Reflections from a 9-year-old supporter

Photo by Richard M. Murakami

The coolest exhibit at JANM is the paper folding. But I call it origami because I love to learn new origami every time I go to the museum. There’s a beautiful white dress and even shoes that are made by folding paper. Wow! There are masks, dinosaurs and other great things to see. I have been going to JANM for 7 years and I am going to be 9 pretty soon.

Photo by Richard M. Murakami

I mostly go to the Target Free Family Saturdays because there is great stuff to see and do.  And, I get to cook with Lisa.

 

 

Blog written by Pika

JANM friend and longtime Target Free Family Saturday participant

It’s a Small World After All?

Meeting a ton of new people every day is commonplace here at the museum.  So when Vicky came walking into the Media Arts Center yesterday with about a dozen visitors in tow, no one was very fazed.  She explained to me that her company consisted of the NCI interns; today they were getting a behind the scenes tour of the JANM.  Then she began to tell our guests why I was here at the Museum: what my duties were, that I had come as a Getty Intern, and the types of projects the Media Arts Center put out.  She paused, then said,

“What’s really interesting about this summer’s interns…”

Now, I was sitting at my computer, editing a video on the new Year of the Labbit display.  As I listened, a number of sentence endings ran through my mind.  This summer, there are a half dozen of them running around.  This summer, they’re all girls.  This summer…

Instead, Vicky finished by saying, “This summer we have two interns with famous grandmas.”

One of those interns, of course, is NCI intern Maya Kochiyama, granddaughter of famous activist Yuri Kochiyama.  The other intern is me.

My grandmother is Wakako Yamauchi.  She’s an accomplished writer, playwright, and painter.  But she’s also a wonderful, loving, absolutely amazing person.

But there is more than a little bit of pressure with such high achievements in your blood line.  With any accomplishments I have, I still worry that I don’t measure up to her, or sometimes worry recognition earned comes from her and not me.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some perks to having a famous grandmother.  As an Asian American Studies student, I’ve had the added bonus of being personally connected to my studies.  I’ve gotten a first hand account of history.  I’ve seen professors go from “teaching professional” to “autograph-asking fan” as one once said.

Thanks to my Grammy, I’ve spent New Year’s Eves with Garrett Hongo and his family, eaten apple pie and ice cream with Hisaye Yamamoto.  I have memories of seeing my grandmother on to her plane from LAX to Japan where she saw her plays performed in foreign countries and languages.  I’ve gone to readings and book launches, heard my grandma talk casually of knowing Yuji Ichioka, or tell anecdotes about how Karen Tei Yamashita lived for a period of time in my grandmother’s back house.  I’ve studied her plays, and her life, in my classes at school.

So I wasn’t completely surprised when, as Vicky informed the other interns who my grandmother is, I saw a sudden jolt and eye widening of one girl. Was she, too, an Asian American Literature student, and recognized the name?  Had she read some of my grandmother’s plays?  Or had she simply been goosed by her neighbor, and was momentarily caught off guard.

“I know her!” she said.  “She plays cards at the JCI!”

She’d met my grandma in her current, other life.  As a retired writer, my grandma spends her mornings playing Blackjack, placing nickel and dime bets at the JCI in Gardena with other Nisei.  Few of her friends there know her as a famous name, a ground breaker in the Asian American Literature world.  There, instead, she’s just another one of them, playing cards, and of course, always “breaking even.”

But seeing this girl who knew my grandmother made me smile.  She saw her, not through the eyes of an academic fawning over her accomplishments, but as a normal person, happy in the company of her peers.  I realized then, how lucky I am, to be able to know my grandmother in both her worlds.

Staff Sergeant Joe Hayashi

 

My wife and I recently moved to northeast Pasadena. While on one of my walks in the new neighborhood, I was pleasantly surprised to find a memorial to not only a Japanese American Veteran but Medal of Honor Winner Staff Sergeant Joe Hayashi of Company K of the 442 Regemental Combat team.

I was inspired to learn more about what he did. So I went on Discover Nikkei and this is what I found:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to:

PRIVATE JOE HAYASHI, United States Army

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Private Joe Hayashi distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 20 and 22 April 1945, near Tendola, Italy. On 20 April 1945, ordered to attack a strongly defended hill that commanded all approaches to the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi skillfully led his men to a point within 75 yards of enemy positions before they were detected and fired upon. After dragging his wounded comrades to safety, he returned alone and exposed himself to small arms fire in order to direct and adjust mortar fire against hostile emplacements. Boldly attacking the hill with the remaining men of his squad, he attained his objective and discovered that the mortars had neutralized three machine guns, killed 27 men, and wounded many others.

On 22 April 1945, attacking the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi maneuvered his squad up a steep, terraced hill to within 100 yards of the enemy. Crawling under intense fire to a hostile machine gun position, he threw a grenade killing one enemy soldier and forcing the other members of the gun crew to surrender. Seeing four enemy machine guns delivering deadly fire upon other elements of his platoon, he threw another grenade, destroying a machine gun nest. He then crawled to the right flank of another machine gun position where he killed four enemy soldiers and forced the others to flee. Attempting to pursue the enemy, he was mortally wounded by a burst of machine pistol fire. The dauntless courage and exemplary leadership of Private Hayashi enabled his company to attain its objective.

