The Forgotten Lives of Samurai Women

Did you know that female samurai trace back to as early as 200 AD in Japan! Known as onna-bugeisha, meaning “women warrior,” they trained the same as men, fought alongside the male samurai, were expected to perform the same duties, and were held to the same standards as their male counterparts. Every bit as powerful and lethal as male samurai, these women helped settle new lands, defended their territory, had a legal right to supervise lands as jito (stewards), and would join the fight in times of war.

However, during the Japanese Tokugawa Period which lasted from 1603 to 1868, a new order of peace and political stability took hold in the country. Samurai men, who once only used their skills in combat, became high ranking bureaucrats for the Japanese Empire. Official records served the government and male samurai society to create an image of stable paternalism and men’s controlling power. Samurai women faced repression and subjugation, expected to live passive lives as wives and dutiful mothers. 

But not all traces of the samurai women were lost. When one of these onna-bugeisha married, it was customary for her to take her naginata (a pole weapon and one of several varieties of traditionally made Japanese blades) into her husband’s home, though to use it only for “moral training.” Doing so would remind her of her former place in society while instilling the virtues necessary to be a samurai wife, those of strength, submission, and endurance. 

Even in an era centered on bureaucracy, the mid-17th century saw a reemergence of the onna-bugeisha. Martial arts schools opened around the country, and the art of naginata was seen as an excellent way to teach discipline, fitness, and a set of ethics to its students, including females. Also, a period of peace in Japan came to an end, and these women had to protect their villages, fighting off threats just as they had done centuries earlier. Even in the late 19th century, during the last battles between the ruling Tokugawa clan and imperial forces, a unique fighting unit of women known as the Jōshitai was created and run by members of the onna-bugeisha!

On July 20, join Professor Luke Roberts of University of California, Santa Barbara, to take a deeper look at the lives of samurai women. He will speak at JANM about his recent research into the lives of these women who hailed from Kōchi, an area in southwestern Japan. Following the lecture, Roberts will be joined by Hawaii State Senator Brian Taniguchi and his wife, Jan, to talk about this subject and artifacts from their family. RSVP here.

Returning to California: Post-Camp Stories

During World War II, 120,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes and moved into several concentration camps. This dark time in history which lasted from February 19, 1942, to March 20, 1946, has been examined in several books, movies, and television shows. Historian Greg Robinson once wrote that “the official roundup of some 120,000 American citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast and their subsequent confinement in government camps … represents the single most-documented subject in Asian American studies and a vital theme of popular debate.”

However, regarded as “worse than camp” by many, the immediate post-incarceration period is often overlooked in Japanese American history, and not much has been produced looking at this time. The war had ended, but returning families faced continued hostility and backlash. Purposely excluded from the booming post-war economy through discriminatory housing policies and a less than friendly job market all while reeling from the psychological after-effects of their wartime ordeal, these Japanese Americans struggled to remake their lives in mid-century America.

On June 29, JANM’s Collection Manager Kristen Hayashi and Densho Content Director Brian Niiya will take a closer look at this post-war period during a talk and presentation stemming from an interview project they are working on. When asked about this time, Niiya said, “In many of our (Densho) interviews, this period is often skipped over due to time constraints or to get to the redress movement or parallels with current events. And yet, this period contains many fascinating stories and is crucial to understanding the state of Japanese American communities today and how we got here.”

In the presentation, Hayashi and Niiya will be focusing on a particular slice of this story, those who returned to California and especially to Southern California. Kristen will present materials from her Ph.D. dissertation, which explores various aspects of the return to Los Angeles. Resettlement in different parts of the country offered unique issues, but Los Angeles provides a good snapshot of the post-war experience as a whole. For years before World War II, Los Angeles had one of the country’s largest populations of Japanese Americans. After the war and without a place to live, they sought refuge in hostels set up at Christian and Buddhist churches. Others found housing in trailer parks set up by the War Relocation Authority (WRA), later administered by the Federal Public Housing Authority.

According to Hayashi, “Although the WRA intended to disperse the population widely across the continental United States, the federal agency that oversaw the “relocation,” eventually went against their plan on the eve of the closure of the camps. Without a long range plan to assist those that remained in the War Relocation Centers, most of whom were without employment or housing prospects, the WRA staff determined that they would send remaining incarcerees back to their point of origin. For many, this was Los Angeles.” While some welcomed the returnees, others viewed the settlement of Japanese Americans as a threat, demonstrating the hardship they faced integrating back into society. Also being presented are interviews with several JANM volunteers that explore the recurring themes of returning to both rural and urban areas.

