‘Shogun Santa’ back in LA’s Little Tokyo as decades-long tradition lives on

‘Shogun Santa’ back in LA’s Little Tokyo as decades-long tradition lives on
via KCAL News, KTLA 5
Bryan Ke
By Bryan Ke
December 19, 2023
“Shogun Santa,” billed as the only known Asian Santa in Los Angeles, was spotted in the city’s Little Tokyo district over the weekend, spreading joy to children as Christmas approaches.
Driving the news: “Shogun Santa” greeted visitors at the Japanese Village Plaza in downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo on Saturday and Sunday. Like with traditional Santa, children gave the bearded holiday figure their Christmas wish list, snapped photos with and received treats from him.
About the tradition: What started as a way to give back to the community in the 1970s has evolved to become a decades-long tradition. Being Shogun Santa, touted in a press release as the only known Asian Santa in Los Angeles, has been passed down through the years.
Ellen Endo, a board member of the Little Tokyo Business Association (LTBA), told KTLA about the significance of the tradition.
“Shogun is of course like the mayor or the governor of a section of Japan. It went well with the word Santa, so we call him Shogun Santa, but really it’s about our cultural heritage,” she said.
Aside from giving back to the community, Shogun Santa was introduced as “a way to introduce a Japanese- or Asian-themed Santa,” LTBA President David Ikegami told Spectrum News 1 in 2022.
Behind the icon: Some of those who have donned the white beard include “Pretty Woman” and “Quantum Leap” TV show actor Rodney Kagayama, architect Mike Okamoto — who also served as president of the LTBA — and actor Jesse Dizon, an actor from the “MacGyver” and “The Rockford Files” TV shows.
Speaking to KCBS, the current “Shogun Santa” shared that he took on the role because “when I look at the parents, getting their children to smile and laugh, that to me is priceless.”
 
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