Since first opening its doors in 1980, JACCC has evolved into one of the largest ethnic art and cultural centers in the U.S.

Its owned-and-operated facilities include the Center Building (which houses the George J. Doizaki Gallery, the Japanese Cultural Room, conference and meeting rooms, office space for more than 20 nonprofit tenant organizations, and the upcoming Toshizo Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center and the Toshizo Watanabe Exhibiton Center), the 880-seat Aratani Theatre, JACCC Plaza designed by Isamu Noguchi, and the award-winning James Irvine Japanese Garden.

Located in Little Tokyo, the historic heart of the Japanese American community, JACCC was the dream of visionary Issei and Nisei (first and second-generation) Japanese American pioneers to create a permanent center for the community where arts and culture come alive and can flourish for future generations.

JACCC has its roots in the early 1970's redevelopment of Little Tokyo, when a citizens advisory committee determined that one of its first priorities was to build a cultural and community center. With the support of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) of Los Angeles and other lead funders, JACCC’s Center Building was opened in 1980. This was followed shortly thereafter by the opening of the Aratani Theatre and JACCC Plaza, respectively, in 1983.

Construction on JACCC’s facilities took place between 1978 and 1983 at a cost of approximately $15 million. The initial capital campaign to build JACCC was launched in 1976 and largely completed by 1983 with the participation of the Japanese American community, local governmental sources, U.S. foundations and corporations, and Japanese businesses, both in the U.S. and Japan. A final push to retire the remaining building debt of approximately $1 million was completed in 1989.