kato. With the war, Kawafuku became Shepps Playhouse where Black occupants enjoyed eating, dancing, and listening to jazz played by Charlie Bird Parker and Miles David.

After the war, Tokijiro and Chihoko Nakashima purchased Kawafuku and transformed it into a Japanese oasis. Americans returning from Occupied Japan nostalgically patronized it, trying to relive the Japan they grew to love. They were greeted with Japanese décor, cuisine, and kimono clad waitresses, and sushi, which was first introduced there. Kawafuku is noted as one of thirteen restaurants that changed Los Angele’s cuisine forever. With changes in Little Tokyo, Kawafuku moved to Gardena then closed in the mid-1980s. Today it is remembered as the classiest Japanese restaurant ever.

(Image: original ad from Kawafuku restaurant)

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