A plane ticket to Tokyo is pretty expensive, and I don’t have enough dinero or blog clout for that — YET. The next best thing is visiting Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, it’s the largest out of the three Japan-towns in America. It’s the closest you’ll get to the real thing, and if you live on the west coast like us, it’s just a drive away. Here’s how to enjoy an awesome day in Little Tokyo for under $50.
Eat lunch at Maruya
BEST RAMEN FOR YOUR BUCK is at Maruya. HANDS DOWN. It’s only $12 and it’s served in a huge bowl, big enough to share with a friend or significant other. If ramen isn’t your jam, there are sushi and bentos. We learned the hard way that most orders on the menu are enough for two people, and we ended up having to throw away the food because we were walking around with leftovers all day (no bueno).
Get kawaii Sanrio merch
You can’t leave Little Tokyo without a little trinket from the Sanrio store. If you’re a fan of Hello Kitty and anything kawaii this Japanese company makes, then this is the store for you. Prices may vary, but you can find items that are $5 to $20. Right now Aggretsuko is Sanrio’s newest character, and it’s apparent when you walk into the store. You’ll find everything from ugly Christmas sweater to toilet paper, which in my opinion is to cute to use for its intended purpose.
Snap a Purikura pic
This cute souvenir photo booth will boost your Instagram game. Each session costs about $11, but if you take them with as many people can fit in the frame, then you can split up the cost! What I loved the most about purikuras was that you customize the designs on them, and it gives you prints and digital!
It turns out that in Tokyo there are purikuras throughout city and each machine has different own photo frames, stickers and designs. The only con is that there is a time limit on designing your photo, so don’t get stressed out like I did!
P.S.: There are several purikura machines throughout Little Tokyo, but we preferred the machine that’s next to Fickle Wish.
Snack on delicious mochi ice cream
Of course, the Japanese invented amazing technological advances like DVDs and digital cameras, but they also created non-melting ice cream called mochi — the greatest advance of humankind. You’ll find this frozen sweet delight and boba tea at Little Tokyo Ice Cream and Yogurt for under $5. I had it for the first time here and I don’t think I can eat regular ice cream ever again.
Find funky fashion, pop-culture collectibles
I was in wig wonderland when I stepped into Anime Jungle/Entertainment Hobby Shop Jungle. I splurged a little bit and bought a $20 no-tangle wig for one of my cosplays, but that’s extra! Don’t pay attention to that. Anime Jungle has a ton of pop-culture collectibles, stickers and novelties of all prices. Their Funk Pop collection was huge and you find some for $10 or less.
Why You Should Go to Little Tokyo
This chunk of urban paradise filled with Japanese food, fashion and pop culture is a place you’ll want to visit more than once. In fact, the following month I brought my dad here, he’s the person who introduced me to Japanese culture when I was a kid, and he absolutely was enamored with the district. The best part of all, you don’t have to break the bank in order to have an amazing time. If you’re a tourist or LA resident, go visit Tokyo for a fun and unique experience.