JANM’s Biggest Annual Event is Just Around the Corner

11 Feb


On March 19, JANM will hold its annual Gala Dinner, Silent Auction, and After Party at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites in Los Angeles. A lavish affair that typically attracts over 1,000 guests, this event raises crucial funds that support the museum’s operations throughout the year.

The theme of this year’s dinner is “Moving Images, Telling Stories.” Those who know JANM for its exhibitions exploring various facets of the Japanese American experience, from the World War II incarceration to Hello Kitty and Giant Robot, may not be aware that the museum is home to a groundbreaking collection of home movies and video life histories—the former dating back to the Issei of the early 20th century.

Representing rare footage of Japanese American life taken by Japanese Americans, the home movies are a glimpse back in time, providing an invaluable counterpoint to mainstream media in which Asians were either absent or portrayed unfavorably. The video life histories are in-depth interviews conducted by JANM with a diverse spectrum of Japanese Americans, recording the lives of Japanese Americans in their own words. These compelling first-person resources have helped to portray the Japanese American story as an integral part of the broader American narrative.

Karen L. Ishizuka and Robert A. Nakamura

Karen L. Ishizuka and Robert A. Nakamura


This year’s dinner will honor Karen L. Ishizuka and Robert A. Nakamura, who pioneered the museum’s moving image collection and founded its Frank H. Watase Media Arts Center. Nakamura is also a seminal Asian American filmmaker, having made some of the first films by and about Asian Americans. Ishizuka was instrumental in advocating for the historical and cultural significance of home movies, lobbying successfully for the inclusion of amateur footage shot at the Topaz, Utah, concentration camp during World War II on the National Film Registry. Together, Ishizuka and Nakamura will receive the inaugural JANM Legacy Award, established to recognize individuals and organizations that have made a lasting contribution to the museum’s institutional legacy and helped to distinguish the museum as a unique, vital, and valuable community resource.

Ken Burns. Photo by Cable Risdon.

Ken Burns. Photo by Cable Risdon.


Also honored will be the acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, who has made significant use of JANM’s home movies and other archival materials in three of his highly popular historical sagas, bringing the museum’s resources to a broad national audience. Burns will receive the inaugural JANM Founders’ Award, established to recognize an individual or organization that advances the mission and vision of the museum’s founders in a meaningful way on a national or international scale.

Please visit our newly revamped Gala Dinner website for complete details and to purchase tickets. We hope you can join us for what promises to be a very exciting evening.

A Vegetarian’s Guide to Dining in Little Tokyo

4 Feb

Tofu Donburi from Teishokuya of Tokyo (TOT). All photos by Sylvia Lopez.

Tofu Donburi from Teishokuya of Tokyo (T.O.T.). All photos by Sylvia Lopez.


Working in Little Tokyo comes with plenty of perks, one being that it’s home to lots and lots of restaurants. As a vegetarian (vegan for the most part) however, I don’t get to eat at many of these places, since they tend to focus on classic Japanese dishes such as sushi and teriyaki. I have to be more aware of what I’m ordering, and so something as simple as lunch can turn into a scavenger hunt of sorts.

Luckily, once I did some exploring, I found there’s plenty to eat around here for those of us who are trying to follow an animal-friendly diet. Here are just a few of the places I’ve frequented lately.

Teishokuya of Tokyo (T.O.T.)
345 E. 2nd Street

T.O.T. does offer a good number of vegetarian options on their wide-ranging menu, so it’s a great Japanese restaurant for vegetarians and omnivores to enjoy together. I always end up ordering the same thing though, because it’s that good!

The Tofu Donburi is a hearty bowl of rice topped with tofu fried in a rice-flour based batter and seasoned with a savory and very mildly spicy sauce. A generous helping of sliced green onions adds a crisp and refreshing element to the dish. This dish is a great choice for vegans too. Pro tip: ask your server to leave out the complimentary miso soup, which is made with fish.

Café Dulce's Peanut Kale Salad.