Private Hayashi’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

The memorial is located at Victory Park. If you know of other memorials, take a picture and send it to me at ksakai[a]janm.org and I’ll be sure to post it on our blog!

– Koji Steven Sakai/Manager of Public Programs

Miss Kato, Canadian Rodeo Queen, Los Angeles, California, 1955. Japanese American National Museum Toyo Miyatake/Rafu Shimpo Collection, photograph by Toyo Miyatake Studio, gift of the Alan Miyatake Family. (96.267.316)

Nikkei community newspapers

Miss Kato, Canadian Rodeo Queen, Los Angeles, California, 1955. Japanese American National Museum Toyo Miyatake/Rafu Shimpo Collection, photograph by Toyo Miyatake Studio, gift of the Alan Miyatake Family. (96.267.316)
Miss Kato, Canadian Rodeo Queen, Los Angeles, California, 1955. Japanese American National Museum Toyo Miyatake/Rafu Shimpo Collection, photograph by Toyo Miyatake Studio, gift of the Alan Miyatake Family. (96.267.316)

Nikkei newspapers like The Rafu Shimpo in Los Angeles and the Nichi Bei up in San Francisco have served important roles since the early Issei immigrants began establishing communities across the United States.

Last spring, our Discover Nikkei team began working on a project to share stories about some of these publications and organize a public program. On April 2, 2011, we presented “From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspaper” in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum in partnership with The Rafu Shimpo, Nichi Bei Foundation/Nichi Bei Weekly, Cultural News, and Nikkei Nation.

The program included a historical overview by Gil Asakawa and presentations by panelists Gwen Muranaka (Rafu Shimpo), Kenji Taguma, (Nichi Bei Foundation/Nichi Bei Weekly), Shigeharu Higashi (Cultural News), and George Johnston (Nikkei Nation). The presentations were followed by a moderated discussion and questions from the audience covering topics such as the coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as local relief efforts; the viability of Nikkei media and the closing of some longtime newspapers in recent years; how can Nikkei media change to be relevant to younger demographics without alienating older generations; and the use and role of social media.

Participants of the "From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspapers" program on April 2, 2011

For those who missed the program, we now have video footage from the program online on Discover Nikkei:
From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspapers, April 2, 2011

View articles about Nikkei community newspapers on Discover Nikkei >>

View photos from Museum’s Toyo Miyatake Studio / Rafu Shimpo Collection >>

Xploration Lab

X-Lab Visitor Videos!

Our newest, most current exhibit, Xploration Lab, is a part-classroom, part-prototype “black box” exhibit. Visitors can participate and experiment with hands-on activities designed to engage audiences of all ages about the World War II Japanese American experience.

In laying the groundwork for X-Lab, our team of curators, education specialists, media arts producers and designers envisioned an exhibit that would uniquely grab the attention of visitors—spawning the development of several activities. Some of these activities include a vintage 1940s-era radio that you can tune to World War II broadcasts;  J.A. Express, which is a video montage encapsulating several decades of Japanese American pre-War history into 180 seconds; and an “only what you can carry” chamber, which emulates the urgency facing families who were forced to  pack their lives into a single suitcase in preparation for removal as President Roosevelt decreed in Executive Order 9066.

The exhibition team genuinely wanted to consider how our visitors would react to X-Lab. In order to capture these reactions, we installed a large touchscreen iMac–equipped with a webcam and a microphone. This was used to record visitor responses to our thought-provoking questions, such as:

“Imagine if the government suspected you of being disloyal, how would you respond?”

http://www.youtube.com/user/janmdotorg#p/c/BACC8700A9E554FE/0/wEwQmqlg6xk

View more Xlab visitor videos >>

Xploration LabXploration Lab
Through June 12, 2011
Japanese American National Museum

 

For anyone who’s been through X-Lab, what was your favorite activity?

 

Welcome to the new JANM blog!

Akemi Kikumura YanoWelcome to First & Central, our new official blog for the Japanese American National Museum!

Why “First & Central”? For those familiar with our home in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, our campus is located at the intersection of First Street & Central Avenue. But beyond the connection to our physical space, this blog will be the “first” place to go for inside information about what’s going on at the Museum and a “central” place for our community to connect.

Learn more about the Museum—our exhibitions, public programs, collections and resources, media productions, education programs, store products, web projects, and more. You will get a behind-the-scenes introduction to our leadership, staff, and volunteers.

We’re very excited about this new way of sharing the Museum with our many friends and supporters across the country and worldwide. Even more exciting is the opportunity to engage and connect with you as we continue to evolve towards a more participatory museum in the 21st century.

This is a work-in-progress, so we appreciate your feedback as we continue to update this blog with new entries and features!

Akemi Kikumura Yano
President & CEO
Japanese American National Museum