Stan Sakai Sketches at Comic Con

Stan Sakai at Comic Con, 2006.
(Photo: Pinguino)

If you were lucky enough to score San Diego Comic-Con tickets this year, make sure to visit Stan Sakai’s table (#4906 in the Exhibitions Hall). This year, Sakai will be sketching for JANM at his booth!

Sakai is the Eisner Award-winning creator of several popular comic book series, including the long-running Usagi Yojimbo and his latest, 47 Ronin. He has a long history with the Museum, including a 2011 exhibition of his work in Year of the Rabbit: Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo and a recent panel session/signing at this year’s National Conference in Seattle.

Stop by, make a donation, and get a fantastic piece of art for a good cause!


P.S. Check out our selection of Stan Sakai items at the Museum Store, including a special Usagi Yojimbo Tea Cup and t-shirts produced by JANM!

Fun for the whole family at Natsumatsuri!

JANM-2013-NatsumatsuriWe are cutting the origami paper, ordering the bounce house, and lining up the entertainment…and you know what that means! JANM is gearing up for our annual Natsumatsuri family festival! On Saturday, August 10th, from 11 AM to 5PM, join us to celebrate summer with crafts, cultural performances, and activities—all for free.

This year, we’re going retro with lots of traditional summer festival activities. Get your blood pumping with a taiko lesson from JANM docent Hal Kiemi before learning what obon is all about. As always, there will be tons of fun activities and crafts all day, from screenprinting tote bags to making wacky paper hats.

It’s not all old school—we’re making new traditions this year too! Japanese mariachi singer Roger del Norte will perform with MEXICAPAN and singer Lupita Infante for the first ever mariachi concert at JANM.

Also, if you haven’t already, walk through our exhibits Visible & Invisible (closing on August 25th) and Portraiture Now!

Check out the schedule for the full list of awesome activities.

See you soon!

Make Memories at the July Target Free Family Saturday!

Author/illustrator Allen Say will read The Favorite Daughter at the upcoming Target Day! (Image credit: Allen Say)
Author/illustrator Allen Say will read The Favorite Daughter at the upcoming Target Day! (Image credit: Allen Say)

Family comes first at the upcoming Target Free Family Saturday on July 13, from 11am-4pm! Join us for a day celebrating your family’s roots—and make some new memories while you’re at it!

At 3pm, Caldecott Award-winning author/illustrator Allen Say will read his newest book, The Favorite Daughter, about a young hapa girl who finds pride in her heritage with her father’s patient help. The book is based on Say’s experiences with his daughter, Yuriko — who will also attend the reading! Say will be signing copies of The Favorite Daughter, which is available to purchase at the Museum Store.

We have lots of hands-on crafts planned, including a journal to record your favorite family memories, a portrait collage, and an origami camera in Ruthie’s Origami Corner. Then stop for a snack with Kidding Around the Kitchen, where kids can learn to make a salad and salad dressing the whole family will love.

If you’d like a break from the hustle and bustle, we will be screening the documentary Searchlight Serenade, about the big bands formed by Japanese Americans in the World War Two internment camps. Searchlight Serenade will begin at 2pm.

This Target Satuday is in conjunction with our currently running exhibition, Visible and Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History.

Tsukemono, Bento, and Mochi — Oh My!

Cooking instructor Sonoko Sakai will be making bento boxes. (

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.

Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain

Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain (Photo from ABC 7; David Ono)
Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain (ABC 7; David Ono)

In the eyes of ABC 7 Eyewitness News Anchor David Ono, lessons from the Heart Mountain concentration camps still resonate today. In the four-part special, Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain, Ono explores the camp’s history and legacy.

Witness tells the story of the camp through photos from the Hirahara collection. While incarcerated at Heart Mountain, Patti Hirahara’s father and grandfather—both avid photographers—secretly built a darkroom under their barrack. They would go on to shoot and print over 2,000 photos cataloguing life inside the camp. Interspersed are interviews with those connected to the camps, from those incarcerated such as Judge Lance Ito and his mother, to Shirley Higuchi, Chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Board of Directors.

The Japanese American National Museum plays a role in this documentary as well. Several interviews were filmed in the Museum’s Common Ground: The Heart of Community exhibition, supplemented by archival footage from the Museum’s permanent collection.

David Ono’s Witness is a moving look into the Japanese American experience during some of America’s darkest hours, told by the people who witnessed it firsthand and complemented by striking photos from inside the camps.

Hapa Hoops Coming Up!

