The Thrill of Taiko

25 Jul

Los Angeles Matsuri Taiko perform at JANM's 2013 Natsumatsuri Family Festival. Photo: Russell Kitagawa.

Los Angeles Matsuri Taiko perform at JANM’s 2013 Natsumatsuri Family Festival. Photo: Russell Kitagawa.

 

Taiko drumming is energetic, rhythmic, and exciting—the thundering of a taiko drum will catch someone’s attention regardless of how near or far they are.

The word “taiko” literally means “fat drum” in Japanese. Historically, taiko drums have been used in Japan for religious ceremonies and local festivals. In feudal times, a one-drum act was typical, but in the 1950s, kumi-daiko—an ensemble made up of different types of taiko drums—was introduced. This is the style that remains popular today.

In a taiko ensemble, the biggest drum is called an o-daiko, the mid-sized drum is a chu-daiko, and the smallest is called a shime-daikoKumi-daiko can accommodate a variety of musical styles, including jazz and pop.

Los Angeles Matsuri Taiko perform at JANM's 2013 Natsumatsuri Family Festival. Photo: Tsuneo Takasugi.

Los Angeles Matsuri Taiko perform at JANM’s 2013 Natsumatsuri Family Festival. Photo: Tsuneo Takasugi.

 

When Japanese immigrants introduced taiko to the United States in the early 20th century, its practice was a way to secure their cultural identity and also to have a collective voice as an ethnic group. Today, taiko drumming can be seen in many different contexts, whether they are traditional Japanese festivals like obon (honoring the dead) or musical revues. Just this past weekend, JANM was proud to host and co-present the 2014 World Taiko Gathering, which united players from around the world for workshops, concerts, and jam sessions.

In just a few weeks, taiko will return to JANM when East LA Taiko presents a free performance during our all-day Natsumatsuri Festival on August 9. A Los Angeles–based group founded in 1991 by Maceo Hernandez, East LA Taiko is a great example of kumi-daiko’s adaptability. The group incorporates Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms and ska-punk flavors alongside traditional Japanese beats, fusing them into a uniquely LA sound. Hernandez, who has trained in Japan, is a veteran taiko drummer who has performed worldwide. In recent years the group has partnered with singer-songwriter Lysa Flores, who brings her own Latin flare to their performances.

Taiko drums are versatile and thrilling instruments. To experience taiko is to experience more than just drumbeats—it’s to hear the hearts, minds and souls of the players.

This post was written by Dina Furumoto, one of JANM’s interns through the 2014 Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program. Dina is a student at Cal Poly Pomona, where she is majoring in Sociology.

Celebrate Summer at JANM’s Natsumatsuri Family Festival

24 Jul

2014 Natsumatsuri Family Festival

 

Here at JANM, we are gearing up for one of our biggest events of the year—the Natsumatsuri Family Festival, on August 9.

Free to all visitors all day (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), this exciting festival will include a taiko performance, beginners’ taiko lessons, a traditional bon odori dance, a karaoke competition, Japanese-style fortune telling, and so much more.

“Natsumatsuri” literally means “summer festival” in Japanese. It is a much loved annual tradition in Japan, where a variety of gatherings all over the country celebrate the season with games, ceremonies, displays, dancing, and food.

To help you get in the JANM Natsumatsuri spirit, First & Central will be spotlighting different aspects of the big day and its various activities. Follow our staff members and interns as they explore taiko, omikuji, the UGLARworks art collective, obon, and the meaning of the festival itself.

Check out the complete schedule of events: janm.org/natsumatsuri2014

Los Angeles Summer of Learning is here!

2 Jul

Are you a student in the Los Angeles area? Are you a parent of a student in the Los Angeles area? Have you heard of Los Angeles Summer of Learning? Well this is something that you should definitely know about!

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Los Angeles Summer of Learning is a great new initiative that seeks to engage young people with hands-on learning activities at museums, parks, libraries, and other organizations during the summer months. Think of Los Angeles as one giant summer classroom where students can earn digital badges for participating in fun and educational activities throughout the city.

JANM is proud to participate in this initiative with our 2014 Natsumatsuri Family Festival on Saturday, August 9th. Students can earn a digital badge by coming to our popular annual summer celebration and checking out an array of traditional Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, talks, workshops, and special events. Admission is FREE all day!

To participate in Los Angeles Summer of Learning, all you have to do is sign up on the website and browse for activities that interest you or your children. You will be on your way to earning digital badges in no time! To get your Natsumatsuri badge, be sure to come to JANM on August 9th and ask for your badge claim code at our survey table.

You can read more about Los Angeles Summer of Learning here.

JANM Offers FREE Admission to Active Duty Military Personnel through the Summer

11 Jun

JANM is proud to participate in Blue Star Museums 2014. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, JANM admission is FREE for all active duty military personnel and up to five members of their families.