Café Dulce’s Peanut Kale Salad.


Café Dulce
134 Japanese Village Plaza Mall

Café Dulce is the hip coffee place where many JANM staffers like to get fueled up. They offer a number of delicious pastries, sandwiches, and salads, with several vegetarian options. My favorite is the peanut kale salad. This is a light and fresh yet surprisingly filling green salad, with a hint of spice thanks to the inclusion of diced serrano peppers! Kale can be a tricky vegetable to work with raw, but Café Dulce dresses it just right; their peanut sauce tenderizes the kale so the texture isn’t tough at all. Pro tip: to make it vegan, ask them to hold the Parmigiano cheese.

A Falafel Street Cart Doner from Spitz.

A Falafel Street Cart Doner from Spitz.


371 E. 2nd Street

I didn’t pay much attention to Turkish street food specialists Spitz at first, since they describe themselves as the “home of the doner kebab.” My bad for assuming kebab always has to mean meat! Now that I’ve familiarized myself with their menu, I know better and can order plenty. They even state that anything on their menu can be made vegan or vegetarian.

My favorite thing to grab from Spitz is the Falafel Street Cart Doner. Is it weird to say it’s “meaty?” Because it is! The vegetables are fresh and have loads of flavor. When you order it vegan, they bring you a side of hummus to dip it in. I normally don’t like falafel, but these are cooked nicely—lightly fried and not too heavy. Pro tip: vegans (and others) should try their crispy garbanzos, an addicting alternative to standard French fries.

Nijiya Market's handy and reliable inari sushi to go.

Nijiya Market’s handy and reliable inari sushi to go.


Nijiya Market
134 Japanese Village Plaza Mall

Let’s say you’re in more of a rush, or tightening your wallet a bit. No problem—Nijiya Market is close by and there are plenty of quick bites for a vegetarian or vegan at this Japanese convenience store. Just make sure you read the labels! Many items that may seem vegetarian contain things like bonito or fish broth. It’s those hidden surprises that keep us vegetarians on our toes.

While Nijiya carries lots of goodies like mochi, rice crackers, seasoned seaweed, sesame balls, and other things for munching on, one of my favorite items to pick up is the inari sushi, found in the pre-packaged foods aisle. Inari sushi is very simple, just fried tofu pockets stuffed with seasoned rice, but it hits the spot when you need a quick, tasty snack. This, and the kombu (seasoned kelp) onigiri are longtime favorites of mine, having grown up near a Nijiya. It’s nice to know I can get some of my favorite childhood snacks during my lunch break at work.

Sylvia Lopez works as Education and Public Programs Assistant at JANM.

The Importance of Justin Lin and Other Asian American Cultural Pioneers

28 Jan

Next week, Big Trouble in Little Tokyo welcomes director Justin Lin to the museum for a tenth-anniversary screening of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, followed by a panel discussion. Below, JANM Vice President of Programs Koji Steven Sakai reflects on Lin’s influence.


When I was growing up in the 1980s and ’90s, there were zero Asian Americans on television, in movies, or in music. Okay, that’s not completely true, but it isn’t that far off. In fact, I remember playing G.I. Joe and turning one of the bad Asian ninjas (Storm Shadow) into one of the good guys.

Later, when I was thinking about becoming a screenwriter, I wasn’t sure it was possible since there wasn’t really anyone in the film and television world that I could point to and say, “That’s who I want to be like.” I didn’t believe it was actually a viable career, because if it was, why weren’t there more Asian Americans doing it?

It was around this time that three things happened in the world of Asian American pop culture. The Mountain Brothers, the first Asian American hip hop group signed to a major label, released their first album, Self: Volume 1, in 1999. They weren’t just a gimmick either; their album was an instant classic. Then, in 2001, Chinese American rapper MC Jin won seven freestyle battles in a row on BET’s Freestyle Friday. I tuned in at the end of every week to watch him, mesmerized by his skill. Finally, in 2002, Better Luck Tomorrow, the first feature film by Taiwanese American director Justin Lin, came out. It was one of the first Asian American movies bought by a major company.