For more information and to RSVP please visit this link. Also, museum members are invited to an exclusive reception with Kristen Hayashi and Brian Niiya before their discussion at 2 p.m. RSVP here.

Perseverance and Tatau Travel to Australia

An image featured in Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World. Photo by Kip Fulbeck.

Hello to all of our friends Down Under! Did you know the Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World and Tatau: Marks of Polynesia exhibitions that originated at JANM are currently at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne, Australia? Perseverance is a groundbreaking photographic exhibition designed by Kip Fulbeck that explores the rich history of traditional Japanese tattoo culture and its influence on modern tattoo practice. Tatau showcases the beauty of Samoan tattoos as well as the key role they play in the preservation and propagation of Samoan culture through photographs taken in the studio and on location in Samoa. Both exhibitions were curated by master tattoo artist and author Takahiro Kitamura.

An image featured in Tatau: Marks of Polynesia. Tattoo by Sulu‘ape Steve Looney. Photo by John Agcaoili.

Perseverance and Tatau are being presented as part of Our Bodies, Our Voices, Our Marks which features tattooing along with themes of immigration, journeys, the body, heritage, and identity. Arts Review in Australia recently wrote, “What stories do our bodies tell? That is the question Immigration Museum will be inviting visitors to explore when it opens the doors to its winter 2019 season Our Bodies, Our Voices, Our Marks. The suite of exhibitions and experiences includes two photography exhibits that look at the intersection of ancient and modern tattoo practices and a series of contemporary installations curated by Stanislava Pinchuk.”

If you’re in Melbourne, or planning to visit soon, we hope you’ll stop in at the Immigration Museum for Our Bodies, Our Voices, Our Marks, which is on view until October 6.

Stomp on Over to Kaiju-Con

The Twin Fairies from “Mothra vs Godzilla”

In conjunction with our exhibition, Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys, JANM is hosting a day-long Kaiju-Con on Saturday, June 15! We want to bring people together in one place to share their love of all things kaiju. Whether you’re into Baltan, Megaguirus, or the king himself—Godzilla—this is the convention for you! The family-friendly gathering will include a vendor hall, workshops, panel discussions, demonstrations, and culminate in a special outdoor screening of Mothra vs Godzilla from 1964. Don’t forget your cosplay! Read our rules first, but we can’t wait to see your costumes, whether they be handmade or Hollywood-ready!

Collector and toy artist Mark Nagata will do a workshop from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on how to paint kaiju vinyl toys. He’ll demonstrate the tricks of his trade, showing you how to turn vinyl toys into vinyl art! He’ll also have plenty of exclusive toys available at this convention, including a new colorway of his “Man of Many Weapons” figure fashioned in the likeness of legendary martial artist Gerald Okamura.

Mark Nagata’s “Man of Many Weapons”

Eiji Kaminaga the president of the Marusan Toy Company will give an educational and fun talk about the history and future of Marusan toys and kaiju sofubi. The Marusan Toy Company created some of the first vinyl kaiju and hero toys of the 1960s! Mr. Kaminaga is also bringing some of Marusan’s most popular figures including Jirass and Gubila in exclusive colorways that you can get only at this convention.

If you need to take a break from hitting the vendor hall or taking in a workshop, we’ll also be presenting a special screening of the American version of King Kong vs Godzilla from 1962. Dubbed in English, the film follows as a pharmaceutical company captures King Kong and brings him to Japan, where he escapes from captivity and battles Godzilla, who is accidentally released from a block of ice by a submarine crew.

There will also be plenty to see and do for even the novice kaiju fan. The renowned animator and cartoonist Willie Ito is scheduled to sign autographs and sell his art. His career started in 1954 when he began working at Disney and was assigned to help on the iconic spaghetti kissing scene for Lady and the Tramp. He also went on to work at Hanna-Barbera, where he contributed to shows such as The Flintstones and Yogi Bear!

Kaiju-Con is going to be a day of fun and camaraderie. Buy your tickets before 5 p.m. PT on Friday, June 14, and you can enter an hour early plus get two free raffle tickets for your chance to win kaiju and hero prizes donated by our vendors! Raffle tickets will be sold on-site and winners drawn throughout the day. We hope to see you here!

Celebrating our Volunteers!

