Poston Mothers (and others)

The Poston Community Alliance is in the process of locating mothers who were interned at the Poston internment camp and their descendants for a documentary that they are producing called For the Sake of the Children.

Marlene Shigekawa, Producer, and the Director, Joe Fox met with Dr. G.W. Kimura, President & CEO of JANM, about a month ago. Dr. Kimura was intrigued by the approach of this film, which will in part tell the story of the interment through the eyes of the mothers who tried and succeeded, despite much hardship and tragedy, to give their children a sense of normalcy through this dark period of our collective history.  Additionally, this documentary will show the impact that the Poston internment camp experiences had on subsequent generations.

Joe and Marlene will be at JANM on Monday, September 24th and invite members of our community to come and meet with them. In particular, they are looking to speak to mothers who gave birth while at Poston and/or were raising small children (up to the age of 10) while in camp. They would like to speak with Nisei, Sansei, Yonsei and Gosei whose mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers or great-great grandmothers were interned at Poston.

There will be no filming done at JANM.   Rather Joe and Marlene just want to hear about your experiences.  They will be in the Education Center at 10:00 am and at 2:00 pm that day and look forward to seeing you.

This is a very important project, which JANM very much supports.  To view their work in progress go to:

For more information you may contact Marlene Shigekawa at or 510 290-1944.

Ben Sakoguchi show in Culver City

Just wanted to spread the word that Ben Sakoguchi has a show up at Cardwell Jimmerson Gallery in Culver City until April 21 (ends next week!) I finally got over to see it yesterday and want everyone to go see his complete “Postcards from Camp” series. The paintings from this series was my first introduction to Sakoguchi’s work and this is the first and probably the last time it will be shown publicly in its entirety for awhile. It was purchased by a private collector (who hopefully, someday will donate it to the Museum?)

Ben Sakoguchi was one of the artists in “Drawing the Line” (he’s interviewed on our DVD). Go gaze with awe at his paintings and then come to the Museum Store to buy one of his prints!

The gallery is at 8568 Washington Bl. at Cattaraugus.

New Hours for Museum Store

As of this week, the Museum Store is OPEN on Tuesdays again! Due to staffing concerns, for the past two and a half years we cut our open hours by one day during the non-holiday season. But we are very pleased to announce that we are back to being open the same days that the Museum is open!

This will be good news to all the school groups who come for tours during the week, as well as the many visitors who are coming to see the Folding Paper show.

To reiterate: Museum Store Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11:00AM-5:00PM. Thursdays 12:00-8:00PM.

Welcome Dr. G.W. Kimura!

Tried postinbg this earlier on the JANM FB page, but it seems to have disappeared. Just wanted to give a shout out to our new CEO who we officially welcomed at an All Staff meeting yesterday. He was given the grand tour of our messy office (we are working on tidying it up, really…) and has been chatting with staff here and there. Hope he is finding all the cool places to eat downtown and isn’t too homesick for Alaskan cuisine.

US Supreme Court Justice Kennedy Meets JANM Administrators of Justice!

L to R: Justice Oshima, Justice Kennedy, Justice Araki, Justice Komai, Justice Sameshima. Photo by Anonymous.


We had a very special guest visit JANM on Wednesday!  He said that he had been hoping to visit us for a while, so while he was in LA he dropped by for a quick tour.  What an honor it was to have shaken the hand of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

New Beginnings

After another summer spent in California, I’m back in the lovely city of Kalamazoo, Michigan for another studious school year. However, this summer was not just “another summer spent in California”. This summer I had the pleasure and privilege of spending ten weeks as the curatorial intern at the Japanese American National Museum.

I am one who is very familiar with a ten-week timeframe. Attending a college that is on the quarter system, I live for the never-long-enough-but-much-needed break that follows the completion of another quarter of the school year. However, after finishing my first year at school and yearning for the summer, little did I know, I was in for another set of ten weeks interning at the Japanese American National Museum that would be unlike any quarter I could ever have imagined.

Like each quarter at school, the ten weeks I spent at the museum flew by in the blink of an eye. It feels like only a week ago that I first met one of my fellow interns, Yuiko, on the front steps of the museum as we exchanged confused glances and comments on how we were supposed to actually get inside the museum to be on time to our first day of work, or when we first met all the volunteers and were met with kind smiles and all the food our hearts could desire.