Tokyo Drift smallAll three of these pivotal moments made me think I could make a career in the arts. But since I’m a screenwriter and producer, Justin’s accomplishment was especially meaningful to me. For once, there was someone I could emulate.

Justin has gone on to become one of the most successful Asian American filmmakers working today. And even with his success, he continues to support the Asian Pacific American community through his blog/YouTube channel YOMYOMF (You Offend Me You Offend My Family) and by always casting Asian Americans in major roles.

He has been an inspiration to me, and I would argue that he has also inspired an entire generation of Asian American filmmakers. For all of these reasons, I am honored to bring Justin Lin to JANM’s Tateuchi Democracy Forum, where he will participate in a panel discussion following a 10th-anniversary screening of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the first of four films he directed in the highly popular Fast and Furious franchise. This event, which is part of JANM’s Big Trouble in Little Tokyo series, will take place on Thursday, February 4, at 7 p.m.

Today, there are many more Asian Americans who are visible in popular culture. But I would argue that they all owe a gesture of thanks to pioneers like the Mountain Brothers, MC Jin, and Justin Lin, who helped make things a whole lot easier for those who came after them.

For more information about the screening or to buy tickets, click here.

Koji Steven Sakai is the Vice President of Programs at the Japanese American National Museum, where he has worked for over 12 years. In addition to his work at the museum, he has written five feature films that have been produced. Most recently, his debut novel, Romeo and Juliet vs. Zombies, was released by Luthando Coeur.

Third Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest: Submission Deadline is January 31

21 Jan

imagine LT call 2016

“Kazuo embraced Mondays like no other, and that was because of its silence. Mondays were sweet, a sweep of semi-peace in the streets of Los Angeles. The typical street-crawlers were in school and the typical tourists at their nine to five jobs, and so Kazuo chose Monday to roam, map, conquer his neighborhoods unperturbed. Mondays were a convenience only when eighty five of your years had passed and your company along with it. It was nice timing for those who desired solace. The old man had fit this criteria to a tee.”
– Linda Toch, “Kazuo Alone”

The evocative words above constitute the opening paragraph of Linda Toch’s “Kazuo Alone,” the 2015 Youth Division winner of the Little Tokyo Historical Society’s Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest. Toch is a self-described “proud Cambodian American” who is now a freshman at Soka University of America. On a family outing in Little Tokyo, she found the neighborhood so positive and uplifting that she imagined a sad person’s spirits would be brightened there. She wrote “Kazuo Alone” as a response.

The Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest, created to raise awareness of the neighborhood, is now in its third year and it continues to grow. Last year’s expansion of the categories to include a Japanese-language division and a youth division (18 and younger) proved to be stimulating, attracting submissions from all over the country and the globe. The English-language winner for 2015 was Nathaniel J. Campbell of Fairfield, Iowa with “Fish Market in Little Tokyo,” while Miyuki Sato of Muroran, Hokkaido, Japan took the Japanese-language prize for “Mitate Club.”

The three winners all received cash prizes and were published in the print edition of the Rafu Shimpo, on the Little Tokyo Historical Society website, and on JANM’s own Discover Nikkei website. Stories by 11 other finalists were also published online. A public reception to announce the winners was held at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles.

If you feel inspired by Little Tokyo and have dreamed of seeing your name in print, you have until January 31 to submit your story for consideration in this year’s contest. The story must be fiction, and must be set in Little Tokyo. The cash prize in each category is $500. For complete details, click here.

The Magical Worlds of Sean Chao

14 Jan

Sean Chao. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Sean Chao. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Originally from Taipei, Taiwan, artist Sean Chao graduated from Art Center College of Design in 2007 and now makes his home in Los Angeles. In 2012, Chao was featured in JANM’s Giant Robot Biennale 3 exhibition. He is known for creating intricate miniature dioramas using polymer clay, basswood, and paper, with nature as a recurring theme; he often depicts dense forests or vast oceans filled with plants and wildlife.

