Chester Hashizume Helps Japanese Americans Explore Their Roots

Chester Hashizume. Photo: Carol Cheh.
Chester Hashizume, longtime JANM volunteer and consultant

 

Twice a year, JANM offers a workshop called Discovering Your Japanese American Roots, a primer on amateur genealogy specifically geared toward Japanese American patrons. This workshop is JANM’s longest running; it’s been offered since 1992 by Chester Hashizume, a Sansei information technology project manager by profession and genealogy hobbyist.

Born in Illinois and raised in New Jersey, Hashizume’s interest in genealogy began at a family reunion, when one of his uncles shared the beginnings of a family tree. Resources to help Japanese Americans trace their roots were not readily available, and so Hashizume embarked on a personal journey of discovery. He was able to find some information, including immigration records, at a Mormon Family History Center and at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. His most valuable resource turned out to be his mother, who was fluent in Japanese and knew relatives back in the home country. Through her, Hashizume was able to meet family members and gain access to some elusive village records during trips to Japan.

Hashizume moved to Los Angeles in 1988. Seeking to connect with the local Japanese American community, he checked out a 1989 JANM-organized Nisei Week exhibit that featured internment camp records on microfilm. At that time, the museum was still in its infancy, organizing pop-up shows while working to secure a permanent facility. Fascinated by the historical information contained in those records, Hashizume signed up to volunteer with JANM the following year. When the museum opened its doors in 1992, Hashizume began offering his workshop.

Examples and explanation of kamon (Japanese family crests)
Examples and explanation of kamon (Japanese family crests)

 

“I was a Japanese American with no Japanese language skills and no knowledge of my own background,” Hashizume explains. “I wanted to help others like myself.” Having already gone through much of the process of researching his own background, he now wanted to share his findings with others. He found it rewarding to help others go through the same process of discovery that he did.

Hashizume supplies each workshop participant with a binder full of helpful information, including: the basics of constructing family trees, where and how to conduct preliminary research, the unique characteristics of Japanese genealogy, the meanings and origins of Japanese names and family crests, and how to do research in Japan. Hashizume even includes a simple koseki (household registry) request form, written in both Japanese and English, that people can mail or bring with them to present to government officials in Japan.

“You have to go back to Japan,” Hashizume stresses. “This is how you really do research.” Japan, which for much of its history was a feudal society, has no central archive; koseki are maintained by townships and are still, to this day, updated by hand. The language and cultural barriers may seem daunting, but overcoming them is well worth it; Hashizume’s own trips back to Hiroshima and Ishikawa (his maternal and paternal prefectures of origin, respectively) were life-changing.

Additional spaces have been added to this weekend’s edition of Discovering Your Japanese American Roots! Visit janm.org to register.

Shizu Saldamando Artist Talk & Workshop on August 24

CARM’S CREW (2009) Shizu Saldamando Gold leaf and oil on wood. Jo Willems and Karen O’Brien. Photograph by Michael Underwood. © Shizu Saldamando
CARM’S CREW (2009) by Shizu Saldamando
Gold leaf and oil on wood. Jo Willems and Karen O’Brien. Photograph by Michael Underwood. © Shizu Saldamando

 

Interested in an afternoon spent learning with a fantastic Los Angeles contemporary artist? Join us on Saturday, August 24, at 2:00pm (free with Museum admission) to see the world of Shizu Saldamando through her own eyes with an artist talk and portrait workshop. Shizu is known for her unique portraits that draw inspiration from her Asian and Mexican heritage.

During the talk, Shizu will discuss her series Stay Gold, currently hanging as part of the Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter exhibition on view at JANM through September 22, 2013. Her drawings and paintings begin as snapshots taken with a cheap point-and-shoot and are then stripped of context and redrawn. Through portraits of her often-unsuspecting friends—taken at parties and informal gatherings—Shizu gives the viewer an insider’s glimpse into a youthful world of freedom and shifting, malleable identity.

In addition to her contribution to Portraiture Now, Shizu has recently worked on Art Intersections: Asian-Latino Pop-Up Museum, hosted by the Smithsonian in downtown Silver Springs, MD. As a curator for the second day of the pop-up—working alongside Eric Nakamura of Giant Robot (another familiar face at JANM)—Shizu projected artwork representing the Asian-Latino connection onto public surfaces.

Learn more about Shizu in this KCET article and video.

Tsukemono, Bento, and Mochi — Oh My!

Cooking instructor Sonoko Sakai will be making bento boxes. (www.cooktellsastory.com)

If you’ve ever dreamed of being an Iron Chef but never got past making onigiri, we have a workshop—or three—for you! Come brush up on your Japanese cooking skills on Saturday, July 6, from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM. The cost for all three workshops is $70 members, $80 non-members.