I have learned so much during my ten week journey at the Museum, having been involved in researching in permanent collections, conducting oral histories, reviewing collections offers, and assisting with public programs. I feel I can now proudly say that I am definitely more savvy into the workings of a museum than when I first stepped foot into my position ten weeks ago. However, one of the many things I am taking away from my journey at the museum is the importance of knowing one’s roots, knowing your history, knowing where you came from and how you got where you are today. When I first began this internship I was posed this question by one of my supervisors, Lisa: “So what’s your family story?” A little caught off guard, I stumbled to come up with a very brief synopsis of what I knew about my family, which pretty much can be summed up with both my grandparents and parents having immigrated to the United States from Korea in the 1970s and a vague bit of my grandfathers having fought in the Korean War. I realized I actually didn’t know that much about where my family came from or how I got here. Having grown up all my life speaking English to my parents, eating more lasagna and tamales than bibimbap, and speaking semi-fluent German but toddler-like Korean, I realized I really never was truly in touch with my Asian American roots, for various reasons, including plainly, the fact that I had never made the effort to be. However, that has changed over the course of the past ten weeks. The majority of my internship has been spent doing research in collections and learning the multitude of amazing stories that people have. Prior to beginning here, I knew very little of Japanese American history. I knew what I had been taught in my history textbooks, which was nothing near sufficient. Throughout this experience I have learned that the Japanese American experience wasn’t as simple as war, camp, and redress, nor did everyone share the same story. Through the research I have done, the stories I have heard from people that I have interviewed, the books I have read, and the amazing people I have interacted with, I have been educated in ways that no textbook could ever do justice. Everyone has an amazing story that deserves to be preserved and shared with others, there is no basic outline that one can follow when it comes to history. The things I have learned have caused me to have a newfound curiosity for my family’s own beginnings and journey. Everyone has their own amazing story, but these stories can so easily be lost if they remains solely in the memories and minds of those who lived them.

Over the course of the months I spent at the museum I met many amazing people, learned many things, from how to find my way through the many cabinets, drawers, and folders in Collections to how to¬¬¬ conduct oral histories, and most certainly, bonded the JANM way over plates and plates of food. As this California girl prepares to settle back into the Midwest for another year at school, I am proud to say that I feel I am going back a little older, wiser, and with a summer full of fond memories spent at the Museum. As the final 2011 Getty intern to say her farewell on this blog, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has made my summer one for the books!

Much love,
2011 Getty Curatorial Intern


By Norman Y. Mineta and Gordon Yamate

 Ten years ago, the United States was shaken by the September 11th terrorist attacks upon New York City and Washington, D.C. In the immediate aftermath, the Japanese American National Museum contemplated its role in response to these unthinkable events. Clearly, more than our country’s national security was under attack. Our way of life as a democratic, open society was being challenged.

 The Japanese American National Museum recognized the historic parallels between 2001 and 1941 when World War II erupted. In 1942, the United States Government implemented Executive Order 9066, violating the constitutional rights of Americans of Japanese ancestry by forcibly removing them from their homes and incarcerating more than 120,000 of them in detention camps without charge and without trial. That U.S. citizens and legal residents might be victimized because of their race or religion 60 years later was on the minds of all who were familiar with the Japanese American World War II experience.

To read the entire piece, go to:

The Day Has Come… for Godzilla’s Attack, That is.

A ten-week experience like no other has gone by in a blink (even Clement’s army of Godzillas came and left so swiftly).  But I can definitely say that through this internship a la The Getty Foundation and the awesome staff at the Japanese American National Museum, my skills and awareness of so many things have been inspired.  The past few weeks adding up to the Summer Festival were hectic with all the sign-making for Koji – and on top of that, the pressure of getting the Education booklet to the printers was upon me – but I finally have the time to calmly write a “bye bye” post here on the JANM blog.

Not only did this internship offered me a further awareness in the arts, it provided me an insight to my own background and identity within the society in which I live today.

