Shogun Santa--like no other Santa you've ever seen--arrives in Little Tokyo on Sunday afternoon as part of the Children of the World parade. No sled and reindeer for this sly cross between a samurai warrior and Kris Kringle. He'll be carried through the streets on a mikoshi (a Japanese litter), wearing an elaborate red kimono and samurai headgear atop white hair and beard.
Except for Santa and the grand marshall, Los Angeles Raider linebacker Jerry Robinson, the entire parade will be made up of children from 31 local schools, some in drill teams, some in costumes. The parade begins at 1 p.m. at 3rd Street and Central Avenue, goes north on Central, east on 2nd Street, north on San Pedro Street, then east on 1st to Japanese Village Plaza.
After the parade, Shogun Santa will retire to his teahouse in Japanese Village Plaza (Central between 1st and 2nd streets) to welcome all kids for the traditional lap-sit. Instant pictures of the occasion will be available ($4.50), but parents are also welcome to bring their own cameras. The visit is free. Santa's hours will continue daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Christmas Eve.
Allow plenty of time to explore Little Tokyo, where toy stores stocked with state-of-the-art robots from Japan are sure to cause a last-minute addendum to most kids' chat with Santa. There are plenty of inexpensive restaurants in the area. If the children in your party aren't quite as thrilled with sushi as the adults are, Restaurant Plaza, upstairs in the Plaza, offers a food bank from several different Japanese restaurants. Some specialize in sushi, others in yakitori or noodles. All offerings are on one common menu. And there's always Shakey's Pizza, also in the mall.