This Saturday, January 16, Chao will be leading a workshop at JANM titled Water Memory. Participants will learn to create their own sculptural underwater scenes using polymer clay, acrylic paint, and paper. In advance of this workshop, Chao graciously agreed to answer a few questions via email regarding his process and his influences.

JANM: How did you become interested in making dioramas?

Sean Chao: Growing up, I was very intrigued and fascinated by the dioramas at various natural history museums I visited, both in Taiwan and here in the States. It amazed me, the many details that were put into the dioramas to recreate natural scenes. It’s a different dimension—frozen in time and locked in a clear display case. One day I just decided to create my own dioramas, filled with worlds that I create.

Sean Chao, Big Cat, 2015, bass wood, polymer clay, acrylic, and gouache paint on wood panel. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Sean Chao, Big Cat, 2015, basswood, polymer clay, acrylic, and gouache
paint on wood panel. Photo courtesy of the artist.


JANM: Tell us about some of the inspirations that drive your work. Monkeys and country peasants seem to make frequent appearances.

SC: I grew up in Taiwan and my culture influenced my work tremendously. I grew up in the city, but I was always fascinated by the simplicity of peasant life in the country—so much closer to nature and so far away from the crowd.

My dioramas are fantasy worlds that I create. Anthropomorphic characters are very charming. They have their own personalities in my world, inspired by the people and animals around me. My brother was born in the Year of the Monkey and he is one of my best friends. My monkey character is based on his personality: smart and adventurous.

Sean Chao, Persimmon Picnic, 2015, bass wood, polymer clay, acrylic, and gouache paint on wood panel. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Sean Chao, Persimmon Picnic, 2015, basswood, polymer clay, acrylic,
and gouache paint on wood panel. Photo courtesy of the artist.


JANM: You also have an interesting “creatures within creatures” theme going on, where robots are controlled from the inside by animals. Could you tell us more about this theme?

SC: Human beings create computers, robots, and artificial intelligence based on the likeness of ourselves. It’s in our nature to create. I simply created my own version of the robot. It’s based on an ideal human personality and controlled by characters that were inspired by my family and friends.

JANM: Who are some of your own favorite artists?

SC: Beatrix Potter—she was an illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist, and one of my favorite children’s book illustrators. Hayao Miyazaki—I grew up watching his animations. The stories are very touching for both children and adults, and the way he captures the personality of each character is just fascinating. There is definitely more to learn from him for my own work.

Learn to make a piece like this in this weekend's Water Memory workshop. Sean Chao, Skull Koi 2, 2015, bass wood, polymer clay, acrylic, and gouache paint on wood panel. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Learn to make a piece like this in this weekend’s Water Memory workshop.
Sean Chao, Skull Koi 2, 2015, basswood, polymer clay, acrylic, and gouache paint
on wood panel. Photo courtesy of the artist.


JANM: What are you most excited about for your upcoming Water Memory workshop?

SC: Meeting people who share the same interest in sculpture and diorama, and of course I’m very excited to show them my techniques. It will be a real fun event.

Space is still available for Chao’s workshop. To register, click here.

Girl Scout Creates Patch Program to Raise Awareness of WWII Japanese American Incarceration

5 Jan

Ambassador Girl Scout Lauren Wong sits in front of JANM's Common Ground exhibition.

Ambassador Girl Scout Lauren Wong sits in front
of JANM’s Common Ground exhibition.


My name is Lauren Wong. I am an Ambassador Girl Scout with Troop 881, based at the Orange County Buddhist Church in Anaheim, California, and a candidate for the Girl Scout Gold Award. This award is similar to the Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts; it is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Applying for it is a seven-step process that begins with identifying a global issue and ends with creating a project that educates, inspires, and promotes awareness of that issue. For my Gold Award application, I have created a special Girl Scout patch program for the Japanese American National Museum.