Many members of JANM’s extended family are military men and women; some of our volunteers are distinguished World War II veterans, who share memories of their days of service during docent tours and panel discussion events. Indeed, WWII plays a pivotal role in the Japanese American story, and in the museum’s mission to promote understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity.

We are honored to engage a new generation of service personnel by becoming a Blue Star Museum, joining with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 other museums across the country.

Installation of 1963-64 new officers of Nisei Memorial Post 9938, Veterans of Foreign Wars at Larchmont Hall, California, April 27, 1963. Photograph by Toyo Miyatake Studio, Gift of the Alan Miyatake Family. (96.267.786)

Installation of 1963-64 new officers of Nisei Memorial Post 9938, Veterans of Foreign Wars at Larchmont Hall, California, April 27, 1963. Photograph by Toyo Miyatake Studio, Gift of the Alan Miyatake Family. (96.267.786)

 

Vote for JANM! Nominated for Best Museum in LA Downtown News’ 2014 Best of Downtown contest

11 May

DowntownNews-2014-Bestof-nominee-logo

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The Japanese American National Museum has once again been nominated in L.A. Downtown News’ 2014 Best of Downtown contest!

We’re nominated in 2 categories: Best Museum and Best Family Attraction for our Target Free Family Saturdays.

Help us win by going to votebestof.com and following the instructions to vote.

Voting is open until May 30, 2014.

Go to votebestof.com >>

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kaeru-reading

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SAVE THE DATE
Target Free Family Saturdays:
Imagination Storytime
June 14, 2014
11 a.m.–4 p.m.

FREE ALL DAY!

Transport yourself into magical and faraway worlds through storybook readings and exciting performances!

For  schedule of activities >>

 

2014 Gala Dinner Thanks!

7 May

Jamie Hagiya, Wat Misaka, and Natalie Nakase at the 2014 Gala Dinner. Photo by Tracy Kumono.

Jamie Hagiya, Wat Misaka, and Natalie Nakase at the 2014 Gala Dinner, Silent Auction & After Party. Photo by Tracy Kumono.

 

Thank you to everyone who supported our 2014 Gala Dinner, Silent Auction & After Party on April 12!

The Gala is our biggest fundraising event of the year, and the funds raised allow us to continue the important work that we do. To the many people who attended the Gala, donated and bid on silent auction gifts, purchased Lexus Opportunity Drawing tickets, made Bid For Education gifts and more, we extend our deepest gratitude for your support.

One of our photographers, Tracy Kumono, produced a short slide show of the evening’s highlights, which she has graciously allowed us to share with you.

View the slideshow >>

She also has the complete set of Gala photos (more than 650) on her website, and you can order individual prints from her directly. You will need to provide your name and email address to enter the gallery and order prints.

View more photos and order prints >>

In addition, we are pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s Lexus Opportunity Drawing is Craig Tomiyoshi of Huntington Beach, California. He will pick up his brand new 2015 Lexus RC F in the fall.

We are interested in hearing your comments about the evening. If you’d like to share your thoughts, please send an email to galadinner@janm.org.

Once again, thank you for your support. We hope to see you next year!

 

Photos by Tracy Kumono, Nobuyuki Okada, Daryl Kobayashi, and Russell Kitagawa.

Member Events: How to Care for Your Collections

29 Apr

Do you have a treasured family heirloom in your home but are at a loss as to how to properly care for it? Or a childhood comic book collection but do not know how to properly store it?

Learn how to store and preserve your precious items with JANM Collections Manager Margaret Zachow Wetherbee! Join us for this insightful members-only event on Sunday, May 4 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Please bring a few items that you are willing to show during this interactive workshop. No appraisals will be given.

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Be sure to join us for additional members-only events this weekend! Join us for a new series, “Learning at Lunch” on Friday, May 2 from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. All members are invited to bring a brown bag lunch and an open mind as Collections Manager Margaret Zachow Wetherbee will show a selection of  JANM’s collection of handmade bird pins and their fascinating stories as part of the World War II concentration camp experience.

For both of these member events please RSVP to memberevents@janm.org or call 213.830.5657.

One of the 18 rare Kodachrome photographs taken by Bill Manbo during his incarceration at the Heart Mountain concentration camp. ©2012 Takeo Bill Manbo

One of the 18 rare Kodachrome photographs taken by Bill Manbo during his incarceration at the Heart Mountain concentration camp.
©2012 Takeo Bill Manbo

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On SaturdayMay 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., join us for a Member Preview of Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in WWII. Members are invited to preview the 18 photographs before its public opening at 2 p.m., and for an opportunity to hear from author and curator Prof. Eric Muller, as he presents a book talk featuring the rare Kodachrome Heart Mountain camp photographs by Bill Manbo. A light reception will follow.

RSVP by emailing specialevents@janm.org or call 213.625.0414 ext. 2222.

