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Little Tokyo 'blooms' for the spring with DTLA cultural festival

By Sonali Kohli
Published: Wednesday, May 02, 2012, at 09:56AM
Hirokazu Kosaka

Mare Nubium performance that happened on Friday as part of the L.A. Bloom festival in downtown L.A.

The Little Tokyo L.A. Bloom festival continues through this weekend and includes a 5-million-pebble zen garden, sumo wrestling, performance art and music.

The festival started on Friday and goes for nine days. Its goal is to kick off the spring season in addition to coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Grove, said the event's co-curator Calvin Abe.

The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) is hosting the L.A. Bloom festival, which is the largest Little Tokyo festival in recent memory, said Hirokazu Kosaka, who has been JACCC’s artistic director for 30 years.

Kosaka said he garnered inspiration for the zen garden from the walks he used used to take along the fossilized section of a river in Boston.

“There were fossilized snail tracks, insects, birds, all kinds of animals,” Kosaka said. “In one section, there were fossilized rain drops. I always liked (those) raindrops.”

One of the goals of the downtown L.A. festival is to revitalize the Little Tokyo area with increased attention and fundraising, Kosaku and Abe said.

Visitors can see art like ikebana, a huge Japanese flower arrangement, or buy tickets to Jazz night at the newly renovated Aratani/Japan America Theatre.

The festival mixes traditional and modern, as Kosaku demonstrated on Friday with a performance art piece that included dancers pulling on 500 spools of different colored strings to create a rainbow effect over the “puddles” in the zen garden.

“It was much more a kind of performance art rather than a cultural or traditional performance and dance,” Kosaku said.

The festival ends on Saturday after an afternoon Family Fest that includes games, music and a sumo demonstration, followed by an evening performance.

For a full schedule of events, visit


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