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Aoyama Tree Given Historic Status PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jennifer Morales   
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
The Los Angeles City Council has approved Historic-Cultural Monument status for the Ayoma Tree in Little Tokyo, a 50 foot tall Moreton Bay Fig tree planted in 1920 by members of the Koyasan Buddhist Temple.

aoyama-tree.jpgThe 50-foot tall Moreton Bay Fig tree on a a pedestrian walkway in Little Tokyo was nominated to become a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in March 2008.  Popularly known as the Aoyama Tree, it was planted in 1920 at the gates of the Koyasan Buddhist Temple and has persisted through World War II and years of downtown redevelopment.

The Koyasan Buddhist Temple was founded in 1912 by Reverend Shutai Aoyama to support the needs and spiritual guidance of Japanese immigrants working in the shipyards and agricultural fields of Los Angeles.  In 1920, the temple moved to 133 N. Central Ave and Reverend Aoyama planted the tree.  The temple, and by extension the tree, became a central gathering place for local Japanese-Americans, spurring the creation of several women's groups and a Boy Scout troop.

In 1940, the temple moved to its current location at 342 E. First Street, leaving the fig tree behind.  The former temple building continued to house various Japanese-American groups until the City of Los Angeles tore it down to make way for a parking lot in the 1950s, leaving the tree intact.  In November of 2007, Deanna Matsumoto of the Little Tokyo Historical Society filed an application to designate the tree as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, a move that was approved by the city's Cultural Heritage Commission on February 21, 2008.  A final vote will be put to the Los Angeles City Council within the next couple of months.

The city is planning to create an art park on the site of the current parking lot and Little Tokyo Historic Society members are hopeful that the tree will be incorporated into the design of the park, making it a center for public activities.  In the meantime, the group is working on raising funds for a historical marker for the tree.

Source:  Los Angeles Downtown News, A Living Monument
By Richard Guzmán, 10 March 2008

Source:  The Rafu Shimpo, Saving a Piece of History
By Nao Gunji, 2 February 2008

 Source:  Los Angeles Downtown News, Rubber Tree Nears Monument Status
19 May 2008

Last Updated ( Friday, 30 May 2008 )

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