DTLA - Little Tokyo is known for its myriad shops and historic character. What it’s not known for is mini-golf.
That changes this weekend.
Locals and visitors can dig out their putters for the inaugural Little Tokyo Mini Open. The 9-hole miniature golf course will spring up outside the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center at 244 S. San Pedro St. on Friday-Saturday, April 21-22, and return the following weekend.
While intended to bring some fun to the neighborhood, the course also serves as a tip of the cap to the 130-year-old community’s history.
“We thought that it might be something cool to do in Little Tokyo,” said Ellen Endo, president of the Little Tokyo Business Improvement District, which helped plan the event.
The golf course is the product of a $21,500 grant the LTBID received from KaBoom!, a nonprofit organization out of Washington, D.C., that focuses on providing playgrounds for children. Grant applicants were charged with creating a play space in an unlikely area. Endo said they borrowed the idea from other cities that built pop-up miniature golf courses on local streets.
The JACCC, a partner in the endeavor, suggested an artistic component, which is why each hole will have an element that references the community’s past, present and future.
Local artists, including Brie Wakefield, Mei Zaho, Lina Cheng, Dan Kwong, Mario Correa and Zen Sekizawa, contributed to the course, providing takes on the neighborhood’s multifaceted history. One hole pays homage to the work of sculptor Isamu Noguchi, while another highlights the Atomic Café, a onetime punk rock club in the neighborhood. The Paul I. Terasaki Budokan, a recreational facility scheduled to open in Little Tokyo on 2019, is saluted in a third hole.
Scott Oshima, lead community organizer for the JACCC, ran the artistic side of the project and said some of the artists are also using the opportunity to touch on contemporary issues facing Little Tokyo, such as growth and gentrification.
The course will be open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on both weekends and costs $3 per person. Children under 12 play for free.
Competitive players can enter a tournament on Monday, April 23. For $100, teams of four can vie for the right to call themselves Little Tokyo golf royalty.
Proceeds from the golf course will go to the Little Tokyo BID and the clean and safe program, which provides safety patrol and cleaning teams for the community.
The Little Tokyo Mini Open runs April 21-22 and 28-29 at 244 S. San Pedro St. or visitlittletokyo.com/miniopen.
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2018