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Member Appreciation Days
Friday, May 2 – Sunday, May 4, 2014

National Members get a 20% discount at the Museum Store and janmstore.com, plus free admission and a 20% discount at 11 other participating Southern California institutions including museums, libraries, and other cultural sites like the California Science Center, Craft and Folk Art Museum, MOCA, USC Pacific Asia Museum, and the The San Diego Museum of Art.

Check janmstore.com/membershopping.html for details. Make sure you have a current membership card for this exciting event!

 

Please visit JANM’s May events page for more information on these Member Events!

Highlights from the 2014 Community Day of Remembrance at JANM

22 Mar

Aratani Central Hall

The annual Day of Remembrance commemorates the signing of Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which enabled the military to forcibly remove and incarcerate 120,000 Japanese American men, women, and children.

Kurt Kuniyoshi reading Nisei Poet, Hiroshi Kashiwagi's redress testimony. Photo by Russell Kitagawa.

Kurt Kuniyoshi reading Hiroshi Kashiwagi’s redress testimony. Photo by Russell Kitagawa.

This devastating experience to the Issei and Nisei continues to impact multigenerational communities today, which is why this year’s 72nd anniversary of DOR featured stories reflecting the impacts of E.O. 9066 on various generations of Japanese Americans.

Performances included Kurt Kuniyoshi reading pieces by Nisei poet Hiroshi Kashiwagi who was unable to attend; Nisei author Dr. Akemi Kikumura Yano; Shin-Nisei author Dr. Velina Hasu Houston; and Yonsei performance artist Sean Miura.

The program, which was emceed by riKu Matsuda and Traci Ishigo, led the audience through a special time of remembrance and reflection.

Here are some photos highlighting this important annual event:

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DOR was co-presented with the Japanese American Citizens League Pacific Southwest District, Japanese American National Museum, Manzanar Committee and Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress.

Keep track of all of JANM’s events at janm.org/events, or like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Highlights from February’s Target Day with KoAloha Ukulele!

20 Mar

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On February 8, 2014, JANM held the Target Day Free Family Saturdays: Aloha from Hawaii with KoAloha Ukulele family festival. Every corner of the Museum was filled with music as KoAloha Ukulele led free performances, workshops, and more!

Cartoonist Vishavjit Singh leads a cartoon workshop. Photo by Russell Kitagawa.

Cartoonist Vishavjit Singh leads a cartoon workshop. Photo by Russell Kitagawa.

In addition to the performances and workshops, guests also enjoyed ukulele-related film screenings of My KoAloha Story and The Haumana; and a variety of craft activities.

The Adventures of Sikh Captain America, a special program in conjunction with the Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986 exhibition, completed the full day of free programming.

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Ryo Montgomery. Photo by Mike Palma.

Throughout the afternoon the Aratani Central Hall was filled with the sounds of spectacular ukulele performances by exciting young performers Jason Arimoto, Tj Mayeshiro (from Hawaii), and Ryo Montgomery (from Australia!).

JANM guests bring their own ukeleles for free classes taught by KoAloha Ukele artists and artist partners. Photo by M Palma.

JANM guests brought their own ukeleles for free classes taught by KoAloha Ukele staff and artist partners. Photo by Mike Palma.

Many guests brought their own instruments for free ukulele classes with KoAloha Ukulele staff and artist partners. These lively classes were enjoyed by guests of all ages and all levels as a number of classes were offered by different artists.

 

Check out these photos from February’s Target Free Family Saturday. Click on the thumbnails to see the full image larger.

The festival closed with an All-Star jam finale featuring Jason Arimoto, Tj Mayeshiro, Ryo Montgomery, and Brian Benevente! Photo by M Palma.

The festival closed with an All-Star jam finale featuring Jason Arimoto, Tj Mayeshiro, Ryo Montgomery, and Brian Benevente! Photo by M Palma.

 

Thanks to Russell Kitagawa, Mike Palma, Caroline Jung, Tsuneo Takasugi, and Tokumasa Shoji for taking amazing photographs!

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Save the date for JANM’s next Target Free Family Saturday on May 10th! In celebration of the new Dodgers: Brotherhood of the Game exhibition (opening March 29!), bring the whole family out for free baseball-themed crafts & activities…sure to be a home run! Stay tuned for updates on janm.org/target.

A Behind the Scenes Look at “Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World”

6 Mar

National Museum Collections and Exhibitions Staff are busy preparing for the opening of the upcoming exhibition Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World which opens this weekend on March 8!

Here is a peek behind the covered doors.

As the photographs are hung

As the photographs are hung

A Dragon lurks behind the photographs

A Dragon lurks behind the photographs

The wall art was painted by hand

The wall art was painted by hand

Hanging the photographs

Hanging the photographs

Join us this Saturday for the opening day. Many of the artists will be here to present live tattooing, lectures, and a book signing of the exhibition catalogue.

For information about the exhibition and related public programs, visit: janm.org/perseverance