Seven volunteers contributed 500+ hours of service in 2018. JANM staffer Clement Hanami is pictured with five of them: June Aoki, Bob Moriguchi, Ruthie Kitagawa, Hal Keimi, and Richard Murakami. Not pictured: Janet Maloney and James Tanaka

At JANM, we love our volunteers, and to tell you the truth, this place wouldn’t keep running without them. In 2018, our active, seasonal, and trainee volunteers contributed a total 26,900 hours for events, school programs, tours, and many other activities—all because they are dedicated to telling the story of the Japanese American experience. We even had seven volunteers who each contributed more than 500 hours of service! We try to find small ways to thank them all throughout the year, but on May 11, 2019, we held our annual Volunteer Recognition Awards Event to demonstrate our sincere appreciation for all they do for us. Each year the volunteers themselves and staff of JANM are invited to nominate volunteers who have provided especially outstanding service in several award categories. A selection committee made up of staff and previous awardees painstakingly evaluate the nominations and make the final selections.

The 2018 Miki Tanimura Outstanding Volunteer Award was presented to Tami Hirai by fellow volunteer and last year’s awardee Yae Aihara and JANM President and CEO Ann Burroughs.
Masako Miki, JANM staff, presented the 2018 Administration Award to Teri Lim.

For 2018, Teri Lim received the Administration Award, which recognizes outstanding service and achievement in the administrative/operations capacity. June Berk was given the Community Award for outstanding service and achievement in working with visitors, the public, and in the community on behalf of the museum. Maria Kelly got the Program Award for service and achievement in educating visitors through public and school programs. And Tami Hirai was awarded the Miki Tanimura Outstanding Volunteer Award, named after a passionate volunteer who passed away in 1992.

Clement Hanami presented 30 years of service pins to Mary and Babe Karasawa.

In addition to the awards, we give service pins to those who have stuck with us through the years. Two of our volunteers, Mary Karasawa and Richard “Babe” Karasawa celebrated their 30th anniversary of volunteering, meaning they’ve been giving their time since before we originally opened our doors to the public back in 1992!

JANM Trustee Ken Hamamura presented 25-year service pins to Jane Kim, Mat Uyeno, and Joyce Inouye.
Thomas Gallatin, JANM staff, presented 20-year service pins to Bob Moriguchi and Sande Hashimoto.
JANM Governor Gene Kanamori (far right) presented 15-year service pins to Ken Hamamura, Jo Ann Hamamura, and Hagi Kusunoki. Not present: Yosh Arima and Ken Nakagawa.

Other pins were given out as follows: One Year—John Karasawa, Elizabeth Kato, Janet Morey, Patrice Okabe, Don Tanaka, Blossom Uyeda, and Donna Wakano; Five Years—Ben Furuta and Yas Osako; Ten Years—June Magsaysay, Jeanette Onishi, and Keiko Yokota; Fifteen Years—Yosh Arima, Jo Ann Hamamura, Ken Hamamura, Hagi Kusunoki, and Ken Nakagawa, Twenty Years—Sande Hashimoto, Marie Masumoto, Robert Moriguchi, and Lauren Nakasuji, Twenty-Five Years—Joyce Inouye, Jane Kim, and Matsuko Uyeno.

JANM Trustee Randall Lee presented five-year pins to Ben Furuta and Yas Osako.
Sohayla Pagano from the staff presented one-year volunteer service pins to John Karasawa, Elizabeth Kato, Donna Wakano, and Don Tanaka.

We also want to thank the presenters and those who helped during, before, and after the event: Yae Aihara, Ann Burroughs, John Esaki, Tom Gallatin, Jo Ann Hamamura, Ken Hamamura, Clement Hanami, Kristen Hayashi, Jamie Henricks, Shawn Iwaoka, Gene Kanamori, Hal Keimi, Evan Kodani, Randall Lee, Janet Maloney, Marie Masumoto, Alyctra Matsushita, Masako Miki, Cynthia Mikimoto, Carol Miyahira, Annette Miyamoto, Luis Montanez, Julia Murakami, Yuka Murakami, Vicky Murakami-Tsuda, Irene Nakagawa, Nina Nakao, Yoko Nishimura, Nobuyuki Okada, Sohayla Pagano, Jaime Reyes, Tsuneo Takasugi, Travis Takenouchi, Teri Tanimura, Bob Uragami, Lynn Yamasaki, King’s Hawaiian for the cookie bar, and all the JANM staff members who wrote thank you notes for our volunteers.

