Imagine Little Tokyo Contest Holds Virtual Celebration

The ninth annual Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest will celebrate winners in three categories on Thursday, May 26 at 6 p.m. via the Zoom platform in a free program hosted by the Japanese American National Museum.

The competition is presented by the Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) in partnership with the museum’s Discover Nikkei project.

Actor and comedian Derek Mio will take the reins of an exciting program featuring renowned actors Keiko Agena, Helen Ota and Megumi Anjo offering dramatic readings of the winning stories in the categories of English language, Japanese language and youth (18 and under).

Entrants should pre-register by going to; a Zoom link will then be sent to them by email before the program.

Keiko Agena is best known for her series regular roles in “Prodigal Son,” where she played Dr. Edrisa Tanaka, and “Gilmore Girls,” where she played Lane Kim for seven years and reprized the role in “Gilmore Girls: Seasons. from Netflix. “As an improv, she has performed at UCB Sunset/NY and IO WEST and is a recent addition to the main company at Impro Theatre.

In between, Agena has been a series regular on Hulu’s “The First” and recurring on “Better Call Saul,” “Dirty John” and “13 Reasons Why.” As a guest star, she appeared on such shows as “Shameless,” “Scandal,” and “NCIS: Los Angeles.” She recently published an artist manual, “No Mistakes”, via Penguin Random House.

Helen H. Ota is an actor and vocalist with the Grateful Crane Ensemble and former artistic director and performing member of Cold Tofu, the first Asian-American improv comedy troupe. She is the co-founder of Yes, and… Productions, which produced “Songs for a New World”. Her movie credits include “The Crumbles”, “Mamo’s Weeds”, and “Buddha Heads”. She is also an active member of the community, serving on the boards of the Nisei Week Foundation, the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance, and the Zentoku Foundation, as well as the Kizuna Advisory Board.

Megumi Anjo is a Japanese-born actor, singer and accredited master of traditional Japanese dance. Moving to the United States in 2011, she starred in the musical production “The Pirates of Penzance” at the West Valley Playhouse and completed the Applied Music (Vocal) program at Los Angeles Valley College. She played various roles in productions such as “Hymn to Otsuchi”, “VIP LA” and the fourth season of NBC’s “Good Girls”. His credits also include the shorts “Lil Tokyo Reporter”, “Fukai Mori”, “The Catcher”, and “The Oak Tree and Onigiri”. More recently, she made her big screen debut in the United States in “Licorice Pizza”.

Photo by Tommy Garcia

Derek Mio grew up in Huntington Beach and received her BA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Film Production. He has starred in several commercials, TV shows and movies. He can be seen in the Netflix anthology series “Medal of Honor” and the AMC series “The Terror: Infamy.” He has also performed stand-up comedies at The Comedy Store, The Laugh Factory, The Hollywood Improv, The Ice House in Pasadena, and HaHa Comedy Club in North Hollywood.

The purpose of the contest is to raise awareness of Little Tokyo through a creative story that focuses on or demonstrates knowledge of the neighborhood, and captures its spirit and cultural essence. Each category winner receives $500 in cash and their news is published in The Rafu Shimpo and the Discover Nikkei and Little Tokyo Historical Society websites. For more information visit:

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