Since I was little, my grandmother has told me stories of her incarceration at Tule Lake concentration camp, inspiring my passion for learning more about my Japanese American history. Students do not generally get the opportunity to learn about the mistreatment of Japanese Americans during World War II, as it is often overlooked in history classes. Even today, many of my school friends do not know about the camps. My goal is to educate the general public and inspire them to appreciate the lives they have today and not let history repeat itself.

Girl Scout patch for those who complete Lauren Wong's Common Ground curriculum. Designed by Lauren Wong.

Girl Scout patch for those who complete Lauren Wong’s Common Ground curriculum. Designed by Lauren Wong.


I have created an educational tool called Experience the Past, available in three separate worksheets geared toward elementary school students, middle school students, and high school students/adults. The worksheets, which can be requested at JANM’s front desk, are designed to accompany a visit to the museum’s core exhibition, Common Ground: The Heart of Community. They pose questions and suggest exercises that are designed to help visitors identify with the exhibition, think more deeply about what they’re seeing, connect it with aspects of contemporary life, and converse with others about their experience.

At the end of their visit, participants who complete a worksheet earn a custom patch that I created. Through this program, I hope to spread awareness of the history of Japanese American incarceration, which is important not just to Japanese American history, but to American history as a whole.

Tickets are still available for two upcoming Girl Scout programs at JANM. On January 9 and 16, current Girl Scouts are invited to take a private tour of Giant Robot Biennale 4, followed by a zine-making workshop with exhibiting artist Yumi Sakugawa. For more details and to register, visit janm.org.

The Hoshida Family’s WWII Incarceration Story, Told Through Words and Images

23 Dec

George Hoshida, Kilauea Military Detention Camp, 1942, ink and watercolor on paper. Japanese American National Museum. Gift of June Hoshida Honma, Sandra Hoshida, and Carole Hoshida Kanada.

George Hoshida, Kilauea Military Detention Camp, 1942, ink and watercolor on paper.
Japanese American National Museum. Gift of June Hoshida Honma, Sandra Hoshida, and Carole Hoshida Kanada.


Not long after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, George Hoshida was arrested by FBI agents. Having immigrated from Japan with his family in 1912, when he was only four years old, Hoshida had made a life for himself in Hilo, Hawai‘i. He had married a Hawai‘i–born Japanese American woman named Tamae and gotten a job at the Hilo Electric Company; he had also become active in several Japanese American community organizations, including a Buddhist group and a judo association. It was Hoshida’s position in the community and his perceived influence on others that led authorities to deem him a threat.

Hoshida was forcibly separated from his wife and four daughters as he was sent to a succession of special Justice Department camps, reserved for community leaders like himself: Kilauea Military Camp on the Big Island, Sand Island on Oahu, and a variety of camps in Texas, Nevada, and New Mexico. After a year of separation, Tamae, who was handicapped, found it too difficult to raise the children without George. She made the decision to give up their home and, on the recommendation of government officials, moved with three of their daughters to the Jerome War Relocation Center in Arkansas, where George could be transferred.

George Hoshida, Inside Our Apartment, Looking Towards Door, Jerome Relocation Center, 1944, ink on paper. Japanese American National Museum. Gift of June Hoshida Honma, Sandra Hoshida, and Carole Hoshida Kanada.

George Hoshida, Inside Our Apartment, Looking Towards Door, Jerome Relocation Center, 1944, ink on paper. Japanese American National Museum. Gift of June Hoshida Honma, Sandra Hoshida, and Carole Hoshida Kanada.


Arriving there after an arduous journey, the family would have to wait another year before George’s transfer process could be completed. Tragically, the eldest daughter, who had to be left behind in a facility in Oahu due to a handicap, died while the rest of the family was incarcerated.

During this challenging time, Hoshida and his wife wrote letters to each other every day. Hoshida also kept a detailed journal and made numerous sketches, drawings, and watercolors depicting what he saw around him. These letters, journal entries, and artworks are now considered a rare record of life in the Justice Department camps; the depictions of the Kilauea camp are the only ones known to exist. In 1997, the bulk of these artifacts were donated to JANM, where they now reside in the permanent collection. Many of the items can be viewed online through JANM’s George Hoshida Collection page as well as a special online exhibition website called The Life and Work of George Hoshida: A Japanese American’s Journey.