Past Miki Tanimura Award recipients who attended the awards event this year. First row (left to right): Julia Murakami, Hal Keimi, Masako Koga Murakami, Bob Moriguchi, Yae Aihara, Bob Uragami. Second row: Lee Hayashi, Roy Sakamoto, Carole Yamakoshi, Nahan Gluck, Bill Shishima. Third row: Ken Hamamura, Richard Murakami, Michael Okamura, Richard “Babe” Karasawa

For information about volunteering with JANM, please visit janm.org/volunteer or contact volunteer@janm.org or 213.830.5645.

At First Light: The Dawning of Asian Pacific America

On May 25, we are opening At First Light: The Dawning of Asian Pacific America,a multimedia exhibition that explores and celebrates the emergence of a politically defined Asian Pacific American consciousness and identity. A co-production of Visual Communications (VC) and JANM, At First Light chronicles the transformation of the un-American categorization of “Oriental” to the political identity of “Asian Pacific American” that rejected racist stereotypes, stood up for human rights, recovered lost histories, and created new cultural expressions. The exhibition draws from the collection of VC, the first Asian Pacific American media organization in the country, which formed in Los Angeles in 1970 to capture and cultivate the newfound unity that was Asian Pacific America.

Scholar, author, producer, and JANM Chief Curator Karen Ishizuka, part of the curatorial team who helped put At First Light together, says that selecting from thousands of photographs, hundreds of films, and a vast array of educational materials produced during the first 20 years of VC’s existence was the most challenging part of creating this exhibition. Ultimately, there are 30 short videos telling the stories of places, like Historic Manilatown, and events, such as the first Asian American march against the Vietnam War.

The largest artifact in the exhibition is a free-standing cube sculpture created by VC Founding Director Robert A. Nakamura in 1970.  Featuring then never-before-seen photographs of America’s World War II concentrations camps, the sculpture was conceived to promote awareness for the repeal of the Emergency Detention Act of 1950, which granted the government the power to preventatively detain people during an emergency. Wanting to start an Asian Pacific American media organization, Nakamura called it a production of Visual Communications.

Ishizuka also says that she is most looking forward to displaying a new video installation entitled FSN 1972, which repurposes early VC productions. Onto the windows and doorways of a 1972 graphic of East First Street in Little Tokyo, filmmaker Tadashi Nakamura inserted motion picture footage from VC films to invoke the current issue of preserving Little Tokyo and the Save First Street North campaign.

The resiliency and resistance embodied in At First Light serve as a reminder—as well as a call to action—of what can be accomplished when people unite as a community with commitment. Ishizuka says she hopes visitors learn about how VC has used media as a tool for self-empowerment and community building and that there has been a long history of community activism that must be continued.

To commemorate the opening day of the exhibition on May 25 at 2:00 p.m. JANM will host VC co-founders and exhibition curators Duane Kubo, Robert Nakamura, and Eddie Wong in a panel discussion about the history of VC and the creation of this show. They will be joined by Karen Ishizuka, who will moderate the discussion, helping to place VC’s history as the first Asian Pacific American media organization in the country within the context of today’s changing world. RSVP here.

Masters of Modern Design: The Art of the Japanese American Experience

On May 9, join us for a special free screening at JANM of Masters of Modern Design: The Art of the Japanese American Experience. This documentary, a co-production between JANM’s Watase Media Arts Center and KCET for the series ARTBOUND, explores how the World War II American concentration camp experience impacted the lives of five Japanese American artists and designers and ultimately sent them on trajectories that led to their changing the face of American culture with their immense talents.

From the hand-drawn typeface on the cover of The Godfather to Herman Miller’s biomorphic coffee table, the work of Japanese American designers including Ruth Asawa, George Nakashima, Isamu Noguchi, S. Neil Fujita, and Gyo Obata permeated postwar culture. While these second-generation Japanese American artists have been celebrated, less-discussed is how their WW II incarceration—a period of great hardship and discrimination—had a powerful effect on their lives and art.

We talked to Akira Boch, Director of the Watase Media Arts Center, about the process of making this documentary.

JANM: Did you learn anything surprising or new about the featured artists that you didn’t know before?

