We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ryan, what do you attribute your success to?
Community. Terasaki Budokan was built for the community by the community in a true grassroots effort. As a nonprofit-run multipurpose facility, Budokan’s success (and mine) is rooted in our ability to help our community flourish. This includes the Little Tokyo neighborhood, greater DTLA community, local residents, business owners, cultural institutions, etc. And here at Budokan, we’re also building a community of our own that includes seniors, youth, artists, athletes and more. Terasaki Budokan is a beautiful facility, but it’s true beauty lies in the community that people find here.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I was brought onto the Terasaki Budokan project during the last leg of the capital campaign to help cross the finish line and lead the transition into operations. Now that our doors have opened to the public, it’s my job to chart the course to serve our mission.

So besides the day-to-day spreadsheets, facility maintenance and programming, I’m kept busy with big picture strategy and vision for the future of the facility. How can Budokan better support local small businesses? How can we reach more underserved youth? How can we play a bigger role in keeping Japanese American culture alive? So this definitely keeps me busy. As I mentioned, Budokan was a big community effort–so I feel a lot of pressure to do right by those that carried the project before me and to make sure Budokan is around for future generations.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Working in Little Tokyo, DTLA, I have to shout out our community! Stop by the 100+ year old mochi shop, Fugetsu-do, on historic First Street. Then, grab some down-home Japanese cuisine at Suehiro Cafe on your way to the Japanese American National Museum.

If you’re into libations, Far Bar and Wolf & Crane are my go to watering holes. And don’t forget to book a culinary experience in the new Toshizo Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center, located next to the beautiful Japanese garden at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to shoutout Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC). This nonprofit makes a big difference not only in the Little Tokyo neighborhood, but across Southern California. For over 40 years, LTSC has been devoted to cultivating healthy communities of color by addressing interconnected needs like affordable housing, culturally appropriate social services, small business assistance and more. Make sure you check out LTSC at www.LTSC.org

Website: https://www.terasakibudokan.org/

Instagram: terasaki.budokan

Facebook: Terasaki Budokan

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/LittleTokyoServiceCenter

Image Credits
Caitlin Alohilani Hana Asano

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.