George Hoshida, Shoji Fujishima and Haruto Morikawa, 1944, ink on paper. Japanese American National Museum. Gift of June Hoshida Honma, Sandra Hoshida, and Carole Hoshida Kanada.

George Hoshida, Shoji Fujishima and Haruto Morikawa, 1944, ink on paper.
Japanese American National Museum. Gift of June Hoshida Honma, Sandra Hoshida, and Carole Hoshida Kanada.


Earlier this year, a new book was published that tells the Hoshida family’s story through a curated selection of Hoshida’s journal entries, memoir excerpts, letters, and artworks. Edited by Heidi Kim and supplemented with historical background information, Taken from the Paradise Isle: The Hoshida Family Story provides “an intimate account of the anger, resignation, philosophy, optimism, and love with which the Hoshida family endured their separation and incarceration during World War II.”

The hardcover edition of the book is already sold out; the JANM Store and janmstore.com are currently waiting on an order of the paperback edition. The book should be restocked in time for an author discussion event on January 9, in which Heidi Kim will read from and discuss the book. To read more about the Hoshida family’s story, check out this Discover Nikkei article.

Restaurant Owner Has Deep Roots at JANM

17 Dec

Chef Andrea Uyeda at her restaurant, ediBOL. Photo by Carol Cheh.

Chef Andrea Uyeda at her restaurant, ediBOL. Photo by Carol Cheh.


On a recent lunch outing, a few coworkers and I decided to try ediBOL, a new restaurant in the Arts District. We were delighted to find that not only was the food delicious, but the gracious owner and chef, Andrea Uyeda, has many connections to JANM—her father designed the first public iteration of the museum, when it was located in the Historic Building across the plaza from the current facility, and she herself volunteered at the museum as a child.

Uyeda has a special fondness for JANM, and recently agreed to join the museum’s Neighborhood Discount Program for members. Current JANM members may present their membership card at ediBOL to receive a free order of fried pickle chips or rice fritters with the purchase of any large BOL. My group tried the pickle chips, and they are very tasty! Read on for an interview in which Uyeda discusses her restaurant’s origins and philosophy, and her family’s connections to JANM.

JANM: What inspired you to open a restaurant?

Andrea Uyeda: My earliest memories revolve around cooking—waking up super early on weekend mornings to make animal-shaped pancakes with my dad; my grandmother teaching me how to cook, season, and cool sushi rice to the perfect, glossy taste and texture; looking forward to mochitsuki all year, then making and eating mochi all day long on New Year’s Day; and home-cooked Sunday dinners at my grandparents’ house in Boyle Heights.

Growing up, a bowl of Japanese rice was a part of every meal. The ediBOL menu stems from my favorite way of eating: out of a bowl filled with fresh ingredients, hand-crafted flavors, and various textures and temperatures. Every item on our menu is served in a bowl, symbolizing love, family, comfort—all that’s good in life, with a punch of bold flavors that make you say WOW!

Andrea Uyeda tends to her customers, who in this case happen to be her cousins, at ediBOL. Photo by @social.agenda.

Andrea Uyeda tends to her customers, who in this case happen to be
her cousins, at ediBOL. Photo by @social.agenda.


JANM: Please describe your restaurant’s philosophy.

AU: I love creating, learning, sharing, exploring, collaborating—life is about feeling and connecting. I’ve had so much fun coming up with the ediBOL menu, which is a creative mix of favorite foods, flavors, textures, and temperatures. Each dish has roots in a lifelong love of cooking, with more recent layers of experimentation—playing with various ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques until we hit the magic combination.

In addition to designing the menu, I have also had a blast sourcing our lapis azul granite high-top tables, enamelware bowls, deep blue chairs, dark wood dining tables, barnyard lighting fixtures, stone bathroom tiles, and the 300-year-old reclaimed teak used for our teal kitchen wall. Cooking, design, and woodworking are all passions of mine, and ediBOL is truly a passion project.