Akira Boch: I only had a basic knowledge of each of these artists before jumping into this project. I knew the highlights—that Fujita created The Godfather logo and legendary jazz album covers, Noguchi made the Akari lanterns and lots of public sculptures, Asawa made her iconic hanging wire sculptures, Obata was the architect behind America’s most celebrated sports stadiums (and JANM of course), and Nakashima was famous for his live-edge wood furniture. Delving deeply into their lives made me realize that each of them lived boldly, and had lives of great adventure. They lived with curiosity and without fear—which made each of them a great artist whose work we’re still celebrating today. I hope that we were able to capture some of that and do justice to their lives in our film.

JANM: How long did it take to produce the documentary?

AB: The idea for the film came from an article written by Alexandra Lange for Curbed. I was first contacted about working on the project in September of last year. I immediately started researching and making contact with potential interviewees. We shot the film primarily in October and November of 2018. Editing started shortly after that.

JANM: What was the most challenging thing about making the documentary?

AB: The most challenging thing was creating a structure for the film that told the stories of five main characters and tying them all together thematically. Ensemble stories are difficult to tell because a limited amount of screen time needs to be shared equally. We wanted to be sure that the audience got a good sense of each of the artists, their struggles and accomplishments.

JANM: Was there a location you visited while making the documentary that stands out in your mind?

AB: We shot this film primarily in San Francisco, New York City, and New Hope, Pennsylvania. I think shooting in New Hope was the highlight in terms of locations. There, we were able to see the magnificent compound—utopia, if you will—that George Nakashima created in the woods of Pennsylvania. He was the architect of all of the structures on the property, which includes a couple of houses, a work studio, a showroom, a wood storage barn, and a guest house. Because he had worked as an architect and lived in Japan for several years, he embraced Japanese aesthetics. So, it was amazing to see those Japanese architectural influences in the middle of an American forest. And of course, the buildings were full of his gorgeous furniture.

JANM: What did you learn by making the documentary?

AB: All that I learned about the extraordinary lives of the artists that we featured could not be included in the one-hour time limitation of this film. That’s why the final piece is so packed with fascinating material. For the audience, I hope this film is a jumping-off point for further investigation because each of these artists led such rich, complex lives. In terms of life lessons gleaned from these artists, I’d say that the combination of persistence, hard work, curiosity, and courage can lead to a remarkable existence.

This screening is free, but RSVPs are recommended using this link. A Q&A with the filmmakers and some of the people interviewed for the film and a light reception will follow the screening. If you’re not able to make the screening, starting May 15, the film will be broadcast in Southern California on KCET and available for streaming on kcet.org/artbound.


A Recap of the 2019 Gala Dinner and Silent Auction

Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres welcomed guests to the annual Gala Dinner and Silent Auction on April 13, kicking off a festive evening for more than 1,000 people who came together in support of JANM and its wide-ranging work. This year’s theme paid tribute to the museum’s Charter Members—the first individuals and families to see and believe in the importance of the museum and its enduring role in our democratic society. JANM’s Watase Media Arts Center produced a video about some of these individuals; it featured poet and educator Amy Uyematsu, scholar and author Barbara Kawakami, World War II Military Intelligence Service veteran and author Edwin Nakasone, and photographer Stan Honda–all JANM Charter Members.

Ann Curry, the Gala’s featured speaker, was one of the highlights of the evening. A former NBC News anchor and international correspondent, Curry has reported on conflicts and humanitarian disasters all over the world. In October 2018, as a writer for National Geographic Magazine, Curry wrote about the mass incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry during World War II and the racism and prejudice that gave rise to it. Her speech at the Gala touched upon the political divisiveness the world has seen in recent years as well as her family’s own experiences with discrimination.

Earlier in the evening, a fast and furious round of donations went to support JANM’s Bid for Education; over $200,000 was raised. Those funds go to support bus transportation and museum admission for primary and secondary school students from Title I schools and groups who have demonstrated financial need. Bid for Education funds also supports K-12 educator workshops and many other educational initiatives.

On a more somber note, the night included an In Memoriam segment, honoring remarkable individuals who played significant roles in furthering JANM’s mission to promote appreciation of diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Grateful Four, a group of music-loving friends that try to connect to their Japanese American culture and give back to their community through the power of song, accompanied the video presentation of those who passed in the year since the last Gala.

As the night concluded, guests left with an even deeper understanding of the vital work the museum does: presenting engaging exhibitions, providing docent-led tours for school groups, speaking out against injustice and discrimination, preserving our sizable permanent collection of artifacts, and much more. To all of our generous supporters and friends who made the Gala such a successful and meaningful evening, thank you for joining us!

