The 12th Annual Kokoro Craft Boutique is going virtual this year! From November 14–30, shoppers can shop online or by phone with many familiar crafters, plus some new ones. Starting on Saturday, November 14, watch the video program that will be posted on YouTube.com/janmdotorg. It will feature interviews and videos from many of our talented crafters. The video program will display beautiful, hand-crafted products from all our participating crafter/vendors.
Shoppers’ purchases from November 14–30 will support JANM’s education programs. Buy products from vendors directly and write “Kokoro2020” on all of your orders. JANM will receive a portion from each purchase!
February 2020—120 4th grade students in closely packed groups swarm into JANM’s Common Ground exhibition, shaking hands with JANM volunteers, and sharing pencils for origami and drumsticks for taiko. The field trip ends and the group grabs their bundle of backpacks and heads out into the cool spring air to enjoy a communal lunch on JANM’s plaza, and the Education staff heads into the back offices, another successful field trip.
Little did the seasoned museum educators know that in a matter of days the school visits program would come to a complete halt. Swiftly, sending regretful emails postponing, and later canceling, over 100 reserved Spring semester visits. Teachers sent back kind replies, understanding the predicament as they themselves adjusted to unprecedented distance learning circumstances.
Fast forward to six months later—after hours of strategizing, experimenting, adapting (and pivoting!), the JANM Education Unit is thrilled to announce our new virtual visits program. In the spirit of the beloved on-site school visits program, the new tour types reflect informal and object-based learning which animates the museum’s mission—promoting understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience.
Virtual visits use video conferencing technology to engage visitors and students in conversation and discussion surrounding JANM’s collection. Built on the understanding that it is important to learn outside of a formal classroom setting, virtual visits enhance distance learning curriculum with innovative and interactive design. These new tour types offer a great escape for a distance learning classroom, and a way to make sure that the important lessons of history are not forgotten.
1st–12th grade students will enjoy “tours” full of fun, engaging, and artistic activities that broaden their understanding of culture. College, adult, and senior groups will have the opportunity to go on a virtual tour of the highlights of JANM’s on-going exhibition, Common Ground: The Heart of Community,led by JANM’s incredible cohort of volunteer docents and facilitators. Groups of all ages can select to accompany a visit with a first-person live testimonial and Q&A with a JANM volunteer who has first-person experience of America’s concentration camps. These precious stories are vital to bringing the curriculum alive for your students.
It’s important to continue telling stories about the Japanese American experience now more than ever. Teachers tell us the reasons why they bring JANM’s curriculum to their students include: bringing mindfulness to their virtual classrooms, learning to respect other cultures, gaining connection making skills, combating anti-Asian racism and hate that is prevalent in today’s media, and helping students take pride in their own culture by learning and appreciating another. As one teacher reported, “My students were engaged and quite interested in the presentation. They really enjoyed it and learned a lot.”
With a virtual platform crafted to reach students, and engage sensory perception, critical thinking skills, and importantly make human connections in an era of social distancing, students experience a memorable and lasting museum “visit.”
The JANM Education Unit offers school or group virtual visits Monday–Friday, running 45–65 minutes. Fees are waived for Title I schools thanks to generous support by Bid for Education donors. To learn more or make a reservation go to janm.org/groupvisits or email email@example.com.
Programs like these are made possible by the generous support of JANM’s members and donors. Become a member (janm.org/membership) or consider making a tax-deductible gift so that we can continue to develop more educational resources: janm.org/donatenow. Your support makes a difference. Thank you!
Congratulations to George Takei, Stan Sakai, and Mariko Tamaki on their 2020 Eisner Awards wins! The 32nd Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were presented at a ceremony on July 24, as part of the San Diego Comic-Con International that is being presented virtually this year.
JANM Trustee, actor, and activist George Takei’s graphic memoir, They Called Us Enemy, won the award for Best Reality-Based Work. Our Education unit developed a teacher’s guide to accompany the memoir for IDW Publishing.
Stan Sakai was elected into the Hall of Fame and also won for Best Lettering (Usagi Yojimbo, published by IDW) and Best Archival Collection/Project (Usagi Yojimbo: The Complete Grasscutter). Sakai was honored at JANM’s 2011 Gala Dinner with the Cultural Ambassador Award, the same year that we presented an exhibition about his work, Year of the Rabbit: Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. You can also watch clips from an interview with him on Discover Nikkei.