We hope to be creating a very special place for the family of workers here, the family of regular diners, and the various farmers, artisans, vendors, and neighbors whose passionate creations are showcased at the restaurant. We have a very welcoming space with an outdoor patio, and my ultimate dream is for ediBOL to not only serve great food and drinks, but to also be a place where people can gather and share their passions, which could include coffee, rice, beer, art, acting, writing, fashion, music, and lots more!

ediBOL's delicious pork belly bowl. Photo by Carol Cheh.

ediBOL’s delicious pork belly bowl. Photo by Carol Cheh.


JANM: What is your professional background?

AU: At age 13, I got my first job making waffle cones and scooping ice cream. Every job since then has been in some aspect of the hospitality industry, whether it be in the kitchen, operations, catering, marketing, purchasing, accounting, technology, design, or development. While completing a thesis on Japanese American cultural identity at Princeton, I worked the graveyard shift and ran a bakery/café owned by the mayor of Princeton. Sourcing the highest quality ingredients and coming up with seasonal scones and muffins each morning were always highlights of the day!

After graduation, I moved to Santa Monica and got a job as a host at Border Grill. Over the years, I steadily took on more responsibility as I worked my way up to Sales and Special Events Manager, General Manager, Director of Operations, Chief Operating Officer, and eventually, Co-Owner. I didn’t have a career plan or goal—I just knew that I always loved the energy of cooking on the line and being on the dining room floor.

ediBOL's miso peanut ramen. Photo by Kajsa Alger.

ediBOL’s miso peanut ramen. Photo by Kajsa Alger.


JANM: Tell us about your connections to JANM.

AU: My father, Robert Uyeda, was the architect for JANM’s first public space, located in what is now called the Historic Building. He was super excited to be involved in such a history-making venture. Somehow he got a bunch of young kids (my cousins, brother, and me) also excited to spend our summer vacations volunteering in the first JANM office, located in a loft space on Third Street. My aunt would drop us off and we’d spend the day licking stamps and sealing envelopes. When we got older, we graduated to transcribing interviews with camp survivors. I learned so much about our community’s history and feel so fortunate to have been a part of the early, formative years of JANM. It has been amazing to see so many of JANM’s ideas and dreams come to life.

ediBOL is located at 300 S. Santa Fe Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. Visit edibol.com to peruse their menu, make reservations, or place an online order.

Katsuya Terada Returns This Month to Complete His Live Drawing

9 Dec

Katsuya Terada at work in the JANM galleries. Photo by Carol Cheh.

Katsuya Terada at work in the JANM galleries. Photo by Carol Cheh.


Giant Robot Biennale 4 is a highly interactive show, with several features that invite viewer engagement on a more active level than usual. One of these features is the live, on-site creation of a major new work by Katsuya Terada.

Starting shortly before the exhibition opened in October, Terada spent several days working inside of a roped-off area in JANM’s lower-level galleries to create a new, two-part drawing from scratch. Visitors were able to watch him as he worked. The artist had to leave town before he could finish, but he plans to return later this month (after the 19th) to complete the piece in the gallery.

Katsuya Terada. Photo by Carol Cheh.

Katsuya Terada.
Photo by Carol Cheh.

The live drawing idea came from Eric Nakamura, curator of the show and founder of the Giant Robot empire. “Museums are typically filled with static objects,” he noted. “I wanted to present an interactive experience, where people could ask questions, and see what artists are like in person. It’s not everywhere that you can do this.” Nakamura gave Teraya no time limits, wanting him to produce a finished work that is suitable for framing.

So far the work is looking exquisitely finished right out of the gate. It does not yet have a title, but it does have a theme: masks. “I thought it would be interesting to draw a mask wearing a mask,” the artist says. Terada, who speaks very little English, spoke to me shortly before he left with the help of his friend and fellow exhibiting artist Yoskay Yamamoto, who served as translator.