See Gambatte! Before It Closes

It’s almost your last chance to see the exhibition Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit. Closing April 28, the exhibition features contemporary photos taken by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Paul Kitagaki Jr. displayed next to images shot 75 years ago by War Relocation Authority (WRA) photographers such as Dorothea Lange and Clem Albers during World War II. Each pairing in the exhibition features the same individuals or their direct descendants as the subject matter. Paul spent years tracking down the formerly unknown subjects in WRA-era photos. After countless hours at the National Archives in Washington, DC, and through tips from family, friends, and the public, he found more than 60 individuals or their descendants to photograph. One such pair of photos in the exhibition features Yukiko Okinaga Hayakawa.

Yukiko Okinaga Hayakawa was two years old in 1942 when she was photographed waiting at Los Angeles’s Union Station, not far from her home in Little Tokyo, for a train that would take her and her mother to the Manzanar concentration camp. In the photo, she’s holding a partially eaten apple in one hand and a tiny purse in the other. Peeking out from her corduroy jacket is is the paper family identification tags worn by those forcibly removed, serving as a reminder of their second class status during this time. Photographer Clem Albers captured the far-off look in her eyes–a look of confusion and uncertainty. This now-famous photo has become representative of innocence lost during that time in history.

In 2005, Paul Kitagaki Jr. traveled with Yukiko on her first visit to Manzanar since her incarceration. He took her photo in a field near the camp’s Block 2, where she had once lived. Among the last of the incarcerees released, she and her mother left Manzanar in October 1945 for Cleveland, Ohio, where another Japanese American family sponsored them. Her mother went on to work as a cleaning woman and later as a seamstress. Yukiko went to Lake Forest College in Illinois and then graduate school at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Today Yukiko Okinaga Llewellyn (née Hayakawa) is a retired Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Registered Student Organizations at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where she worked with Asian student groups and helped establish the university’s Asian Studies program. She taught about the incarceration experience and was active in the redress movement.In fact, in the fall of 1986, she wrote to her congressman, Representative Terry Bruce, and spoke with his staff about the movement. Through her persistence, the “little girl with the apple” helped win Rep. Bruce’s support. To this day, Yukiko continues to educate others about what happened to Japanese Americans in the 1940s in the hope that it doesn’t happen again to someone else.

To learn more about this exhibition and to see additional exhibition photos visit http://www.janm.org/exhibits/gambatte/

Bid for Education, Supporting Students and Educators

Photo by Tracy Kumono

If you’ve visited JANM on a weekday morning, chances are you’ve witnessed our onsite School Visits Program in action. Every Tuesday through Friday, JANM opens its doors early to offer specially-designed tours and activities for K-12 school groups from across the greater Los Angeles area. Some of the best learning opportunities happen outside the classroom; here at JANM, and we aim to give students a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience to explore more of the world through a field trip we hope they’ll never forget!

Securing funding is sometimes the biggest obstacle for schools to pursue these experiences and activities. At JANM, many of the student groups we welcome are only able to visit the museum due to our Bid for Education program. The program provides bus transportation and museum admission for primary and secondary school students from Title I schools and groups who have demonstrated financial need. The late US Senator Daniel K. Inouye launched Bid for Education at JANM’s Gala Dinner in 2000, in reaction to budget cuts at the state level that threatened to take away bus transportation for field trips. Since its inception, Bid for Education has provided field trips to over 12,000 primary and secondary school students and teachers every year.

Recently a 12th-grade student told a volunteer docent, “Thank you for speaking to my class during our trip to the Japanese American National Museum. It was a special experience to hear from an actual camp survivor, definitely something not everyone can experience. While it was a great experience, I’m very sorry that you had that story to tell. But I feel very honored to have been able to listen to it. It was definitely a memorable experience that I will never forget.”

Photo by Tracy Kumono

The Bid for Education program has grown to include support for K–12 educator workshops, the development of free resources for educators, docent recruitment and training, and many other educational initiatives. Going beyond the doors of JANM, the program helps expand the horizons of students across the country through the museum’s teacher training programs and web-based resources. Through these ongoing educational initiatives, the museum continues its commitment to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience with classrooms on a nationwide scale.

Please think about supporting the Bid for Education. The program receives much of its funding during the annual Gala Dinner, which this year is taking place on April 13. However, donations can be made at any time online. We greatly appreciate your contribution of any size.