First, Yoko Issai will teach you how to make tsukemono, or traditional Japanese pickles. Yoko grew up in a Japanese foodie family, using what she learned from them to become a successful cooking instructor. Then, discover how to make your family the envy of the lunchroom with one of Sonoko Sakai’s bento boxes.

Finally, don’t miss a mochi tasting with baker Jenn Fujikawa!  In this free with admission workshop, Jenn will also discuss (and sign copies of) her new cookbook Mochi: Recipes from Savory to Sweet!. 

Not only will this class be loads of fun, but you’ll also walk away with three new and impressive dishes!

RSVP early, 15 students max. For all classes, workshops, and food tours, pre-payment is now required to hold your space. Please call 213.625.0414 or download the pre-payment form. Cancellations must be made 48 hours in advance or no refund will be issued.

Supernatural: The Art of Audrey Kawasaki, Edwin Ushiro, and Timothy Teruo Watters

Supernatural opens February 9th!

Supernatural: The Art of Audrey Kawasaki, Edwin Ushiro, and Timothy Teruo Watters

Supernatural: The Art of Audrey Kawasaki, Edwin Ushiro, and Timothy Teruo Watters opens this Saturday!

The exhibition features the work of Audrey Kawasaki, Edwin Ushiro, and Timothy Teruo Watters—artists who have explored some of these otherworldly concepts, illustrating how traditional ideas have evolved and been adapted over time.

The exhibition will be up from February 9 – March 17, 2013. That’s just 5 weeks to come check it out before it closes!

For more details, visit: janm.org/supernatural

* * * * *
We are celebrating the opening with two FREE events!

TARGET FREE FAMILY SATURDAY
Art from the Heart
11AM – 4PM
FREE ALL DAY!
Celebrate Valentine’s Day and the opening of Supernatural exhibition! Show your love by making art for yourself and others. Participate in art workshops with Timothy Watters and Edwin Ushiro!

Check janm.org/target for schedule >> 

 

Supernatural Opening Party
6:30PM – 9PM
FREE!
Get mystical with JANM! Celebrate the opening of Supernatural with the artists and some spooky fun—wandering ghosts, a medium, and special treats!

* * * * *

Learn more about the exhibition and the artists on our Discover Nikkei website. We’ll be adding an interview with Timothy Watters next week:

* * * * *

Here are a few photos from the exhibition installation happening this week. Check our Facebook page for more photos: Supernatural photo album

 

Artist Edwin Ushiro prepares sketchbooks to display in the exhibition
Edwin Ushiro's sketchbooks
Paintings by Timothy Teruo Watters waiting to be hung

Stan Sakai, JA Santa, & GRB3 artists workshop this Saturday!

This Saturday will be another busy day at JANM! We’ll have 3 great reasons to visit us with your friends & family.

  • 11am – 2pm: Take a Picture with Japanese American Santa
    Japanese American Santa is coming to town! Take home a special holiday photo.
Usagi Yojimbo books available at the Museum Store!
  • 12pm – 2pm: Stan Sakai Book Signing
    Stan Sakai returns to JANM! Signed Usagi Yojimbo books make great holiday gifts. The Museum Store will have copies of his two latest books for sale—Usagi Yojimbo #26: Traitors of the Earth & 47 Ronin (signing books only)
  • 2pm – 4pm: Giant Robot Artists’ Entourage Workshop with Albert Reyes & Saelee Oh
    Come make art with Albert Reyes and Saelee Oh from Giant Robot Biennale 3 in this hands-on workshop. Immerse yourself in a variety of techniques and styles.

Here’s a description of what Saelee Oh has planned:

Open Love Letter to the Universe: We will be creating lots of artwork together! You can make portraits of your spirit animals, make artwork as an amulet for healing and protection for yourself and to give out to others and to illustrate our wishes for our world to be a better place.

Saelee Oh installation in "Giant Robot Biennale 3"

 

All three events are free with Museum admission (if you’re a member, that means it’s all free!). While you’re here, be sure to check out the Giant Robot Biennale 3 exhibition (closes January 20, 2013).

If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping, find meaningful & fun cultural gifts at our award-winning Museum Store. We have many more items—including one-of-a-kind ceramics, jewelry, and art pieces—than what is available online at janmstore.com.

Two-Day Shibori Class in Jan 2012

To all you crafters and artists out there, JANM will be presenting our first two-day indigo dyeing workshop with Shibori Girl on the weekend of January 21 & 22, 2012. Glennis aka Shibori Girl, has a jammed pack itinerary scheduled – talk about an immersion program.