I asked Terada to explain his process, which is organic rather than planned. “If I draw one line, that will tell me how to draw the next line,” he replied. “However, when I see the entire surface, and I start drawing one image, that will usually be the starting point, and from there I’m just trying to fill up the page without making mistakes—in composition, in choice of items to draw. I’m just making sure everything fits in the right way.”

Katsuya Terada. Photo by Carol Cheh.

Katsuya Terada. Photo by Carol Cheh.


Personally, I would find that process stressful. I asked him how he felt about that, and about having people watch him while he draws.

“It is stressful! But it’s like I’m challenging myself by being in that position,” Terada replied. “Having an audience can be a positive thing—it means that I have to work hard and I can’t slack off. But drawing itself is just enjoyable to me, with or without an audience.”

Terada will be back at JANM sometime after December 19th to complete his drawing. Keep your eyes on JANM’s Twitter feed and Facebook page to see when he’s in the gallery. Until then, you can come to the museum to view his progress to date.

Katsuya Terada's unfinished drawing, as he left it in October. The artist will return to JANM this month to complete the work. Photo by Carol Cheh.

Katsuya Terada’s unfinished drawing, as he left it in October. The artist will return to
JANM later this month to complete the work. Photo by Carol Cheh.

A Courtyard Kid Returns to JANM

2 Dec

Staci Yamanishi stands next to her Children's Courtyard engraving.

Staci Yamanishi stands next to her
Children’s Courtyard engraving.

When eighth-grade teacher Staci Yamanishi visits JANM with her students, she takes them through Common Ground: The Heart of Community, our ongoing exhibition on the Japanese American experience, and Fighting for Democracy, our appointment-only interactive exhibit on civil rights. Before they leave to return to their classroom however, the students receive one very special bonus assignment: find their teacher’s name engraved on the JANM courtyard.

Since JANM’s Pavilion building was opened in 1999, the museum has engraved the names of its youngest constituents in the Children’s Courtyard. For JANM, the Courtyard is a way to connect to each new generation, with the hope that being a part of the museum in this way will inspire a lifetime of sharing and discovery. As the young visitors grow into adults, we hope that they will continue to return to this institution and feel that they are a part of this community.

For Staci, the engraving was a gift from her grandparents. She remembers coming to the museum with her parents when she was young to look at her name, and she has returned many times over the years. She remembers visiting JANM on a school trip in the eighth grade and again when she was a student in UCLA’s Teacher Education Program.

Staci Yamanishi's eighth-grade students discover her name engraved on JANM's Children's Courtyard.

Staci Yamanishi’s eighth-grade students discover her name
engraved on JANM’s Children’s Courtyard.


Museum staff began getting to know Staci during her UCLA years, and soon after, she contributed a poem titled “I Come from Many Memories” to JANM’s experimental exhibition Xploration Lab 2012, which explored issues of identity. Staci has also served on an educator committee, which the museum’s Education Unit convenes on occasion to help brainstorm ways JANM can better serve teachers and students.

Now, in addition to occasional visits with her family, Staci returns every year on an eighth grade field trip—no longer as a student, but as a teacher. When asked why she brings her students to JANM, she replies that it’s important to her that the students understand her history—a unique history that is not found in their textbooks.

Staci and her students inside Common Ground.

Staci and her students inside Common Ground.

Much of Yamanishi’s knowledge of her history comes from conversations she had with her grandfather before he passed away. Having served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team while his wife (Staci’s grandmother) was incarcerated at Manzanar, he was an advocate of sharing the Japanese American World War II experience. He ingrained in Staci the importance of being proud of one’s history and passing it on to the next generation. Now, as a teacher herself, she encourages her students to explore their own stories through family history projects.

JANM is proud to know Staci and we are thankful for people like her, who share our mission to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience.

If you are interested in purchasing an engraving for a child or youth (21 and under) in your life, visit our Children’s Courtyard Engraving page for complete details.