Nishiyama Residence/Otomisan Japanese Restaurant
Developed over a period of thirty years beginning in 1890 through the 1920s, 2504-2508 East First Street consists of a residence and commercial building significant for their associations with the history of Japanese Americans in Boyle Heights.
The Nishiyama Residence/Otomisan Japanese Restaurant became Historic-Cultural Monument No. 1250 in 2022.
Developed over a period of thirty years, beginning in 1890 and through the 1920s, this property is a rare and largely intact example of early residential and streetcar commercial development in Boyle Heights. This property tells the story of the Nishiyamas, a pioneering Japanese American family in Los Angeles, who created economic promise for Japanese and Japanese Americans in Boyle Heights during a time when their opportunities were limited due to land ownership laws, redlining, and job discrimination.
About This Place
About This Place
The property located at 2504-2508 East First Street consists of a one and one-half story Queen Anne style residence and a one-story vernacular commercial building, significant for its association with early Japanese American settlement patterns in Boyle Heights and for its association with commercial development along the East First Street streetcar line in the 1920s.
In 1925, Ryohei Nishiyama moved the residence to the rear of the lot and constructed a one-story commercial building facing East First Street. By doing so, he created economic mobility for Japanese and Japanese Americans in Los Angeles during a time when their opportunities were restricted due to land ownership laws, redlining, and job discrimination.
The commercial building originally housed a Japanese-operated grocery store, and later included a Japanese-operated florist shop and barber shop. In the 1950s, the grocery store was converted to a food establishment. In 1956, Otemo Sushi Café (now called Otomisan Japanese Restaurant) opened in the easternmost storefront of the commercial building. Otomisan is the last remaining Japanese restaurant in the neighborhood and believed to be one of the oldest continuously-operating Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles.
The Nishiyama Residence/Otomisan Japanese Restaurant represents multiple layers of historical and cultural significance, including early residential development in Boyle Heights, streetcar commercial development, and Japanese American commercial development in Boyle Heights.
In 2008, the CRA/LA Intensive Historic Resources Survey Adelante Eastside Redevelopment Area identified the residence (2508 East First Street) as an eligible historic resource for its association with the Queen Anne style and culture of late 19th/early 20th century residential architecture. In addition, SurveyLA’s Los Angeles Citywide Historic Context Statement: Japanese Americans in Los Angeles identified the commercial building (2504-2506 1/2 East First Street) as an eligible historic resource for being the long-term location of a business important to the commercial identify of Boyle Heights.
Referred to as the “Ellis Island of the West Coast” by longtime residents and historians alike, Boyle Heights reflects Los Angeles’ diverse history and built heritage, yet less than 2% of its historic places are represented in the City’s Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) program.
To help increase designations representing diverse heritage, while also building the capacity of local preservation advocates to landmark places in their neighborhoods, the Conservancy collaborated with Boyle Heights Community Partners to nominate the Nishiyama Residence/Otomisan Japanese Restaurant in Boyle Heights as an HCM in 2020. The property narrates the story of Japanese Americans in Los Angeles with rare representation in the built environment.