NBA veteran and current University of San Francisco coach Rex Walters will discuss his experiences at the screening. (Photo courtesy of the University of San Francisco)

Drop by the Museum this Saturday, June 22nd at 2pm for court-side—or rather, screen-side—seats to Hapa Hoops! We will be showing the documentary Crossover followed by a conversation with hapa NBA veteran Rex Walters. The program is free with admission to the Museum.

Produced originally for the More Than a Game exhibition (2000) by the Museum’s Watase Media Arts Center, and directed by Justin Lin (of the Fast and Furious series), Crossover is a fast-paced look at the history and purpose of Japanese American basketball leagues over the years. First established in the 1930s as an opportunity for Japanese Americans to participate in competitive sports, the leagues have flourished over the years—bringing about questions of how to adapt to an increasingly diverse player base.

Walters got his basketball start playing in one such youth league. Before making his professional debut with the New Jersey Nets, he helped lead the University of Kansas Jayhawks to the Final Four in 1993. He currently works as head basketball coach at the University of San Francisco.

This program is presented in conjunction with our exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History, running through August 25th. Visible & Invisible explores the diverse experiences and history of mixed-roots and mixed-race Japanese Americans through photos, historical artifacts, and interactive elements.


2013 Gala Dinner, Silent Auction & After Party

We’d like to thank everyone who supported our 2013 Gala Dinner, Silent Auction & After Party held on April 13 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

The Yuki family meeting up for a photo during the Silent Auction. (Photo by Tracy Kumono)

The Gala was a big hit, with over 1,000 guests. The Dinner program, themed Vision, Values, Voices, included a special tribute to U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye during the live Bid for Education. Senator Inouye was an early supporter of the Museum who influenced the creation of several major educational programs including the Bid for Education and the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy.

JANM President/CEO G.W. Kimura and Gordon Yamate, Chair of the Board of Trustees on stage at the Gala. (Photo by Tracy Kumono)

Our annual Gala is our major fundraiser for the year, made possible by the ongoing support of our many dedicated donors. The funds we raise through the event helps to continue the innovative work that we do throughout the year.

Volunteer photographer Tracy Kumono has graciously created a slide show of photos from the evening along with posting the complete set of her photos on her website. Guests may order individual prints by clicking the “Add to Cart” button on Tracy’s website.

JANM President/CEO G.W. Kimura and Gala Dinner Co-Chair Tammie Kanda of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. with the winners of this year's Lexus Opportunity Drawing. (Photo by Russell Kitagawa)

We thank Toyota for their generous support and to all who participated in the 2013 Lexus Opportunity Drawing. Gary and Tomi Kobara of Arroyo Grande, CA, are the new owners of a 2013 Lexus LS 460 F sport sedan. Thanks especially to Toyota for contributing the Lexus for the drawing and for their generous ongoing support! Proceeds from the Lexus Opportunity Drawing support the Museum’s educational and outreach programs.

Stay tuned for details on our 2014 Gala Dinner!

Hong Zhang Gallery Talk

TWIN SPIRITS #1 (2002) Zhang Chun Hong Charcoal on paper. Diptych. Collection of the artist. © Hong Chun Zhang

Wondering about the meaning behind the scrolls of hair in Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter? Interested in learning more about art?

Chinese-born artist Hong Zhang will be leading a gallery talk about her work in Portraiture Now at 1pm on Sunday, July 28. Her soft, yet subtly detailed charcoal works represent themes such as familial bonds and life’s twists and turns.

Zhang received her BFA in Chinese painting from the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1994, before coming to America in 1996. She has an MFA from the University of California, Davis, and now resides in Lawrence, Kansas.

Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter displays the diversity of contemporary Asian American identity through the groundbreaking work of seven visual artists—CYJO, Zhang Chun Hong, Hye Yeon Nam, Shizu Saldamando, Roger Shimomura, Satomi Shirai, and Tam Tran. The exhibition will close September 22, 2013.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear an acclaimed artist discuss her work! The talk is free with Museum admission.

2013 Volunteer Recognition Awards Event

The Japanese American National Museum is lucky enough to have a group of very dedicated volunteers supporting the institution every day by helping our visitors in the galleries, leading tours for thousands of school children, and at public programs; and behind-the-scenes with our archives, store, web, and other areas. Each volunteer cheerfully does their part to support the National Museum.

We celebrate the contributions of our volunteers each year at the Volunteer Recognition Awards. On May 18, 2013, we honored several volunteers who went that extra mile in 2012. It was a tough choice. In January through December of 2012, National Museum Volunteers contributed a total of 34,500 hours! Ten volunteers alone each clocked over 500 hours of service in 2012.