If you have taken any of our past shibori classes with the Glennis, you know that this is a fantastic dream come true. These workshops are for all levels so dive in if you have always wanted to learn more about shibori. You can call it a holiday present to yourself.

Check out our Calendar of Events for all the details.
http://www.janm.org/events/2012/01/#21

Wagashi Workshop Reviewed

Back in November, JANM was honored to host wagashi* master, Chikara Mizukami from Tokyo, for his first Los Angeles visit. This special occasion began in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum where Mizukami sensei and our favorite food writer, Sonoko Sakai, discussed the over 1,400 year art of wagashi making including its inspiration from nature, Japanese poetry, and even modern day architecture.

After the lecture, we moved to a classroom for an intimate hands-on workshop. The sold out workshop was filled with excited participants—one student had traveled all the way from Minnesota to attend this rare event (Smart man!). We learned how to create two confections out of the sweetened bean paste made from both white and red azuki beans. No rice was used in this school of wagashi.

It was a bit of a struggle to make the wagashi look remotely like sensei’s samples (see photos). Our own Vicky Murakami-Tsuda’s husband Russel T. had a lot of potential—to become an apprentice. Sensei mentioned that the maximum apprenticeship would last four years. Hmmm, something to ponder.

Sensei's Samples
The Apprentice's

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all that hard work, we were rewarded with bowls of lightly frothy matcha to drink, complimenting our wagashi creations. Delicious!

 

Being able to take lessons from Mizukami sensei was a privilege and incredibly special. But the other details from the workshop were wonderful as well. I can’t tell you how beautiful everything was—the various samples of wagashi from Mizukami sensei’s Tokyo shop, Ikkoan; the simple wooden tools used to shape the confections; the big bowls filled with that intensely green matcha; and Sonoko’s simple yet gorgeous autumnal display of leaves and branches. What a wonderful experience. Hopefully, Mizukami sensei will return to JANM, and we will have the privilege of hosting him again. I know it would be another sold out event!

Sensei's Inspiration?

 

*Wagashi is a traditional Japanese confectionary, usually offered with hot tea and made of azuki beans and other plant-based ingredients.

Photos by K Doi

Shibori Class!


Shibori Girl taught another incredible shibori workshop at the Museum this past Saturday. The workshop was close to full and students of all levels had a fantastic time experimenting with their shibori and indigo dyeing projects. Glennis, who is Shibori Girl, just returned from a month-long trip in Japan where she attended the annual Arimatsu Shibori Festival and brought samples of gorgeous vintage and contemporary shibori samples for everyone to covet.

Indigo Shibori Samples

 

Instructor’s Tombo Sample
Stitching the Tombo Design

For this workshop, the goal was to create a tombo (dragonfly) image on indigo using basic shibori stitching techniques. Seemed like a daunting project at first but it turned out to be a very simple task and the results were impressive. I’m sure it was a breeze only because of Glennis’ expert step-by-step instructions. After mastering the tombo project, students were able to experiment with different techniques for the rest of the workshop. The three hours zoomed by and students were still scrambling to squeeze in yet one more project into the dye vat.

Glennis with a Small Indigo Vat

 

To illustrate how much this group of students enjoyed the workshop: There was a loud collective groan when Public Program Manager, Koji Sakai said that there wasn’t another shibori workshop scheduled until 2012. “That’s too long a wait!” There was grumbling. So now there is talk about have a two-day shibori workshop next year. What do you think? Any past workshop attendees out there reading this blog? Weigh in and email Koji your thoughts about the two-day workshop at ksakai@janm.org or post your comments on this blog.

If you have ever been tempted to take any of the shibori classes the Museum offers, please, just jump in and sign up when you see the next one being offered. You will not be disappointed – Glennis is a generous and knowledgeable instructor who leads an excellent workshop which gets you back in touch with that inner-artist in you and leaves you craving to create more and more shibori pieces. Warning: Shibori and indigo are extremely addictive.

Thank you Glennis!

Students' Finished Tombo Projects!

 

Photos taken by K Doi

More Spaces Available in our Introduction Udon Making Class!

We have a few spaces available in our introduction to udon making class with Sonoko Sakai!

Find out how to make real and delicious udon noodles! Wear close toes shoes with soft soles. Bring an apron and a tupperware to take home your udon. $75 members; $85 non-members, includes admission and supplies. RSVP early, 12 students max.

For more information about Sonoko Sakai and her other workshops, visit www.cooktellsastory.com/.