George Sugimoto, Consul General Akira Chiba, Keith Terasaki, Jan Perry and Aiko Kawaratani were among the attendees at the ceremony (photo by Ichiro Shimizu)
Two koinobori flags seemed to swim upward, as a 21-foot, 840-pound white steel beam was lifted high into the air on Friday on the site of the future Terasaki Budokan in Little Tokyo.

Keith Terasaki and Consul General Akira Chiba write messages on the steel beam.

The “topping-off” ceremony was a chance to celebrate the fact that the construction phase on the gymnasium is past the halfway point; the facility is scheduled to open in early spring 2020. Ryan Lee, the project manager for the gymnasium, explained its significance.

“It signifies the last steel beam being raised to the highest point in construction on the structure. This is more than just a gym, this is more than just a facility. The Terasaki Budokan is really a testament to what we can accomplish when we all work together as a community,” said Lee. “When its doors open in spring of 2020, it will show the vibrance and energy that is Little Tokyo.”

Prior to the ceremony, people wrote their names and messages with black markers on the steel beam and adorned the beam with wishes written on colorful tanzaku papers.

Keith Terasaki and other members of the Terasaki family were also in attendance. The gymnasium is named in honor of the late Dr. Paul Terasaki.

“It’s been a long time coming and I’m looking forward to completion,” Terasaki said. “Hopefully it will help build community and bring more people into the area. It’s more than just a gymnasium.”

Former City Councilmember Jan Perry was recognized for her pivotal role securing the ground lease on the property. She proclaimed that the Terasaki Budokan will be a “legacy project” for Little Tokyo.

“This is a tribute to the resilience of the people who started it, the fact that most of them are still here and that will translate into something that spans the generations,” Perry said.

The facility will feature a two-court gymnasium, an outdoor plaza with a stage, a community room, a toddlers’ playground and a community garden. The LADF allocated $10,000,000 in New Markets Tax Credits to help fund the Terasaki Budokan Recreational Center.

12 June 2019

excerpts from "Terasaki Budukan Reaches Milestone" by Gwen Muranaka, Rafu Senior Editor, for The Rafu Shimpo