Past and present Miki Tanimura Award recipients with Greg Kimura, President/CEO.

At the event, we make an effort to appreciate all of our volunteers, whether they’ve been with us for one year or twenty-five.

One Year Volunteer Service Pins were given to Peter Fuster, Kyle Honma, Galaxy Kaji, Russell Kitagawa, Oko Sakata, and Sally Yamada.

Five Year pins went to Tami Hirai, Nana Imaizumi, Roy Kakuda, Frank Omatsu, Fujiko Takeda, and Mary Yamasaki.

Ten Year pins were given to John Kawasaki, Leland Kurisu, Yuri Matsunaga, Nobuko Shiokari, Jeanne Sultan, James Uyeda, and Midori Uyeda.

For fifteen years of service, we awarded pins to May Fujino, Kathryn Madara, and Eleanor Minami.

Recipients of the Twenty Year pins pose at the annual Recognition Awards Event with Board Member Gene Kanamori and JANM President/CEO Greg Kimura.

Twenty Year pins went to Linda Fujioka, Jean Hamamoto, Grace Hatae, Bambi Horiuchi, Joyce Inouye, Sumi Iwasaki, Barbara Keimi, Ruthie Kitagawa, and Sadako Sogioka.

Finally, for an astounding Twenty-Five years of service, pins were awarded to Joe and Marion Wada!

Next, Outstanding Volunteer Awards were given to those who have gone above and beyond in their dedication to the National Museum.

Administration Award: Outstanding service & achievement in administrative/operational capacity

Lauren Nakasuji has been an asset to the Museum store since 1998, volunteering at least twice a month alongside her full-time “regular” job. In addition to working at the store sales table for public programs and taking a vacation day to help with the annual store inventory, she trains new staff and volunteers.

Ken Nakagawa was given the Community Award for his work in the Hirasaki National Resource Center.

Community Award: Outstanding service & achievement in working with the public and in the community

Ken Nakagawa has spent many Saturdays in the Hirasaki National Resource Center and has assisted in scheduling and training new volunteers to assist our visitors. While working in the resource center, he helps visitors find information such as camp and immigration records.

Tsuneo "T" Takasugi shows his Outstanding Volunteer Program Award alongside Greg Kimura.

Program Award: Outstanding service & achievement in educating our visitors

Saturday lead docent volunteer Tsuneo “T” Takasugi has been a Museum volunteer for over 12 years. He has shown great dedication to volunteering—even coming in after performing surgery all night on several occasions.

Miki Tanimura Outstanding Volunteer Award: Established to honor outstanding volunteers who have made exceptional contributions to the National Museum

Roy Sakamoto received the 2012 Miki Tanimura Outstanding Volunteer Award.

Finally, the Miki Tanimura Award is given to a volunteer who exemplifies several values, including enduring commitment and leadership. These award winners have changed the museum for the better.

Roy Sakamoto is one such difference maker. Since he began volunteering in 2005, he has dedicated over 250 hours per year to his work at the Museum in many different areas. He volunteers every Wednesday and Saturday as a docent in addition to training new volunteers as a Docent Coach, a program vital to the Museum. Roy has served as the Chair of the Volunteer Leadership Council and also helps teach the Japanese American history training courses, alongside countless other activities. It is this willingness to always help out and his knack for problem solving that make Roy an asset to the Museum.

Congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you again to all of the volunteers who make this Museum special!

Photos courtesy of Russell Kitagawa & Tsuneo Takasugi 

Check out more photos from the event on our JANM Facebook page >>

Come have fun in the sun at Target Free Family Saturday!

Summer is almost here, and you know what that means – no school, warm weather, and most importantly, the Summer Fun Target Free Family Saturday at the Museum!

Photo by Reid Shimabukuro

Join us this Saturday, June 8, from 11AM to 4PM to kick off the season right.

There’s a whole range of fun activities planned for kids, from story time to making tasty trail mix with Kidding Around the Kitchen. Older audience members will be fascinated by Heroes, storyteller Alton Chung’s one-man play about the courageous actions of Japanese American soldiers during World War II. We’ll also help you celebrate some summer holidays with a few crafts. Come make friendship bracelets for Best Friend’s Day and fun Father’s Day cards in the Origami Corner.


Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Nisei WWII Soldiers. Courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Finally, don’t miss the last few days of the American Heroes exhibition! This is a great chance to see a Congressional Gold Medal up close and personal. The medal — America’s highest civilian award — was given to the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service for bravely serving their country even as many of their families were interned.

We can’t wait to see you!