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60-Foot Tall History Marker Dedicated in Little Tokyo

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Friday, July 18, 2008, at 07:53AM
IMGP1318 Ed Fuentes

The 60-foot tall Moreton Bay Fig tree, known as the Aoyama Tree, was dedicated as a Historic-Cultural Monument on Thursday in Little Tokyo. It was planted in 1920 at the gates of the Koyasan Buddhist Temple and has survived the changing face of Little Tokyo. Now its legacy as a gathering place for local Japanese-Americans is official.

When the temple moved, the fig tree was left behind and in the 1950s the site became a parking lot. Now as a living historical monument, the tree sits next to National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and across from MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary and the Japanese American National Museum.

The tree also becomes a symbolic exclamation mark to the 1995 public art project Ornoide no Shotokyo (Remember Little Tokyo); the brass and concrete timeline embedded in the sidewalk. Artists Sheila Levrant de Bretteville and Sonya Ishi highlight the history of the buildings on San Pedro past 1st Street to was once Central Ave.

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