One thing that I found intriguing at one point, after reading some posts from my fellow interns, was the many different and prominent backgrounds that existed under the roof of this Museum.  To read and hear about their families and what kinds of activities they participated in growing up in an Asian-American community was very interesting, for mine was quite varying to their experiences.  When the other interns and I attended an event in Santa Monica, I came across something that I never had before.  The proctor casually instructed: “Please identify which generation you belong to.”  This phrase troubled and greatly confused me, for I did know who I was.  Having been born in Japan, I always grew up with the idea that I was a “Japanese resident just living in the States” and never really considered myself to be “American.”  Certain times growing up in my teen years, I found it troublesome when someone considered myself an “Asian American,” as I felt I did not belong under that “category.”  Unlike my fellow interns, I rarely attended the festivals here, and perhaps that is because my family and I were fortunate to make a visit to Japan every summer during my school years, and I attended the activities and events there in a yukata or kimono, back in my home country.  Almost every Japanese holiday, I found myself celebrating in its country of origin.  Maybe these visits led me to drift away from the country that I was residing in and even closer to my motherland.  My parents, for whom I am extremely grateful, had encouraged my sister and me to continue learning the Japanese language even though we had moved to the States.  The weekdays at American school and the weekends at Asahi Gakuen definitely were not pleasing at the time; numerous times, I detested having to learn kanji and always fretted to read outloud in front of the class, for I felt an intense pressure of being able to read the characters clearly and properly.  And many times, my parents had to endure my whining and complaining about my weekends ruined by the classes.  But it is now that I can say with pride and gratitude that without my parents and those Saturday classes (which lasted from 8:30 am  to 3:30 pm), I would definitely not possess the ability to listen to, speak, and write the Japanese language.  For that, words cannot describe how important language is – any language, for that matter.  To be able to share and understand the experiences of one another is a very precious attribute to knowledge and attitude – to life.

And yet, I still stumble onto which generation I fall into.  During the activity in which the interns had to identify their generations, I came to believe that I was 1.5 generation, but when I returned home and asked my father the very same question, I became even more confused.  He spoke to me with an enthusiastic smile, “You’re not a generation.  You’re Japanese.”  And that has stuck with me ever since.  It is true that finding your identity is an extremely long process, and I would argue that it is a never-ending one as well.  And perhaps without this internship I would have never come across such search for identity, and I hope to continue my journey in finding myself and sharing my findings with the community along the way.

With that said, I must express my gratitude, appreciation and admiration for the entire staff here at the Japanese American National Museum for educating me the operations of the Museum, the arts, history, and most importantly, the inspiration to find my identity.  To my fellow interns Alyctra and Alexa, I had a wonderful time sharing the internship experience with you and learning with you.  I would like to believe that we are a unique team, being able to work and communicate with one another at a comfortable yet mature level – and not to mention (as Akira mentioned), we’re all about the same height!  Definitely something unique, eh?

To my supervisors Clement and Mae, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for teaching me the visual and technical aspects of the Production Department.  I may have been clumsy and gluttonous at times, but I appreciate your patience and care.  I do not think I could list everything that I have gained from the experience that you have offered me, but I promise to cherish all that I have obtained during my time here at the Museum (including the picture frames from Target Day).  And I must give a shoutout to Lynn who dealt with me in producing the Education booklet – I still have yet to see her put a piece of gum on her nose with her tongue.

I should stop writing before this post becomes an epic novel.  I am sad as I bring this post to an end, but I do wish the very best to those here at the Japanese American National Museum, and I will keep my word that I will keep in touch with you all.

With fat loaded with love and appreciation,

Yuiko Sugino

P.S. Oh oh oh! One last thing.  THANK YOU FOR THE ABUNDANCE OF FOOD / AWESOMENESS.  I can say (with slight regret) that I have put on a few pounds ever since working here at the Museum, but food shall never be rejected.  Thank you.

When Clement's Godzillas Attack (with George Takei and Sailor Mercury)

Summer 2011 Getty Interns (From the right: Alyctra, Alexa, and Myself)


2011 Lexus winner Karen Nakawatase with Tammie Kanda of Toyota

2011 Lexus Opportunity Drawing Winner!

Congratulations to Karen Nakawatase of Fountain Valley, CA, winner of the 2011 Lexus Opportunity Drawing! Nakawatase was the recipient of a new Lexus RX450h hybrid, courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Her winning ticket was drawn on April 16, 2011, at the Japanese American National Museum’s annual Gala Dinner & Silent Auction in Los Angeles. Nakawatase (left) is pictured here with Tammie Kanda of Toyota (right).
2011 Lexus winner Karen Nakawatase with Tammie Kanda of Toyota
Photo by Nobuyuki Okada
Thank you to everyone who supported the drawing, which raised more than $120,000 in donations to support diversity education programs at the Japanese American National Museum.