Sakai has had an ongoing relationship with JANM, especially with our JANM Store. In addition to selling his books and comics, he has graciously allowed our Store to produce exclusive merchandise. Look out for more collaborations in the future!
Finally, Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s graphic novel Laura Dean Is Breaking Up with Me won awards for Best Publication for Teens, Best Writer, and Best Penciller/Inker. Skim, one of the Japanese Canadian writer’s earlier books, was previously sold at the JANM Store.
“Congressman Lewis has been clear and consistent in his message of justice from the 1960s until today. It isn’t every day that you get to meet a true humanitarian hero—we will never forget that day. He’ll continue to be an inspiration to me and our family. Rest in Peace Congressman John Lewis.”
—Jeff Koji Maloney, Mayor, Alhambra CA
On January 24, 2019, my husband Mike Maloney and I accompanied our son, Jeff Maloney, who as the Mayor of Alhambra, CA., was attending the Conference of Mayors in Washington DC. While touring the Capitol, I was assigned the task of keeping track of our grandson Koji, a very small but active 4-year-old. As we toured the spacious Rotunda, a group of very important looking people had just left a meeting and were walking through this grand room.
One gentleman quietly broke away from this group of dignitaries and began to approach Koji who had somehow wandered away from my watchful eye. I didn’t recognize this gentleman immediately but he slowly bent over and spoke very softly asking Koji his name. He then shook my grandson’s hand and as Jeff approached to introduce himself, the kind man bent down and lifted Koji up into his arms. It reminded me of something a kind and loving grandfather would do.
This gentle giant was Congressman John Lewis. He was a genuinely nice man and this incredibly sweet gesture was definitely the highlight of our trip! Congressman John Lewis will be greatly missed for his care and compassion for our country!
This story is from Janet Maloney of the Volunteer Leadership Council as told to Clement Hanami, JANM’s VP of Exhibitions and Art Director.
On May 27, 1943, Kiku Nakamichi was crowned Queen of Denson at a coronation ball, which was part of a weekend carnival at the Jerome concentration camp.
Kiku was presented with a wooden, heart-shaped plaque painted red, green, and gold. It had been crafted by staff at the wood shop where she worked as a secretary. Four months later, when Kiku and her husband departed Jerome, wood shop staff and friends added signatures and farewell messages to the back of the plaque.
Captured in a photograph from the night of the coronation, Kiku is flanked by her two attendants Mary Ikeguchi and Bessie Nakashima, where she is seeing holding the plaque. According to the camp newspaper, Denson Tribune, “William O. Melton, assistant Project director, who crowned the queen had the first dance with Queen Kiku following the coronation.”
Although events throughout all of the camps were common, including coronations and carnivals, each one offered a unique opportunity for incarcerated Japanese Americans to participate in activities seemingly at dramatic odds with their forced surroundings.
The plaque was passed on to Kiku’s daughter, Cindi Ishigaki, who donated it to JANM’s permanent collection this past January.
Coming to New York City on October 18, 19, and 20, and Orange County on November 10 is 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 five second generation Japanese American artists—Ruth Asawa, George Nakashima, Isamu Noguchi, Gyo Obata, and S. Neil Fujita—following the ways in which their camp experiences impacted their lives, influenced their art, and sent them on trajectories that eventually led to their changing the face of American culture with their immense talents.
The film will screen three times as a part of the Architecture & Design Film Festival at the Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas in New York City.
Showtimes are Friday, October 18 at 9:15 p.m.; Saturday, October 19 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, October 20 at 1:30 p.m. Q&A with Mira Nakashima (furniture designer and daughter of George Nakashima), Kenji Fujita (artist and son of S. Neil Fujita), and filmmaker Akira Boch will follow the Friday night screening.
Masters of Modern Design will also screen in Orange County on Sunday, November 10 at 12:30 p.m. at the Orange County Buddhist Church. A Q&A with the filmmakers will follow. This is a free event, but please rsvp to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Masters of Modern Design: The Art of the Japanese American Experience is available on DVD at the JANM Store. JANM members receive 10% discount!
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
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!
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
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
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
JANM: What did you learn by making the
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
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.
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!
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
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
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.”
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.